The Diary: Katori Hall; Dave Rowntree; Jesse Eisenberg; Martin Amis; Sir John Scarlett
Friday 17 June 2011
From Battersea to Broadway
Katori Hall, whose Olivier-winning play The Mountaintop had its world premiere in Theatre 503 above a Battersea pub and is now preparing for an Autumn run on Broadway with Samuel L Jackson playing Martin Luther King, is back in London with a new play. Children of Killers is about life in post-genocide Rwanda as a group of teenagers prepare to meet their fathers – otherwise known as the men responsible for the atrocities – now released from prison and returning to the village. The play is one of 10 pieces of new writing to be performed at the end of the month by young people as part of the National Theatre Connections Festival. Other contributors include Samuel Adamson, Alia Bano (whose Gap sounds like a 21st-century take on The Beach and Lord of the Flies) and Noel Clarke, who has written Those Legs, a psychological drama about three pals struggling to come to terms with one of their gang losing the use of her legs after an accident.
You're so great, Dave
Never let it be said that the Arts Diary doesn't do politics. Dave Rowntree, Blur-drummer-turned- Labour activist, lent a hand to David Miliband's leadership campaign, so who better to ask about the latest rumours of sibling squabbling? Is Miliband Sr poised for a comeback, angling for power? "I see him from time to time and I don't think he works that way," Rowntree tells me. "He's quite straightforward. He's not really somebody who manipulates behind the scenes. If there are any machinations going on, somebody else is doing it." And how does he think Miliband Jr is coping with power? "David is an extraordinary person. I hoped he was going to win. I'm not cursing the fact that things turned out the way they did – that's politics. Ed is a great leader but I supported the other bloke."
Jesse's low-key debut
The Oscar-nominated actor Jesse Eisenberg has chosen a rather modest stage to make his New York debut as a playwright. His play Asuncion will premiere at the 179-seat Cherry Lane Theatre, off Broadway in October. So far, the theatre isn't even advertising the six-week run on its website, despite the fact Eisenberg is also set to star. According to producers the play "explores the complicated ways we exploit culture and politics for our own needs", through the story of two young liberals – one who writes a blog criticising American imperialism and another who is studying for a PhD in Black Studies – whose values are challenged when a Filipino woman moves into their flat.
Sex sells for Amis
With summer holiday season upon us, Vintage have ramped up the publicity for the paperback of Martin Amis's The Pregnant Widow. When it originally appeared on shelves last year, the novel – a sultry summer tale of sexual revolution – featured an illustration by Adam Lowe on its hardcover. Now his tasteful sketch of two girls lounging by a turquoise swimming pool has been replaced by a glossy close-up photograph which could be straight off the pages of FHM – and currently plastered all over the Tube. "More often than not, the hardback and paperback covers are fairly different – as with Jo Nesbo's The Leopard and Ian McEwan's Solar," a Vintage mole tells me. "Others, like The Time Traveler's Wife and On Chesil Beach, change the type and keep the image." And others, clearly, go for the sex sells model.
Spies like art
What kind of art do spies love? The former MI6 chief Sir John Scarlett reveals that he adorned his office with prints by the German surrealist Max Ernst, which he picked up "while on holiday in the South of France". Scarlett also tells me that MI6 spies have been buying up the work of James Hart Dyke, who spent a year following spooks and capturing their shady dealings on canvas. His silkscreen prints – including a portrait of a shadowy figure in a hotel room and more coded, elliptical works featuring rubber ducks, diamond dust and white circles (a nod to the James Bond opening titles) are now on sale at London's Mount Street Galleries.
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