Episode 24 The Culture Show

Episode 24

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Welcome to the Culture Show from Glasgow. This week we have


outstanding opera, gorgeous Gothic and some wicked wit, so don't move!


Coming up: An operatic controversy. Composer John Adams tells Clemency


Burton-Hill about his infamous work, The Death of Klinghoffer.


A tale of our times. John Lanchester tells Professor John


Mullan about his new novel, Capital. And a dramatic life. I delve into


the complex world of neo-Gothic architect Augustus Pugin.


Mark Kermode on the best movies at the Viva Festival of Spanish and


Latin American film. Lynn Barber talks to Sue Townsend


about her new novel. And theatrical rebel Philip Ridley


tells Miranda Sawyer about his latest play, Shivered.


First tonight, you can't have failed to notice that this year


Britain has been celebrating the bicentenary of Charles Dickens. But


I'd like to draw your attention to the 200th birthday of another great


Victorian. The architect and designer Augustus Pugin, who


instigated the 19th century gothic revival. I've been to visit Pugin's


home in Ramsgate to find out about this visionary man.


As night fell on September 10th, 1852, Amman was bundled onto a


train in Waterloo headed for Ramsgate in Kent. -- a man. Prone


to violent six and psychotic visions, he had been heavily


sedated with chloroform. He had just been sent to Bedlam by his


wife, a pauper's Hospital for the insane. His wife decided this was


no place for her husband to spend his last days. It was time to bring


him home. That man was none other than Augustus Pugin, now regarded


as one of the greatest architects of the Victorian age, but by the


time of his death in 1852, not only was see quite insane, his work was


also destined to become hopelessly unfashionable for more than a


century. Pugin can be difficult, a typical of tub-thumping Victorian


moralising evangelist, hard to get to know. I am hoping by visiting a


house that he built for himself, I can get an insight into the more


interesting aspect of his As a devout Catholic convert,


Pugin's mission in life was to convert Britain back to a pre-


Reformation, medieval haven, where Gothic architecture would be a


moral force for good. And Ramsgate was home for many years, it was a


place above all when he dreamed his neo- Gothic Dream. Within three


days of being brought back to Ramsgate by Jane, Pugin was dead.


He was just 40 years old and he left behind the young wife he


adored, as well as eight children. Many believed to his death was


caused by overwork in his short life. He designed no fewer than 86


buildings. Others think it was caused by the Mercury that he took


for his failing eyesight, possibly a symptom of syphilis, but Jane's


heroic efforts of getting him out of the hell-hole that was bedlam


were not entirely in vain. Thanks to her, he was able to die in peace,


surrounded by his family, in a place that he loved most of all.


This handsome family house, with a Catholic church attached, was built


by Augustus Pugin in 1854 and was his pride and joy. All his


architectural and spiritual ideals went into this one building. Until


a few years ago, the Grange, like Pugin's reputation at the time of


his death, was in a terrible state. In danger in fact of being boarded


up. But thankfully, the Landmark Trust stepped in to restore it just


in time. Caroline, why do you think this house was so were the a


restoration? It is the seminal building from a seminal architect.


Augustus Pugin sets the tone for the Gothic revival in Britain in


the mid- 19th century. It is a house of incredible self-confidence.


Imagine, you off 30 and yet to stamp your motto all over the walls.


-- you are just 30. Forwards, forwards! It says! And yet at the


same time, this is an incredibly modern house because at the time he


was building in the early 1840s, this kind of entrance hall was very


radical and almost a little bit risky. You have this gallery


running around the top. A you can see into people's bedrooms!


bedroom door is there. Do you think his contemporaries would have been


shocked that you can look up and perhaps see the lady of the house


stumbling out of bed in a dressing- gown? Yes. You can see who is


coming and going, you can see children running backwards and


forwards on the nursery. He is setting the tone for how we lived


our lives today. He introduces anarchy into the restrained world


of Georgian architecture. Yes, a willingness to be spontaneous. This


would have been a family sitting room, so Pugin himself there, and


then this is Jane, his third wife. He described her as the first great


Gothic month. Terribly important to him, his soulmate -- first great


Gothic woman. She has a twinkle in her eye. I think she was a special


lady. Pugin needed a woman in his life. He was very attracted to


women and he was highly sexed so do have a wife and a mother in his


home was terribly important. He said without a woman he felt like a


Marron at sea without a compass. The fireplace is blended. -- he


felt like a man at sea without a compass. The fireplace is splendid.


