Photos & podcast: On Benjamin Britten, WH Auden & Gypsy Rose Lee

In Audio, Features, Interviews, London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Quotes by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

A New York artistic commune in the early 1940s – occupied by British exiles Benjamin Britten, WH Auden, American novelist Carson McCullers (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter) and stripper Gypsy Rose Lee amongst many other artists – is the setting for Zoe Lewis‘ new play Britten in Brooklyn, which has just premiered at London’s Wilton’s Music Hall.

During their time living in the commune, known as the “February House”, Britten and Auden wrote their first and only opera together, Paul Bunyan, and were castigated in the British press for their political stance as conscientious objectors living abroad while their homeland came under Nazi attack.

After the performance last night (8 September 2016), I chaired a post-show Q&A with author Zoe Lewis, director Oli Rose and star Sadie Frost (who plays Gypsy) as well as Wilton’s executive director Holly Kendrick, who was involved in commissioning the piece’s original reading at the 2013 HighTide Festival in Aldeburgh (where, coincidentally, I am heading tomorrow to chair three talks over the weekend) as part of celebrations for the centenary of Britten’s birth.

Amongst the topics discussed: how Zoe drew on her own experiences in an artists’ commune in the 1990s writing the play, what Auden would make of today’s political landscape, why artists struggle with their consciences, whether Paul Bunyan was any good (it was slated at the time), the link between Gypsy Rose Lee and Madonna, why the commune was called the “February House”, and what happened to some of its other occupants. (Note to self: Read Carson McCuller’s novels.)

Have a listen to the podcast for further explanation on all points!

Britten in Brooklyn runs at Wilton’s Music Hall until 17 September 2016.

Interval video

Interval video @WiltonMusicHall. Follow @BrittenBrooklyn from 9.30 for Q&A tweets. Much to discuss! Send me any Qs pic.twitter.com/mN5C4cyPkR

— Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) September 8, 2016

Podcast

Q&A photos
Click to view slideshow.

Show photos
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Terri Paddock
Terri Paddock runs MyTheatreGroup, which provides content and social media marketing services for theatre clients across channels including MyTheatreMates.com, StageFaves.com, Stage Talk and TerriPaddock.com. Previously,
Terri Paddock founded WhatsOnStage.com and the WhatsOnStage Awards, running the company and its events from 1996 to 2013. Terri is also the author of two novels, Come Clean and Beware the Dwarfs, and has previously written for the Evening Standard, Independent, The Times and other national publications. She also produces the annual Critics' Circle Theatre Awards and acts as a digital, content strategy and event consultant for theatre, producers and other clients. She tweets about theatre at @TerriPaddock.
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Terri Paddock on FacebookTerri Paddock on InstagramTerri Paddock on LinkedinTerri Paddock on TwitterTerri Paddock on Youtube
Terri Paddock
Terri Paddock runs MyTheatreGroup, which provides content and social media marketing services for theatre clients across channels including MyTheatreMates.com, StageFaves.com, Stage Talk and TerriPaddock.com. Previously,
Terri Paddock founded WhatsOnStage.com and the WhatsOnStage Awards, running the company and its events from 1996 to 2013. Terri is also the author of two novels, Come Clean and Beware the Dwarfs, and has previously written for the Evening Standard, Independent, The Times and other national publications. She also produces the annual Critics' Circle Theatre Awards and acts as a digital, content strategy and event consultant for theatre, producers and other clients. She tweets about theatre at @TerriPaddock.

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