Bill Brand: glimpses of the past that have relevance still

Through the long, hot summer of 1976, for eleven weeks, I was gripped by Bill Brand, a TV series written by left-wing playwright Trevor Griffiths and broadcast on ITV in prime-time. Regarded at the time as a brilliant example of how radical ideas could be presented in popular television drama, as the years went by I often … Continue reading Bill Brand: glimpses of the past that have relevance still

The Absence of War: parliamentary socialism, anybody?

A revival of David Hare’s 1993 play, The Absence of War, seemed an enticing prospect. A drama portraying the Labour Party as lost in ideological confusion, drained of vitality, and unable to mobilise public support or present a vision or values in any compelling way promised to be highly relevant in present circumstances. But at the Liverpool Playhouse the other night I … Continue reading The Absence of War: parliamentary socialism, anybody?

Leviathan: politics, religion, and vodka (lots)

Leviathan, the latest film from Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev, opens with waves beating upon a barren shore where rocks as old as the earth face an implacable, slate-grey sea. Tracking inland across barren wastes to an insistent Phillip Glass score, the camera encounters signs of human imprint on this unforgiving landscape: power lines, the hulks of wrecked and abandoned … Continue reading Leviathan: politics, religion, and vodka (lots)

‘The heartbeat of who we are’: Jeanette Winterson on war, wealth and creativity

Jeanette Winterson She began with Dorothy Wordsworth walking the Lakeland fells in May 1800 and continued by way of Karl Marx, prehistoric cave painting, James Hargreaves’ spinning jenny, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century,  John Maynard Keynes, Degas and the Arts Council, to arrive at the First World War and Wilfred Owen.  All this in the space of … Continue reading ‘The heartbeat of who we are’: Jeanette Winterson on war, wealth and creativity