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Kwame Kwei Armah20181010

Backstage access to director Kwame Kwei Armah's debut at the Young Vic, Twelfth Night.

Arts series

Backstage access to director Kwame Kwei Armah's debut at the Young Vic, Twelfth Night.

Kwame Kwei Armah is facing high expectations as the new Artistic Director of the Young Vic Theatre in London. He has been away, directing in the USA, for five years. While there, he took the cast of his Bob Marley musical One Love onto the streets, and transformed the bullet-proof glass and bricked-up windows of Center Stage Theatre in Baltimore into a creative powerhouse for both the creative community and local residents.

He returns to an creative community much more diverse and representive than when he left the UK - yet society is in political and social turmoil.

What will he bring to the Young Vic?

The programme follows every aspect of production - from the women building sets for his debut production to the actors singing Shakespeare into soul music and show tunes for his version of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

He shares his vision on how to make the Young Vic an important theatre for writers, alongside its established credentials for directors, and offers a frank take on the expectations facing him as the first black Artistic Director of an established British theatrical institution.

A Foghorn Company production for BBC Radio 4

Kwame Kwei-Armah20181010

Backstage access to director Kwame Kwei-Armah's debut at the Young Vic, Twelfth Night.

Arts series

03Akram Khan2018052920180603 (R4)

Leading dancer-choreographer Akram Khan develops Xenos - his final full-length solo show.

Arts series

Akram Khan is one of the UK's leading dancer-choreographers. As he prepares his final full-length solo show, Xenos, about Indian soldiers in World War One , Beaty Rubens follows the creative process.

Akram Khan's first professional engagement was aged 7, and at 10 he was cast by the legendary director Peter Brook in his production of the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. Now, at 43, he's announced that Xenos will be his final, full-length solo show. Xenos explores a subject close to Akram's heart - the largely unacknowledged experience of the 1.4 million Indian soldiers who fought for the British in the First World War. Telling the story of an Indian court dancer who becomes a communications engineer, laying down wires in the mud of the trenches, Xenos enables Akram to showcase both his Kathak and Contemporary repertoire.

In the months leading up to its world premiere in Athens, Beaty Rubens has been behind the scenes to observe the creative process, speaking extensively with Akram and his talented international team. Xenos integrates live Indian and Western music and original voice archive to create a hugely powerful narrative in which the mass horrors of the trenches are brought back to life by by one sensational solo dancer.

Featuring the music and sound design of Vincenzo Lamagna and rehearsal performances by Nina Harries, Aditya Prakash, Tamar Osbone, B.C.Manjunath and Andrew Maddick.

Akram Khan has collaborated in the past with the French ballet sensation, Sylive Guillem, the actor Juliet Binoche and the sculptor Anthony Gormley, and performed at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics to live music from Emilie Sande.

Presented and produced by Beaty Rubens.

03Akram Khan2018052920180822 (R4)

Leading dancer-choreographer Akram Khan develops Xenos - his final full-length solo show.

Arts series

Akram Khan is one of the UK's leading dancer-choreographers. As he prepares his final full-length solo show, Xenos, about Indian soldiers in World War One , Beaty Rubens follows the creative process.

Akram Khan's first professional engagement was aged 7, and at 10 he was cast by the legendary director Peter Brook in his production of the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. Now, at 43, he's announced that Xenos will be his final, full-length solo show. Xenos explores a subject close to Akram's heart - the largely unacknowledged experience of the 1.4 million Indian soldiers who fought for the British in the First World War. Telling the story of an Indian court dancer who becomes a communications engineer, laying down wires in the mud of the trenches, Xenos enables Akram to showcase both his Kathak and Contemporary repertoire.

In the months leading up to its world premiere in Athens, Beaty Rubens has been behind the scenes to observe the creative process, speaking extensively with Akram and his talented international team. Xenos integrates live Indian and Western music and original voice archive to create a hugely powerful narrative in which the mass horrors of the trenches are brought back to life by by one sensational solo dancer.

