Thursday, April 25, 2013

One more review of Patti Smith's recent gig at The Old Schoolroom in Haworth. From the Museums Journal Blog:
The doyenne of the New York punk scene didn’t seem an obvious match with a 130-capacity schoolroom in Haworth, but Smith, it turns out, is a huge fan of the Brontës and, after a visit to the museum with her sister, she offered to perform a benefit gig.
Apparently Smith had popped in when she was on her world tour and left a handwritten note with the attendant on the door, asking the museum to get in touch.
Hats off to the museum for getting straight on the case and organising the gig, which was, unsurprisingly, an almost instant sell out.
The evening was a triumph for both the artist and the museum. Smith treated the event as professionally as any paid gig but it had the added advantage of intimacy and her clear dedication to the subject matter.
She spoke eloquently between songs about the Brontë family, their literary legacy and the tragedies that had befallen them, and ended the evening by dedicating Because the Night to Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester.
The museum has recently undergone a makeover (watch out for the forthcoming review in Museums Journal) and it struck me as a good example of a smaller museum that punches well above its weight.
OK, it does have the advantage of being the home of one of the most well-known literary families in the world. But it doesn’t rest on those laurels; it has an interesting contemporary arts programme, as well as hosting artists and writers in residence and community events.
There’s lots of talk about developing the business and entrepreneurial skills of people who work in museums; but sometimes I wonder if it’s just a case of being creative, realising what you’ve got, and using it. (Sharon Heal)
Peter McMaster's Wuthering Heights is also getting reviews. From the Guardian:
Far more assured is Wuthering Heights, a thrilling series of sketches about fathers, sons, machismo, tenderness and identity. It bounces in and out of Brontë's book, preferring to describe the male lineage of Heathcliff's horse than offer a coherent narrative, and draws equally from the life experiences of the five actors. It's honest, inventive, beautifully choreographed and, even if unresolved, evidence of a bold and distinctive talent. (Mark Fisher)
From The Herald (Scotland):
Some Arches audiences will have seen a work-in-progress version of Peter McMaster's all-male Wuthering Heights at Arches Live! last September. Those of us who did will be thrilled (and relieved) that McMaster has held his nerve and tweaked his raw material with a light touch. He and his cast of four unstinting comrades – Nick Anderson, Chris Hall, Thom Scullion and Murray Wason – have intensified the sense of open-ness, honesty and personally experienced emotional maelstroms that make the work both moving and thought-provoking.
Some aspects of their rituals and exchanges square up to the Heathcliff myths and cliches found in some aggressively macho stereotypes: these men aren't out to dodge issues of anger or dominance. But Brontë's characters possess wounded souls, and it's the latent scarring, along with the supposedly feminine traits of caring, tenderness and communicating feelings, that McMaster and the others engage with, even to the point of donning frocks. Drag is avoided – instead there is genuine curiosity about the roles men assume and a wonderful degree of joyous male gusto, not least in a synchronised dance to the Kate Bush song. Volunteered moments of memory, aspiration and father/son anecdotes give voice to what so many men feel they have to leave unspoken. (Mary Brennan)
The Scotsman gives it 4 stars:
Peter McMaster’s Wuthering Heights, by contrast, is a strikingly graceful and well-shaped show, despite elements that demand an audience with a certain tolerance for the daft. Performed by a group of five fine young male theatre-makers in their twenties, Wuthering Heights is a powerful 50- minute reflection on themes suggested by Emily Brontë’s great novel, and notably on the character of Heathcliff, the damaged, violent romantic hero at the centre of the story.
It’s possible to quibble with some elements of McMaster’s work. The group dance-in to the sound and movement of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights is too jokey to sit easily with the rest of the material, which shows a real respect for the brooding darkness of Brontë’s vision; the imagined presence of the horses, neighing and galloping around the place in some scenes, is a high-risk strategy.
Yet time and again, in McMaster’s piece, the sheer quality and focus of the ensemble performance sweeps away any reservations about the show’s content, and vindicates McMaster’s decisions. The acting, the writing and the choreography of the piece are all beautifully prepared and crafted, and the show’s quiet conclusion – a series of meditations on modern male lives, followed by a tiny, vivid final glimpse of Heathcliff and Cathy playing as children – is truly moving, as one of Scotland’s most interesting young theatre-makers moves forward, into new ground.
The DVD release of Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights is favourably reviewed by Comme au cinéma:
Ainsi, de la même manière que Sofia Coppola tirait du matériau historique de Marie-antoinette une fresque intimiste sur l’adolescence et son désœuvrement, Andrea Arnold déconstruit puis réinvestit le canevas littéraire de l’unique œuvre d’Emily Brontë, pour nous livrer une composition plus sensorielle que sensible qui s’attache moins à transposer fidèlement qu’à rendre compte par fulgurances visuelles (en témoignent les nombreux flashbacks) de la psyché d’un personnage dans son apprentissage implacable de la vie, entre violence du désir et difficulté de grandir. (Mathilde Salmon) (Translation)
Slate reports that,
This week’s Audible suggestion is Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, narrated by Michael Kitchen. (Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and June Thomas)
The Fader interviews designer Lou Dalton:
You’re always inspired by the past, too. I love contemporary design, I love forward-thinking, and all of that. But when you’re a kid and things are tough, and you don’t have holidays, and you don’t go to the cinema, and you sit and spend time at your grandmother’s farm watching old movies on repeat and listening to the radio, the world service, the past can be key. It’s like a memory box: you build a collection of things on how you would have liked life to have been, and it’s living out those things. I’ve talked heavily about Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights as an inspiration. But I don’t want it to come across as some kind of nostalgia, throwback collection or whatever. I’m quite clear about pushing it forward with the technical side and the fabrication, making it modern.
It sounds like you’re a bit of romantic. I suppose I am. (Alex Frank)
TheaterJones describes the José Limón Dance Company's latest show as
from another time, familiar yet alien.  Maybe it is the attention to structure and its overall serious purpose that makes it out of sync with newer, brash companies, but if it is dated, it is dated like Wuthering Heights is dated, or Mad Men. Each of the three words created by Limón on Saturday night’s program at The Latino Cultural Center seems embedded in a space, a time, and most of all, a clear intent. (Margaret Putnam)
The Providence Journal reviews Linda Barnes’ psychological thriller The Perfect Ghost where
Em narrates her journey from Jane Eyre-like innocence to becoming Malcolm’s eager lover as if she’s talking to her dead partner. (Carole E. Barrowman)
We Sat Down posts about Wuthering Heights. Czytam, oglądam writes in Polish about The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Love of Book posts in French about Jane Eyrotica. Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book reviews Joanna Campbell Slan's second installment to The Jane Eyre Chronicles: Death of a Dowager. Flickr user Alison Christine has uploaded a few pictures of Wycoller Hall.

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