The Diary: Steve Jobs; Tom Hunter; Michelle Dockery; BBC's Parade's End; David Lynch
Friday 21 October 2011
Bad Apple on stage
By a strange quirk of timing, a play about Apple and its late CEO opened in New York this week, less than a fortnight after the death of Steve Jobs. Mike Daisey, a kind of theatrical Michael Moore, has been touring his one-man show, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, since July but Tuesday's off-Broadway opening was the most charged of his run so far.
A two-hour monologue, it moves from Daisey's early obsession with Apple gadgets and the genius behind them, to his pilgrimage to the Foxconn factory in China and an emotive catalogue of the unacceptable working conditions he found there. As he tells the audience: "When you sit in front of the laptop, you will see the blood welling up between the keys, because they were made by hands – human hands, hands of children."
The play originally ended with Daisey reading out Jobs' email address, urging audiences to email the CEO and demand reform. Jobs' death has changed this climactic coup de theatre, but not much else. "The central arguments and deep structures of the show are larger than Jobs himself," Daisey told the Seattle Times. "His death will only intensify our need to address his legacy."
Night of the Hunter
Forget the current summer-of-love version on stage at the RSC, A Midsummer Night's Dream is about to be given another, far more gritty, makeover. Tom Hunter, famous for his modern reworkings of the Old Masters, has shot a series of photographs inspired by the woodland comedy and life in the urban jungle for an exhibition at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre next month. "I wanted to tap in to the real people who perform every day in the city," says Hunter, who lives in Hackney. "The pearly kings, the carnival queens, the strippers and the musicians." As such, Titania has become a besequined carnival dancer, Helena is a pole dancer and the Rude Mechanicals are a local thrash-metal band.
The artist's affection for the play dates back to when he arrived in London in the late 1980s and worked as a tree surgeon in Regent's Park. "We'd cut down branches and give them to the Open Air Theatre to use as a backdrop," he tells me. "Every summer they'd do the Dream. It introduced me to Shakespeare."
Hunter is now working on a show for the V&A's Museum of Childhood, to mark the 350th anniversary of the first Punch and Judy show, photographing booths and puppets up and down the country.
She's best known for playing the toffee-nosed English rose Lady Mary Crawley, but away from Downton Abbey Michelle Dockery leads another life as a jazz singer. On 11 November, she will perform in the opening gala of the London Jazz Festival, backed by a full orchestra. Her last, rather more low-key appearance on stage was with Sadie and the Hotheads, a band fronted by Elizabeth McGovern, aka Countess Cora, Dockery's on-screen mother. The band (whose members include the Nelson Brothers and Goldfrapp's Rowan Oliver) released their debut album last year. "I never hear music in which a middle-aged, happily married woman with kids is singing about her life. It was my quest to see if I could make that remotely interesting to anybody," says McGovern. What would the Earl of Grantham say?
Actors on Parade
The BBC is pulling out all of the stops for its next period drama. Parade's End, Ford Madox Ford's quartet of First World War novels has been adapted into five hour-long episodes for BBC2 and HBO by Tom Stoppard. Susanna White (Generation Kill) will direct the drama, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch alongside Rebecca Hall, Rupert Everett, Bill Nighy and Felicity Jones. The series is expected to hit screens in Spring 2012. Which gives programmers plenty of time to plot a scheduling war with Downton series three.
The Lynch show
Ever wanted to step inside David Lynch's head? Now's your chance as the director-turned-musician curates a programme at his newly opened club, Silencio, in Paris. To coincide with FIAC, the city's answer to Frieze, Lynch has organised a week of gigs (The Kills and Lykke Li) and screenings (Fellini's 8 , Lolita and Sunset Boulevard), starting tonight. The library has been stocked up with Lynch's favourites – Crime and Punishment, The Metamorphosis and Frank Capra's Name Above The Title – while the bar will serve his choice of wines from Chateau Lynch Bages (no relation).
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