The Gamble

Episodes

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01Free Fall20171025

The risks and rewards of stage performance. Narrated by the actor Noma Dumezweni.

A three part series about the connection between risk and creativity, narrated by the actor Noma Dumezweni.

This week - three different performers, each of them taking chances and pushing themselves to their artistic limits, in the hope of creating their very best work live and in the moment.

Since undergoing a mid-career stage fright where she thought she would never set foot on stage again, Juliet Stevenson confronted her inhibition by taking on some of her most challenging theatrical roles. These include Winnie in Samuel Beckett's virtual one-hander Happy Days, where she delivers a two hour monologue submerged in earth. We also hear how, in a recent production of Mary Stuart, Juliet learnt both parts of Mary and Elizabeth I and her character for the night was determined by a coin-toss live on stage.

The singer Laura Mvula plays her most ambitious concert to date with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican. She describes overcoming her terror of performing to reach this stage. She says, "What if I am not good enough to do this? What if I'm not justified to stand in front of this orchestra? Who am I to make these 70 plus middle aged white people play my music?"

Mark Springer is a pianist who thrives on throwing himself into the unknown. We join him in Bologna as he prepares to deliver a completely improvised performance. The audience doesn't know what Mark will play. And neither does he. He describes his process as "spontaneous composition", writing new music in real time.

With Robert Icke and Andi Oliver.

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

01Naked20171101

Noma Dumezweni narrates the third episode of her series about risk and creativity.

Noma Dumezweni narrates a series about risk and creativity, this week featuring performance artists Bryony Kimmings and Scottee, and the French artist Sophie Calle, talking about the art of self-revelation.

Bryony Kimmings begins work on a new show exploring personal trauma and the vulnerability of opening up about your own life. Writer and artist Scottee revisits his life as a gay teenager in Kentish Town in a new staged memoir. And - blurring the boundary between art and life - the artist Sophie Calle talks about recording her own mother's death.

Producer: Jo Wheeler
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

0101Low Life20171018

For the painter Lucian Freud, every brush stroke was a risk.

A three part series about the connection between risk and creativity, narrated by the actor Noma Dumezweni.

For the painter Lucian Freud, every brush stroke was a risk. He led a dangerous and precarious existence. How did this contribute to the production of some of greatest figurative art of the 20th century?

Freud placed staggering and catastrophic bets on horses throughout his life, often losing hundreds of thousands of pounds. He explored Soho after dark with fellow painter Francis Bacon and he had brushes with gangsters. Seemingly these activities "emptied" Freud and were a necessary preparation for work in the studio.

David Dawson, Freud's assistant from the 1990s until his death, says, "He would gamble away until he had nothing left and that somehow freed him up to then start painting again."

In the studio, Freud's approach to life was at its most intense. Spending months on paintings, it was always a slow, sometimes tortuous process and sitters knew there was a real possibility that their portrait might never be finished.

But for decades Freud's career was in the doldrums. His fleshy portraits were deemed unfashionable by the art world. James Kirkman, his dealer at this period, says, "I remember working at the Marlborough Gallery in the 60s, which represented Lucian. Lucian was definitely the most unpopular of the artists."

Featuring the art critic Martin Gayford, Freud's former partner Jacquetta Eliot and "the Gentleman's Bookmaker", Victor Chandler.

So Lucian Freud, the skin red around the white of the
White English skin, truth no lies, low life.
(from 'Lucian Freud - Bigger the brush bigger the painting' by John Lalor)

Produced by Paul Smith
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

For the painter Lucian Freud, every brush stroke was a risk.

A three part series about the connection between risk and creativity, narrated by the actor Noma Dumezweni.

For the painter Lucian Freud, every brush stroke was a risk. He led a dangerous and precarious existence. How did this contribute to the production of some of greatest figurative art of the 20th century?

Freud placed staggering and catastrophic bets on horses throughout his life, often losing hundreds of thousands of pounds. He explored Soho after dark with fellow painter Francis Bacon and he had brushes with gangsters. Seemingly these activities "emptied" Freud and were a necessary preparation for work in the studio.

David Dawson, Freud's assistant from the 1990s until his death, says, "He would gamble away until he had nothing left and that somehow freed him up to then start painting again."

In the studio, Freud's approach to life was at its most intense. Spending months on paintings, it was always a slow, sometimes tortuous process and sitters knew there was a real possibility that their portrait might never be finished.

But for decades Freud's career was in the doldrums. His fleshy portraits were deemed unfashionable by the art world. James Kirkman, his dealer at this period, says, "I remember working at the Marlborough Gallery in the 60s, which represented Lucian. Lucian was definitely the most unpopular of the artists."

Featuring the art critic Martin Gayford, Freud's former partner Jacquetta Eliot and "the Gentleman's Bookmaker", Victor Chandler.

So Lucian Freud, the skin red around the white of the
White English skin, truth no lies, low life.
(from 'Lucian Freud - Bigger the brush bigger the painting' by John Lalor)

Produced by Paul Smith
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

"

For the painter Lucian Freud, every brush stroke was a risk.

A three part series about the connection between risk and creativity, narrated by the actor Noma Dumezweni.

For the painter Lucian Freud, every brush stroke was a risk. He led a dangerous and precarious existence. How did this contribute to the production of some of greatest figurative art of the 20th century?

Freud placed staggering and catastrophic bets on horses throughout his life, often losing hundreds of thousands of pounds. He explored Soho after dark with fellow painter Francis Bacon and he had brushes with gangsters. Seemingly these activities "emptied" Freud and were a necessary preparation for work in the studio.

David Dawson, Freud's assistant from the 1990s until his death, says, "He would gamble away until he had nothing left and that somehow freed him up to then start painting again."

In the studio, Freud's approach to life was at its most intense. Spending months on paintings, it was always a slow, sometimes tortuous process and sitters knew there was a real possibility that their portrait might never be finished.

But for decades Freud's career was in the doldrums. His fleshy portraits were deemed unfashionable by the art world. James Kirkman, his dealer at this period, says, "I remember working at the Marlborough Gallery in the 60s, which represented Lucian. Lucian was definitely the most unpopular of the artists."

Featuring the art critic Martin Gayford, Freud's former partner Jacquetta Eliot and "the Gentleman's Bookmaker", Victor Chandler.

So Lucian Freud, the skin red around the white of the
White English skin, truth no lies, low life.
(from 'Lucian Freud - Bigger the brush bigger the painting' by John Lalor)

Produced by Paul Smith
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.