She Stoops to Conquer
Country gentleman Hardcastle thinks his friend's son, Charles Marlow, would be the perfect match for his daughter Kate until he finds himself mistaken by his prospective son-in-law for an innkeeper and Kate for the local barmaid. Although tongue-tied with women of his own class, Marlow is an accomplished charmer with those of lower social status. As Hardcastle's indignation intensifies, Kate's enthusiasm soars. First performed in 1773, Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer is not only the most famous comedy of its era but one of the most generous-hearted and ingenious in the English language. This new production continues in repertory at the National Theatre until 28 March.
An Age of Confidence: Photographs by Bedford Lemere & Co
Bedford Lemere & Co was probably the most prominent English firm of architectural photographers from 1870 to 1930, and its work captured the exciting new world of motor cars, motion pictures and luxury cruise ships. Although based in London, the company worked extensively in Merseyside for clients such as Cammell Laird shipbuilders, the Adelphi Hotel and Port Sunlight Village. This first major exhibition of its work has been put together in collaboration with English Heritage, custodian of the Bedford Lemere & Co collection, and can be seen at the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight from January to 7 May. It includes photographs reproduced from glass plate negatives, and objects from the archive.
Death: Southbank Centre's Festival for the Living
Call it the Grim Reaper or a blessed release, none of us can escape death. This taboo-defying festival, which takes over London's Southbank from to 29 January, offers a variety of perspectives on this underlying truth. Boxed, for example, brings together a collection of fabulous bespoke coffins - in the guise of everything from a Mercedes to a kite to a giant cocoa bean - from Nottingham and Ghana. An Instinct for Kindness is a moving one-man show by Chris Larner, who accompanied his chronically ill wife to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland and came home with an empty wheelchair and a story to tell. And Music To Die For, a performance by the BBC Concert Orchestra, shows how death inspired masterpieces by composers from Mozart to Mahler, not to mention the cheerful dancing skeletons in Saint-Saëns' Danse Macabre.
Specially created to mark the 10th anniversary of the company formed by the award-winning choreographer Jasmin Vardimon, Yesterday combines daring athleticism with intimate scenes of tenderness, live performance with animation and video. Eight international dancers weave together some of the most breathtaking moments from the company's repertoire to create a work that is both stirring and socially relevant. It can be seen at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter, on 30 and 31 January (with Vardimon giving a masterclass on the Tuesday morning), and then at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, on 28 March.
Ori Gersht: This Storm Is What We Call Progress
This exhibition, which continues at the Imperial War Museum London until 29 April, is the first solo British museum show devoted to the work of Ori Gersht, professor of photography at the University for the Creative Arts. At its heart are three haunting works that address dark and complex themes through images of seductive beauty. Will You Dance For Me? shows an 85-year-old dancer rocking back and forth in a chair, slowly recounting her experiences as a young woman in Auschwitz. The photographic work Chasing Good Fortune examines the shifting symbolism of Japanese cherry blossoms, which came to be linked with kamikaze soldiers during the Second World War. And the two-screen film Evaders explores the mountainous path through the Pyrenees used by the writer and philosopher Walter Benjamin and many others as they attempted to escape Nazi-occupied France.