Featuring the music and sound design of Vincenzo Lamagna and rehearsal performances by Nina Harries, Aditya Prakash, Tamar Osbone, B.C.Manjunath and Andrew Maddick.

Akram Khan has collaborated in the past with the French ballet sensation, Sylive Guillem, the actor Juliet Binoche and the sculptor Anthony Gormley, and performed at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics to live music from Emilie Sande.

Presented and produced by Beaty Rubens.

03Akram Khan20180529

Leading dancer-choreographer Akram Khan develops Xenos - his final full-length solo show.

Arts series

Akram Khan is one of the UK's leading dancer-choreographers. As he prepares his final full-length solo show, Xenos, about Indian soldiers in World War One , Beaty Rubens follows the creative process.

Akram Khan's first professional engagement was aged 7, and at 10 he was cast by the legendary director Peter Brook in his production of the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. Now, at 43, he's announced that Xenos will be his final, full-length solo show. Xenos explores a subject close to Akram's heart - the largely unacknowledged experience of the 1.4 million Indian soldiers who fought for the British in the First World War. Telling the story of an Indian court dancer who becomes a communications engineer, laying down wires in the mud of the trenches, Xenos enables Akram to showcase both his Kathak and Contemporary repertoire.

In the months leading up to its world premiere in Athens, Beaty Rubens has been behind the scenes to observe the creative process, speaking extensively with Akram and his talented international team. Xenos integrates live Indian and Western music and original voice archive to create a hugely powerful narrative in which the mass horrors of the trenches are brought back to life by by one sensational solo dancer.

Featuring the music and sound design of Vincenzo Lamagna and rehearsal performances by Nina Harries, Aditya Prakash, Tamar Osbone, B.C.Manjunath and Andrew Maddick.

Akram Khan has collaborated in the past with the French ballet sensation, Sylive Guillem, the actor Juliet Binoche and the sculptor Anthony Gormley, and performed at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics to live music from Emilie Sande.

Presented and produced by Beaty Rubens.

03Akram Khan2018052920180603 (R4)

Leading dancer-choreographer Akram Khan develops Xenos - his final full-length solo show.

Arts series

Akram Khan is one of the UK's leading dancer-choreographers. As he prepares his final full-length solo show, Xenos, about Indian soldiers in World War One , Beaty Rubens follows the creative process.

Akram Khan's first professional engagement was aged 7, and at 10 he was cast by the legendary director Peter Brook in his production of the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. Now, at 43, he's announced that Xenos will be his final, full-length solo show. Xenos explores a subject close to Akram's heart - the largely unacknowledged experience of the 1.4 million Indian soldiers who fought for the British in the First World War. Telling the story of an Indian court dancer who becomes a communications engineer, laying down wires in the mud of the trenches, Xenos enables Akram to showcase both his Kathak and Contemporary repertoire.

In the months leading up to its world premiere in Athens, Beaty Rubens has been behind the scenes to observe the creative process, speaking extensively with Akram and his talented international team. Xenos integrates live Indian and Western music and original voice archive to create a hugely powerful narrative in which the mass horrors of the trenches are brought back to life by by one sensational solo dancer.

Featuring the music and sound design of Vincenzo Lamagna and rehearsal performances by Nina Harries, Aditya Prakash, Tamar Osbone, B.C.Manjunath and Andrew Maddick.

Akram Khan has collaborated in the past with the French ballet sensation, Sylive Guillem, the actor Juliet Binoche and the sculptor Anthony Gormley, and performed at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics to live music from Emilie Sande.

Presented and produced by Beaty Rubens.

03Akram Khan2018052920180822 (R4)

Leading dancer-choreographer Akram Khan develops Xenos - his final full-length solo show.

