2014 Culture

Theatre productions

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, the frenetic 1988 comedy that first brought film director Pedro Almodóvar to the attention of a wider international audience.
After a short run on Broadway in 2010, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown has been reworked with new songs, and stars British comedy actress Tamsin Greig, seemingly a perfect fit for a spirited “chica Almodóvar”, as the actresses who repeatedly work with the director are known in Spain.

The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation has awarded the 2014 Erasmus Prize to the Belgian Frie Leysen, founding director of deSingel in Antwerp and of the bi-lingual Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels, theatre director of the Wiener Festwochen in Austria from 2013 to 2014.
The Erasmus Prize is awarded annually to a person or institution that has made an exceptional contribution to culture, society or social science. The award consists of a cash prize of € 150,000. This year, the theme of the Erasmus Prize is ‘Theatre, audience and society’.

In Spring 2014, VTi published a booklet ‘Perspective: Young Audiences’, containing an overview of recent artistic developments, information on the most important producers, a series of projects with international potential and a sketch giving insight into the wider societal and political context of youth theatre landscape in Flanders.

The Flemish youth professionals joined forces with their French speaking Belgian colleagues to revive the Belgian branch of ASSITEJ (International Association of Theatre for Children and Youth) and to start playing a more active role in this world-wide network.

75m People have seen the 22 productions worldwide of The Lion King. The musical’s global gross earnings exceeded that of any film or entertainment title in box office history.

Music

One of my favourite songwriters of the 1960-70ies had found good reasons to be taken out of dust again. The things he sang about where again hot topic in 2014, so no wonder

his strong medicine would influence a new generation of singers who jumped at the chance to reintroduce Cash’s Bitter Tears to America. {John Nichols, Zephyr Teachout, Hands Up United and John Oliver Made Our 2014 Progressive Honor Roll. Who Else Made the List?}

“Look Again to the Wind”, Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears were revisited in the States on a cd.

TStromaehe sympathetic “Brusselère” Stromae, Paul Van Haver, has established himself in both hip hop and electronic music genres after his sophomore album Racine Carrée (2013) which went platinum eight times in Belgium, held the No. 1 chart spot for several weeks in countries throughout Europe and sold 1.5 million copies in France alone, could make a succesful American debut on debut on NBC‘s Late Night with Seth Meyers. At the Best Buy Theater in New York City the public at the sold-out theatre seemed to come as wild as the Belgian public. He presented his first limited fashion line, called “Mosaert” (an anagram of his stage name) and newest collection, Capsule No. 2, was released at Colette in Paris on December 3rd 2014, and features the square root design on each item in different colours.

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Cover art for Conchita Wurst's single That's What I Am.

Cover art for Conchita Wurst’s single That’s What I Am.

Thomas “Tom” Neuwirth was the other guy who got people demanding, like by Stromae if he was really to his senses. The Austrian recording artist and drag queen better know under his stage name Conchita Wurst, began appearing as Wurst – a female character noted for her beard – and came second in the Austrian pre-selection for the Eurovision Song Contest 2012. Wurst was selected to represent Austria at the Eurovision Song Contest 2014, where she proved victorious. Wurst’s entry and victory courted controversy, being condemned by some of the continent’s social conservatives and right-wingers who saw her performance as a promotion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights. Conversely, it brought her international attention and established her as a prominent gay icon, resulting in invitations to perform at various pride parades, the European Parliament and the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria’s capital.

Pop star Lady Gaga and crooner Tony Bennett collaborating on a big-band Jazz program of Rodgers and Hart music

Pop star Lady Gaga and crooner Tony Bennett collaborating on a big-band Jazz program of Rodgers and Hart music

Madness and singers brings us to Lady Gaga and Andy Cohen who revealed that he had the pop star’s urine turned into perfume. I must say I was very pleased with the turn out of her interpretation of the marvellous timeless music giving it a universal appeal to a new, younger generation. I would not go so far to call the collaboration between the legendary jazz crooner Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, the leading pop icon of the past years remarkable, but I did like the show she presented in Belgium. Their shared Italian origins and above their sincere passion for jazz led initially only to a duet version of the standard “The Lady Is a Tramp”, a song that ended up on Bennetts winning album Duets II (2011). However, it clicked so well between the two, despite an age difference of less than 60 years, the idea came to record a full album together. Cheek To Cheek (2014) was the long-awaited result, an album with unique versions of their favourite jazz classics. The plate with his release immediately in the first place on the Billboard 200, as best-selling music album in the United States.

