Arts features

Interview: Robert Wistrich

By Winston Pickett, August 26, 2010

Robert Wistrich, often described as the leading expert on the history of antisemitism, has a new book out on the subject - a 1,100-page brick of a book, in fact. Variously described as a "history" or "encyclopaedia", Wistrich's Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism From Antiquity to the Global Jihad is actually more a lengthy exposition of the ideas behind anti-Jewish hatred - their origins and particularly their cancerous spread through the contemporary world.


I get my best comic material from God

By Jessica Elgot, August 19, 2010

Simon Rich has made a living making people laugh, but secretly the Saturday Night Live writer wishes he could terrify them.

"I love horror," the 26-year-old New Yorker confides. "I've tried and failed so many times to write horror. It just ends up being funny. But the greatest horror writers are usually very witty - Stephen King writes some great jokes. The best comedy comes from the most incredible situations where the stakes could not be higher."


Hustlers and courtesans - my week on the Fringe

August 12, 2010

Tuesday August 3
Welcome to Scotland, says the sign at the border, "home of Rabbi Burns", and on to the city of Edinburgh, home - for the next three weeks - of Jewish Chronicles, my Fringe show of stories in song about all things, erm, Jewish.


Interview: Howard Jacobson

By Gerald Jacobs, August 4, 2010

It is a sunny morning in Soho. On the hotel terrace where Howard Jacobson is eloquently considering what it means to be a Jew, the clinking of coffee cups and the odd Yiddish imprecation mingle with the sights and sounds of London’s most cosmopolitan strip of earth.

Thematically and literally, this is familiar territory. Many have been the discussions with this most articulate of writers trying to identify the elusive essentials of being Jewish. And, however much this feels like putting up a tent in a hurricane, it is always stimulating, always fruitful.


Wincing with the Amstells

By Alan Montague, August 4, 2010

Simon Amstell is best known for bursting celebrity egos as the host of the BBC pop quiz, Never Mind the Buzzcocks. After three years of laying into the likes of Cheryl Cole and the Sugababes, he declared himself bored, quit the show and disappeared from our TV screens.

Now he is back, making his debut as an actor in an autobiographical sitcom he has co-written with Buzzcocks collaborator Dan Swimer.


Interview: Norman Lebrecht

By Sue Fox, August 4, 2010

‘Mahler helps us make sense of our modern world,” explains Norman Lebrecht. “Uniquely, he is a composer who was derided in his lifetime, ignored for decades afterwards but ultimately displaced Beethoven at the box office.”

At 62, Lebrecht is one of the world’s most prolific and widely read commentators on music and culture. Before immersing himself in the arts, he studied Talmud and rabbinic debate — knowledge which has stood him in very good stead, especially when it comes to Mahler, whose 150th anniversary is being celebrated this year.


Gruffalo director: How to make a monster hit

By John Nathan, August 4, 2010

Dog, Frog, Bird, Dragon and Witch are having lunch. So are Cat and Monster. This gives Olivia Jacobs, co-founder and artistic director of Tall Stories, the chance to talk about the nation’s most successful theatre company for children.


Interview: Justin Bartha

By Stephen Applebaum, July 22, 2010

Justin Bartha may not be a household name, but the 31-year-old outshone J-Lo and Ben Affleck in Gigli, played the missing groom in 2009's surprise comedy hit The Hangover, and provided Nicolas Cage with a wise-cracking sidekick in the family-oriented National Treasure adventures National Treasure. If you still cannot put a face to the name, then his latest film (not to mention its poster), The Rebound, should change that.


How my dad came to fill a mill with David Hockneys

By Anthea Gerrie, July 15, 2010

All the years Zoe Silver made documentaries with Alan Yentob, she was sitting on the best arts story in Britain. But it was one she could never pitch. "It would have been a conflict of interest," she laughs of her late father's audacious collaboration with David Hockney.


Interview: Dame Fanny Waterman

By Jessica Elgot, July 8, 2010

She is president of an international festival, founder of the world's leading piano competition and a world-renowned teacher who will work in Washington, Seoul, Beijing, Hanover and Leipzig this year alone. At the age of 90, Dame Fanny Waterman shows no sign of slowing down.