A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I've just had a short film released by the BBC! I am incomparably excited about this. It's available from BBC Arts - I'm talking about why we should listen to history as well as look at it, exploring Max Reinhardt's 1933 production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'.  

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A year without Shakespeare?

I’ve just come back from the Sage Gateshead, where I was at Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival for my last official outing as a New Generation Thinker. It was a little different to the essays and discussion shows I’d done so far: we all had to come up with a “controversial idea” for an academic... Continue Reading →

Strindberg & ‘The Woman Question’

My essay on Strindberg & 'The Woman Question' is now available from BBC Radio 3. I'm discussing why Strindberg got arrested for blasphemy in 1884, and what relevance that has to Swedish politics today. I also touch on why Strindberg injected morphine into Berlin fruit trees... The talk will be broadcast on Thursday 6th October... Continue Reading →

Free Thinking

My appearances for Radio 3 Free Thinking are now available to download from the BBC website. Ahead of the re-release of Peter Watkins' 1974 biography of the artist Edvard Munch, I looked at how Munch's biography relates to his art (and why Strindberg threatened to kill him). You can hear my thoughts here, or alternatively... Continue Reading →

Review: Tom Stoppard on text and performance

A review of Sir Tom Stoppard’s lecture as Humanitas Professor of Drama at Oxford University.

The Oxford Culture Review

How much “Shakespeare” is there in a Shakespeare play? A facetious question, perhaps. But it’s a question that is peculiarly specific to the theatre — how much of the author can one distinguish in a play text? Unlike the novel, with its possibilities for narrative stretches where the author’s “voice” can emerge, in plays the author is heard through the lens of an actor playing a character. And that’s before you take in to account the director, stage and sound design, costumes, lighting… Of course, in poetry and prose the author can also adopt masks and assume characters, but the presence of multiple voices is more acute when dealing with live events such as plays. This relationship between page and stage, and the position of the playwright’s authorial voice, provided the subject for Sir Tom Stoppard’s first lecture as the Humanitas Visiting Professor of Drama at Oxford University. With characteristic…

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Review: ‘Blind Man’s Song’

The Oxford Culture Review

Blind Man’s Song is a simple question intricately answered. Blending mime, dance, and an exquisite soundtrack by Alex Judd, Theatre Re’s production explores why people kiss. It’s the type of question whose answer is limited only by the scope of one’s imagination, and Blind Man’s Song surpasses itself in creative scope. It’s not a flawless production, but it is consistently elegant and presents so many levels of nuance that the possibilities for interpretation seem limitless. It struck me as appropriate that the show should open their programme with a quote from the author Milan Kundera — they share the similar quality of offering surprising depth and structure behind an often deceptively uncomplicated surface.

Essentially, Blind Man’s Song tells a love story through sound and gesture. A blind musician remembers his relationship with a woman, and we share the story through his music. Theatre Re are far from the first…

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BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinkers 2016

I'm absolutely thrilled to have been selected as one of the BBC/AHRC's New Generation Thinkers 2016. I'll be working with the BBC throughout the year to develop my research in to radio and tv programmes. More information about the scheme is available from the BBC's press release, and my first appearance as a New Generation... Continue Reading →

Review: ‘The Rape of Lucretia’

On staging The Rape of Lucretia.

The Oxford Culture Review

Seventy years after its première at Glyndebourne, Benjamin Britten’s opera The Rape of Lucretia is still deeply unsettling. Its small cast of eight singers and thirteen musicians places very little distance between the audience and the unfolding of Lucretia’s rape and subsequent suicide onstage. And unlike operas such as Das Rheingold where the idea of rape functions symbolically, the actuality of sexual assault tempered in some way by using it as a metaphor for the violation of nature and plundering of gold, in Lucretia the rape itself is unavoidable. The act of sexual assault is written into Ronald Duncan’s libretto, with the physical and musical drama entirely revolving around the central scene between Tarquinius and Lucretia.

Added to this, Britten’s music and Duncan’s libretto are deeply problematic. There are no clear-cut villains or heroes in their setting, and the women themselves are given very little agency in comparison to…

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