Tony Bennett said:

Lady Gaga is JAZZ. She always wanted to be a jazz singer, and she is a natural at it and thrilled to be discovered now as a very good jazz singer. She is doing more for jazz than anyone I can recall since Louis Armstrong.”

And I can not contradict this and hope she will by her introducing this kind of music to the general public enlighten them to get them lingering for more.

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The performance in Belgium I saw was even better and with much more feeling than the performance on this video. (Or was it to do with the ambience they both as professional performers could build up)

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Do not cross Lady Gaga.

Do not cross Lady Gaga.

What I like very much is that the vamp at her artRAVE Tour, Gaga in the middle of hyping up the crowd when she toss what looks like some sort of boa into the audience, some Belgian fans went too wild, eagerly grabbing at it like a pack of wild animals. But when the “Do What U Want” singer saw that a couple of fans were near going fisticuffs over the piece of clothing, she stopped everything and set the record straight.

“Careful, don’t fight,”

Gaga as an arbiter of peace, told to arguing fans and then demanded

“Hey, give it back. If you’re gonna fight, you don’t get to keep it. Here we practice love,”

All the while, Gaga was donned in an ever so eccentric outfit that made it hard to take her seriously. Even still, the fans got her point. {Watch: Lady Gaga Breaks Up Fight During artRAVE Tour Concert In Belgium [VIDEO]

For one weekend, Berlin turned into the Tina Turner capital of the world. The fan party in honour of Tina Turner’s 75th birthday is over.

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Visual art

In September 2014 the Self Portrait by Rubens that graces the Antwerp Rubens House was being restored by the Conservation Department at the National Gallery in London. The scientific investigation will shed useful light on the painting’s construction. In addition, previous retouching will be removed and the work will receive a new coat of varnish.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York hosted an international loan exhibition devoted to the Flemish painter Pieter Coecke van Aelst (1502–1550). Coecke was a renowned northern Renaissance master painter who was equally at ease with tapestry design, printmaking, stained glass, and goldsmith’s work. He also served as an editor of architectural treatises.

Coecke’s the Holy Family, a masterpiece from the collection of the M-Museum Leuven, was loaned to the Metropolitan. This devotional image depicts the Holy Family in a richly decorated interior that is very reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance. It is a peaceful family scene that features a great many iconographic references to the Passion of Christ.

The 56 year old Flemish Luc Tuymans has become Europe’s most important, provocative history painter since 1986, when he depicted a bare, musty room and called it “Gas Chamber”, a response to taboos about Nazi collaboration in the Flanders of his youth. Aestheticising horror, he approaches his subjects obliquely, creating memorable images of injustice and terror as diverse and unexpected as “Leopard” (2000) — a luxurious animal skin used as a power symbol in the Congo, a former Belgian colony — and a five-metre colour-drained “Still Life” of apples, Tuymans’ wry 2002 memorial for the assault on western values of 9/11.

Architecture

While other European cities have reconstructed their city centres in the interest of creating newly historic imageries, the Flemish cities of Ghent and Mechelen have acquired architectural projects that emphatically renounce the options of pastiche, or mere imitation. For example, the Stadshal in Ghent by Marie-José Van Hee and Robbrecht & Daem, and the Holocaust Museum in Mechelen by B0b Van Reeth, AWG Architects, both explore resolutely contemporary forms of architectural expression, yielding examples or architectural solutions for architects around the globe. Architects in Flanders have also long excelled in collaborations with visual artists. Their encounters with other cultural producers are more than just a source of inspiration and have actively expanded their working methods. As Aslı Çiçek notes in the Architectural Review Flanders N°11, however, this artistic perspective has not led to a gulf between architecture and those who appropriate and inhabit buildings. By explicitly constructing atmospheres, architects have developed strategies that recognise the limits of what architecture can contribute, and offer space in which everyday life can dwell.

Film

Having the centenary of the Great War there was given attention to it on stage, on television and in the cinema.  Most fascinating was how Studio 100 tried to bring a marvelous evocation on the biggest stage of Europe for the musical the production 14-18 (14-18 Musical spektakel te Mechelen)

The production which got me to the moving picture theatre and to sit a few times in front of my little screen at home was the First World War experienced through the journey of a horse — an odyssey of joy and sorrow, passionate friendship and high adventure. In Holland “War Horse” on stage earned a lot of attention and I must say the television documentary was superb. also the making of the film documentary was not bad and I went to see the film once at the cinema and a second time at home in the family. “The Making of” is one of the great stories of friendship and war — a successful book, it was turned into a hugely successful international theatrical hit that was given also on Broadway and the London stagg.