Lot of meaning in the House and the fireplace is no exception. The


little lamb is for his daughter, Agnes. Then we have the letter C


for Cuthbert, his son. Each of his children can say, that is me.


a romantic version of medievalism. I sometimes thought of him as being


dry but you get the other side of him, the intimacy, his love of


having the children running about, his study is just there. He did all


of his works separated only by a curtain and in his darker days, he


thought this was a terrible mistake. He spoke about Perpetual screams,


he said he may as well work in a pig market and to try to get work


done! He could hardly complain when he designed his workspace that was


meant to be invading! Exactly! On a daylight today come up with the


sunlight streaming through and the colours of the stained-glass, you


can imagine it would be an inspiring place to work, and he has


dressed up with positive vibes to give him inspiration. He has got


his famous, favourite saints and around the world, -- around the


room, he has put the names of his favourite places and people.


Strange. Very modern and yet he is possessed by the past as though he


wants to resist the modern age, but the degree with which he resists it


is in itself modern! Exactly! Pugin. His great medieval project


was always doomed to fail, however hard he tried. He could never hold


back the march of time. They say an English man's home is his castle. I


don't think I have ever felt that more strongly than here. This


little walled garden, little medieval house, and all around it,


evidence of the modern age. I wonder if it wasn't a huge effort


of holding modernity at bay, trying to live the dream of the Gothic,


the medieval, I wonder if it wasn't the effort of that that in the end


Few operas get people talking as much as The Death of Klinghoffer.


Based on the true story of a Jewish American tourist who was killed


when a cruise liner was hijacked by Palestinian militants, Klinghoffer


whipped up a political storm when it was first performed in 1991. It


continues to resonate in a world where many of the conflicts it


considers remain unresolved. As the ENO presents its London stage


premiere, Clemency Burton Hill's been talking to the shows director,


Tom Morris, and its composer, John People often say that opera needs


to be a bit more relevant, but what happens when someone writes one


that is. The hijack of the Achille Lauro cruise liner has ended but


not without bloodshed. The body of a man cost a short in Syria was


identified this morning as that of Leon Klinghoffer. John Adams is


America's most admired and frequently performed composer and


when he collaborated with Alice Goodman on a new opera about the


murder of Leon Klinghoffer, a Jewish-American tourist, they knew


it would be controversial, but when it was first performed in New York,


the Death of Klinghoffer proved a bit too relevant for its own good.


By depicting the Palestinian militants as human beings, the


opera was charged with sympathising or even romanticising terrorism.


Given the highly charged subject matter, they create is expected it


to have a big impact up the response was extreme, with


accusations of prejudice and naivety flying from all sides. It


is perhaps not surprising then that no London theatre has dared to


stage the work, until now. I think the shift may be that you are


filling in this human details around the songs, so the connection


is becoming less academic and more human... For the last six weeks,


the ENO had been rehearsing in the studio in east London under the


watchful eye of directed Tom Morris, fresh from his hugely successful


stage production of warhorse. This is his first full-blown opera. It


is a very controversial peace and your production does not shy away


from difficult questions. Tell us about your approach. I have no


sympathy with people who think that we should deny the humanity of


criminals. I don't think we learn or understand anything. The


greatest works of fiction one can imagine, from Macbeth to crime and


punishment, have earned their greatness by applying real, human


understanding to what might be going on in the mind of the


# Lebanon, Palestine #. My view is a more constructive


approach, creatively and politically, is to say, yes, that


was a political act, but what might have been behind it? If we


understand it, we do not condone the Act but we put ourselves in a


position where a dialogue might emerge where this is less likely to


happen again. I got a sneak preview of the new production and a chance


The before the story starts, the school transports us back to the


roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict, setting a political


What drew me to the story was the fact that it operated on two levels,


historically. On the one hand, it really felt like a story that came


out of the Old Testament, implacable, hatred I must be bought,


misunderstanding, struggles over land -- hatred amongst people. On


the other hand, it was painfully relevant. It was torn out of the


headlines, and that offended a lot One of the most controversial


aspects of the opera is its insistence on the equality of the


two narratives. The Chorus of Exiled Palestinians is followed


immediately by the Chorus of Exiled #...


