January 6, 2011


Lucien Pissarro in England: The Eragny Press, 1895-1914

Lucien Pissarro (1863-1944), son of the Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro, was himself a painter, engraver and printmaker. He also produced a series of exquisite handmade books for the private Eragny Press that he founded and ran with his wife Esther. The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford houses the Pissarro Family Archive, the world's largest archive devoted to a single Impressionist painter. Its new exhibition (8 January-13 March) brings together the 32 volumes - whose authors range from Gustave Flaubert to Sir Francis Bacon - that the Pissarros produced from their London home. Beautifully illustrated and often printed in colour, sometimes with added gold, the books reveal the highly distinctive sensibility of someone with an artistic French upbringing who came under the creative influence of the English Arts and Crafts movement. The show will be accompanied by a second exhibition, British Drawings in the Age of the Eragny Press.


Twelfth Night

In 1954, at the very start of his career, Sir Peter Hall put on a production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at the Oxford Playhouse. He would go on to found the Royal Shakespeare Company and serve as director of the National Theatre. To celebrate his 80th birthday, he returns to the National for a new production of the same play (in repertory from 11 January to 2 March) starring his daughter Rebecca Hall as Viola. Although she began in television and has appeared in Shakespearean and other plays directed by her father, she is perhaps best known for her work in films such as the University Challenge-inspired comedy, Starter for Ten (2006), Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Frost/Nixon (both 2008).


A Doll's House

Theatre Delicatessen was founded in 2007 to create pop-up immersive theatre in unexpected places that actively involves the audience. It has found a temporary perch within a derelict building which used to house Uzbekistan Airways at 3-4 Picton Place, not far from Selfridges on Oxford Street. The venue will be the site of the company's innovative take on Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House (until 5 February), the classic account of one woman's escape from stifling domesticity. Determined to rethink the story for "the generation of women who were told they could have it all", and to challenge the notion that full sexual equality has been achieved, Theatre Delicatessen has abandoned the traditional naturalistic setting and staged the play with an all-female cast.



Held annually at The Place dance studio, Resolution! (until 18 February) is now the biggest platform for new contemporary dance in the world. Applications are invited from July to September, and the companies selected take part in a series of seminars to help them develop skills in lighting, marketing and fundraising. Many past participants have gone on to become prominent figures in the world of dance. This year, 102 exceptionally varied works will be presented in constantly changing nightly triple bills. Their creators claim to have been inspired by everything from Pre-Raphaelite femininity, miscarriage and illegal immigration to "the desire for transformation" and Sunday mornings.


Writers in Prison: Campaigning for Free Expression

This exhibition at The Writers' Museum, which continues until 2 April, focuses on the work of Scottish PEN's Writers in Prison Committee in promoting freedom of speech and supporting persecuted authors. At its heart is a richly decorated Empty Chair, to which a speech bubble bearing the phrase "because writers speak their minds" has been attached, representing all those authors who are imprisoned, exiled or in hiding. Other items include a memoir written on cigarette papers and poems embedded in soap, poignant evidence of the extraordinary lengths writers have been forced to go to, all over the world, to preserve their words from the encroaching power of the state.

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