Arts and Ideas

Arts and Ideas

United Kingdom

The best of BBC Radio 3's flagship arts and ideas programme Free Thinking - featuring in-depth interviews and debates with artists, scientists and public figures.


Free Thinking: Artes Mundi Prize. Harriet Walter. Amitav Ghosh. Edmund Richardson  

Artes Mundi was established in 2003 as a biennial contemporary visual arts initiative - the poet, author and playwright Owen Sheers and Catherine Fletcher, historian and New Generation Thinker, report back on the exhibition opening in Cardiff this week with work by the chosen artists including Britain's John Akomfrah, Nástio Mosquito and Bedwyr Williams. Amitav Ghosh argues that fiction writers need to be bolder in tackling the big themes of today's world and why thinking about Climate Change is proving a challenge. Harriet Walter has played Brutus and the King in Phyllida Lloyd's all-female Shakespeare productions of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and Henry IV; now she takes on Prospero in The Tempest. She talks to Anne McElvoy about giving herself permission to take on roles still normally given to men and the never-ending wonder of Shakespearian verse as the entire trilogy opens in London. Plus - ahead of the American Presidential election, New Generation Thinker and historian, Ed Richardson pops up with the mesmerising story of how Hillary Clinton is very far from being the first ever female Presidential candidate. Artes Mundi 7 runs at the National MuseumWales: Cardiff 21.10.16 – 26.02.17 The Shakespeare Trilogy: The Tempest, Henry IV and Julius Caesar are at the Donmar's King's Cross Theatre in London Sept 23rd - 17th December 2016 Harriet Walter’s book: 'Brutus and Other Heroines: Playing Shakespeare's Roles for Women' Amitav Ghosh 'The Great Derangement: Climate Change and Thinking the Unthinkable'. Producer: Jacqueline Smith

Free Thinking - Paul Nash; George Szirtes; Hungary 1956 and now.  

Artist Dave McKean on the way Paul Nash's dreams have inspired a graphic novel. Ahead of the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution, Philip speaks to poet George Szirtes, who left the country as a boy in 1956, and writer Tibor Fischer, whose parents came to Britain that same year. They are joined by historians Nora Berend and Simon Hall to discuss the revolt, the history of Islam in Hungary and the political debates going on today. Paul Nash runs at Tate Britain from 26 October 2016 – 5 March 2017 Dave McKean has created a graphic novel, Black Dog, based on the dreams of Paul Nash which forms part of the 14-18 Now arts programme. George Szirtes is the co-editor of the Hungarian Anthology The Colonnade of Teeth published by Bloodaxe Books and the title of his own new poetry collection is Mapping the Delta. Tibor Fischer is the author of numerous works, including the Booker Prize-nominated Under The Frog. Dr Nora Berend is Reader in European History, University of Cambridge, and author of books including At the Gate of Christendom: Jews, Muslims and "Pagans" in Medieval Hungary c. 1000-c. 1300 Professor Simon Hall, University of Leeds, is the author of 1956: The World in Revolt. He is giving a public lecture on The Hungarian Revolution and the Refugee Experience, 1956-2016, in Leeds on Thursday 24 November.

Free Thinking: Kevin Brownlow  

How do you restore a silent film? Kevin Brownlow is in conversation with Matthew Sweet about his life's work documenting the early history of cinema and preserving many lost classics - including the culmination of a 50 year project which sees Abel Gance's 1927 epic Napoleon re-released in cinemas around the UK and on DVD. Described by Martin Scorsese as 'a giant among film historians', Brownlow received an Academy Honorary Award in 2010. As part of Southbank Centre's Film Scores Live, Carl Davis conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra in his score for Napoleon - the longest film score ever composed - alongside a screening of the new digital version of the BFI-Photoplay restoration which Kevin Brownlow has worked on. This event happens on Sunday November 6th. BBC Radio 3's Sound of Cinema broadcasts an interview with Carl Davis on Saturday October 29th. Producer: Craig Templeton Smith

Free Thinking: Caravaggio; Bob Dylan; Dario Fo; Lenin's train journey.  