Since we parted #. We opened in 2004 at a London press


conference looking back at the events. The central character is


the captain, who is looking back on Almost as if he was restlessly


examining his conscience and wondering whether he could have


done anything different, whether he could have intervened earlier or in


a different way and saved Klinghoffer. It's 21 years since


you wrote The Death of Klinghoffer. It's never been performed in London.


Do we need to revisit it now? allows us to feel, and that's part


of the problem of The Death of Klinghoffer for many people because


they don't want to feel certain things. They've made their mind up


who's bad, who's innocent, and if the music suggests that everyone


has feelings, is human in one way or another, that troubles them.


After all that's been said about Klinghoffer, maybe it's time to let


And there are four more performances of The Death of


Klinghoffer at the London Coliseum between now and the 9th of March.


Now, it seems that the writer John Lanchester has found his favourite


subject in the financials me the West is in. He's already given us a


non-fiction account of it in Whoops! Why Everyone Owes Everyone,


and now he's tackling the topic in fiction for his new novel, Capital.


He tells Professor John Mullan all about it.


London 2012 - Home to nearly eight million people


and nearly 300 different languages, an old metropolis where new people


are always arriving, a vibrant place and one of the most expensive


cities in the world. London takes centre stage in John Lanchaster's


new book Capital. It's a state-of- the-nation in the Victorian


tradition. It looks how the restless inhabitants of the city


are put together but brought apart by the power of money. It's a way


to show how the economics are shaped by post-credit crunch


Britain. The novel is set in a fictional


Pepys Road, a typical South London street where ballooning property


values have made for surprising neighbours - a banker and a


Premiership footballer have moved in next to the local shopkeeper and


a pensioner who has lived in the street for decades. One day


everyone receives a mysterious postcard bearing the single


sinister sentence, "We want what you have."


A host of characters becomes entangled in this complex tale


which spans the different classess, generations and nationalities of


the capital city. John, you're not actually originally a Londoner. Why


did you really want to write a novel about London now? It seemed


really interesting, the condition of the city. It has energies and


clomp lexties and global things taking place here, and I want to


have London's themes taking place on this particular street with this


great diversity of characters moving through it. Did the ambition


of the novel come before the plot and the characters? Ambition is a


complicated thing in relation to books because the highest ambition


of all is not to suck. LAUGHTER


And that's also the most important ambition. If you think of the


parallel with Dickens, the odd thing - it often seems that he


relished living in London and yet bequeathed a rather hellish


representation of it. Were you aware of that when you were writing


this novel about contemporary London? Places people are desperate


to get away from and to get to. We're the second kind of place. A


lot of the characters in the book have that sense of wanting to make


their fortunes in London. It was important to have immigrant


experience at the heart of the novel? Yes, people who come from


other places also allow you to bring other ways of seeing other


perspectives, bringing an unhas been it waited -- unhas been itated


look at the city. Patrick Carver took to going for


walks. The effect of his long solo walks around the city wasn't to


make him suddenly love London, but he began to feel he understood it


better, understood where things were, understood the rhythm of the


city. He realised what was disconcerting for him was the


impression of everybody being busy all the time. People always seemed


to be doing things. Even when they weren't doing anything, they were


walking dogs or going to betting shops or reading newspapers at bus


stops or listening to music through headphones or skateboarding along


the pavement or eating fast food as they walked along the street so


even when they weren't doing things, they were doing things. The novel


also takes on an obsession of many Londoners, which is the sort of


ballooning property prices. I know, and it's one of the most boring


things about it. I remember it from the '80s - there was a point you


literally couldn't have a conversation without people


starting to boast about property prices within seconds. Of all the


diverse, amazing things that exist in the world, there is something


dispiriting about the fact that people only want to talk about what


their house is worth. Do you think a reader who seeing what this is


about - wanting money, earning money, worrying about not having


enough money - would that reader end up thinking money is the poison


of London? It's easy to portray any material acquisition as a form of


corruption or fallenness, which it manifestly isn't, and, you know,


there are characters in the book who are poor and who need money


just in the - the most basic way to have security. Yeah. You're - you


do that perhaps the most difficult thing in contemporary fiction for a


Londoner, which is you make a traffic warden a sympathetic


character in her attempt to keep body and soul together. I have


always been interested in traffic wardens because of that thing of


their - they have a kind of strange dual status in that they're -


they're invisible and everyone hates them.


