BBC One’s flagship arts documentary strand Imagine returns on 26 June with a compelling line-up of films.
The series presents a wide range of subjects, from a life changing West End play with professional soldiers on stage; Paul Simon’s return to South Africa, 25 years after his controversial and highly successful album Graceland; the untold story of the phenomenally successful group of contemporary artists all linked by the city of Glasgow; the art of falsetto and the extraordinary collaboration between the National Gallery and Royal Opera House to create new ballets inspired by three great works by Renaissance master Titian.
Imagine kicks off the first of two seasons of films this year with the unique collaboration between two unlikely partners that led to a ground breaking West End play that shocked, entertained and inspired all who saw it.
Imagine… Theatre Of War captured The Two Worlds Of Charlie F, which saw professional front-line soldiers, all of them badly injured – some of them amputees, some suffering with post-traumatic stress and one with a severe brain injury – join forces with a professional theatre company to help write, rehearse and perform a play based on their experiences of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. What happened when they swapped the theatre of war for the London stage? Imagine follows all aspects of the process, from rehearsal room to triumphant performance, to tell this extraordinarily moving and powerful story.
Over a quarter of a century ago Paul Simon travelled to South Africa to work with a group of township musicians. The album they recorded would become his greatest, multi-award winning achievement: Graceland. A brilliant fusion of African rhythms and western pop, the album became a global phenomenon. But it was also a project that proved deeply controversial. Nelson Mandela was still in prison, apartheid was still very much in force and the making of Graceland broke the UN backed cultural boycott.
As Paul Simon returns to London to perform the Graceland album, Imagine presents Paul Simon’s Graceland: Under African Skies, Joe Berlinger’s award winning documentary about the making of the album, its remarkable international success and the controversy that surrounded it.
Paul Simon talks candidly about the backlash Graceland provoked and journeys back to South Africa for a moving reunion with the musicians he worked with. Musical legends such as Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte, Paul McCartney and David Byrne also appear, paying tribute to Graceland’s impact and influence.
The untold story of the group of artists and curators who stormed the international art world and turned their home city of Glasgow into a global capital for contemporary art is the subject of Imagine… Glasgow: The Grit And The Glamour. In 1996, the first contemporary Glasgow artist to win the Turner Prize, Douglas Gordon, thanked “the scotia nostra”, a group of artists who worked and socialised together and who had met at Glasgow School of Art a few years earlier. The last three Turner Prize winners have all hailed from, been educated or based in Glasgow and just under a third of all Turner Prize nominees have studied at Glasgow School of Art.
Imagine explores the extraordinary story of a generation of artists who have placed Glasgow firmly on the international art map. Amongst the artists Imagine encounters are 2011 Turner Prize winner Martin Boyce, as well as previous winners Douglas Gordon, Simon Starling, and Richard Wright to tell the story of a city now as famed for its contemporary art as it was for its shipbuilding.
In Imagine… Just One Falsetto, Alan Yentob delves into the world of falsetto singing – the high pitched vocal range sung by men that comes closer to the sound of a female than it does to a normal male voice. Yet for all its unusual qualities, the falsetto has long been used by men to express emotions in ways that can’t be achieved by their regular speaking voice. From the Beach Boys to Mika, it has a long and distinguished presence in all types of music that has never lost its ability to fascinate and enthral audiences.
So why are men compelled to sing in such a voice? Contributors include Frankie Valli, Philip Bailey (Earth, Wind and Fire), Russell Thompkins Jr (The Stylistics) Eddie Holman , Hayden Thorpe (Wild Beasts) and Brian May (Queen) as Imagine goes on a journey to the peaks of this vocal register to discover a story of spiritual expression, sexual potency and the downright weird.
Imagine… Dancing With Titian goes behind the scenes of an unprecedented collaboration between the National Gallery and the Royal Ballet. Three of Titian’s great mythological paintings of the goddess Diana will be shown together for the first time at the National Gallery as three new ballets they’ve inspired premiere at the Royal Opera House. Choreographers include Wayne McGregor and Christopher Wheeldon; amongst the designers are Turner Prize winning artists Chris Ofili and Mark Wallinger; Nico Muhly and Mark-Anthony Turnage are contributing music and there’s even poetry from Carol Ann Duffy and Seamus Heaney.
Titian himself was inspired by the poetry of the ancient Roman Ovid, who in turn took pre-existing Greek myths of ‘metamorphosis’ as his subject, and the film will explore why his tales resonate across the centuries. Staged as part of the London 2012 Festival, this Imagine will be broadcast just three days before the Olympics Games open.
Note to Editors
The play The Two Worlds Of Charlie F will be available to watch on The Space from 26th June and on demand thereafter. The Space, a collaboration between the Arts Council and BBC, is a free digital arts service available on computer, tablet, smartphone and connected TV at thespace.org or Freeview HD channel 117. The Space will also be featured on Community Channel and The Two Worlds Of Charlie F will be transmitted on 12 August at 21.00.
Schedules are subject to change.