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Will Gompertz, Arts editor

Will Gompertz Arts editor

A view from the wings - from the Strokes and the soaps to Bauhaus and Bach

Simon Callow's critical re-appraisal

14 August 2014
Simon Callow

When Simon Callow first presented his one-man show Juvenalia nearly forty years ago at the Bush Theatre in London, the then 27-year old actor found he had a surprise hit on his hands. Critics and audiences loved it, he said yesterday at an event in the BBC's Potterrow tent in Edinburgh.

He has since become a specialist at the theatrical essay-cum-performance lecture, presenting around thirty different productions over the course of his career. Shakespeare, Dickens and Mozart have all been brought enthusiastically back to life by Callow's dramatic storytelling.

As has Wagner, in a show that he had hoped to transfer from the Royal Opera House to this year's Edinburgh Festival. But after a thorough assessment of its technical requirements it was deemed too difficult to pull off in the beer and skittles world of the Fringe. What to do?

Callow had the answer. Reprise Juvenalia. After all, Juvenal (AD 55 - 127) - a Roman poet who famously asked 'who will guard the guards themselves' - was one of the great satirists and produced, the 65-year old actor said, "The most savage pieces of writing in the whole of ancient literature".

He was the original grumpy old man, and therefore Callow reasoned, made for perfect Fringe-fodder. And technically fairly straightforward, too: all the show needed was a hand-held microphone, a dinner jacket and a couple of stage lights.

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Mackenzie Crook unearths metal detector sitcom

11 August 2014
Mackenzie Crook in The Detectorists
As well as writing and directing, Mackenzie Crook plays amateur treasure-hunter Andy

Mackenzie Crook is best known for his roles in The Office, Pirates of the Caribbean and Game of Thrones. He has now written and directed a BBC Four sitcom about metal detector enthusiasts, which was screened in Edinburgh on Monday.

When Mackenzie Crook was filming Almost Human in Vancouver last year, he found he had too much time on his hands.

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Can Malevich's Black Square be considered art?

16 July 2014

The divisive painting Black Square is to go on show at the Tate Modern as part of an exhibition on Russian modernist painter Kazimir Malevich.

The work, a square of black oil paint on a white canvas, was first exhibited in 1915.

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Damien Hirst wallpaper art causes sale dispute

15 July 2014

When Jess Simpson bought a house in London nearly ten years ago she was told that a painting on the wallpaper was by Damian Hirst.

She decided to frame it and now she wants to sell it. She has been talking to me about why Hirst's representatives are now demanding the piece is not sold.

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The life and Work of Nadine Gordimer

15 July 2014

South African Nobel Prize-winning author Nadine Gordimer has died in Johannesburg aged 90.

The writer, who was one of the literary world's most powerful voices against apartheid - died at her home after a short illness, her family said.

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Lindsay Lohan: London's newest resident

15 July 2014

Actress Lindsay Lohan is set to make her West End debut in David Mamet's Speed-The-Plow later this year.

Ahead of rehearsals for the play, Lohan spoke to BBC arts editor Will Gompertz about rehabilitating her image and her "paranoia" around cameras.

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Virginia Woolf inspires new ballet

9 July 2014

A new ballet inspired by the work of Virginia Woolf is being written for the Royal Ballet.

An exhibition of rare images of the writer is also due to open at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

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"Hopper was a bit of a megalomaniac"

4 July 2014

Dennis Hopper was best known as a Hollywood actor and director of classics like Easy Rider.

But the star was also a talented photographer, capturing both the counter culture and the famous faces of the 1960s.

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Celebrating 50 years of Joe Orton

27 June 2014
Mr Sloane poster

"I hope I've never written anything as bad as some of the early Shakespeare's," Joe Orton said shortly before he was murdered by his lover, Kenneth Halliwell, in 1967.

It's a clip from an archive interview with the BBC, which I included in a piece for the Today Programme, marking the 50th anniversary of Orton's first stage play, Entertaining Mr Sloane.

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Mauritshuis is the rock super-group of collections

20 June 2014

The Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis reopens next week in The Hague, after a lengthy expansion project. The unveiling of this renovated 17th century Dutch palace will give visitors a chance to see some of the greatest masterpieces ever produced, reunited under one roof.

The Maurithuis's international strategy during its two-year refurbishment was simple: it would send its remarkable collection of Dutch Golden Age paintings out on a world tour. But only the very, very best would be selected; only the most masterful of its masterpieces.

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About Will

Will has been BBC arts editor since 2009.

Before that, he was a director at the Tate Gallery for seven years, where he was responsible for the award-winning Tate Online, the UK's most popular art website, and Tate Etc, the UK's highest circulation art magazine.

He was voted one of the world's top 50 creative thinkers by the New York-based Creativity Magazine.

In 2009 Will wrote and performed Double Art History, a sell-out one-man show at the Edinburgh Fringe.

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