Catina had never known a subject in which people had become irrational


as completely as parking in this absurdly rich country. When you


gave people a ticket, they were angry, always, inevitably. There


were times when she wanted to say, "Get down on your knees. Be


grateful. A billion people living on a dollar a day, as many who


can't find clean drinking water. You live in a country where there


is the promise to feed, clothe, shelter and doctor you from the


moment of your birth to the moment of your death for free, where the


state won't come and beat, imprison or conscript you, where the life


expectancy is one of the longest in the world, where the Government


doesn't lie to you about aids and the music isn't bad and the only


bad thing is the climate, and you find it in yourself to complain


about parking - Whoa, Whoa!" You take characters who are quite


remote from you and probably most of the readers, a Zimmer and ref --


Zimbabwean refugee who is a traffic warden, a Polish builder, and you


tell us what they're thinking and what they're like. Did you hesitate


in your ability to do that? There is something audacious and


presumptuous about making things up anyway. I didn't really because


it's my made-up world. It's my train set. I am allowed to run my


trains in any way I like, and I have never felt a problem with that.


Capital was published this week by Faber and Faber, and you can see


what they make of it on the Review Show tonight at 11.00pm on BBC Two.


Next tonight, Welsh artist Osi Rhys Osmond is embedded in a love of his


country's landscape. He was brought up in the Rhondda Valley and his


latest pictures are inspired by the rise and the Klein of the region's


coal mining industry. Here's If we're honest, the art world can


sometimes feel a little bit self- involved with its gaze firmly stuck


on its own naval. You have trendy collectors who like to buy art in


trendy London gallery, but I think art shouldn't just be the preserve


of highfalutin, metropolitan elite. Any artist worth him or her salt


should be able to summon art out of the most unlikely, humdrum


surroundings. Art should be able to make us consider afresh what people


generally overlook. That is what the work of Welsh artist Osi Rhys


Osmond is all about. Here we are in Wales in Wattsville.


I'm sorry. Let me be honest. I hadn't heard of this town. Not many


have heard of Wattsville. There are people who live here who haven't


heard of Wattsville. You come from Wattsville. I do. My business is to


put it on thema. It's a village that was built to house miners. It


didn't exist before the coal mines. We're walking on the back streets.


This is where I was brought up. What are these houses? I was


brought up in that house there where my mother lived until this


time last year. Really? Let's have a look. This is the shed - the


beautiful shed my father built. This one, with the corrugated iron


roof? Yes. He was a miner? Yes, as was his father. He worked in the


colliery before it finished. Living in a narrow lane, it does give you


a perspective... What's going on here? Somebody has cast aside a


broken doll placed in the middle of the road. Almost looks like a Welsh


costume. That's macabre. Where's the head? Around us I should


In a way... Is that a metaphor for... Maybe, but she's nicely


dressed. As well as being an artist, you're a thinker. You're a Welsh


sage. Thank you very much. strikes me your work - one context


to view it in is that whole trend of psycho-geography, which is


actually associated more readily with writers, people like Ian


Sinclair, McFarland recently... Yeah. These are people interested


in interrogating the identity of a particular area. Yes. I make big


maps and drawings which include writing and history and layers and


dates and contours, so I am trying to do two-dimensionly something as


complex as time. What I call drive through here and not pay it


that much attention. Most people drive the world without paying it


too much attention. Everywhere is worthy of attention. I should like


to know you know your own square mile as well as you possibly can


before you step into the next square mile. What about people who


don't come from this square mile? Every scare mile in a sense is


representative of every other square mile. Each one of these


people who passes through this place - if they pause through a


moment consider themselves and the space they're in and the time


they're in, their lives and their eternity would mean much more to


them. You feel the man who is tired of Wattsville is tired of life?