The award of this year's Nobel Prize in Literature to Bob Dylan is discussed by writer Toby Litt and by Anthony Wall, the Editor of BBC TV's Arena series who co-produced the Martin Scorsese documentary about Dylan: No Direction Home and who has made several other films with and about Dylan. As the death of Italian playwright and activist Dario Fo is announced, David Greig Artistic Director of the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh is joined by playwright Anders Lustgarten to reflect on Dario Fo's plays. Caravaggio's art explored by curator Letizia Treves, New Generation Thinker Joe Moshenska and playwright Anders Lustgarten. Plus, historian and Russologist Catherine Merridale on her latest book about Lenin's journey from exile in Zurich back to Russia on the eve of the 1917 Revolution. Anne McElvoy presents. Beyond Caravaggio runs at The National Gallery 12 Oct 2016 To 15 Jan 2017. Anders Lustgarten's play The Seven Acts of Mercy is at the Royal Shakespeare Company from November 24th to February 10th Joe Moshenska is the author of A Stain In The Blood and teaches at Cambridge University. He is on the New Generation Thinkers scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to find academics who can turn their research into radio. Mexican writer Álvaro Enrigue's novel is called Sudden Death. It's translated by Natasha Wimmer. You can find more about fiction in translation in a collection on our website Catherine's Merridale's account of Lenin's journey from Zurich to Petrograd is Lenin On The Train. Producer: Luke Mulhall

Free Thinking: Sound Frontiers - Teju Cole  

The US-based author Teju Cole talks to Philip Dodd about a range of subjects from James Baldwin and the pressing political realities of Black Lives Matter to the creative potential of social media. Teju Cole is a photographer, art historian and writer. He was raised in Nigeria and lives in Brooklyn. His books are Open City, Every Day is For The Thief and his new collection of essays Known and Strange Things. The conversation was part of the London Literature Festival at South Bank Centre. Producer: Zahid Warley

Free Thinking: Outsiders and Colin Wilson. Norse sagas. The Vulgar.  

What is an outsider? Gary Lachman and Suzi Feay discuss the writings of Colin Wilson with presenter Matthew Sweet 60 years on from the publication of Wilson's best-seller which analysed literary characters in works by Camus, Hemingway, Dostoyevsky and figures including Van Gogh, T.E. Lawrence and Nijinsky. The Vulgar is the title of an exhibition of fashion on display at the Barbican - Linda Grant and Sarah Kent discuss the messages our clothing choices send out. And New Generation Thinker Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough on Norse gods. Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson by Gary Lachman is out now. He has also written the introduction to a new edition of The Outsider published by Penguin. Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough has published Beyond The Northlands: Viking Voyages and the Old Norse Sagas. She was selected as one of the New Generation Thinkers in 2013 in a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council which works with academics who want to turn their research into radio. The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined runs at the Barbican Art Gallery from October 13th to 5th February 2017. Linda Grant's new novel The Dark Circle is out in November. Producer: Torquil MacLeod

Free Thinking: Sound Frontiers: Margaret Atwood and Naomi Alderman  

Margaret Atwood and Naomi Alderman share an interest in science fiction, the role of women and the power of fiction. They are in conversation with Philip Dodd as part of a week of Free Thinking broadcasts tying into this year's London Literature Festival at Southbank Centre, London and its theme of Living in Future Times. Margaret Atwood's new novel Hag-Seed is a re-imagining of Shakespeare's The Tempest. She is also being awarded this year's Pen Pinter Prize. Naomi Alderman's new novel The Power will be published at the end of October. It imagines a world where women are endowed with an automatic power to hurt. Producer: Fiona McLean

Free Thinking: Wells' Women  

H G Wells -- the man, his women and his writing. Matthew Sweet chairs a discussion about the father of science fiction to open the London Liteature Festival at South Bank Centre. Joining him for the event are Louisa Treger, Mark Blacklock, Joanna Kavenna and Christopher Priest. Louisa Treger's novel The Lodger was inspired by Dorothy Richardson, one of the key women in Wells’ life. Christopher Priest's books include The Space Machine and his latest, The Gradual which explores ideas about time. He 's Vice-President of the H. G. Wells Society. Joanna Kavenna's latest novel is called A Field Guide to Reality. Mark Blacklock teaches science fiction at Birkbeck College and is the author of The Emergence of the Fourth Dimension: Higher Spatial Thinking in the Fin de Siecle. More information about anniversary events to mark 150 years since the birth of HG Wells are found at . Sound Frontiers: BBC Radio 3 live at Southbank Centre. Celebrating 7 decades of pioneering music and culture. Producer: Zahid Warley.

Free Thinking - Sound Frontiers: Kamila Shamsie, Nikesh Shukla, Drugs in the German Reich. Board Games.  

Rana Mitter and guests will be broadcasting live from the Radio 3's pop up studio at Southbank Centre, London. Norman Ohler, author of Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany, will be revealing the role played by drugs such as methamphetamine in Hitler's downfall. Nikesh Shukla, a former writer in residence at the Royal Festival Hall, has edited a collection of essays called The Good Immigrant. He'll be joined by novelist Kamila Shamsie, who has been involved in a project re-imagining the Canterbury Tales by talking to refugees, to reflect on the impact of migration on individuals, families and beyond. Plus, Catherine Howell, curator of toys and games at the V&A Museum of Childhood and Marie Foulston, curator of video games at the V&A, consider the metamorphosis of gaming from tabletops to laptops. The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla is a collection of essays by 21 British BAME poets, writers, journalists and artists. He is appearing at the Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival on 22nd October Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany is by Norman Ohler translated by Shaun Whiteside. Kamila Shamsie is discussing Refugee Tales with Josh Cohen and Catherine Bergvall as part of the London Literature Festival at Southbank on Saturday October 8th at 5pm. She is also giving the 7th Castlefield Manchester Sermon at 7pm on October 14th as part of Manchester Literature Festival which runs from October 7th - 23rd. Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered is at the V&A Museum of Childhood, London E2, from 8 October to 23 April. Producer: Craig Templeton Smith

Free Thinking - Sound Frontiers: Books of 1946  

The novelist Benjamin Markovits, the literary historian Lara Feigel and the broadcaster and essayist Kevin Jackson join Matthew Sweet and an audience at Southbank Centre, London to explore some of the key books published in 1946 – a year in which Penguin Classics launched in the UK with a version of the Odyssey, Herman Hesse won the Nobel Prize for Literature, popular fiction included crime stories by Agatha Christie, Edmund Crispin and John Dickson Carr and children were reading Tove Jansson’s Moomin series, the first of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers and the second Thomas the Tank Engine book. Their particular choices include Back, a novel by Henry Green, All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren, Jill by Philip Larkin and The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin Recorded in front of an audience at Southbank as part of Sound Frontiers: Celebrating seven decades of pioneering music and culture from Radio 3 and the Third Programme. Producer: Zahid Warley.

Free Thinking - Sound Frontiers: Success debated by Peter Frankopan, Edith Hall, Kwame Kwei-Armah  

Historian Peter Frankopan and Classicist, Edith Hall, join the author and drama practitioner Kwame Kwei-Armah in a Free Thinking session, chaired by Anne McElvoy, on the concept of success. Success was scrutinised in a documentary on the Third Programme in 1967. Personal or public - how do we imagine success in the contemporary world? Have our hopes for a successful society grown or diminished, is a sense of personal integrity as strong as it was? Archives from the Third Programme include a transcript from 5 June 1967 of a programme produced by Douglas Cleverdon in which Philip Toynbee, Sir Michael Redgrave, Malcolm Muggeridge and John Berger talk to host Philip O'Connor about the nature of success. Have our definitions changed at all? Peter Frankopan from Worcester College, Oxford is the author of The Silk Roads: A New History of the World Edith Hall's latest book is called Introducing The Ancient Greeks: From Bronze Age Seafarers to Navigators of the Western Mind Kwame Kwei-Armah, author, actor and Artistic Director of CENTERSTAGE Baltimore directs One Night in Miami by Kemp Power at London's Donmar Warehouse October 6th - December 3rd 2016 Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

Free Thinking: Sound Frontiers: People Power  

John Bew, Kwasi Kwarteng, Helen Lewis and Alison Light join Philip Dodd live in Radio 3's pop-up studio at London's Southbank Centre. In the week of the Labour party conference, when Radio 3 marks the founding of the Third Programme, which sought to disseminate the arts, by broadcasting from a building constructed as part of a people's festival, this edition of Free Thinking looks at people power, changing politics and cultural tastes and Bertold Brecht's satirical idea that we might need to elect a new people. John Bew from King's College, London, is author of a new biography of Clement Attlee: 'Citizen Clem'. Alison Light is the author of Common People: The History of an English Family Kwasi Kwarteng, Conservative MP for Spelthorne, is the author of books including Ghosts of Empire and Thatcher's Trial. Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman.

Free Thinking: Sound Frontiers: People Power  

John Bew, Kwasi Kwarteng, Helen Lewis and Alison Light join Philip Dodd live in Radio 3's pop-up studio at London's Southbank Centre. In the week of the Labour party conference, when Radio 3 marks the founding of the Third Programme, which sought to disseminate the arts, by broadcasting from a building constructed as part of a people's festival, this edition of Free Thinking looks at people power, changing politics and cultural tastes and Bertold Brecht's satirical idea that we might need to elect a new people. John Bew from King's College, London, is author of a new biography of Clement Attlee: 'Citizen Clem'. Alison Light is the author of Common People: The History of an English Family Kwasi Kwarteng, Conservative MP for Spelthorne, is the author of books including Ghosts of Empire and Thatcher's Trial. Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman.

Free Thinking: Medieval Manuscripts. Emma Donoghue.  

Medieval illuminated manuscripts are our key to European art for hundreds of years but also to political and social movements. Christopher de Hamel, keeper of possibly the oldest gospel in the Latin world, talks to Matthew about the stories these books can tell beyond their glowing illustrations. We also visit Colour: The Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscripts, currently glowing at Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum; Kylie Murray, expert on Scottish medieval literature and a New Generation Thinker, reviews the exhibition. Emma Donoghue author of 'Room' is back with a new novel and another child in claustrophobic setting. This room is an earth-floored room in mid-19th century Ireland, where a Florence Nightingale-trained nurse and 'The Wonder', a devout Irish girl, are locked in a potentially fatal battle over whether the girl is, as she claims, being fed by manna from heaven. Inspired by a historical phenomenon, 'the fasting girls', Donoghue's novel takes place on the battlefield between the forces of Victorian scientific rationalism and traditional religious belief Plus Dennis Duncan on the story of Boris Vian and a post-war best-seller in France - I Spit On Your Graves . Emma Donoghue's novel is called The Wonder. Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts is by Christopher de Hamel - who has worked for Sothebys and is Fellow and librarian at Corpus Christi College Cambridge. The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is marking its first 200 year 1816 to 2016 with an exhibition called COLOUR: The Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscripts. It runs until 30th December 2016 and includes on display the Macclesfield Psalter, an alchemical scroll, a duchess’ wedding gift, and the ABC of a five-year old princess.

Free Thinking: American Power? Suzan-Lori Parks. Gary Younge. Abstract Expressionism.  

Pulitzer prize winning American dramatist Suzan-Lori Parks talks to Philip Dodd about putting on stage the story of a slave fighting against those seeking to abolish slavery. Journalist Gary Younge discusses American violence, gun culture and the Black Lives Matter movement. Plus Abstract Expressionism at the Royal Academy - how does this art which was used by the CIA to promote American power look today ? Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) by Suzan-Lori Parks is at the Royal Court Theatre in London 15 Sep - 22 Oct Abstract Expressionism is on show at the Royal Academy of Arts in London from September 24th to January 2nd. Gary Younge's book is called Another Day In The Death of America Frances Stonor Saunders is the author of Who Paid the Piper?: CIA and the Cultural Cold War William Boyd is the author of many novels including one which presents a fictional biography Nat Tate: An American Artist 1928–1960

Free Thinking: Shelina Janmohamed. Edward Ardizzone's Art. Jewish identity in fiction  

