March 1, 2012


A Provincial Life

First published (in censored form) in 1896, Anton Chekhov's story My Life: The Story of a Provincial is one of his longest and most openly political. At its heart is a privileged young gentleman, Misail Poloznev, who rejects his father's way of life and tries to find employment as a manual worker, first for a railway engineer and then for a labourer. Although the engineer's daughter is initially attracted to his idealism, she becomes disillusioned after they are married, and all his bold plans end in family conflicts and disappointment. This new adaptation at the Sherman Cymru (1-17 March) sees the return to his native Cardiff of one of Wales' best-known writers and directors, Peter Gill, for a production of a work that dramatises the search for equality in a way that is still resonant today.

BBC Radio 4

Playing Doctors and Nurses

Programmes about doctors, both factual and fictional, have long been a staple of radio and television. In his quest to explore their fascinating history (3 March, 8pm), Mark Lawson meets doctor-turned-writer Richard Gordon, author of a widely adapted series of books that began with Doctor in the House, and former medic Jed Mercurio, who created the TV series Cardiac Arrest - frequently hailed by those in the profession as the most realistic of all medical dramas. He hears from actor Alan Alda about how his role in the series M*A*S*H helped save his life, and Mal Young, the former head of continuing drama serials at the BBC, recalls the viewer complaints he had to consider about realism, graphic footage and political bias in Casualty and Holby City. Lawson also debates the ethical responsibilities facing programme-makers with documentarist Roger Graef, chair of the Mental Health Media Awards, which were set up to recognise accurate depictions of psychiatric illness.


Alighiero Boetti

A leading member of the Arte Povera group, Alighiero Boetti (1940-94) was one of the most influential Italian artists of the 20th century. He often made use of industrial materials associated with Turin's booming economy, as well as everyday objects including stamps, Biros and magazine covers. He also engaged with major geopolitical issues and travelled to places such as Ethiopia, Guatemala and Afghanistan, even setting up a hotel in Kabul in the 1970s as an art project where he created large, colourful embroideries. This exhibition at Tate Modern, which includes a number of works never previously seen in the UK, continues until May.


Lines of Thought

Since lines can define boundaries, divide spaces and even create light and shade, they have long been used to explore and express a wealth of different feelings, thoughts and ideas. This exhibition at the Foundation for Contemporary Art's Parasol Unit, which continues until 13 May, brings together the work of 15 contemporary artists who all make use of line in creatively challenging ways. Richard Long, for example, has put his journeys into nature at the heart of his output since the mid-1960s; even when they are exhibited indoors, his works have a strongly organic feel that reflects a connection to the landscape. Indian artist Hemali Bhuta has created a bold installation incorporating several thousand candles that simulate stalactites, engendering a dreamy, cave-like experience.


Americans in Florence: Sargent and the American Impressionists

After the end of the Civil War, there was a substantial increase in the number of US artists travelling to Europe. Many of them developed rich and rewarding relationships with local painters in cities such as Florence, with such links often remaining influential even on those who returned to the US. This exhibition at the Palazzo Strozzi (3 March-15 July) covers the whole period up to the First World War, bringing together images of hotel rooms, initial impressions and scenes of daily life; portraits and self-portraits; villas, marble quarries and idyllic glimpses of the Tuscan countryside around the city.

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