The screen adaptation of the epic by one of the great directors in film history can not leave you untouched. Adapted from one of the great modern stories of friendship and war, the film is drawn from the novel that sparked a rousing stage hit, garnering five Tony Awards®, including Best Play. Now, Spielberg unfolds this heartwarming tale for all ages with a return to the territory where big screen cinema and intimate storytelling meet.

Director Steven Spielberg does know to bring a moving but not a tear jerking version of “War Horse” set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War. “War Horse” begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets — British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter — before the story reaches its emotional climax in the heart of No Man’s Land.

Says Spielberg:

“To me, ‘War Horse’ is a timeless story about the sacrifices of love—about the sacrifices a boy makes in a time of war to find his horse and the sacrifices the horse makes just trying to survive this dark episode in history. Throughout it all, their destinies are entwined.”

Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, the screenplay is by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis. The film is produced by Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, and the executive producers are Frank Marshall and Revel Guest. Spielberg’s close-knit artistic crew, most of whom he has worked with through several decades, includes editor Michael Kahn, director of photography Janusz Kaminski, composer John Williams, production designer Rick Carter and costume designer Joanna Johnston.

Some pictures from the epic drama War Horse, written by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis  and directed by  Steven Spielberg with in the cast Jeremy Irvine, Tom Hiddleston,  Benedict Cumberbatch, Nicolas Bro, David Kross, Leonard Carow, Celine Buckens, Rainer Bock, Patrick Kennedy, Robert Emms

Some pictures from the epic drama War Horse, with in the cast Jeremy Irvine, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Nicolas Bro, David Kross, Leonard Carow, Celine Buckens, Rainer Bock, Patrick Kennedy, Robert Emms

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Inspired by the centenary of WWI in the fall of 2012, when the animation sector at the initiative and presented by Flanders Image (The Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF)) and The Flemish Literature Fund (FLF) was called to action and the FLF launched a poetry contest in January 2013. For the contest, the theme of peace had to be interpreted as the transformation of war into peace, thus aiming to create a contemporary perspective on and enabling authors and cinematographers to move freely around the subject matter.
Peter Mangelschots won the poetry contest with his poem, midnight at the lost and found, which was inspired by the short film, Daddy Went. Daddy Did  by Joost Jansen and Thomas Ceulemans. The combination of film and poetry is presented as an interactive diptych: following every short film or animation, the accompanying poem is read by Flemish actor Titus De Voogdt in a night scene under the well-known Menin Gate Memorial, a war memorial in Ypres dedicated to all unknown soldiers who were killed in WWI. This unique initiative has sought to stimulate the cooperation amongst all partners (FLF, VAF, Kinepolis, Canvas and Bezige Bij Antwerpen) and to give voice to emerging talents, thus putting less evident genres (poetry and animation) and their crossover potential in the spotlight via powerful screening platforms, off- and on-line. Across the Atlantic, these shorts also have garnered attention at the MoMA of New York City as well as at the Montreal World Film Festival in Canada. In addition to the films being presented, the poems will also be tailored for such international venues.

The 59th edition of the Valladolid Film Festival opened with ‘Two Days, One Night‘ by the brothers Dardenne, a co-production with Flanders and showed three other Belgian productions: Kadir Balci’s ‘Marry Me‘ , Gust Van den Berghe’s ‘Lucifer‘ and the animation film collection ‘12 Minutes About Peace’, a collection of 12 animated, one-minute films commemorating WWI got its Spanish première at the festival.
The Meeting Point section also included Deben Van Dam’s short film ‘The Way of All Flesh’, about a nurse on a palliative care ward who is asked to share racist Frans Claeskens’s final day. The film has already won prizes in Ghent, Leuven, Brussels, Aubagne and Tel Aviv and is long listed for the Oscars.

Teodora Ana Mihai’s documentary feature Waiting for August got its world premiere in April, and could build up a strong awards tally, including the International Feature Award at Hot Docs, a special mention at Visions du Réel and the Award for Best Documentary in Karlovy Vary and has been awarded the prize for Best International Documentary at the Bergen International Film Fest in Norway, while the jury of the Reykjavik Film Festival presented the film with its Environmental Award.