Shelina Janmohamed on the modern Muslims whom she calls "Generation M". New novels by Amos Oz, Jonathan Safran Foer and Ayelet Gundar-Goshen explore aspects of Jewish identity and the history of Israel. Jonathan Freedland discusses these with Ayelet Gundar-Goshen. Plus Alan Powers and Christianna Ardizzone, the daughter of the artist who created the "Little Tim" series of books, talk to Anne McElvoy about his war art, ceramic figures and murals for ocean liners and his illustrations for both adult and children’s' books. The new novel from Amos Oz is called Judas. A film A Tale of Love and Darkness directed by and starring Natalie Portman from his memoir is also being released in cinemas in the USA. Jonathan Safran Foer's latest novel is called Who Am I. Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's Waking Lions has just been published in paperback. Jonathan Freedland is the author of Jacob’s Gift: A journey into the heart of belonging and of a series of thrillers published under his own name and the name Sam Bourne. Shelina Janmohamed's book is called Generation M: Young Muslims Changing the World Ardizzone: A Retrospective runs at the House of Illustration in London from 23 September 2016 – 15 January 2017. Alan Powers has co-curated the exhibition and is the author of an illustrated monograph Edward Ardizzone - Artist and Illustrator. Producer: Eliane Glaser

Free Thinking: Energy and Landscape: Edward Burtynsky, Ella Hickson  

Large-scale photographs showing the impact of humans on urban and natural environments are discussed by Canadian artist and 2005 TED prize winner Edward Burtynsky. Ella Hickson's new play Oil, directed by Carrie Cracknell, explores the politics of this natural resource from 1889 to present day. She's in conversation with Joe Douglas, director of a Dundee Rep production of John McGrath's drama The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black Black Oil which is on tour this autumn. Plus, presenter Philip Dodd is joined by analysts Peter Atherton and Jeremy Leggett to consider how we meet energy demands in the face of climate change and a rapidly rising global population. Producer: Craig Templeton Smith Essential Elements by Edward Burtynsky is published in hardback. His photographs Salt Pans | Essential Elements can be seen at the Flowers Gallery in Kingsland Road London from 16 September – 29 October 2016 Ella Hickson's play Oil, directed by Carrie Cracknell, runs at London's Almeida Theatre from October 7th to November 26th. The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black Black Oil is the the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh from 14th - 24th September; at Aberdeen Performing Arts from October 4th- 6th, Eden Court October 11th - 15th, at Glasgow Citizens Theatre from 18th - 22nd.

Free Thinking - Thames Estuary Festival, Jatinder Verma, Arne Næss  

From Dickens, through wartime defences to Doctor Who - as a new festival looks at the landscape of the Thames Estuary, Matthew Sweet is joined by the author Rachel Lichtenstein and photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews. Jatinder Verma explains why a novel by Abdul Halim Sharar written in 1899 about the cult of the Assassins is relevant to put on stage now. And as the writings of Arne Næss are republished in English what was the influence of this Norwegian ecologist? Producer: Luke Mulhall Rachel Lichtenstein's book is called Estuary: Out from London to the Sea. She is curator of the Shorelines Literature Festival which is part of Estuary 2016. Points of Departure, curated by Gareth Evans and Sue Jones: an exhibition of new and existing work by 28 contemporary artistswhich includes photographs by Chloe Dewe Mathews. On display in the Grade II listed Tilbury Cruise Terminal Paradise of the Assassins is the opening production at the newly refurbished Tara Arts Theatre in Earlsfield, South London where Jatinder Verma is Artistic Director. It runs from September 15th to October 8th. The Ecology of Wisdom by Arne Næss is out now.

Proms Poetry Competition  

Judges Ian McMillan - poet and presenter of The Verb, Jackie Kay - Scottish Makar and Judith Palmer - director of The Poetry Society are joined on stage by the winning poets whose writing has been prompted by music from this year's Proms. The reader is Stella Gonet. Winner over 18 Category: Anna Kisby Runners-up: Graham Burchell and John Scrivens Winner 12-18: Lucy Thynne Runners-up: Katherine Spencer-Davis and Jason Khan Producer: Fiona McLean

Free Thinking - Aphra Behn. 1066 and the South Coast. Mark Thompson  

Playwright, poet, spy. Anne McElvoy discusses Aphra Behn with Professor Elaine Hobby and director Loveday Ingram who has given Behn's play The Rover a South American carnival setting at the RSC. Plus Iain Sinclair and Professor David Bates on the events of 1066 which changed the course of English history. And an interview with Mark Thompson, former Director General of the BBC and current Chief Executive Officer of The New York Times Company. The Rover runs in rep at The Swan Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon from September 8th until February 11th 2017. The Root 1066 festival runs until October 16th at a variety of venues. Mark Thompson is the author of Enough Said: What's Gone Wrong with the Language of Politics Producer: Torquil MacLeod

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