This site is under reconstruction and updating in the summer of 2021
This site is under reconstruction and updating in the summer of 2021

Day: July 16, 2012

What does the Humanist quest for unity in the midst of difference mean for us today?

In this web blog, I will piece together various view on humanism and recently I have just come across a short  essay on humanism by the sociologist Richard Sennett which is of some interest. He concludes:

I have wanted …. to explain in this essay why the label “humanist” is a badge of honour, rather than the name for an exhausted worldview. Humanism’s emphasis on life-narratives, on the enriching experience of difference, and on evaluating tools in terms of human rather than mechanical complexity are all living values—and more, I would say, these are critical measures for judging the state of modern society. Looking back to the origins of these values is not an exercise in nostalgia; it is rather to remind us that we are engaged in a project, still in process, a humanism yet to be realized, of making social experience more open, engaging, and layered.

‘Humanism’    Hedgehog Review Summer 2011

Hedgehog Review

Summer Musicals: Mack & Mabel, Ragtime

Mack and Mabel , Ragtime.

There are two wonderful seasonal, short-run musicals in London this summer to take your mind off the Olympics: Mack & Mabel in the small and lugubrious Vaults at the Southwark Playhouse, and Terrence McNally, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens’s Ragtime at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. If you are a lover of musicals, you cannot afford to miss them.

Both are set in the same early twentieth century time period in US history. Both are gloriously sung and performed with large hidden orchestras and skilful productions on engaging bleak stages. And both are musicals that have had  ‘marginal ‘ lives in the UK. They have not been great successes in the past: not least because one is overtly political ( Ragtime had a short run at the Piccadilly in 2003 );  and the other is Jerry Herman’s dark musical, the one without the ‘happy ending’ ( Mack & Mabel opened on Broadway in 1973 to a scant 63 performances and only came to London for s short run in 2006). Both are passionate labours of love that thrill the audience. They are not obvious choices for a summer audience  and it is daring for Thom Sutherland and Timothy Sheader to direct them to their glory on the London stage.

Mack & Mabel tells the story of the tragic love affair of Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand against the backdrop of early film making. It is, I think perhaps, Jerry Herman’s finest score – all his styles and moods are here celebrated; and those who know his other scores (like DollyMame and Cage!) will hear his rifts and moods at work again. And here the performances are without exception stunning: but cold tingles down my spine have to be reserved for Laura Pitt-Pulford who is Diva of the Year for me.  Ragtime is an epic musical – 35 songs of wide range drive  through three tales of migration, black servitude and bourgeoise life. A huge cast spreads over the open air stage and merges Doctorow’s famous story of past America with contemporary omens of bad more times. It is amongst the most complex and politically aware musicals I have seen.Those who say musicals are always silly and optimistic should think again. Darkness, tragedy and even politics awaits you – but with great joy and passion!

Two glorious moments in the theatre this summer.

%d bloggers like this: