November 18, 2010


The Train Driver

Athol Fugard, probably South Africa's best-known dramatist, produced definitive exposés of labour conditions and miscegenation laws under apartheid in plays such as Boesman and Lena (1969), Sizwe Bansi Is Dead (1972) and Master Harold...and the Boys (1982). His latest play, The Train Driver, premiered in Cape Town earlier this year under the 78-year-old's own direction and is based on the true story of a desperate black woman who, in 2000, stepped in front of a train with her three children. The drama unfolds as the driver, haunted by the face of the dead woman, goes to visit the paupers' cemetery and, in conversation with the local gravedigger, slowly begins to acknowledge his own bigotry. The play has now been revived at the Hampstead Theatre until 4 December.


James Turrell

The US artist James Turrell is fascinated by phenomena ranging from sensory deprivation to intense optical effects. Light is always the central subject and material of his installations, sculptures and prints. Since the early 1970s, he has also attempted to transform the Roden Crater in Arizona into a kind of observatory that recreates the landscape as a multisensory experience. An exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery in London (until 10 December) brings together prints with bronze and plaster models representing the "north moon space" area of the observatory. A series of immersive installations, where visitors are engulfed, sometimes alone, in formless landscapes made entirely of light - is an experience rather like scuba diving or skiing in white-out conditions.


Middle East Peace Orchestra

The Middle East Peace Orchestra is a unique collaborative project that preaches a message of peace through music. It brings together Arab and Jewish musicians from Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Scandinavia to play wildly energetic versions of works drawn from their different and linked traditions: from Middle Eastern makam and classical Arabic music to klezmer and chazzanut cantorial chant. They have already toured much of the world and performed to great acclaim in concert halls and in the streets, as well as before the United Nations. On 22 November they are appearing at St George's, Bristol, in association with the DAVAR Jewish Cultural Institute.


A Dog's Heart

Mikhail Bulgakov's novel A Dog's Heart, written in 1925, tells the story of how a transplant transformed Sharik the dog into a worker called Sharikov. Widely regarded as a satire on communism, it was long banned in the Soviet Union and circulated underground before eventually being published in 1987. It has now been turned into an opera by the Russian composer Alexander Raskatov. This premiered in The Netherlands earlier this year and has now transferred to the English National Opera for seven performances between 20 November and 4 December. The director is Simon McBurney, co-founder of the Complicite theatre company, which is mounting the production in collaboration with the ENO. Complicite was also responsible for two other major shows over the past few months: a revival of A Disappearing Number, about the penniless Indian mathematical genius, Ramanujan, who came to Cambridge in 1914; and Shun-kin, inspired by the work of the Japanese writer Jun'ichiro Tanizaki.


Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival

More than 30 years old, the HCMF is now the UK's largest international festival of new and contemporary music. It takes place from 19 to 28 November and includes concerts, music-theatre, dance, multimedia, talks and film. There will be a particular focus on Norwegian music and works by composer-in-residence Rebecca Saunders such as Chroma, which consists of 20 separate "modules" made up of solo or grouped musicians as well as gramophones and music boxes. Full details from www.hcmf.co.uk.

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