Arts series

Akram Khan is one of the UK's leading dancer-choreographers. As he prepares his final full-length solo show, Xenos, about Indian soldiers in World War One , Beaty Rubens follows the creative process.

Akram Khan's first professional engagement was aged 7, and at 10 he was cast by the legendary director Peter Brook in his production of the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. Now, at 43, he's announced that Xenos will be his final, full-length solo show. Xenos explores a subject close to Akram's heart - the largely unacknowledged experience of the 1.4 million Indian soldiers who fought for the British in the First World War. Telling the story of an Indian court dancer who becomes a communications engineer, laying down wires in the mud of the trenches, Xenos enables Akram to showcase both his Kathak and Contemporary repertoire.

In the months leading up to its world premiere in Athens, Beaty Rubens has been behind the scenes to observe the creative process, speaking extensively with Akram and his talented international team. Xenos integrates live Indian and Western music and original voice archive to create a hugely powerful narrative in which the mass horrors of the trenches are brought back to life by by one sensational solo dancer.

Featuring the music and sound design of Vincenzo Lamagna and rehearsal performances by Nina Harries, Aditya Prakash, Tamar Osbone, B.C.Manjunath and Andrew Maddick.

Akram Khan has collaborated in the past with the French ballet sensation, Sylive Guillem, the actor Juliet Binoche and the sculptor Anthony Gormley, and performed at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics to live music from Emilie Sande.

Presented and produced by Beaty Rubens.

03Miroslaw Balka20180718

Polish artist Miroslaw Balka gives Frances Morris an epic tour of his cramped studio.

Arts series

Polish artist Miroslaw Balka gives Frances Morris, Director of Tate Modern, an epic tour of the small, cramped spaces that are his studio, store and home in Otwock, near Warsaw.

These rooms are packed with what seem mostly to be discarded everyday objects - offcuts of old wood, old springs, a shock absorber, handles and hooks, a bag of ancient fir tree needles, a string of used soap, a tin can of ash. Many of these items belonged to his grandparents and parents. They are ordinary objects which transform, when orchestrated by Balka in the gallery space, into powerful works of art.

Through Balka's work, Frances Morris finds out about the artist's life, work and modern Poland.

Miroslaw Balka, born in 1958, grew up in post Nazi occupied, Communist Poland with its distinct and powerful Catholic church. He experienced the extremes of Martial Law in the early 1980s and soon the end of the Communist era later that decade.

The house where he grew up, next to his grandparents bungalows and his father's workshop, is where he lives and works today. Otwock had been a weekend resort for many Jews living in Warsaw, and Balka's address is a few streets from what was once the Jewish Ghetto. In 1942 virtually every Jew living in the Nazi designated area, was transported to Treblinka camp and exterminated - they represented half the population of the town, but the atrocity was barely discussed in Balka's childhood.

History haunts his work - a delicately sliced apple, dried and carefully arranged is made from an apple he picked at Treblinka, and his large scale work for Tate Modern's Turbine Hall in 2009, How It Is, was a steel container, recalling a stowaway for refugees or a freight container to transport Jews to the death camp. But the material here is above all, darkness - the visitor walking up a ramp into an intensely dark space.

Balka's sense of space, of presence, of materials and their associations is astute. Standing in front of two vertical, wall mounted planks hinged together can emit a sense of an embrace, while a strange lump of concrete with metal legs nearby leaves the viewer disorientated. His objects are nearly recogniseable - vessels filled with concrete, a spout from the bottom of the wall - a sense that things are being seen in a half light, in the gallery space.

As Frances Morris has written, "There is no rigid border between Balka's life and his art, but there is always a threshold to be crossed."

How does he do it? With fellow artist and admirer Phyllida Barlow, the programme explores how ordinary objects take on meaning and convey stories that resonate and connect us to Balka's own experience. We hear from his students at the Warsaw Academy where Balka runs the Studio of Spatial Activities.

