Jeremy Irons at Christmas Carol Concert

Jeremy Irons participated in a Christmas Carol Concert to benefit the Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts.

Jeremy read the poem “Christmas” by John Betjeman (text at the bottom of this post).

See an album of photos from the event HERE.

Details from cadoganhall.com

Join Children & the Arts at Holy Trinity for their sixth annual carol concert for a festive evening with special guests Julie Walters, Jeremy Irons, Emilia Fox, Brian Blessed, John Suchet, Laura van der Heijden and Amore. Collegium Musicum of London also perform.

The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts champions the power of the arts to transform the lives of disadvantaged children throughout the UK. Since 2006 they have worked with over 100,000 children and have ambitious plans to build on this in future.

carol service programme

carol service programme 2

carol service programme 3

Christmas by John Betjeman

The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
‘The church looks nice’ on Christmas Day.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says ‘Merry Christmas to you all’.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children’s hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say ‘Come!’
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

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Jeremy Irons to Participate in Christmas Carol Concert

From www.childrenandarts.org.uk

We are delighted to announce that renowned British Actor Jeremy Irons has joined our fantastic line up of guests at this year’s Carol Concert.

Buy tickets HERE – (Very limited seating still available as of 29 November)

Jeremy, an Ambassador for Children & the Arts will be joining Julie Walters, Emilia Fox, Brian Blessed, John Suchet, Amore, Laura van der Heijden and The Collegium Musicum of London Chamber Choir who will all be delivering a Christmas reading or live music performance at the concert on Monday 10 December at Holy Trinity Church in Sloane Square.

Doors to the church open at 7pm and the performance will begin at 7.15pm. Delicious mulled wine and warm mince pies will be sold outside the church courtesy of Partridges in Sloane Square so make sure you get there early!

Tickets can be purchased from Cadogan Hall Box Office online or call 020 7730 4500.

The Hollow Crown – As good as TV Shakespeare can get?

From the Guardian.co.uk

The Hollow Crown: as good as TV Shakespeare can get?

The BBC’s new Shakespeare films, starting this weekend with Richard II, show that the Bard can play as well on TV as in the theatre

During TV conferences and festivals, at least one delegate always argues that Shakespeare, if he were around today, would be writing EastEnders or Holby City. This claim is based on the fact that theatre, at the time Shakespeare’s plays were written, was a mass audience form rather than the relatively elitist entertainment it has become; and also, more subtly, on the contention that the playwright’s fondness for parallel plots and cross-cutting to some extent anticipates screen narrative.

And yet, despite these affinities, Will has always tested the will of TV producers. The BBC TV Shakespeare – a late 1970s attempt to film all 37 plays as an educational tool – became a headline calamity, helping to establish Clive James’s reputation as a critic through his pitiless Observer reviews of shaking scenery and stagey acting. The original production of Much Ado About Nothing (starring Penelope Keith and Michael York) was never transmitted because, according to the minutes of BBC management meetings I have seen, it was considered such a failure.

The original producer, the late Cedric Messina, left the project and Jonathan Miller came in as an emergency replacement. Miller steadied the shipwreck – with productions including John Cleese as a brilliant Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew – and it’s good to have a permanent record of, for example, Derek Jacobi’s Hamlet. But, in general, the experience cemented the view that Shakespeare is a weapon to be deployed on television only when particular performances called to be immortalised – Laurence Olivier’s King Lear and Ian McKellen’s and Judi Dench’s Macbeths on ITV, Patrick Stewart’s Macbeth by the BBC – or when there is a special occasion, such as BBC licence fee renegotiation or, this summer, as part of the Cultural Olympiad alongside the London Games.

Bringing together four of the Shakesperean English history plays under a group of high-class stage directors, The Hollow Crown begins this weekend on BBC2 and marks a significant advance in the medium’s fight with this writer.

The troubled BBC Complete Shakespeare taught several lessons – that not all of the works merit the attention of the audience; that studio recordings create an uneasy limbo between theatre and TV; that the pace and fluidity of made-for-TV dramas can make stage plays seem slow and staid; and that it is vital to have an overall producer who understands both Shakespeare and film.

The Hollow Crown brings a full set of ticks to this checklist. Present from the start, rather than parachuted in as Jonathan Miller was, Sam Mendes has executive produced the series, while also presiding over another English cultural icon: the new James Bond movies.

And this BBC TV Shakespeare is sensibly restricted to a discrete and particular 9% or so of the collected works. The linked sequence of Richard II (directed by Rupert Goold), Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 (filmed by Sir Richard Eyre) and Henry V (under Thea Sharrock’s direction) tell a sequential story, with recurring characters and so have a structural similarity with the four-part family drama, a staple of TV fiction. In this sense, The Hollow Crown can be seen as a relative of The Tudors, though with significantly better dialogue.

