Rebecca Townesend

A Blaze in a Desert

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A Blaze in a Desert is a slim volume of selected poems by Victor Serge. Serge was a revolutionary and writer who witnessed many of the great political highs and terrible lows in the first half of the 20th century.

He was inspired by the revolution and arrived in Russia in January 1919, shortly afterwards joining the Bolshevik Party. He consistently opposed Stalin and was exiled.

Revolution: New Art for a New World

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This is a great film for socialists with an interest in art. Written, produced, directed and narrated by Margy Kinmonth, the film focuses on the artistic avant-garde that flourished in advance of and following the 1917 Russian Revolution.

It moves on to discuss the changes in art subsequent to Stalin’s consolidation of power. The film gives a basic political history of the 1917 Revolution and the events that followed.

Iraq: The Cost of War

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Jeremy Greenstock dedicates his book to his wife, but could as well have dedicated it to the global anti-war movement, stating, “For Anne, who suspected long before I did that Saddam had no WMD.”

Greenstock was the UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) in the run up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and UK Special Envoy for Iraq in the immediate aftermath.

He has written a long and hugely detailed book and in between a potted history of his own career and reflections on the role of the UN, American power and other major political events he focuses on Iraq.

The Plough and the Stars

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This production of Sean O’Casey’s The Plough And The Stars, written in 1926, marks the centenary of the Easter Rising in Dublin.

The action in the first two acts takes place in November 1915 and the final two are set during Easter week 1916, with the uprising as the backdrop. The mood of the play changes with the shifting time. The opening scenes have a lighthearted humour that is absent in the final tragic and heartrending moments.

Left Field

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Left Field is a thoughtful and gentle memoir. Born in 1945, David Wilson “had contact at a young age with people who’d led dangerous political lives”, such as the Danish doctor who helped Jews fleeing the Nazis.

His father had radical views and had witnessed the horrors of war and fascism first hand, being one of the first medics to go into Bergen-Belsen camp after liberation, and had shown the young David photographs of the horrifying scenes he had found there.

Where to Invade Next

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Michael Moore’s new film is not, as the title implies, a film about overwhelming US military might and another ill-conceived imperialist war. Instead the more bizarre premise involves Moore “invading” various countries himself to take the best from their societies and return to an America he characterises as dysfunctional.

The Maids

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This 1947 play by French playwright Jean Genet comes to London’s West End in a new version for the Jamie Lloyd Company. The all-star cast features Uzo Aduba (best known for her role in US TV comedy Orange is the New Black), Zawe Ashton (Fresh Meat) and Laura Carmichael (Downton Abbey).

Anomalisa

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This is a beautiful and distinctive looking stop-motion animation written by Charlie Kaufman, who also wrote the films Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It captures the struggles of an alienated man battling through the big questions of life: What is it to be human? What is it to be alive?

The World Goes Pop

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This is a thrilling, colourful and challenging exhibition. It succeeds in demolishing any idea that the pop art movement of the 1960s and 1970s was a US and UK phenomenon produced largely by men.

In this show work by artists working across the world in countries as diverse as Iceland, Japan, Peru, Iran, Brazil, Poland and Cuba gives a completely new perspective on what pop art was and the themes it tackled.

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