Produced by Kate Bland
A Cast Iron Radio Production for BBC Radio 4.

04Robert Lepage20180704

Arts programme.

Arts series

04Robert Lepage20180704

Nick Duncalf explores the unique creative process of theatre director Robert Lepage.

Arts series

Nick Duncalf travels to La Caserne, the headquarters of Robert Lepage's theatre company, Ex Machina in Quebec City, to observe the characteristically innovative creation of a new theatrical show from one of the world's most acclaimed directors.

With a collection of songs as a starting point and Lepage as a creative leader and guide, singer Betty Bonifassi and the cast are encouraged to create a narrative on stage through a form of improvised "controlled chaos", while dazzling visual effects, sound and video design are created concurrently in the same performance space.

They have only five highly pressurised days to achieve this before presenting their work in progress to a paying audience, prior to the show itself premiering at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. Can the company have a show ready for an audience in such a short space of time?

0101Mirga Grazinyte-tyla20170718

Verity Sharp follows the CBSO's music director in the first year of her new role.

Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla is the Lithuanian conductor who took charge at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra last year at the age of 30. Verity Sharp charts Mirga's first year in her new job.

When conductor Andris Nelsons left the CBSO in 2015, the orchestra was left with the task of finding a new Music Director to fill some enormous musical shoes. Birmingham was where Sir Simon Rattle rose to fame and he was followed by Sakari Oramo and Andris Nelsons.

The CBSO traditionally choose their Music Director democratically. Prospective conductors are invited for trial concerts and both players and management voice their opinions about suitability. When Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla trialled with them early in 2016, the rapport was immediate and she was offered the job without hesitation.

This programme begins in the week that Mirga takes up her appointment in Birmingham - a week involving her London debut at the BBC Proms - and follows the welcome the orchestra and city give her, charting the process of bonding between players and their new conductor.

This is a story of the power of music in musicians' lives, set against a backdrop of global political uncertainties and unprecedented cuts in local funding. It provides real insight into how an orchestra works and is a portrait of a truly extraordinary musician.

The programme includes interviews with the CBSO's Chief Executive Stephen Maddock, Director of Marketing Abby Corfan, violinists Kate Suthers and David Gregory, and Daily Telegraph music critic Ivan Hewett.

Producer: Rosie Boulton
A Monty Funk production for BBC Radio 4.

0102Crystal Pite20170725

Choreographer Crystal Pite and the Royal Ballet reveal the making of Flight Pattern, Crystal's moving debut with the company.

Flight Pattern is a moving and profound response to the international refugee crisis, set to the first movement of Henryk Górecki's Sympony no. 3, Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. It received 5-star reviews when it premiered in the spring.

Such is the vast repertoire of the Royal Opera House, Flight Pattern was scheduled for very few performances in its first run. But, for two months this year, Crystal brilliantly described her working process to Radio 4. It's extremely rare for the Royal Ballet to allow access to the making of an artwork to this degree, and Crystal's openness was exceptional.

Crystal illuminates her process, her insights, her doubts. The programme accompanies her as she turns her early vision into a dance work for a major international stage - her dance phrase-making and her particular movement style, the challenge of working out how to dance to such powerful music (especially to the soprano's lament) and how to convey the experience of refugees. We hear costume fittings, the arrival of the set design and conjure up the power of light and shadow on stage.

Other speakers include Kevin O'Hare, the Director of the Royal Ballet, and Music Director Koen Kessels. Kristen McNally and Calvin Richardson, two young dancers, describe the impact of Crystal, a creative presence who flew in from Vancouver to make such a wrenching barefoot dance.

Recorded and produced by Frances Byrnes.
A Rockethouse production for BBC Radio 4.

Choreographer Crystal Pite makes Flight Pattern, her profound dance for the Royal Ballet.

0103 LASTDavid Greig20170801

Following David Greig, artistic director at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh.

