Episodes

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20190515

Robert Icke is one of Britain's most exciting and feted young theatre directors. His reputation has been built on re-visiting the classics and updating them - re-writing where necessary and insisting that the plays speak thrillingly to the contemporary audience.

This programme goes behind the scenes at a production of Ibsen's Wild Duck at the Almeida Theatre, samples Robert Icke's acclaimed production of Hamlet, and also follows him to Basel in Switzerland where he produces a German language version of Arthur Miller's The Crucible.

The contributors include Juliet Stevenson who works frequently with Robert Icke, Helen Lewis of the New Statesman, designer Bunny Christie, Andreas Beck of the Basel Theatre and critic Michael Billington who is not a fan of Robert Icke's method of updating plays - which he considers impudence.

Narrator: Noma Dumezweni

Produced by Susan Marling
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Acclaimed theatre director Robert Icke followed as he works on plays in London and Basel.

Arts series

20190522

British Asian film maker Gurinder Chadha is on a roll with two huge projects coming to fruition. We record with her in Jaipur in India, the setting for her new six-part TV series Beecham House which will be broadcast in June. We hear how Gurinder handles the "logistical nightmares" of filming in India but how she insists on absolute diversity and parity between Indian and British cast and crew.

This project overlaps with another - a feature film fashioned from a memoir by Sarfraz Manzoor about a Pakistani boy growing up in Luton in the 1980s. The boy finds inspiration and escape in the words and music of Bruce Springsteen. We follow Gurinder to the Sundance film festival where the film is the big hit of the event.

So, from India in 1795 to Luton in 1987, Gurinder advances the cause of diversity in British television and film and, in the programme, we are strongly reminded of not just her talent, but her irrepressible spirit. Noma Domezweni narrates.

Produced by Susan Marling
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

British Asian film maker Gurinder Chadha is on a roll with a major TV series and film.

Arts series

acta Community Theatre20191127

Acta Community Theatre in Bristol is a place where theatre is made in reverse. Rather than starting with a play and finding professional actors to realise it, people create and perform original drama of their own, rooted in their experiences and stories. There is never an audition.

Noma Dumezweni narrates this visit to the acta centre and beyond, as we listen to some of the many people who create theatre here. We spend time with a group of young carers for whom acta is an important social lifeline, listen in on some lively caribbean elders as they perform to a full house, and join a group of women from one of Bristol’s more deprived areas as they use theatre and comedy to express and overcome their struggles.

While acta is beneficial for those taking part - some even argue that community theatre should be provided by the NHS - does it have artistic, as well as social, value? Members and staff explain why this is a rich, refreshing, and uniquely authentic form of theatre that deserves acclaim and attention.

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

We visit acta Community Theatre in Bristol, where theatre is made in reverse.

Arts series

Alison Balsom2019011520190119 (R4)

Alison Balsom's career would be astonishing even if she had simply been content to reign as one of the world's best classical trumpeters. But the so-called Diva of the Trumpet has ambitions which go beyond performance on the concert platform. She is a passionate ambassador for the trumpet and for broadening its repertoire. And now, as the newly appointed artistic director of the Cheltenham Music Festival, she relishes the opportunity to open up the best classical music to new audiences in creative ways.

The programme has access to Alison, providing a glimpse at her life, as she takes the reins of the music festival, conducts masterclasses, rehearses with Guy Barker for a new concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank, and works at home in her "room of inspiration".

Contributors include counter tenor Iestyn Davies, theatre director Dominic Dromgoole, and Huw Humphreys who is in charge of music at the Barbican.

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

A glimpse into the life of the virtuoso trumpeter taking charge of the Cheltenham Festival

Arts series

Amy Powney20191204

This autumn London Fashion week was rather overshadowed by climate protestors wanting to call attention to the pollution caused by 'fast fashion' in particular - the habit of buying cheap clothes that are soon discarded.
Amy Powney is a fashion designer who resists making clothes that damage people or the planet. She sources sustainable materials and knows the factories where her garments are made by people paid a living wage. Amy has an interesting background - brought up partly living in a caravan in the Lancashire countryside, hers was a life off grid without running water or proper heating. And certainly not much in the way of fashionable clothing - or even a mirror to use.
Yet her talent has driven her to create a successful brand, win awards, be endorsed by Vogue and to begin a collaboration with High Street giant, the John Lewis Partnership.
But we ask - isn't sustainable fashion just a contraction in terms? Isn't Amy's creative ability curtailed by the need to work sustainably?
And how can she run a business that's predicated on people buying less?