Mendes and his directors have also assimilated the wisdom of TV property shows: what matters in filming Shakspeare is location, location, location. Instead of a studio mediaeval England formed from hardboard, we get actual castles, taverns and forests.

The two productions that I have so far seen – Richard II and the first part of Henry IV – also convincingly show that, rather than being a triumph over limitations, filmed Shakespeare has some advantages over theatrical versions. In the often-bewildering opening scene of Richard II, which begins with a list of characters and their achievements, Goold’s camera can simply close in on the noble being mentioned, easily establishing characters in a way that, in the theatre, would require much fumbling with a programme in the dark.

And, in Henry IV, Eyre employs every trick of cinematic fluidity to match the quick flow of modern screen drama: cross-cutting and dissolving between the three main locations (the court, the rebels, Falstaff’s dens) and turning soliloquies into their natural screen equivalent of voice-overs.

Another benefit of television is the available cast: because it isn’t asking for a three-month run or global tour to make the budget back, The Hollow Crown simultaneously retains a group of actors that even the most famous theatres could only accumulate over several seasons. Theatre-goers have long anticipated Simon Russell Beale’s eventual Falstaff but he gives it here first: cloud-bearded and earthy, a portrait of ambition and intelligence chiselled away by appetite. And, if SRB does play Falstaff in the theatre, it is highly unlikely, for budgetary and logistical reasons, to be in a company that also includes Julie Walters, Lindsay Duncan, David Suchet and David Morrissey.

There remains a basic flaw in the theory that because Shakepeare was a populist writer in his time, he should naturally suit TV now: the mainstream television audience, often made suspicious of classic theatre by education and school theatre outings, would take much persuasion to tune in to these dramas. But, despite that caveat, The Hollow Crown feels as good as TV Shakespeare is going to get.

‘Henry IV’ Starring Jeremy Irons – Definitive Cast List

From the BBC Media Centre:

The definitive cast list for the BBC Two Shakespeare films including Henry IV (Parts I and II) has been confirmed.

Featuring some of the greatest Shakespearean actors and directors of our time, four films have been commissioned by BBC Two for their Shakespeare season in 2012 as part of the BBC’s contribution to the London 2012 Festival and the Cultural Olympiad. The films were commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller BBC Drama Commissioning and Janice Hadlow, Controller BBC Two.

Set in the medieval period, these bold adaptations of four of Shakespeare’s most acclaimed history plays will produce some of the most ambitious television of recent years. As principal photography begins on Henry V, the previously announced Kings – Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston – will be joined by a phenomenal ensemble cast.

Ben Whishaw said: “Playing Richard II has been a hugely rewarding experience. Working on this beautiful play with Rupert Goold and an amazing cast has been one of the most magical and memorable experiences of my career.”

Jeremy Irons said: “I am most grateful to have this opportunity of returning to Shakespeare, to film under the experienced eye of Richard Eyre, alongside such exciting actors.”

Tom Hiddleston said: “I am incredibly proud and privileged to be playing Prince Hal and Henry V in these new adaptations. He was one of England’s great kings and one of Shakespeare’s great men, and it is an extraordinary honour to have been asked to play him. I will be steeped in mud, blood, and warrior poetry for the next four months, led by two of the greatest directors working today, alongside a group of actors I have admired and respected all my life. I can’t wait.”

Henry IV (Parts I and II)

The second and third films will see Jeremy Irons (The Borgias) playing Henry IV, supported by Tom Hiddleston (Thor) as Prince Hal. Simon Russell Beale (Spooks) will play Falstaff and Julie Walters (Mamma Mia, Mo) will play Mistress Quickly. Hotspur will be played by Joe Armstrong (Robin Hood) and Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) is to play Lady Percy alongside Maxine Peake (Criminal Justice) as Doll Tearsheet. Lady Northumberland will be played by Niamh Cusack (A Touch of Frost) with Alun Armstrong (New Tricks) as Northumberland. Reece Shearsmith (The League Of Gentlemen) will play the role of Davy, Tom Georgeson (Notes on a Scandal) will play Bardolph, Pistol will be played by Paul Ritter (Friday Night Dinner) and Douglas Henshall (South Riding) will play Mowbray. Iain Glen (Downton Abbey) will play Warwick and Geoffrey Palmer (As Time Goes By) will play Lord Chief Justice.