We join David at the start of The Lyceum's 2017 season in which he is adapting and working on the translation of The Suppliant Women by Aeschylus. It's the opening show of the season and a very important one for David as it will show his intent and direction for the rest of the year. The play is full of drama and democracy and although the second oldest play in human existence we quickly discover the themes of asylum, refugees and violence towards women are still very relevant today. The play concerns the suppliant women, fifty women from Egypt who flee to Greece seeking asylum from forced marriage. David acknowledges that the opening show of the season will be a big moment for him and that he has deliberately chosen a very risky production because it contains all the themes he wants the season to be about: democracy, participation, politics and music. In David's adaptation the chorus is made up of thirty young women from Edinburgh. The young women are non professional actors and most have jobs or studies so rehearsal time is limited. Will David manage to reach his own expectations and that of the audience with his opening show?

Produced and presented in Edinburgh by Kate Bissell.

02Joanna Macgregor20180221

Joanna MacGregor is one of Britain's most celebrated and established pianists and behind the scenes she's also head of piano at the Royal Academy of Music and Artistic Director of the Dartington Music festival. It's a hectic programme with all the challenges that face solo performers combined with a burning desire to prepare the next generation for the harsh world of solo and independent minded music making. 2017 was also a year that saw her tackle a recording and Wigmore Hall performance of Chopin's complete Mazurkas, a challenge few pianists have taken on in the past. Hers is a career balanced between the continuing stresses and rewards of recital work and the increasing concern for her pianist students who face an uncertain career as Britain's halting progress to Brexit threatens to provide yet another level of complication to what should inevitably be an international career.

Producer/Presenter: Tom Alban.

Photo: Pal Hansen

A year in the kaleidoscopic working life of the celebrated pianist Joanna MacGregor.

Joanna MacGregor is one of Britain's most celebrated and established pianists and behind the scenes she's also head of piano at the Royal Academy of Music and Artistic Director of the Dartington Music festival. It's a hectic programme with all the challenges that face solo performers combined with a burning desire to prepare the next generation for the harsh world of solo and independent minded music making. 2017 was also a year that saw her tackle a recording and Wigmore Hall performance of Chopin's complete Mazurkas, a challenge few pianists have taken on in the past. Hers is a career balanced between the continuing stresses and rewards of recital work and the increasing concern for her pianist students who face an uncertain career as Britain's halting progress to Brexit threatens to provide yet another level of complication to what should inevitably be an international career.

Producer/Presenter: Tom Alban.

Photo: Pal Hansen

02Kully Thiarai

A portrait of Kully Thiarai, Artistic Director of National Theatre Wales.

2017 was Kully Thiarai's first full year as Artistic Director of National Theatre Wales - a theatre company which, since its formation in 2009, has built up a reputation for adventurous productions staged in sometimes unlikely places the length and breadth of Wales.

One of their high points was a staging of The Passion in Port Talbot in 2011, staring Michael Sheen.

We follow Kully as she leads National Theatre Wales back to Port Talbot in response to urgent current events. She reflects on her first year in the role and discusses her thoughts on the promise and purpose of theatre - on who and what it is for.

Featuring theatre writer Lyn Gardner.

Producer: Martin Williams.

0201Marin Alsop20180131

We meet Marin Alsop, conductor of the BSO, who believes music can deliver social change.

Marin Alsop is known to British audiences as the first woman to conduct the Last Night of the Proms. She is an immensely charismatic New Yorker who was taught by Leonard Bernstein and retains his passion for breaking down barriers in music.

Susan Marling follows her in action at the beginning of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's new season. Characteristically, Marin chooses to kick this off by taking the orchestra to the Baltimore airport and, not only playing Mozart for passing travellers in the terminal, but allowing them to try their hand at conducting the orchestra.

