Published in BBC Culture February 3, 2020
If we hear at all about Britain’s involvement in slavery, there’s often a slight whiff of self-congratulation – for abolishing it in 1833, 32 years ahead of the US, where the legacy of slavery is still more of an open wound. Less well known, however, is the enormous cost of this decision for the taxpayer – the British government spent £20 million, a staggering 40% of its budget in 1833, to buy freedom for slaves.
Continue reading “How Britain is facing up to its hidden slavery history”
I wrote a piece for The New York Times on the RSC’s costume sale. Link here for the article.
When Chipo Chung last saw Christopher Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage, she didn’t understand it. Now, she’s about to play the queen herself at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s the first time the company has staged the tragedy. Continue reading “Chipo Chung: I had to go round the houses to get into theatre”
Titus Andronicus has got a reputation. It’s Shakespeare’s schlock horror moment, a gore fest that for centuries was considered too crass to be staged, and now prompts gleeful headlines about how many audience members have fainted at its dismemberments. Continue reading “Blanche McIntyre: ‘Staging violence against women responsibly keeps me up at night’”
Salomé: one of the most dangerously seductive female figures ever, often considered the original femme fatale. Yet in a new production of Oscar Wilde’s 1891 play at the RSC, Salomé is to be played by a man. Continue reading “‘It’s about exploring the male and female that everyone has inside them’: on playing Salomé as a man”
An intriguing bit of casting might just make Iqbal Khan’s new production of Othello at Stratford-upon-Avon feel – in the words of RSC artistic director Gregory Doran – “freshly minted”: not only is Othello being played by a black actor, Hugh Quarshie – but so is his tormentor, Iago. It is Lucian Msamati uttering lines such as “an old black ram is tupping your white ewe”. Continue reading “Othello: ‘Freshly minted’ RSC production is the latest casting twist for the play”
Tucked in the heart of the Cotswolds, the Malt House matches its picture-book surroundings. Built in the classic buttery yellow stone of the region, with three acres of gardens and orchard behind it, the long, lean Grade II-listed building dates back in parts to the 17th century, with more added in 1905.
The Malt House has long been hosting guests, but since last year, when new owner June Denton took it on, a complete overhaul has turned it into something special. While keeping an English country olde-worlde air – think exposed wooden beams, stone window seats, and vintage furniture – the restoration has happily brought the plumbing and heating into the 21st century, as well as sprinkling little modern luxuries throughout. Continue reading “The Malt House: A picture-perfect country escape”