Absolutely. I felt the man who was tired of London has suddenly grown


The phrase graphic-a psychic geography has a wonderful ring to


it. When I first did the drawings, I did it where I lived, looking at


the sea and the estuary and the military planes and the ancient


historic sites, and there is a density in what you see, so if you


examine each of them one by one and place them within the landscape, I


was writing a graphic essay, so when I thought of combining it with


mapping, it took the term graphics are good geography for me, I was


claiming back my landscape, defining it and making it mind --


graphic striker Jo geography. You won't see the things I am a seven


to but I know they are there and once you see the drawings and look


at the landscape, you will know they are there as well. Do you ever


worry that you are too much in thrall to the past? We are what the


past is, without the past we are nothing. We exist on top of the


past we have. My father had Alzheimer's and when he had that,


he was not the man he had been. He became distressed. Be removed the


colliery pits and made it more tidy in the village. The physically


removed his memory and his memory was demolished. Alzheimer's was a


part of it but I think it was hastened by the clearing away of


the colliery Picts, it was such a prominent part of life. Amid the


drawings I make to explain to me -- I make. In my firmament, there is a


hole in the roof of my life so I have to make something to fill the


hole. Usually when I make it, another hole appears. And what is


the whole? It is a gap in my understanding. Land and Inheritance


opens tomorrow at the Rhondda Heritage Park and runs until the


22nd of April. Still to come: Mark Kermode on the highlights of the


Viva Spanish and Latin American Film festival but first, the news.


Dolphins reject human status. Drought could make Mancunians take


off anoraks. And paparazzi found in Sienna Miller's womb. Those are


just read recent straw -- strong -- story lines from dailymash.co.uk. A


British satirical website that mixes the biting and the laugh-out-


loud funny and has become a big success. Tim Samuels went to meet


Neil Rafferty, the man whose wit lurks behind those wicked headlines.


The one thing we do have, apart from a couple of violence somewhere


in the Argentina, is our superior sense of satire. No one does satire


quite like the British, apart from Americans who seemed quite good now,


and there was an Italian who was pretty funny about Berlusconi, but


satire is a heart of the British soul. And the biggest wielders of


that British sort of climate is the Daily Mash and I have come to


This is the editorial headquarters of the Daily Mash. Basically that


desk is where it all happens, that is what makes the Daily Mash every


day. It is an amazing thing we can make the website with no office.


When you write satire, you need to be fuelled by anger and vitriol


about the system and you a SAT... Looking up the window. -- and you


are sat there. Because I am such an angry person, it doesn't really


matter what my surroundings are like. If the French countryside was


not out there with the beautiful sunshine, I don't know what the


Daily Mash would be like, it would be a massive screen! I need to come


out here and just feel normal and then I go back in there and the


anger comes out, the desire to hurt people is given free rein, to make


them cry! That is not a bad way to make a living. Independent Scotland


could be exactly the same, or warn experts. As Alex Salmond set out


his timetable for an independence referendum, he was dealt a blow


after research showed separation from the UK would make absolutely


no difference whatsoever. Professor Henry from Institute of Studies


said it would still be damp and windy. He added, the rest of the UK


will also remain exactly the same, only more so. When we started, we


did not know what it was going to do. You know... But it grew quite


quickly and before we knew it, it was a full-time job. Founded in


2007, the Daily Mash is the UK's most successful satirical website.


It has spawned a number of hard copy books, a radio pilot and gets


1.5 million hits a month, from people in offices who like to waste


time. Some people have got the idea that the Daily Mash is a bit right


wing and I think that is because satire is generally left wing, so


if you get satirical content that does not belong in that Strand, the


automatic assumption is that you must be opposed to the left wing.


We are not. We have an equal level of contempt for every strand of the


political spectrum. The Daily Mash is against all politics. It is


obvious that it is an incredibly cynical exercise. Nick Clegg's mum


writes an angry letter to David Cameron's mum, demanding an end to


the taunting of her son. She said Nick keeps bursting into tears and


refused to go to the House of Commons, claiming he had a sore


stomach. She wrote, while our children are running the country, I


would ask that your son it is nice to my son and lets him join in with


European summits. A source close to Mrs Cameron said she did not take


kindly to being lectured by a Dutch cow and put the letter in the bin.


The new Labour under any apprehension that what you do might


make a small bit of difference? couldn't care less about making a


difference. I am not so confident in my abilities as a writer at the


Daily Mash, of its cultural impact, to think it makes a difference.


This is what we think, it is funny, there it is. Read it, don't read it.


Our job is to make people laugh about the news. As we plunged


deeper into economic despair, perhaps Weemaes satire now more


than ever. -- perhaps we need satire. Back to you, Andrew.


It has been 13 years since Sue Townsend introduced the world to


the spotty, respectable Adrian Mole. She says he was largely based on


herself. Her new book, A Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year, is also


semi biographical. Sue Townsend has been meeting our reporter. In 1982,


while the sounds of Madness was ringing over Britain, Leicester


were celebrating its own it chopped topping resident. Sue Townsend was


living in the suburbs when she created her greatest character.