Marin is that rare combination - a conductor of the very highest order musically and also an excellent communicator with a passion for community engagement. We witness her at work with the BSO and with Orchkids, the music programme she started designed to create social change and nurture promising futures for youth in Baltimore City neighbourhoods. We hear players from Orchkids on stage, rehearsing and playing at the BSO Gala performance with Wynton Marsalis.

We also follow Marin to the Peabody conservatory in Baltimore - the oldest in the USA - where she is training the new generation of conductors. She meets up with some of the successful young conductors she has mentored. Yet we hear that the road hasn't always been smooth - conducting is still a male dominated profession and, for all her efforts, her humour and her skill on the podium, Marin Alsop remains very much one of a kind.

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

0202Dawn Walton20180207

A portrait of artistic director Dawn Walton as she leads a revolutionary theatre programme

Dawn Walton, artistic director of Eclipse, the black theatre touring company, was bored of only ever coming across three black stories in British theatres - slavery stories, immigrant stories, and gang stories. She knew there was a far greater range of stories out there and she wanted to tell them. Revolution Mix is the result - a programme of new plays inspired by 500 years of black British history and it will be the largest ever presentation of black British stories performed in regional theatres.

In this intimate portrait of artistic director Dawn Walton, we follow her as she leads her company, Eclipse Theatre, to its premiere of the first play in her ground-breaking Revolution Mix programme - Black Men Walking. It's a new play inspired by a real-life black men's walking group in Sheffield. Not only does the play challenge clichéd representations of black people, it's also an experimental work fusing music, movement, and magic.

In this programme, as well as hearing from some of those involved in the production, we hear Dawn rehearsing her company, coping with a significant bereavement, discussing her life before entering the world of theatre, and finally sharing her ambitions for British theatre. Revolution Mix is an enterprising programme and in Dawn Walton it has a doughty champion.

Presenter: Ekene Akalawu
Interviewed Guest: Dawn Walton
Interviewed Guest: Ola Animashawun
Interviewed Guest: Testament (aka Andy Brooks)
Interviewed Guest: Dorcas Sebuyange
Interviewed Guest: Tyrone Huggins
Interviewed Guest: Trevor Laird
Interviewed Guest: Tonderai Munyevu
Producer: Ekene Akalawu.

Dawn Walton, artistic director of Eclipse, the black theatre touring company, was bored of only ever coming across three black stories in British theatres - slavery stories, immigrant stories, and gang stories. She knew there was a far greater range of stories out there and she wanted to tell them. Revolution Mix is the result - a programme of new plays inspired by 500 years of black British history and it will be the largest ever presentation of black British stories performed in regional theatres.

In this intimate portrait of artistic director Dawn Walton, we follow her as she leads her company, Eclipse Theatre, to its premiere of the first play in her ground-breaking Revolution Mix programme - Black Men Walking. It's a new play inspired by a real-life black men's walking group in Sheffield. Not only does the play challenge clichéd representations of black people, it's also an experimental work fusing music, movement, and magic.

In this programme, as well as hearing from some of those involved in the production, we hear Dawn rehearsing her company, coping with a significant bereavement, discussing her life before entering the world of theatre, and finally sharing her ambitions for British theatre. Revolution Mix is an enterprising programme and in Dawn Walton it has a doughty champion.

0203Kully Thiarai20180214

Following Kully Thiarai, artistic director of National Theatre Wales, in her first year.

A portrait of Kully Thiarai, Artistic Director of National Theatre Wales.

2017 was Kully Thiarai's first full year as Artistic Director of National Theatre Wales - a theatre company which, since its formation in 2009, has built up a reputation for adventurous productions staged in sometimes unlikely places the length and breadth of Wales.

One of their high points was a staging of The Passion in Port Talbot in 2011, staring Michael Sheen.

We follow Kully as she leads National Theatre Wales back to Port Talbot in response to urgent current events. She reflects on her first year in the role and discusses her thoughts on the promise and purpose of theatre - on who and what it is for.

Featuring theatre writer Lyn Gardner.

Producer: Martin Williams.