Author: Rosemary Collins

Man Booker Prize 2017: ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’ and the Limits of Politics in Fiction

Arundhati Roy’s politics and her storytelling have always been intertwined. The Indian writer burst onto the literary scene in 1997 with her dazzling debut novel, The God of Small Things, a tale of a family’s secrets that also shone a passionate light on a society scarred by the British Empire and neo-colonialism, with its worst injustices saved for women, children, Dalits, and the poor. Roy won the Booker prize for The God of Small Things, but in the two decades since she hasn’t published any fiction. Instead, she’s worked extensively as an environmental, human rights and anti-globalisation activist, publishing...

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Living in a Shattered Society: ‘The Caretaker’ at Bristol Old Vic

What does it mean to offer help to someone in need? Once the warm glow’s over, what’s taken root in your life, or theirs? Bristol Old Vic’s new production brings Harold Pinter’s breakthrough play The Caretaker into the twenty-first century, looking at the anxious relationship between those in need in our society, and those with more material possessions but their own inner demons. The Caretaker begins with Aston (Jonathan Livingstone) inviting Davies (Patrice Naiambana) to stay in the cluttered flat where he lives. Davies has been sleeping rough for a long time, but is proud and combative, nitpicking all...

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The Forgotten Brontë: Searching for Branwell

One of the defining images of the Brontë family, displayed on the cover of Juliet Barker’s epic biography The Brontës, is Patrick Branwell Brontë’s group portrait of his sisters. This is marred by a mysterious white pillar painted between Emily and Charlotte where the artist painted himself out. Long after the deaths of those pictured, the audience can only guess the meaning. Did Branwell erase himself out in a fit of self-hatred, or was it a family member who was ashamed of him? As the painting aged and grew more translucent, and was subjected to more scientific tests, it...

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The Birth of Mass Media: Marcantonio Raimondi and Raphael at the Whitworth

Many of the great paintings of Renaissance Italy were intended to be displayed in their patron’s home, only seen by a few people. The printmaker Marcantonio Raimondi is a little-known figure of the period, but the first UK exhibition of his work, currently displaying at the Whitworth in Manchester, reveals that his rich creative collaboration with Raphael, lasting around a decade between 1510 and 1520, helped sow the seeds of the mass consumption of the same image possible today. Marcantonio’s early engravings, produced at the turn of the sixteenth century in his native Bologna, are exquisitely detailed and seem...

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Seeking Refuge in the Ancient World: The Suppliant Women at the Manchester Royal Exchange

The drama of the ancient world resonates in the present day in the new production of Aeschylus’ The Suppliant Women, currently being staged by the Actors Touring Company at Manchester’s Royal Exchange theatre. Based on a little-known legend, the play tells the story of the fifty daughters of Danaos, who flee Egypt to escape forced marriage to their cousins, the sons of King Aegyptos. They seek refuge in the Greek city of Argos, where they enter the temple of Zeus, seeking protection from the god on the grounds that they are descended from Zeus’ mortal lover Io, who was...

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Through a Different Lens: ‘Britain as Revealed by International Photographers’ at the Manchester Art Gallery

As the House of Lords challenges the government over EU nationals’ right to remain in the UK after Brexit, a new exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery reminds us that photographers from Europe, the United States, and further afield have been visiting Britain for over eighty years, offering a unique contribution to the nation’s cultural landscape. Some of the earliest photographs in this exhibition, Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers, were taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson at George VI’s 1936 coronation. Unusually, he chose to photograph not the king, but the ordinary people watching him: an old woman...

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Challenging Ableism in Theatre: The House of Bernarda Alba at the Manchester Royal Exchange

The House of Bernarda Alba is considered to be Spanish dramatist Gabriel Garcia Lorca’s masterpiece both because it is a great tragedy of women’s frustrated lives, and because the playwright’s own life was cut short before he could produce a play to rival it. Lorca completed the play in 1936, two months before he was executed by General Franco’s rebellious forces for his sexuality and opposition to Fascism. The surviving play is a powerful testimony to the footprint of despotism within a family and a nation. This new staging of The House of Bernarda Alba, running until the 25th...

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