Antonio Banderas, Philippa Gregory and V.V. James on witches in literature, umbrellas in chinese culture
Antonio Banderas on playing Pedro Almodóvar in Pain and Glory - Almodóvar's film based on his own life. Tom Shakespeare talks to Antonio about how the actor's heart attack affected the performance, the differences between acting in Hollywood and European cinema and how the film is the best depiction of back pain he's seen.
Witches have always been a popular subject in fiction but recent months have seen a particular flowering. Why? And how do authors choose whether to set their work in the past or the present? Front Row asks Philippa Gregory whose latest book Tidelands is about a 17th century wise woman and V.V. James, whose novel Sanctuary, set in a version of present-day USA, contains witchcraft.
Last weekend in Hong Kong, 1.7 million protestors marched against the Beijing government, brandishing their brollies to protect themselves from the downpour. The umbrella itself has become a symbol of protest since the Umbrella Movement first emerged in 2014 - but the cultural significance of the umbrella within China which dates back nearly two millennia. Zhaoying Fung, US Correspondent for the BBC Chinese Service in Washington talks to us about the historical importance of umbrellas and the ceremonial role they continue to play in contemporary Chinese culture.
Presenter: Tom Shakespeare
Producer: Hannah Robins
Louise Doughty, Robert Icke's The Doctor, Edinburgh Festival Highlights
Louise Doughty, author of Apple Tree Yard, has a new novel: a thriller with a difference. Platform Seven’s narrator is dead – and she haunts the eerie half-light of Peterborough Railway Station weaving her way through the lives of the commuters and staff. The spirit of the late Lisa Evans pieces together a backstory which reveals the reality of an abusive relationship, but also offers an uplifting perspective on the dignity of the lives being lived in a place of transition.
Theatre director Robert Icke discusses The Doctor, his new adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler’s 1912 play Professor Bernhardi. Juliet Stevenson plays the titular doctor, who is running a medical facility but faces searching questions about her own motives and ethics following the death of one of her patients.
Often themes emerge among the work at the Edinburgh Festivals. This year lots of performers have sought to contextualise the collapse of old structures, the threat of climate change and new perspectives on gender. Joyce McMillan, columnist and critic of The Scotsman newspaper joins us to round up her must-see recommendations for the rest of the festivals.
Presenter: Samira Ahmed
Producer: Oliver Jones
The true story behind blockbuster film Jaws, Benjamin Zephaniah, Catherine Cohen's cabaret
Live from the Edinburgh Festivals : Ian Shaw, son of actor Robert Shaw, discusses his play, The Shark is Broken, based on Jaws. Using his father’s diaries, it’s the story of how Shaw, Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss are tortuously confined together on the boat Orca while filming - enduring endless delays, studio politics, foul weather and a constantly broken mechanical shark called Bruce. The show's getting five star reviews - they’re going to need a bigger venue.
Benjamin Zephaniah is one of our best loved poets, despite his avowed rejection of the establishment. Ahead of his appearance at the Edinburgh International Books Festival, he performs his poem White Comedy, inspired by a TV interview he saw with Muhammed Ali as a young boy.
With the vogue at this year's Fringe for confrontational, confessional shows based on artists' personal trauma, we talk to two performers about how they look after themselves and their audience. Artist and writer Scottee’s show Class confronts the gulf between his working class upbringing and that of his Fringe audience, while performance artist Demi Nandhra's Life is No Laughing Matter explores her relationship with depression.
And we’ve a song from American comedian Catherine Cohen whose sold-out show The Twist? …She’s Gorgeous is winning plaudits for its fast-paced wit and blistering candour on the lives of modern women.
Presenter : Kirsty Lang
Producer : Simon Richardson
Basil Brush, Christina Bianco, Climate Change theatre and new musicals at Edinburgh Fringe
Musical impressionist Christina Bianco reveals how she captures the voice and style of so many different musical divas like Shirley Bassey and Celine Dion, with a special performance on the Front Row stage.
The surprise hit of this year’s Fringe has been Basil Brush Unleashed. The children’s TV icon is celebrating fifty years in showbusiness with a chat show aimed at adults. Basil talks to Kirsty about his career highlights, and his Edinburgh show and how keeps it the right side of PC.
Edinburgh based author Mary Paulson-Ellis has used foxy themes in her novels The Other Mrs Walker and The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing. She gives Front Row a guide to the Fox in Fiction from Aesop's Fables, the medieval stories of Reynard to Kate Atkinson's Life After Life.
A big trend at this year’s Edinburgh Festivals is the number of shows about climate change. Kirsty discusses how they are capturing hearts and minds with Alanna Mitchell whose one-woman show Sea Sick is about a crisis in the world’s oceans, and Oli Savage, Artistic Director of The Greenhouse venue, an eco-friendly arts space.
Shows like Hamilton and Come From Away are reinventing the way we think of musicals. Kirsty speaks to Robyn Grant about their musical Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch, that reimagines the Little Mermaid story, and to Finn Anderson, whose show Islander draws on Scottish folk tradition - with loop pedals.
Presenter : Kirsty Lang
Producer : Hannah Robins
Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, How to listen to a symphony, black paint controversy, 14th August cultural events
Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio discuss their new film Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. In the ninth film directed by Quention Taratino, set in the late 1960s, DiCaprio plays an actor in the twilight of his Hollywood career, with Pitt as his buddy and stunt double.
The Chief Conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sakari Oramo, guides Stig Abell in on what to listen out for when listening to a symphony. Oramo will conduct the annual Proms performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony next Monday evening.
In a row over colours the Turner Prize winner Sir Anish Kapoor has been banned from an art shop which is employing a full-time security guard with orders to keep him out. The artist and art shop owner Stuart Semple is angry that Kapoor secured the exclusive rights to Vantablack, that in response he's created his own blackest black paint, available to everyone, except Anish Kapoor. Stig Abell made it through the security checks and into his shop to talk to Stuart Semple about why the colour black is so important to artists, and why access to it raises fundamental issues about art and democracy.
It's August 14th which seems an ordinary sort of day but, as Front Row reveals, over the last 1,000 years many events of cultural and artistic significance have occurred on this date, so August 14th isn't so nondescript after all.
Presenter: Stig Abell
Producer: Julian May