The biggest farce of the year, people wanting to do damage to Sony Pictures, provided them with free advertisement.
Kurt Stammberger, senior vice president at Norse, the cybersecurity firm that first identified a potential insider in the massive November hack of Sony Pictures, told the Security Ledger the company has identified six people “with direct involvement in the hack,” two of whom are based in the U.S. along with one in Canada, Singapore and Thailand.
Stammberger noted the involvement of an insider explained how the attackers obtained critical information about Sony’s network, including the IP addresses of critical servers and valid credentials to log into them. Even in sophisticated attacks, remote actors might spend days, weeks or months probing a network to which they have gained access to obtain that information: using compromised employee accounts to explore and find sensitive data before stealing it or causing other damage. It is during that “lateral movement,” malicious actors are often spotted, Stammberger said.  In the case of the Sony hack, however, the malware was compiled knowing exactly what assets to attack.

After examining intercepted communications of other individuals engaged in contact with hacker and hacktivist groups in Europe and Asia (where the Sony hack was routed through), Norse connected one of those individuals with the Sony employee on a server that featured the earliest-known version of the malware used against Sony.

Stammberger said that a “handful” of former employees may have been involved, though only one was linked directly to the hack. That employee, at some point, joined forces with external actors and more experienced hackers with a grudge against Sony, including individuals involved with sites like the Pirate Bay which offer Hollywood movies for download.

“We see evidence for those two groups of people getting together,”

Stammberger told The Security Ledger. {New Clues In Sony Hack Point To Insiders, Away from DPRK}

The controversial film seems also ‘not actually a serious comedy’, the fragments we got to see of it on television were ridiculous and making a fool of Americans as well as of North Koreans.

Television

The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, made up of leading media and entertainment figures from over 60 countries and 500 companies from all sectors of television including internet, mobile and technology honoured the second series of the commercial television channel 2BE’s comedy sketch series ‘Wat als?’ (What if?). The makers of the programme received the International Emmy Award for best comedy at a ceremony in New York in November. The man that devised and produces the show Tim Van Aelst took the prize on behalf of the ‘Wat als? ’team that had travelled to New York with him for the ceremony.

Flemish series are also obtaining good marks in Britain. ‘Cordon’, a series broadcast by the Flemish commercial TV station VTM, has been bought by the BBC and follows in the footsteps of ‘Salamander’, which was broadcast on the VRT’s first channel Eén. The BBC were the first foreign TV station to purchase Cordon, in which Antwerp’s inner city is being threatened by an unknown but deadly virus. The deal was struck even before the annual MIPCOM fair took place in Cannes – MIPCOM is an entertainment content market, gathering the TV industry’s leading players between 13 and 16 October.

The producers of Cordon, Eyeworks, hope that the BBC’s decision will arouse extra interest in other foreign countries.

On television we could find many interesting programs but also a lot of rubbish and an increase of advertisements, even on the state channels. More and more people are not satisfied any more with the more than 230 channels they can receive but offer lots of interruptions in their programs to bombard us with commercials we do not like to see over and over again, many times in one hour. There are channels were they present one hour screening of which only about 25 to 35 minutes is the actual program. Therefore many start preferring to watch via internet to those films or series they want to see without any interruption.

I wonder if the Californian company Netflix, which has revolutionized the US television industry several times over, would be able to bring such a revolution over here. From doorstep DVD delivery to binge-watching on tablets and phones the company arriving in France, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany and Austria, after launching in 1997, the service simply killed the traditional DVD or video store, experts say.

Netflix subscribers could — and still can — watch an unlimited number of DVDs per month from a huge catalogue delivered to their door. After viewing the DVD, the customer slips it in a pre-paid envelope and mails it back, triggering the next DVD to be sent.

Paradoxically,

“Netflix in the beginning was a new technology company but based on the oldest technology possible: the US post office,”

Robert Thompson, a professor of pop culture at Syracuse University, told AFP.

“There’s now a whole variety of ways to watch programs on TV but also on the computer, on your tablet, on your cell phone,”

said Jeff Kagan, an independent technology analyst.

“Netflix allows people to watch programs when they want, where they want,”

he added.

But its catalogue of shows and films for streaming remains far smaller than its DVD offerings, and Netflix meanwhile faces streaming competition from Hulu, Amazon and Google, not to mention illegal downloads.

Magazines

Next to the Lifestyle Magazine Stepping Toes a new readers digest on the net was created by Marcus Ampe with “From Guestwriters“, welcoming its readers with Spring in sight.

