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West End Extra - The XTRA DIARY
Published: 27 February 2009
Some of the performers from Mission Possible, set to open on Tuesday at the Robin Howard Theatre in Bloomsbury
Some of the performers from Mission Possible, set to open on Tuesday at the Robin Howard Theatre in Bloomsbury
Men on a mission: dance theatre to explore masculinity

THE male psyche goes under the microscope at a new show next week.
If you believe some people, masculinity is dead and we are entering a post-gender society, so Mission Possible couldn’t come at a more apt time.
It features an all-black cast and explores the much-discussed male role model discourse, among other aspects of manhood.
Using five dancers, choreographers Jeanefer Jean-Charles, Kwesi Johnson and Colin Poole have created pieces of dance theatre to present a snapshot of what it means to be a man in the 21st century.
The theatre company putting on the dance spectacular is called State of Emergency, but whether the alarmist sentiment applies to XY remains to be seen.

Mission Possible is coming to the Robin Howard Theatre in Dukes Road, Bloomsbury on Tuesday.

Art of Raphael needs only pen and paper

TYPICAL of one of my hectic evenings, I grabbed a taxi outside Theatro Technis on Tuesday and made it in time to catch a performance by one of the wittiest writers I know – Frederic Raphael.
A brilliant raconteur, the last time I saw him, about a year ago in Glasgow, he gave a talk to a small audience of about a dozen people.
I asked him why he did it? What makes this successful writer, who has made a rich living from novels and film scripts, prepared to talk to such a small audience, I wondered?
He turned to his publisher. “He made me do it!” he laughed.
On Tuesday Raphael’s audience of about 300 swelled a large hall in the Royal National Hotel in Bloomsbury.
His conversation with actor Tom Conti was part of the Jewish Book Week Festival.
A performer to his fingertips, Raphael remembered a phone call with Stanley Kubrick while working on the script for the director’s last film,
Eyes Wide Shut.
Complaining about a bad day on the set, Raphael told Kubrick how a film director had a lot to organise when shooting a sequence – the right angles for the cameras, the right facilities for the actors – while all he needed to create his art was a pen and a piece of paper.
“Shucks, you know how to make a man feel small!” growled Kubrick.
Raphael can rattle off a rich irony in a flash.
Tom Conti recalled how he was advised by the director how to play the main character in Raphael’s popular TV play The Glittering Prizes.
“Play him small,” he was told. “Keep the Jewish gestures down!”
They were queueing up in the BBC canteen at the time, and Conti saw Raphael in another queue – gesticulating like mad, his arms pumping up and down! “Play him like that?” said a bemused Conti.
Suddenly, Raphael turned to Conti and told the audience: “I may as well admit it – I told the director to play the part small!”
Raphael said that when the cast was rehearsing one of his scripts, Harold Pinter, who had a small character part, turned ponderously to him. “Do you mind, Freddy, if I say ‘What’s the matter’ rather than ‘What is the matter?’”
While Raphael signed autographs at the end of the talk, he turned to me. “Did I repeat some of the old jokes?” he asked.

Raphael’s latest novel is Fame and Fortune (JR Books, £14.99). It was a successful Radio 4 adaptation last autumn.

‘Destroy libraries’: Tin Book is bought on national shelf

HE said all libraries should be burned to the ground. Now his book has ended up on a shelf in the most famous library of them all.
Filippo Marinetti isn’t alive to see the irony of the British Library’s £83,000 purchase of the book he co-authored.
Known as the “Tin Book”, the 100-year-old work is considered pivotal in the development of the Italian Futurist art movement – making it quite a snip at the price. Futurism was launched by the publication of a manifesto written by the Mussolini-supporting Marinetti which urged artists to embrace aggression, glorified the war and promised to “destroy museums, libraries and fight against moralism, feminism, and all utilitarian cowardice.”
David Barrie, director of the Art Fund, said: “This metal book is an extraordinary invention, testifying to the revolutionary spirit of a movement that genuinely believed in the power of art to change the world.
“It also gives us an insight into the fascinating and complex relationship between Italy’s creative elite and the forces of fascism.”
The book is on display in the British Library’s Treasures gallery and is only the second copy on public show in Europe.

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