Completing the confirmed cast of Henry IV are Henry Faber, James Laurenson, David Hayman, Robert Pugh, Alex Clatworthy, Stephen McCole, David Dawson, Ian Conningham and Nick Jones.

Henry IV Production Designer is Donal Woods (Downton Abbey, Cranford). Director of Photography is Ben Smithard (Cranford) with Annie Symons (Gideon’s Daughter, The Crimson Petal and the White) as Costume Designer.

Henry IV is directed and adapted for the screen by Richard Eyre (Notes on a Scandal, Iris). Filming on Henry IV will begin in January 2012.

Jeremy Irons to do Henry IV for BBC

Jeremy Irons takes lead in BBC2’s new Henry IV adaptation – from Guardian.co.uk

Jeremy Irons is set to film Shakespeare’s Henry IV, parts 1 and 2, as part of the BBC’s 2012 Shakespeare Season, directed by Richard Eyre.

Irons will feature alongside Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal and Simon Russell Beale as Falstaff in Henry IV. Hiddleston will then take the lead role in Henry V, which along with Richard II forms part of the BBC cycle of Shakespeare’s history plays to be broadcast in 2012.

Henry IV will be directed by Sir Richard Eyre, the former director of the National Theatre, with Thea Sharrock taking directing duties on Henry V, which goes into production later this year. Henry IV is due to begin filming in January.

Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes has also signed up to helm four new versions of Shakespeare’s history plays for the BBC, it has been announced.

Mendes will be executive producer of Richard II, Henry IV parts I and II, and Henry V as part of a special season devoted to the Bard planned for 2012. They will be shown on BBC2.

The BBC’s 2012 Shakespeare season will be produced by Neal Street Productions with American partners NBC Universal and WNET.

Involving some of the most pre-eminent Shakespearian actors and directors of our time, the films will consist of bold adaptations of Richard II, Henry IV Parts I and II and Henry V, set in the Medieval period and filmed on locations around the UK and Europe. These four films will be linked to the Cultural Olympiad of 2012.

———————————————————————————————

More details from the Daily Mail:

Producers will be Rupert Ryle Hodges and executive producers Gareth Neame, Pippa Harris and Sam Mendes.

Julie Walters is in discussions to pull a pint or two as landlady of the infamous Boar’s Head Tavern.

Richard Eyre and Thea Sharrock would like the actress to play Mistress Quickly in Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 and Henry V, all of which are being filmed for BBC2 to be screened as part of next year’s cultural Olympiad.

The award-winning Ms Walters has agreed to do the project, but it’s a question of making the filming dates work.

Michelle Dockery, who has found much-deserved fame as Lady Mary in Downton Abbey, is being  approached about playing Lady Percy, Hotspur’s wife, in the Henry IV films.

Joe Armstrong is in negotiations to play Hotspur, and there’s a plan afoot to try to get his father Alun Armstrong to play the Duke of Northumberland — Hotspur’s father. As I told you a while back, Tom Hiddleston is playing Prince Hal, in the two Henry IV dramas, and Henry V.

Richard Eyre will direct the Henry IV films (more than four hours of drama in total).

Jeremy Irons Protests Cuts to Arts Spending

from The Observer and guardian.co.uk

Sunday 13 March 2011

The damage caused by cuts to arts spending will affect us all

The return from cultural investment is huge. If we want to rebuild our economy, the arts should not be an easy target.

Before the last election the government promised to usher in a “golden age” for the arts. The reality couldn’t be further from this. With the reductions announced in last year’s Spending Review, the withdrawal of huge amounts of local authority support, the abolition of the UK Film Council and the financial pressures faced by the Arts Councils and the BBC, we are currently facing the biggest threat to funding the arts and culture have experienced in decades.

These cuts are deep and will affect not just those working and training in regional theatre, independent arts, the BBC, UK film, festivals, dance or theatre in education, but also those who access the arts through outreach and education programmes, community and youth groups and social care.

Nationally, the return from cultural investment is staggering. The performing arts and the film industry contribute more than £7bn to the economy each year. If we are serious about rebuilding our economy, culture should not be an easy target for cuts.

We must remember that many of our most internationally recognised artists and creative workers lauded at the Baftas, Oscars and Emmys started in regional theatres and small arts venues.

All those who have a role in taking decisions on cuts must think hard about the potential damage that could be caused to our economy and society.