Produced by Susan Marling
Narrated by Noma Domezweni
A Just Radio Production.

Amy Powney is a fashion designer determined to produce beautiful clothes sustainably

Arts series

Gus Casely-hayford20190529

In February 2018, British Art Historian and broadcast Dr Gus Casely-Hayford started his dream job as Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.

Located in Washington DC, on the National Mall, it’s home to one of the world's finest collections African art, both ancient and modern.

The challenges are huge, and it’s all going marvellously well - until political events threaten to derail their upcoming exhibition and ability to fundraise. So the race is on to make up for lost time.

We follow Gus’s action-packed first year in office. He has ambitious plans for the museum - remodelling its physical spaces, increasing its digital reach and education programs. But he’s also striving to broker new partnerships with US and African institutions, creating a more equitable and collaborative museum sector. We follow Gus to Yale University which has been leading the way for higher education with their Africa Initiative.

Narrated by Noma Dumezweni
Produced by Victoria Ferran
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Gus Casely-Hayford's first year at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.

Arts series

We follow Gus’ action-packed first year in office. He has ambitious plans for the museum - remodelling its physical spaces, increasing its digital reach and education programs. But he’s also striving to broker new partnerships with US and African institutions, creating a more equitable and collaborative museum sector. We follow Gus to Yale University which has been leading the way for higher education with their Africa Initiative.

Katie Paterson - The Matter of Time20190924

Scottish artist Katie Paterson offers us back the universe, with the help of experts in science and technology.

She famously used a nano-chisel to carve grains of sand from the Sahara desert to be infinitesimally smaller. She has worked with astrophysicists to simulate moonlight, and with a perfumer to render the smell of space. She wants to make manifest in objects and experience the wonders of the cosmos, of time and our existence - as reality rather than faith. She lets epic astronomical phenomena percolate into objects and experiences, images and sounds. Just to name a few more - an automated piano playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata bounced to the moon and back, a spinning colour wheel depicting the evolution of the universe, and a phone line that relays the sound of a melting glacier.

Future Library is Paterson's most ambitious artwork yet. In 2014, a thousand trees were planted in the forest. They will continue to grow until 2114 when they will be turned into books, each written by a different author and kept in a special safe place by the City of Oslo. This is a life project and a journey she will make every May until she dies.

The first writer was none other than Margaret Atwood. In her Forest Ceremony speech in 2015, she reflected on the mystery of the hundred years, "How strange it is to think of my own voice - silent by then for a long time - suddenly being awakened, after 100 years. What is the first thing that voice will say, as a not-yet-embodied hand draws it out of its container and opens it to the first page?"

In this programme, Paterson takes us to the forest to witness South Korean Han Kang (author of The Vegetarian) hand over her manuscript. In reflecting on the project she said, "In Korea, when a couple gets married, people bless them to live together 'for 100 years'. It sounds like almost an eternity, I cannot survive 100 years from now, of course. No one who I love can survive, either. This relentless fact has made me reflect on the essential part of my life. Why do I write? Who am I talking to, when I write?"

On this journey, we'll hear more from Paterson about her work as an artist, and report on her nationwide project First There is a Mountain, which takes place on beaches around Britain. We also hear about the room at her grandmother's house where, as a child, she'd lock herself in to have visions.

Katie Paterson was born in Glasgow in 1981, studied at Edinburgh College of Art then spent a year living in Iceland before embarking on a master's at the Slade. She returned to Iceland to work as a waitress when the night sky became her obsession. She has pursued projects which engage a variety of scientific specialisms, especially astronomy and astrophysics. She's been an artist-in-residence at University College London and is in regular contact with academic departments, observatories and amateur astronomers around the world.