In Belgium were more and more people convert to Islam a lifestyle magazine for muslims was introduced, got some press attention but afterwards it kept very quiet around the magazine and the editors (two young Islamic ladies) did not react to my letters requesting more information.

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Find more what was in the news:

  1. To see past the surface of things
  2. Meet Stromae, the most famous pop star you’ve never heard of
  3. Andy Cohen had Lady Gaga’s urine turned into perfume
  4. Lady Gaga Fosters Peace Between Sparring Fans in Belgium
  5. Lady Gaga Stops Fans From Fighting Mid-Concert—Watch Her Tell Off the Little Monsters!
  6. Circle Of Life Surprise in NYC Subway
  7. The Lion King – Circle of Life
  8. A good team to guaranty a musical about the First World War
  9. Mastery from Kiev, Ukraine
  10. Michael Smuin and Intended broad appeal
  11. Duo Paradise Le plus grand Cabaret du Monde
  12. Tea with the FT: Pedro Almodóvar
  13. Luc Tuymans: dark visions and enlightenment
  14. North Korea farce packs US theatres
  15. Flemish comedy wins International Emmy Award
  16. Marry Me and Lucifer compete in Valladolid
  17. Waiting for August’s September prize haul
  18. Erasmus Prize 2014 awarded to Frie Leysen
  19. Netflix: the revolution to change EU–US TV landscape
  20. Genée International Ballet Competition in Antwerp for the first time
  21. Live Streaming ‘World Ballet Day’
  22. Films of 2014
  23. Top 5 Best, Worst, Disappointing and Surprising Movies.
  24. 2014 – End of Year Review – continued
  25. The Year When I Read Enough Books

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Preceding reviews of 2014:

My blogs 2014 in review2014

Politics in the United States of America

2014 Politics all over the world

2014 Human Rights

2014 Health and welfare

2014 Social contacts

2014 To remember our Earth

2014 Economics

Next: 2014 Personalities & Obituary

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  • Exploring the home of Johnny Cash (blogs.abc.net.au)
    Most of us got to know Johnny Cash through his music or by watching a well known film about his life but now Johnny Cash fans can visit his childhood home.The home is part of the Historic Dyess Colony in Arkansas. The colony was an agricultural resettlement community set up to help families recover from the Great Depression and extensive restoration work over recent years has seen several of the historic buildings opened to visitors including the home of Johnnny Cash.
  • Favorite Person, Favorite Media (simpsonsparadox.com)
    Look, Harold, Mr Darcy has social anxiety and hates parties, just like you! (I’m an amazing girlfriend.)
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    Johnny Cash sings about love, hell fire and not taking your guns to town.
  • Johnny Cash Tribute Will Not Be Like Disneyland, Say Bosses (hub.contactmusic.com)
    The rock ‘n’ roll legend famously performed several times at Folsom State Prison in California in the 1960s to boost inmates’ morale, and local officials are honouring the star with the Johnny Cash Trail and Overpass attraction.A $3.8 million (£2.4 million) pedestrian and cycle route was unveiled in October (14) as part of the project, and organisers are now working towards installing artworks, a Ring of Fire amphitheatre, and a 40-foot (12-metre) tall statue of Cash in a nearby park as part of the tribute.However, they are determined to keep th
  • These Persol ‘Film Noir’ Sunglasses Will Make You Look lIke Johnny Cash (airows.com)
    It’s no secret that Persol makes some of our favorite eyewear in the world. These made in Italy new releases pay homage to the iconic style of crime dramas in the 1950’s with a special edition “Phenoix” arrow on the sides that’s slightly different than their usual look. The end result might remind you of a certain iconic photograph of one Johnny Cash…
  • Certified Fresh: G-Eazy – Making Things Happen (hiphopwired.com)
    G-Eazy, a bubbling rapper and potential heartthrob, released his debut album These Things Happen via RCA records back in 2014. Since then, he’s been on an upward trajectory, becoming a recognized name and brand in the process, as well as performing on some of the biggest festivals — last year’s Roots Picnic in Philadelphia and Bonnaroo 2015 included.
  • Americana Afternoons (blueridgemuse.com)
    American Afternoons are free concerts at The Floyd Country Store and feature local and regional acts.Christiane and The Strays, from Durham, appeared this past Saturday and provided a musical mix that included rock, ballads, folk and country.It’s one of those days on the Country Store stage where one can hear Johnny Cash, The Beatles and more.

About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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