Adrian Mole would become be Harry Potter of its day and make Sue


Townsend the best selling author of the decade. When I last visited Sue


Townsend at home, complications with her diabetes meant she was


starting to lose her sight. Two years later, she would be


registered blind and her life as a writer would become very different.


Her condition also means she has trouble walking but she is anything


but downbeat. This is an author who can be relied on to find humour in


almost any situation. Her latest novel is no exception. The book


follows glamourous 50-year-old Eva, who won the day had teenage twins


leafy university, decides she has had enough of being a dutiful wife


and mother. She climbs into bed fully clothed and decides to the


irritation of a family that it is her turn to be waited on. Eva sat


up straight, she wanted to get out of bed and put an end to the


trouble she was causing but when it came to swinging her legs round,


the floor didn't look solid. She felt that if she stood, she would


sink through the floorboards as though they were made of jelly.


love A Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year. It is your sort of thing that


it is very funny but it is also really sad in places. But I


remember that when I interviewed you 11 or 12 years ago, you said


you were going to write one more comic novel called A Lump In The


Bed. That's right! Was that a germ of this? It was. And I forgot to


call it A Lump In The Bed! Have you ever had these fantasies about


going to bed, signing off as it I had three children under five


when I was 23. A large part of that was on my own as well so I had


three part-time jobs, one for each child! So it was a fantasy of mine


to be sent to prison! Right! Not to bed! Not to bed! I was sent to


prison and I could read all day on my bunk bed, reading was the most


important thing, apart from people. In Sue Townsend's latest novel, the


protagonist's refusal to leave her bed is her way of taking a stand


against the mundane routine of motherhood and her failing marriage.


She is exhausted, she is tired. She has been living a licence she


married a man she didn't really loves, and she has been a bit


cowardly -- living a lie. She couldn't bear to lease. Once she


goes to bed, she really wants to think, and slowly turn herself back,


and then start again. Eva's self- imposed isolation makes her


increasingly dependent on those around her, a situation echoed in


the author's own life in recent years. In at 2009, having battled


kidney disease of five years, Sue Townsend's health reached a


critical stage and she was at risk of kidney failure when she received


a life-saving transplant from her oldest son. There was a phase in


your life we suddenly became a lot more dependent on other people, and


that is what is happening to Eva. Is there a connection that the


novel is based on your own feelings? There is but it is only


through talking to you that I have realised that actually. I am always


in a wheelchair when I go out. We are both dependent on the people


around us. Suet explores the funny side of dependence through Eva, who


asks her mother-in-law to assist with a personal matter. She said, I


was wondering if you would help me to get rid of my waist. Her mother-


in-law paused, and then gave a shops smile and said, are you


asking me, Eva Beaver, to dispose of your wee-wee and who? Who gets


through a joint bottle of domestics a-week and is as tedious about


these things? -- a joint bottle of bleach. Eva said, OK, I asked and


you said no. Her strength in the face of illness is remarkable but I


know there is still one thing that she longs for. To pick up a book


and read. Is that the worst thing about being blind? Yeah. I have not


been able to even talk about it because it is so painful. The books


I have already red and remember... I want to re-reads them. But it


might mean you have to write more! It might be good for your readers!


Once you change in such a big way, you can only look for the good in


life. That is the way to survive. It is a very, very moving book, I


thought. Thank you. They rethought provoking. Thank you, thank you


very much. -- very thought- provoking.


The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year was published by Penguin


yesterday. Now, back in the '90s, as Britpop


began to shake our charts and Britart began to shake our walls, a


new generation of British playwrights were giving the theatre


a serious shake up, too. One of the best was Philip Ridley, whose


breakthrough play, The Pitchfork Disney, is currently being revived


at London's Arcola, while Ridley's latest play, Shivered, premieres in


the city's Southwark Playhouse next week. Miranda Sawyer went to take a


look at the rehearsals and meet the Philip Ridley writes about what he


knows. The East End of London where he was born and where he still


lives. It's a landscape that informs all his work.


Philip Ridley is a film-maker, a photographer, a painter, an author,


a playwright. He's a proper artist whose vision is absolutely


unaffected by whatever is deemed to be fashionable, and I am a real fan.