Produced by Kate Bland and Stella Sabin
A Cast Iron Radio production for BBC Radio 4

In the Oslo forest, Scottish artist Katie Paterson makes the future a promising prospect.

Arts series

Katie Paterson - The Matter Of Time20190924

Scottish artist Katie Paterson offers us back the universe, with the help of experts in science and technology.

She famously used a nano-chisel to carve grains of sand from the Sahara desert to be infinitesimally smaller. She has worked with astrophysicists to simulate moonlight, and with a perfumer to render the smell of space. She wants to make manifest in objects and experience the wonders of the cosmos, of time and our existence - as reality rather than faith. She lets epic astronomical phenomena percolate into objects and experiences, images and sounds. Just to name a few more - an automated piano playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata bounced to the moon and back, a spinning colour wheel depicting the evolution of the universe, and a phone line that relays the sound of a melting glacier.

Future Library is Katie’s most ambitious artwork yet. In 2014, a thousand trees were planted in the forest. They will continue to grow until 2114 when they will be turned into books, each written by a different author and kept in a special safe place by the City of Oslo. This is Katie Paterson's life project and a journey she'll make every May until she dies.

The first writer was none other than Margaret Atwood. In her Forest Ceremony speech in 2015, she reflected on the mystery of the hundred years, "How strange it is to think of my own voice - silent by then for a long time - suddenly being awakened, after 100 years. What is the first thing that voice will say, as a not-yet-embodied hand draws it out of its container and opens it to the first page?"

In this programme, Katie Paterson takes us to the forest to witness South Korean Han Kang (author of The Vegetarian) part with her manuscript. Kang accepted the challenge because it's about time. "In Korea, when a couple gets married, people bless them to live together 'for 100 years'. It sounds like almost an eternity, I cannot survive 100 years from now, of course. No one who I love can survive, either. This relentless fact has made me reflect on the essential part of my life. Why do I write? Who am I talking to, when I write?"

On this journey, we'll hear more from Katie about her work as an artist, and report on her nationwide project First There is a Mountain,which takes place on beaches around Britain, as well as the room at her grandmother's house where she'd lock herself in to have visions.

Katie Paterson was born in Glasgow in 1981, studied at Edinburgh College of Art then spent a year living in Iceland before embarking on a master's at the Slade. She returned to Iceland to work as a waitress when the night sky became her obsession. She has pursued projects which engage a variety of scientific specialisms, especially astronomy and astrophysics. She's been an artist-in-residence at University College London and is in regular contact with academic departments, observatories and amateur astronomers around the world.

Produced by Stella Sabin
A Cast Iron Radio production for BBC Radio 4

In the Oslo forest, Scottish artist Katie Paterson makes the future a promising prospect.

Arts series

Future Library is Paterson's most ambitious artwork yet. In 2014, a thousand trees were planted in the forest. They will continue to grow until 2114 when they will be turned into books, each written by a different author and kept in a special safe place by the City of Oslo. This is a life project and a journey she will make every May until she dies.

In this programme, Paterson takes us to the forest to witness South Korean Han Kang (author of The Vegetarian) hand over her manuscript. In reflecting on the project she said, "In Korea, when a couple gets married, people bless them to live together 'for 100 years'. It sounds like almost an eternity, I cannot survive 100 years from now, of course. No one who I love can survive, either. This relentless fact has made me reflect on the essential part of my life. Why do I write? Who am I talking to, when I write?"

On this journey, we'll hear more from Paterson about her work as an artist, and report on her nationwide project First There is a Mountain, which takes place on beaches around Britain. We also hear about the room at her grandmother's house where, as a child, she'd lock herself in to have visions.

Produced by Kate Bland and Stella Sabin
A Cast Iron Radio 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

Backstage access to director Kwame Kwei-Armah's debut at the Young Vic - his version of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night with music and lyrics by Shaina Taub.

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 powerhouse for both the creative community and local residents.

He returns to an artistic scene that is 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 to the actors singing Shakespeare into soul music and show tunes for his version of 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 a major British theatrical institution.

