Museum of Liverpool
The new Museum of Liverpool, which opened this week, aims to explore the history, culture and everyday experience of the city. It considers what it means to be Liverpudlian; how Liverpool became the second city of the British Empire, and how the Empire still affects our lives; the impact of the First World War; the Beatles and the cultural revolution they forged; and the city's long-standing love affair with football. A special exhibition traces the development of Liverpool Airport from the first flights in the 1930s to today's hen weekends with easyJet. Another examines the fascinating relationship between the city and Shanghai, as exemplified by the beautiful Chinese ceramics, furniture and fancy goods brought to Liverpool by wealthy collectors, and which once had a huge influence on both clothes and interior design. Further galleries will open in the coming months.
Roland Petit's Carmen
The English National Ballet's short summer season (at the London Coliseum, 21 to 24 July) offers a rare opportunity for Londoners to see three key works by French ballet legend Roland Petit. Carmen, still his most popular work, challenged the staid conventions of the time with its powerfully erotic choreography and bold reworking of Bizet's score when it was first produced in 1949. L'Arlésienne tells the story of Frédéri's thwarted love for Vivette, the young girl from Arles, set against the frame of the corps de ballet and a landscape by Van Gogh; while Le Jeune Homme et la Mort, a sensational dance-drama created by Jean Cocteau, encapsulates the existentialist anguish of post-war Paris as a faithless woman torments her young lover in a cluttered garret.
Classics Question Time
As part of its major Classics Triennial conference, the University of Cambridge is hosting two open debates on highly topical ancient issues. In the first, on 26 July, Classics professor Paul Cartledge, Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti and philosophers Roger Scruton and Angela Hobbs will examine the death of Socrates, whether he was legitimately convicted and what this means for the expression of unpopular opinion today. The following day, Classics professor Mary Beard, historian David Cannadine and Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, former director of the British School at Rome, ask "Will Pompeii Survive?" - and look at implications for wider questions of access to heritage sites.
Chawton House, Hampshire
The Fashionable Body
Set in the manor house that once belonged to Jane Austen's brother, Chawton House Library holds a unique collection of women's writing from 1600 to 1830. On 28 July, Sophie Vasset and Ariane Fennetaux of the Université Paris-Diderot examine health, underwear and the cotton industry in the 2011 Annual Library Talk, "The Fashionable Body: medicine and leisure in the eighteenth century and the underpinnings of the Empire". It will be followed on 5 August by an outdoor theatrical production of the story of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility) by the Chapterhouse Theatre Company. The event takes place on Chawton House's South Lawn and is hosted with Jane Austen's House Museum.
As part of a summer of new plays, the National Theatre is mounting two double features by young writers. The first (in repertory until 10 September) pairs Sam Holcroft's Edgar & Annabel, where a smart couple preparing dinner cannot escape the political unrest outside, and D.C. Moore's The Swan, a story of family fragmentation and reconciliation set in a South London pub just before a wake. In Double Features 2 (from 26 July to 10 September), an Anglo-Sri Lankan cricketer prepares for her first international in Prasanna Puwanarajah's Nightwatchman, while Tom Basden's There is a War offers biting black comedy in a battle-scarred landscape as a young medical officer struggles to find the hospital and even the war she was promised.