It's been over 20 years since his first typically dark play,


Pitchfork Disney, was premiered. Claustrophobic and eerie, it tells


the tale of twins who lock themselves up in their dead


parents' house and tell each other stories about the horrors of the


outside world. A lot of what makes it work, if indeed it does work for


people is what it does is it takes what for me was personal - all my


personal childhood fears or fierce I had going into my teen years and


growing up and like when you put liquid in a petri dish and put a


Bunsen burner under it, all of these personal things get smaller


and smaller until they're a bubble in the bottom of the dish, and at


that point it becomes universal. Sometimes you're so - forget it.


What? Selfish. Don't call me that. It's not fair after what you did.


What did I do? You didn't go to get the shopping. It was your turn.


wasn't. Was. Wasn't. When they aren't arguing, they pass


the time spinning tales and telling stories, a legacy from Philip


Ridley's own childhood. I guess that's what I have done as far back


as I can remember, really. I told stories. I was very sick as a child.


I suffered from asthma. I was alone for most of the time because of


that. I suppose like any child that's in that position, you try


and make sense of the world around you by kind of having a very strong


internal sort of life. I used to go up on to the roof of the block of


flats where I lived, and I would spend hours up there looking at the


chimneys and drawing the chimneys and writing stories about the


chimneys. But the chimney head drawings were the main things I


drew that got me into St Marten's School of Art, so they carried on


to my teens. During the '80s when he was an art student, the first of


his many children's books was published. Writing for theatre and


films followed, but it was his screenplay on the life of the


notorious East End gangsters the Crays that established his


screenwriting credentials. You make me feel proud - the both of you.


You make it all mean something. was a subject that was very close.


I grew up with those stories. I grew up with neighbours talking


about what the Crays were up to, so you lived with that, and looking


back, you kind of think, how ironic that that story should have so many


of the things that was going to appear in the rest of the work. You


know, you've got twins, East London - all of those things were there,


Shivered is his latest play. I joined him in rehearsals before


next week's premier. So that's a hundred, yeah, a hundred chances to


win first prize, yeah? Shivered started with a feeling of what


would happen if I followed a family moving to a new town in Essex full


of hope and dreams, and then that kind of grew? It's a scam, all


right? Nobody wins. I was going to play around with an


extra line. You know when it's - "It's a scam. It's a scam -" that


kind of thing, whether you should punctuate the end of that - "Nobody


wins." "Oh, you do surprise me." It's the


line across the page... What it feels like to me when you're


getting this process of getting something together - it feels like


a kind of explosion in reverse when you have what looks like just a


complete jumble with bits all over the place, then you reverse it, and


all of these bits come together, and you go, oh, it's a house!


LAUGHTER And that's - the process of writing


feels a lot like that to me. For ages I am walking around thinking,


I have this bit of a character I am living with, and I have this bit of


dialogue I am living with, then gradually all of these come


together, so I don't know until that final moment what it is I am


doing. I just write and write and write.


Shivered marked a new direction for Ridley. His language is as


beautiful and barbaric as ever, but the quick hit of the internet and


easy access to graphic YouTube clips has influenced not only the


content, but the actual struckture of the play. Once I started to


explore this little segmented, broken-up structure of the way


people are looking at things, that started to feed into the way I


wanted to structure the play. Because the play is out of order.


Absolutely. It's out of chronology, and it's done in 17 scenes, which


if anyone knows my work knows that's a huge amount of scenes for


me! Usually they have one scene, that's it. It came out of the


nature of what it was - I was dealing with one of the children


obsessed with one of these little clips that it started to affect the


structure and the language of the play as I wanted to express the


story. There must be something worth having a ride on. Mysteries


and wonders. Eh? You see that train there painted gold? Yeah. See what


it says on the side? Just tell him. "Dare you enter mysteries and


wonders." What mysteries and wonders? Roll up. Roll up. Gasp at


the 50 rats killed by getting their tails tangled together. If you


think back to Pitchfork Disney and think about now when you have


written Shivered, do you think you could have written Shivered that


time ago? I hope not. The one thing I have always tried to do as much


as I can, which is part of the training I got when I was at St


Martin's I guess, which is to keep on pushing the envelope and scaring


myself really with the next thing - everything should be, for me, like


jumping off the edge of a cliff, really, unsure whether you're going


to fly or whether you're not going to fly, and you just hope that the


leap is enough to give you wings. And where I have landed with this


one is Shivered, but I wouldn't have landed there 20 years ago,


probably won't next year, but this year I have landed there, and who


knows. The Pitchfork Disney is at the


Arcola Theatre until the 17th of March, and Shivered is at the


Southwark Playhouse from the 7th of March to the 14th of April. Now, a


small corner of Manchester is going all ole! Tonight - the Cornerhouse,


to be precise, where the 18th Viva! Festival of Spanish and Latin


American Film is kicking off. Mark Know in its 18th year, the Viva!


