Bleedin’ Amazin’ Innit?

The increasing use of black and Asian actors has led some in British theatre to congratulate themselves on the growing diversity of the British stage.

But experts have warned that casting ethnic minority actors without paying attention to the way they are lit, or what colour costumes they wear, puts them at a disadvantage to white performers.

An academic at London’s Globe Theatre says that black and Asian actors can be obscured by the dark costumes and furnishings and gloomy lighting traditionally associated with the staging of works by Shakespeare and other period dramatists.

Producers are now being urged to pay more attention to the set design, lighting and costume used in plays featuring ethnic minority actors, in order for the audience to get the most out of their performances.

Different skin tones require different lighting?


It’s as if lighting designers don’t actually design lighting.

These mid-career actresses do all look the same, don’t they?

Actors and actresses are used to being recognised and approached by fans who feel they know them.

But as Victoria Beckham knows only too well, a case of mistaken identity can prove more than a little embarrassing.

Thandie Newton, who stars in Line of Duty and Westworld, has revealed that the former Spice Girl was “mortified” when she engaged her in conversation after confusing her with Zoe Saldana.

There began an awkward exchange that left Newton baffled before it dawned on her that Beckham thought was talking to someone else.

Although both women are actresses, one is British and the other American.

That annoyance at finding out that what they were renting out all those years were the fading youth and beauty, not actual talent.

So, what’s at fault here?

An art student was arrested and charged with making “revenge porn” for including a naked photograph of her former boyfriend in a university project. Lauren Smith, 26, included a heavily-cropped photograph of the man in a piece of artwork, which was awarded a first and published on her artwork Facebook page -but none of her personal social media accounts.

The University of Lincoln student was charged with disclosing a private, sexual photograph with intent to cause distress – the charge commonly known as “revenge porn” after her former boyfriend claimed to have identified himself and was “embarrassed”.

The original image had been ‘topped and tailed’ to edit out the head and genitals, but the complainant argued he could identify himself in it.

The artist made no reference as to who the image, set within a number of other photographs, depicted, a court heard.

Ms Smith denied the charge, alleged to have been committed between May and September last year, and was due to stand trial at Maidstone Crown Court on Wednesday.

Yes, of course it’s a stupid law and crappily written too. But what’s worse, the basic idea or the crappiness of the drafting?

Just a thought, but if we extended this idea to words – we cannot cause distress by revealing private, sexual, stuff – that’s most of the poetry of Sylvia Plath dealt with then, isn’t it?

Movie economics

Ageing cinema audiences want to watch films with intelligent dialogue that deal with real people, according to Imelda Staunton. Yet they are let down by a male-dominated industry that makes “terrible” blockbusters fuelled by violence and special effects.

The Oscar-nominated actress stars in a new heart-warming romantic comedy called Finding Your Feet, whose cast includes Celia Imrie, Timothy Spall, David Hayman and Joanna Lumley. The makers hope the movie will tap into the success of “grey pound” films such as 2011’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which made more than £100m.

Of course dahling, it’s just so terrible that those men make films that people actually want to go and see. Unlike the one I’m promoting right now…..

Why would that be then?

In the line of dire: let’s call time on Clint Eastwood’s macho movies

When peeps get all pretentious about it, when we’re talking about art rather than just a bit of dress up, we’re told that the movies should reflect and illuminate life.

Macho is a part of life – most assuredly it is, as the feminists keep telling us. So, why shouldn’t there be movies about it?

A very silly point about movies

How the western got lost: why the genre needs to innovate to survive

To a great extent the genre did innovate. What the hell is Star Wars other than a Western moved around a bit in time?

The error perhaps is in thinking that westerns are about the west when all that is is the backdrop. The tales are heroes and villains and that’s just moved on to a different scenery setting for the same old human tales.

Hasn’t the world changed?

Outgoing Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has defended his decision to delay the introduction of a female lead by saying the show isn’t around to pander to “progressive liberals”.

The argument is over whether the last Dr Who should have been female, rather than the next one will be. But, but, shouldn’t the last one have been as well?

At which point, hasn’t the world changed? That a director has to defend his decision that a male character be played by a male actor?

Well, actually, you know?

French feminists have voiced outrage over a planned retrospective of the films of director Roman Polanski, who has been accused of several sexual assaults, calling it “an insult” to women following the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

The retrospective is being organised by the Cinémathèque Française, a major Paris-based film archive that is partly funded by the state.

Polanski, who is wanted in the United States for having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977, is scheduled to attend the opening on Monday.

In a petition calling for the event to be cancelled, activist Laure Salmona said it was “indecent” to honour Polanski at a time when women are beginning to open up about sexual abuse and harassment in the wake of the allegations that toppled Hollywood producer Weinstein.

“It’s an insult to all the women who mobilised around the #MeToo and #BalanceTonPorc (Expose the pig) hashtags,” she wrote.

The films are the films. The man’s an utter shit of course, but the films still are the films.