Produced and presented by Peter Curran
A Foghorn Company production for BBC Radio 4

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.

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

Marianela Nunez At Covent Garden2019010820190112 (R4)

As she prepares to perform two roles in a new production of the classic "White ballet", La Bayadere, the Royal Ballet's charismatic Argentinian-born principal dancer, Marianela Nunez shares her life behind the scenes.

Marianela Nunez is considered one of the greatest ballerinas in the world, combining passion and flare from her Argentinian background with discipline and experience from her many years with the Royal Ballet. As she celebrates 20 years dancing with the company, she takes Radio Four's Beaty Rubens behind the scenes, sharing what it means to be a Principal Dancer today.

The programme focuses on her preparations to dance the two key roles in the much-loved classic, La Bayadere - the temple dancer Nikiya and the princess Gamzatti.

It reveals glimpses of her at home in her native Buenos Aires over the summer, follows her as she travels into work, attends specially - designed Pilates classes and studio rehearsals with the great Russian ballerina Natalia Makarova (who recreated Marius Petipa's 1877 Indian Classic for a contemporary audience in 1989) and culminates with her triumphant opening night, leaving her in her dressing room with her feet in a bucket of ice and surrounded by vast bouquets of pink roses.

Beaty Rubens also hears from Natalia Makarova, the Royal Ballet's Kevin O'Hare and the leading Russian dancer who partners Marianela, Vadim Muntagirov.

Now at the very top of her game, Marinanela Nunez is also a wonderfully charismatic individual, whose love of dance and enthusiasm for life in the Royal Ballet effervesces in this lively depiction of a true artist.

Producer: Beaty Rubens

,

Argentinian dancer Marianela Nunez shares her life behind the scenes at the Royal Ballet

Arts series

Pj Harvey20190211

John Wilson follows PJ Harvey as she creates the score for a new West End theatre production of All About Eve.

Singer songwriter Polly Jean Harvey is the only artist to have twice won the Mercury Prize for Album of the Year – for Stories from the City, Stories From the Sea in 2001 and Let England Shake a decade later. After 12 critically acclaimed albums and more than 25 years as an international touring artist, she is now focussing on her work as a soundtrack composer, having written scores for theatre and television for more than a decade.

Starring Gillian Anderson (making her first return to the stage since her acclaimed 2014 performance in A Streetcar Named Desire) and Lily James (star of Downton Abbey and Mama Mia), All About Eve is one of the most anticipated theatrical events of 2019. Adapted from the 1950 film, which was nominated for 14 Oscars and won six including Best Actress for Bette Davis, it’s a story of an ageing Broadway star and a young fan who usurps her place in the spotlight.

Over several weeks in the run up to opening night, Polly shows John how she works at home, writing and recording demos for the soundtrack to the play, and how one musical element of the original film – Liebestraume by Franz Liszt – has become the creative touchstone for her own compositions.

Presented and Produced by John Wilson.
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

Following PJ Harvey as she creates the score for a new production of All About Eve.

Arts series

Singer songwriter Polly Jean Harvey is the only artist to have twice won the Mercury Prize for Album of the Year – for Stories from the City, Stories From the Sea in 2001 and Let England Shake a decade later. After 12 critically acclaimed albums and more than 25 years as an international touring artist, she is now focussing on her work as a soundtrack composer, having written scores for theatre and television for more than a decade.

Starring Gillian Anderson (making her first return to the stage since her acclaimed 2014 performance in A Streetcar Named Desire) and Lily James (star of Downton Abbey and Mama Mia), All About Eve is one of the most anticipated theatrical events of 2019. Adapted from the 1950 film, which was nominated for 14 Oscars and won six including Best Actress for Bette Davis, it’s a story of an ageing Broadway star and a young fan who usurps her place in the spotlight.

Over several weeks in the run up to opening night, Polly shows John how she works at home, writing and recording demos for the soundtrack to the play, and how one musical element of the original film – Liebestraume by Franz Liszt – has become the creative touchstone for her own compositions.

03Akram Khan2018052920180603 (R4)
20180822 (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

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

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.