Festival is an annual fiesta of top-quality independent Spanish and


Latin American films held each year in Manchester's Cornerhouse.


Although Spanish may be the third most spoken language on the planet,


Viva! Still affords a valuable opportunity to catch some of world


cinema's most vibrant films which UK audiences might not otherwise


Now, you could argue that casting the next one is rather like lumping


films from Germany and other countries. At least this guarantees


diversity. This year sees everything from Colombian


animations to Venezuelan exploitation movies, Spanish films


about unemployed 30-something's and A glance at the movies on offer


from Spain this year tells us the Spanish civil war continues to


preoccupy the country's filmmakers. It's a theme which is addressed in


the opening gala, Paperbirds, in the Catalan movie Black Bread and


Carmen, you're a lekturerer at Manchester Metropolitan University.


You have casted some of these films like the Circus. Tell me about this.


It deals with fantasy in a different way. The film really is


around 1973, which is what we can call the transition to the


beginning of democracy in Spain. There are very important historical


There's a Spanish word used to describe the particular kind of


grotesque, surreal film making. Can you describe what it means for us?


It is that kind of way of looking to the world - we can find it in


Goya in the black painters, for example. I think one of the best


examples of this kind of grotesque black humour - the formation of


One highlight this year is the excellent Even the Rain directed by


Paul Laverty. It tells the the real of a historical film about the


cruelty of the conquistadors in which life begins to imitate art a


Latin American cinema has exploded on to the world stage in the past


decade thanks to Motorcycle Diaries and other movies. Perhaps most


interesting at this year's festival are those from two countries from


this part of the world not known for their cinematic output, Cuba


You were at the world premier of Juan of the Dead. How did it go


down? I think it was one of the most fabulous experiences I have


had in the cinema. Why? It was a big event for Cubans. They might be


completely skint, but somehow they manage to get to the cinema, and on


- for this premier, it was in the Chaplain Cinema. I think it holds


400 people. When we got there, I think it was at least a thousand -


hysterical. It was like carnival outside. What's different about it


to any other zombie flick. We have seen American, even Swedish zombie


flicks recently. What's different about Juan of the Dead? It's the


fact it's in Havana. You know how zombie movies have a strong social


context. For example, in the beginning the zombies are regarded


as dissidents funded by the US, and there's constant talk about whether


or not to flee the zombies by jumping on a boat to Miami. So I


think it's kind of poking fun but also being quite patriotic because


the hero refuses to jump ship. Now, some time ago, you wrote a


book in which you predicted the next part of the wave that was


going to break was Venezuela. On the evidence of the films that are


at Venezuela this year, do you see that blossoming happening now?


There is a bit more finesse, but also a bit more savvyness about


them. They're actually kind of understanding - there is a film


called Zero Hour, which recognised the value of using genre to


That's about a gang that takes over a private hospital on the day of a


strike in the public hospitals, and as the girlfriend of the gang


leader is heavily pregnant and has been shot, so they can't take her


to a public hospital. They just invade this private one and kind of


have a Robin Hood day inside the hospital where they're opening the


doors for the poor people that He's talking a little bit about a


society, but it's a kind of shoot- them-up. It's an exploitation film.


Once again, this demonstrates genre is a really good way of getting all


of those stories out to the rest of the world? I think so. It's a very


good bridge. It's a good cultural And Viva! Runs at Cornerhouse in


Manchester until Sunday the 18th of March. Next week we'll be taking a


look at the latest exhibition by Gilbert and George and I'll be


talking to Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine about the


influence of Renaissance Art on her music. We leave you tonight with


music from The Choir With No Name. This inspiring group of singers


who've all been affected by homelessness will be performing at


the Roundhouse tomorrow night as part of The Cultural Olympiad. We


caught up with them in rehearsal. # One nation under a groove.


# Gettin' down just for the funk of # One nation and we're on the move.


# Nothin' can stop us now. # Please don't stop me now.


# One nation and we're on the move. # Gettin' down just for the funk of


# One nation we're on the move. # Nothin' can stop us now.


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