Arts features

Jon Robin Baitz: Playwright’s split personality does not disguise singular vision

By John Nathan, March 24, 2014

The harshest critic of Jon Robin Baitz — author of the Pulitzer-nominated Broadway hit Other Desert Cities, which is about to make its UK debut at the Old Vic — is a bespectacled mild-mannered American I encounter sipping an Americano in a posh London hotel. “I dislike him intensely,” he says. But to clarify, Baitz and his critic are the same person.

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Stories from the frontline — what Jews did in the Great War

By Charlotte Oliver, March 13, 2014

Deep in the First World War trenches, 17-year-old Marcus Segal wrote a letter home to his family in Kilburn. “I can’t wait until we’re together again,” he said. “Sitting Seder and singing Ma Nishtanah.”

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He’s turned the screen Scarlett after a long and alien journey

By Simon Round, March 13, 2014

Jonathan Glazer is not a man in a hurry. It has been 10 years since his last movie, Birth — a discomfiting love story between Nicole Kidman and a child claiming to be her reincarnated husband. Now, finally, he has a new film. Like its predecessor, Under the Skin is dividing audiences.

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Norman Lebrecht: Musical history is a voyage of discovery

By Jenni Frazer, March 6, 2014

The BBC gave me one piece of advice,” reveals writer and broadcaster Norman Lebrecht, laughing. “They said: ‘We aren’t going to do this again for a generation. So make it comprehensive.’” For the next three Sundays on Radio 3, Lebrecht is fronting a series on Music and the Jews.

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Jay Rayner has even more on his plate as he tunes up for JW3 jazz gig

By Simon Round, March 6, 2014

In every series of Masterchef comes the day when the nervous amateur contestants are told that they are to cook for restaurant reviewers. A regular in this slot is is Jay Rayner, the Observer’s critic. He and his fellow critics walk in, steely eyed, to pronounce on the efforts of the contestants. Sometimes they are encouraging and occasionally scathing of the food which is presented to them.

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Joshua Oppenheimer: Venturing into the Indonesian Killing Fields

By Stephen Applebaum, March 3, 2014

Joshua Oppenheimer’s disturbing documentary about the 1965 Indonesian genocide and its legacy, The Act of Killing, has been winning awards (including a Bafta) and generating debate around the world for over a year. And on Sunday it was among the Oscar nominees.

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The electronic music DJ who is beating a path to the top

By Charlotte Oliver, February 27, 2014

Friday nights tend to be a mixed bag for DJ and music producer Ilan Bluestone. One week he will be lighting the Shabbat candles with his extended family in Hertfordshire. The next will find him on stage at one of the biggest nightclubs in the world, playing his music to thousands of fans.

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Hineni: Made in Wales, shown in London

By Simon Rocker, February 24, 2014

There are probably more Welsh-born Jews living in London, Manchester and Israel than remain in the principality. But sometimes the traffic goes the other way.

When Londoner Colin Heyman was offered a job in Cardiff in 1980, he jumped at the chance.

“I’d never been to Cardiff but I loved Wales,” he recalls. He had fallen for the country when walking its hills as a student in Bristol.

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Simon Chinn is sweet on Oscars

By Brigit Grant, February 24, 2014

This time last year, Simon Chinn almost considered going into hiding. His phone kept ringing, begging notes were pushed under his office door and anyone who had ever met him wanted to be his friend.

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Life in Rough Trade: How Geoff Travis became a major player for indie bands

By Paul Lester, February 17, 2014

As founder of the Rough Trade record store, distribution company and label, Geoff Travis has done as much as anyone to promote indie music as an alternative to mainstream, major record company product.

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