The Diary: English National Ballet; Moby Dick; Sienna Miller; Shunt; Stephen Frears
Friday 25 February 2011
Top marks to English National Ballet for cashing in on the Black Swan buzz with a rushed-out addition to their Black & White show at the London Coliseum next month. Alongside works by Wayne Eagling and Suite en Blanc, the programme will now feature the dazzling black swan pas de deux from Swan Lake which gave Natalie Portman's ballerina so much trouble in the film (and not just because of its 32 fouettés). Forget the battle between black and white swan, though, there's a far fiercer contest hatching – between the kings of the catwalk. For one special performance Elena Glurdjidze will dance the black swan in a gothic ebony tutu designed by the British fashion favourite Giles. In 2009, the same prima ballerina performed the Dying Swan in a feather-light white Chanel confection by Karl Lagerfeld. That design drew unflattering comparisons with Big Bird – will Giles Deacon fare any better and win over the tutu traditionalists?
A whale of a time
Moby Dick is having a moment. On Monday, the original storyboards for John Huston's 1956 film will go on show at Croydon's Parfitt Gallery. Created by the movie's Art Director, Stephen Grimes, the beautiful drawings were discovered by his daughter, Oona, in the family home. Call Me Ishmael will also feature unseen photographs from the movie set and artworks inspired by Herman Melville's 1851 novel. The Israeli artist Guy Ben-Ner has re-enacted the adventure as a home movie in his Tel Aviv kitchen with his wife and toddler son while Philip Hoare, the award-winning writer of Leviathan or, The Whale, has submitted a picture of a sperm whale taken in Kaikoura, New Zealand. "Suddenly artists are using Moby Dick as a muse. Gavin Turk told me that he'd proposed a life-size sculpture of a whale for the Fourth Plinth", says Hoare."Many see Moby Dick as the birth of modernism. It's crammed with ideas, almost as if Melville Googled 'whale' and put everything he found into his book".
Director Nunn's diary clash
Anticipation is building around Sienna Miller's return to the stage in Flare Path, but West End watchers will have an agonising wait for the critics' verdicts. Though opening night is 10 March, reviews are embargoed until 14. "It's a really big week for openings so we have press performances up until 12 March to give critics the opportunity to come on a date that suits," I'm told. But director Trevor Nunn's divided loyalties are also behind the hedging. The rebuilt RSC has its big reopening the same night – with Romeo and Juliet – and Nunn, as an emeritus director of the theatre, is shy about stealing focus. Here's a solution, Sir Trev – move your opening by an evening, et voila!, everyone's happy.
Taking a Shunt
Shunt are looking for a new home – and a new direction. The experimental theatre collective pioneered performances in public spaces, long before they became ten-a-penny. "Now that more people are doing that, Shunt want to reassess where they are and how to continue being innovative and different," I'm told. With the lease on their warehouse in Bermondsey Street coming to an end, they've taken over the ICA for the weekend. There will be plays performed on exercise bikes, short films, art tattoos, racing sewing machines and, tonight at 11pm, a performance from Japanese pop cabaret collective, Frank Chickens.
Frears' Oscar grump
Will Stephen Frears appear on the red carpet for this weekend's Oscars? The British director, last nominated for an Academy Award for The Queen in 2006, was on lightly combative form this week. He dismissed Best Picture nominee Inception, telling Gawker, "I'm a middle-aged man. I don't understand those sort of films". He also declared himself fed up with awards season. "In 1991 [when nominated for The Grifters] nobody made a fuss about it whereas [now] the whole world goes mad about those things... I was obviously very pleased on both occasions but now it's become this consuming event." Still, a nod for Tamara Drewe might have been nice, eh?
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