Lynda Bellingham, Brenda Blethyn, Samantha Bond, Kenneth Branagh, Jo Brand, Rory Bremner, Rob Brydon, Saffron Burrows, Simon Callow, Peter Capaldi, Oliver Ford Davies, Robert Glenister, Sheila Hancock, Miranda Hart, Jeremy Irons, Mike Leigh, Adrian Lester, Roger Lloyd-Pack, Matthew Macfadyen, Patrick Malahide, Miriam Margolyes, Ian McDiarmid, Ian McShane, Dame Helen Mirren, Bill Paterson, Maxine Peake, Timothy Pigott-Smith, Diana Quick, Tony Robinson, Prunella Scales, Martin Shaw, Michael Sheen, Malcolm Sinclair, Imelda Staunton, Alison Steadman, Clive Swift, David Tennant, David Threlfall, Sandi Toksvig, Ricky Tomlinson, Johnny Vegas, Julie Walters, Samuel West, Timothy West, Penelope Wilton, Victoria Wood

Jeremy Irons sponsors play at Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Bodies Star Neve Plays for Time.. ; Actress is Excited to Return to the Stage As She Admits Attitudestowards Age and the Recession Hit Profession

August 04, 2009

By Samantha Booth

SCOTS actress Neve McIntosh is only 37 but already she is all too aware of the difficulties of being an actress approaching 40.

The Bodies star is about to appear in Sylvia Plath play Three Women at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival, but she says she knows that attitudes towards age can make life incredibly difficult for actresses of her years.

That combined with the impact of the recession on the number of plays, TV shows and films being made means it has been a pretty quiet year for the Paisley-born lass.

But according to Neve, out-ofwork actors, actresses, producers and directors are once more beginning to get more creative out of necessity.

She said: “There is no doubt it has been a bit of a lean year.

“In fact, it has been quite hellish to be honest but thankfully theatre seems to be one area where people are still doing things.

“The one good thing about the recession is there are a lot of stories and ideas coming out of the woodwork and I am starting to talk to people about other projects, maybe even directing.

“I just think I have a camera and I’m quite bossy, so why not give it a shot?

“Besides, there’s no escaping from the fact that I am getting to that age where women don’t get cast as much.

“Even though there is quite a lot happening to try to change it, the fact is that once you are the wrong side of 40 you tend to drop off the face of the earth.”

Neve has appeared in a wide range of parts in film and television over the past 12 years including Plunkett & Macleane alongside Robert Carlyle and Johnny Lee Miller, TV mini-series Gormenghast and Sunday night favourite Doc Martin.

Just last year, she also starred in heartbreaking war film Spring 41 in which she was cast as the wife of a Polish doctor, played by Joseph Fiennes, forced to hide from the Nazis.

She is no stranger to theatre either, having appeared in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Great Expectations at Stratford, and Portia in The Merchant of Venice.

So it is no wonder that the actress is excited about treading the boards once more, especially as she will be doing so in the city where she grew up.

Neve, who now lives in London, said: “Being back on stage is both scary and thrilling.

“One minute you think it is going to be great, then the next you think it is going to be terrible, but that’s all part of the excitement.

“My first night jitters are so bad I can’t even hold a tea cup but once I am over that I get really into it.

“What’s going to be nice for me too is being back home in Edinburgh, which is where I grew up, and also being back in the Fringe again.

“I haven’t done any Fringe shows since I was about 17. Then I performed with my youth theatre in a show where we all had this old- fashioned make-up on and giggled through our lines. I have been up to see shows but this is the first time I will be therefor the entire Fringe for years, which is great.”

Of course, Neve is also simply looking forward to performing in Sylvia Plath’s only play.

The production is sponsored by Dame Judi Dench, Jeremy Irons and Julie Walters.

It is the story of three diverse women exploring the complex joys and agonies of childbirth.

Neve’s character has tried to carry a baby to full term many times but has never managed to succeed.

The actress said: “I suppose I am the unhappy one in the play but there is far more to my character. That’s the beauty of Plath’s writing. She expresses all the anger and guilt my character feels so clearly it makes it easy to relate to her.

“Thankfully, I have never experienced a miscarriage but I have friends and family who have and I’ve talked to them about their feelings. But Plath’s work is just so astonishing it really does speak for itself.

“For me, too, it was quite a logical step on from Bodies because it has to do with the whole life cycle and everything a woman stands for.”

The play, which is directed by Robert Shaw, has had rave reviews elsewhere in the country, which adds to Neve’s nerves.

She said: “The play is beautiful and will make you laugh and cry, but it is pretty daunting to do something which has gone down so well before.

“All you can do is put that all out of your mind and concentrate on doing as good a job as you can.

“I tend to do yoga before I go on stage so that keeps me nice and calm.”

Neve is in Sylvia Plath’s Three Women at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh from August 6 – 31.

(c) 2009 Daily Record; Glasgow (UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

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