Art and Culture

Edward Hopper: All The Lonely People

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There is compassion and hope in the art of Edward Hopper, says Mike Gonzalez.

'bring on your fireworks... very well
provided an instant may be fixed'

(e e cummings)

It is always hard to remember where or when you saw your first Edward Hopper. Or perhaps the places and the people that he paints are so familiar that they were somewhere in your memory already - and Hopper simply brought them back to mind.

Women on the Front Line: Keeping Torture at Bay

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Victoria Brittain speaks to Matt Foot about the issues behind her new play Guantanamo.

What made you want to write a play about Guantanamo Bay and what does the title, Guantanamo: 'Honour Bound to Defend Freedom', mean?

I simply wanted to do it as soon as the director, Nick Kent, offered it to me. It is such an outrageous situation just in terms of the obvious illegality of the whole thing. Anything that could draw attention to what was happening, I thought, would be a contribution.It's the title that they had written up outside Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo. You know, like in Auschwitz they had 'Work makes men free'.

This Charming Man: An Interview with Pete Doherty

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Phil Whaite spoke to Pete Doherty of The Libertines after a Love Music Hate Racism gig that filled the London Astoria.

Why did you feel it was important to do this gig?

There's a point you reach before you're perverted and tainted by all the things that drag you into the music business, like avarice or a lust for fame. The original reason why I started was some feeling of community, equality, wanting to fight for things you believe in. Any kid who's gone to a state school knows what it's all about - bullying, racism. And you've just got to make a stand.

Freedom Music

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Martin Smith talks to Denys Baptiste about his new album, the civil rights movement and the struggle for freedom and justice today.

Denys Baptiste is a saxophone player from west London. His first album, Be Where You Are, was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize and won a Music of Black Origin (Mobo) award. His wonderful new album Let Freedom Ring! is a tribute to Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement.

What were your musical influences when you were growing up?

Music, Dreams and Desire

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Mike Gonzalez commemorates the extraordinary music of the Buena Vista Social Club.

The last time I saw Rubén González play piano he finished one tune with a visual joke: running his fingers up the keyboard, he continued beyond the edge of the piano, playing in the air. It was as if his extraordinary dexterity and skill had conquered what was there and needed some new challenges. Bumping into him a little later in a bar near the theatre, I realized how tiny he was, and how bent and arthritic his hands were. It made his artistry even more astonishing.

Comedy: Behind Byron's Bear

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Pat Stack asks socialist comedian Mark Steel about his new TV series The Mark Steel Lectures

Pat Stack (PS): Where did the idea come from for the series?

Mark Steel (MS): I had a radio series in the mid-1990s with the same format. I thought, ’There is a way of doing these talks that has jokes in but doesn‘t deviate from the subject.‘ It doesn‘t necessarily send up the subject. These sort of historical events are funny to anyone who‘s not an academic.

Orwell Centenary: Culture, Class and Communism

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George Orwell was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. On the hundredth anniversary of his birth we examine the controversy around his work and his legacy for today. Gareth Jenkins assesses Orwell's writing on culture.

Room 101, Big Brother, doublethink - all these have passed into the language to become instantly recognisable, though in ways that might have surprised Orwell. They are testimony to the power of his writing and the way it has become part of everyday culture.

Lions and Jackals

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Lindsey German celebrates the re-release of 'The Leopard', the classic film about the conflict between the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie during the creation of Italy.

Luchino Visconti's 'The Leopard' is a great Marxist film. It tells us about a crucial point in Italian history through the story of one man, the prince of Salina - head of an aristocratic Sicilian dynasty. In 1860, when the film opens, Italy as a unified state only exists in the imagination. The country we now know is comprised of dozens of states, with no unified politics or civil society or even language.

Obituary: How It Would Feel to be Free

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Mike Hobart pays tribute to the black singer and songwriter Nina Simone who died last month.

Nina Simone, who died recently aged 70, was one of the most compelling of the many innovative musical figures that were thrown up by the US civil rights movement in the 1960s. Like many black musicians of the time she believed music had a clear political purpose. Contrary to many of her obituary notices, it was a belief she carried throughout her adult life, and her deeply soulful voice, theatricality and often playful approach to music was allied to an uncompromisingly public political commitment to human emancipation.

Theatre Enters Stage Left

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Theatre can be a forum for debate and encourage collective action.

Recently I was rereading some of John McGrath's essays on political theatre in his book 'Naked Thoughts That Roam About'. McGrath, who died last year, set up the 7:84 theatre group (7 percent owning 84 percent of the wealth) to create an agitprop theatre for the generation of anti Vietnam War protesters.

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