David Mamet’s description of Hollywood as a sinkhole of depraved veniality remains at odds with our hopeless hope that it can become ‘a protective monastery of aesthetic Truth’. Annually, droves of writers, actors, directors and producers go there to create, and if the place is decadent, it is because they are forbidden to do so by a monstrous economic machine which hijacked the system a long time ago. Screenwriting was the early victim of this system, partly because as an activity it is hard to define. Pages that entice the performer and investor through the letter box are rarely the ‘sides’ that are utilised on the shooting day. (Sides are the multicoloured sheets which have been processed the night before.) They are the result of renegotiation and simplification. Screenwriting, unlike theatre writing, is not the expression of the unconscious self but the compromised conclusion of an original idea.
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With just a few days to go until the first issue of the new decade, does anyone recognise the stern figure on our February cover?
'Fiona Shaw, in Jonathan Miller’s production, is the best shrew I have seen. She starts off in a mustard yellow dress with a mustard sharp tongue.'
From the archive, Kate Kellaway on a 1988 production of 'The Taming of the Shrew'.
'He was not a revolutionary at all of course. He was only marginally a socialist. His tradition was rooted in the Liberal aristocracy, and his politics were entirely bounded by Parliament.'
From the archive, Paul Foot on Tony Benn's diaries.