The Week in Performing Arts - 8/2/12

Director Robert Zemeckis, screenwriter Bob Gale and composer Alan Silvestri are the main components of the team bringing classic 80s film Back to the Future onto our stages… in the form of a musical. Set to head straight to Broadway, there’s no doubt that with its already-cult status, it won’t struggle to get the punters in.

Basil Payne, the Irish poet and writer, has died in Dublin at the age of 88. He wrote regularly for Irish radio and began to write for the stage in the 1970s, presenting his one-man show, In Dublin’s Quare City, at Dublin’s Peacock Theatre in 1973. Later plays included My Dublin, My America in 1975, also at the Peacock Theatre, and Tale of Five Cities for the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1980.

Just a couple of months ago, Mike Daisey’s show, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, was a one-man touring production playing to small audiences in the USA. Although critically successful, it wasn’t front page news – and now, suddenly, it is. What changed? In January, Daisey appeared on the National Public Radio show This American Life in a discussion about the show, which also included an excerpt from his performance. His incredibly well-researched play about the exploitation of Chinese workers to make such beloved and iconic products of the 21st century as Apple’s iPods, Macbooks and iPhones shot to the forefront of the public eye. An online petition asking Apple to change its labour practices overseas received 140, 000 names in only two days. Suddenly, this quietly successful solo act has turned into the unlikely enemy of one of the most powerful corporations in the world. Daisey is overwhelmed to see his monologue act as a huge ethical motivator for hundreds of people who have joined the cause to make Apple change its ways. He hasn’t stopped the show, saying that as a performer, he’s immune from blackmail by the company, and he continues to go on chat shows and speak to journalists about the production.

Mike Daisey in The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs ©Guardian; Image credit: Stan Barouh/AP

Rufus Wainwright is to encounter the Bard in his setting of some of Shakespeare’s sonnets to music. For one night only at the Barbican on 4th March, Wainwright sings and is joined by Siâ Phillips and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Wainwright aficionados will love the artists passion for the work: "One cannot immerse himself/herself in Shakespeare's sonnets and not be submerged, drowned, and finally resurrected a better human being. They are, hands down, the greatest works ever written." This may be an eBay job for a ticket though: queues are going to get pretty busy.

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