Monday, 27 December 2010

What I am looking forward to in 2011

The Invisible Province has already got its beady eye on a number of cultural events in 2011. I am sure there will be many others that will come along and grab its attention, but I thought I might share these with Invisible Province readers:


Slowly I learnt the ways of humans: how to ruin, how to hate, how to debase, how to humiliate. And at the feet of my master I learnt the highest of human skills, the skill no other creature owns: I finally learnt how to lie.

Frankenstein at the National Theatre. I've already booked simply because I consider Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to be one of the great novels of the nineteenth century. This production (written by the playwright, Nick Dear, who I am hoping will not neglect the epic sense of sadness that is so much part of the novel) is being directed by the film director, Danny Boyle. I must confess that after Trainspotting, Danny Boyle films have left me stirred but never shaken. Slumdog Millionaire may have pulled at the commercial heartstrings, but it was artistically overrated. Yet he's a home grown talent and one cannot deny that his films have a popular appeal (he's also got the gig to stage the opening of the 2012 Olympics). But can he transfer his cinematic skills to the stage of the Olivier Theatre? The production also includes two good British actors, Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller who will alternate the roles of Dr Victor Frankenstein and the Creature. This may not be the theatre event of 2011 but it is bound to be interesting.

2. I missed Clybourne Park when it was at the Royal Court and have been kicking myself ever since. But now that it is transferring to the West End I have been given another chance. This is a play that explores the limits of political correctness and how, on its own, it cannot keep a lid on racial tensions...the play is also meant to be very funny.

In 1959 Russ and Bev are selling their desirable two-bed at a knock-down price. This enables the first Black family to move into the neighbourhood, creating ripples of discontent amongst the cosy white urbanites of Clybourne Park. In 2009, the same property is being bought by Lindsey and Steve whose plans to raze the house and start again is met with a similar response. Are the issues festering beneath the floorboards actually the same fifty years on?

3. A new Terence Malick film is an event for anyone who claims to love cinema. His films are, in the words of the poet, Louis MacNeice, alive with "the drunkenness of things being various". I have always come away from a Malick film deeply affected and having felt I've witnessed something of our transient existence through a clearer, purer lens. I can hardly contain my excitement about The Tree of Life. The only worry is that Brad Pitt is in it...

4. Has Steven Speilberg made a decent film since Schindler's List? Well, this year he offers us two films: The Adventures of Tintin and Warhorse. Not so interested in Tintin (I was always an Asterix the Gaul boy) but I am fascinated to see what he does with Michael Morpurgo's Warhorse. The acclaimed National Theatre production is currently on in London's West End. Speilberg now brings it to the screen and if anyone can make a success of doing so then it must be him. I'm willing this film to be a great Speilberg movie. Can he do for the First World War trenches what he did for the extermination camps? We'll see.

5. Two big sculpture exhibitions this year. Modern British Sculpture at the Royal Academy and The Shape of Things to Come: New Sculpture at the Saatchi Gallery on the Kings Road. Although, when the blurb for the Royal Academy exhibition says:
The exhibition will take a fresh approach, replacing the traditional survey with a provocative set of juxtapositions that will challenge the viewer to make new connections and break the mould of old conceptions.

I want to run to the hills. Still, if I can mentally shield myself from the curator's radical juxtapositions, then I hope to still be able to enjoy work by Alfred Gilbert, Jacob Epstein, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Anthony Caro and co.

6. New REM album, Collapse into Now. New Elbow album. New Plan B, The Ballad of Belmarsh. New Mumford and Sons. So lots of interesting pop sounds in 2011.

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