We might call this a derivative of pecunia non olet.

Arthur Koestler was equally a shit – he most certainly raped at least one woman. Darkness at Noon is still a good book. Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath didn’t, umm, work out well together. But the poetry stands as the poetry. From memory Einstein was less than nice to his first wife but the equations still work.

It’s not really an issue until Myleene speaks, is it?

Myleene Klass on Thursday night said that she, too, had been propositioned by the bullish New Yorker.

Weinstein invited her for lunch in Cannes, after she had interviewed him at the film festival for CNN. Over lunch he “asked me to sign some kind of sex contract with him.”

She said: “I just thought, ‘Mate, which planet are you from?’

“Then his PA came over with a confidentiality contract. I just thought, ‘Oh my God, your poor wife.’ I don’t want to be a marriage-wrecker.”

Klass, now 39

I’ve never really know what it is that she does other than employ a good publicist.

Entirely sensible

National Gallery bosses have admitted that none of the museum’s works are insured – with staff relied upon to protect the priceless masterpieces by ‘intercepting lunatics’.
The institution’s chairman Hannah Rothschild revealed the art in the central London building is worth so much that the premiums are unaffordable.
Instead, room attendants are responsible for keeping the works safe – with members of the public also stepping in during two recent attempts by vandals.

The pieces are never going to be sold. So what would be the value of an insurance payment if they were to be damaged or stolen? Thus, why bother?

UEA professor is against capitalism Shock, Horror!

What is astonishing is the acquiescence with which the value system I’ve just described is met with by most writers. Most will feel that it doesn’t speak to why they’re writers at all, but few will discuss this openly. Acceptance is one of the most dismaying political consequences of capitalism. It informs the literary too, and the way publishers and writers “go along” with things. The Booker now has a stranglehold on how people think of, read, and value books in Britain. It has no serious critics. Those who berate its decisions about individual awardees (James Kelman’s prize back in 1994 prompted one judge to say it was “frankly, crap”) ritually add to its allure. After all, the attractiveness of the free market has to do with its perverse system of rewards – unlike socialism, which said everyone should be moderately well off, the free market proposes that anyone can be rich.

The Booker’s randomness celebrates this; it confirms the market’s convulsive metamorphic powers, its ability to confer success unpredictably. In literature, it has redefined terms like “masterpiece” and “classic”.

Few writers, though, display any prickliness. Instead, we end up with the acceptance characteristic of capitalism – which, lately in politics, has led to deep alienation and monstrous alternatives like Donald Trump.

The Booker prize created Trump it appears.

Well, you know, it’s their money

He directed Merchant-Ivory classics such as The Remains of the Day, Howards End and A Room with a View, but American director James Ivory is struggling to interest investors in his latest project. The problem, it seems, lies with his writer: William Shakespeare. For more than five years, Ivory has tried in vain to raise money for a cinema adaptation of Richard II.

Despite 50 years of critical acclaim and Oscar recognition, plus British actors Tom Hiddleston and Damian Lewis lined up to star in his production, financiers are refusing to part with their money. “They look at you like you’re crazy,” he said. “There is an assumption that there is no money to be made from such an investment.”

It’s even possible that they’re right:

Producer Stephen Evans was not surprised to hear of Ivory’s struggle to finance his film. He encountered “much scepticism” from potential investors in making Henry V with Branagh. It was only through friends in the City that he could fully finance the movie. Despite Oscar nominations for Branagh as best director and actor, and great reviews, the film did not do well at the box office.

Perhaps the fault is in ourselves, the film goers, not the stars nor investors?


Kal Penn has highlighted racial stereotypes prevalent in Hollywood by sharing “awful” audition scripts he was given in the early years of his career.

Simple visual art form uses stereotypes. Film at 11

Biting the hand that feeds

Ken Loach has launched an uncompromising attack on the UK government at the 70th British Academy Film Awards.

Speaking as he picked up his award for outstanding British film for I, Daniel Blake, which is conceived as a critique of the current state of the benefits system, Loach touched on accusations by some that his film failed to reflect reality.

Hasn’t it been said state which has financed his entire career? Including that very dandy indeed house in Widcombe?

Wouldn’t have thought so really

Did the Mona Lisa have syphilis?
Jonathan Jones

Others will know better than I but I’d doubt it.

Is this why Del Giocondo needed snail water? If so, it is possible she wanted it for someone other than herself. In any case, her recorded purchase was more than a decade after she posed for Leonardo. But suppose she already had a sexually transmitted disease in 1503. What would that say about Leonardo’s most famous painting?

In those first couple of decades of the arrival (perhaps irruption) of syphilis in Europe it was horribly, hugely, virulent. Noses fell off within months of infection. Death was swift.

It’s only later that it became a chronic disease that might take decades to kill.

I could believe someone in 1703 living a decade with syphilis, could believe, possibly, 1603, but 1503 seems most, most, unlikely.