LRB Screen at Home is back! With a line-up of special guests including Luc Sante, Sir Willard White, Anne Diebel, Philip Hoare, Marina Warner, Alice Goodman, Geoff Dyer and Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela.
LRB Screen is back once again for these final weeks of total lockdown, fully house-bound for hopefully the last time, but as ever exploding out of your screens and into brave new paradigms, man. So, wherever you are in the world, why not invite the LRB’s acclaimed moving image series back into your sitting room or bedroom-office-hybrid for a new season of eight unique events, as winter melts into spring?
Over twelve weeks, host Gareth Evans will introduce a special guest in conversation alongside a remarkable documentary drawn from the vast archive of hundreds of films made under the banner of BBC TV’s Arena, the world’s longest-running television arts series. Programmed in partnership with long-time Arena producer and series editor, Anthony Wall, you’ll search for Moby-Dick, and Bob Dylan’s lost TV drama; spend time in the company of Stanley Spencer’s daughters, an art-obsessed nun, and Pavarotti; visit wild and weird small-town America, James Ellroy’s Los Angeles, and Robben Island with Mandela. Accompanying you will be one of the world’s great bass baritones, a private investigator, a vicar-librettist, a psychologist who served on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, and some of our leading writers and thinkers.
Tickets for the series are priced at £5 per conversation, or £30 for a season ticket. Ticket-buyers will be sent a link to watch each film a week before each event. Then, at 7 p.m. every other Wednesday (with a couple of exceptions, see below), from 3 February to 28 April, you’ll be invited to join the livestreamed conversation, by posting thoughts about the film and questions for Gareth’s guest in the comments, which he’ll fold into the discussion.
We hope you’ll join us for a truly world-class line-up of guests and television essays.
Special thanks to Anthony Wall, Emma Matthews and the directors and producers of these Arena co-productions.
Wednesday 28 April: Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela on Voices from the Island (1994)
Robben Island was South Africa’s Alcatraz. For three decades, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and hundreds of other political prisoners were held there for opposing the apartheid regime. In Voices from the Island, Mandela and his fellow ex-prisoners reveal their strategies for survival and the vision they created for a new South Africa. (Dir. Adam Low)
Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela is a psychologist, professor and the South African National Research Foundation Chair in Violent Histories and Transgenerational Trauma at Stellenbosch University. Currently she is a fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute.
Past events in the series
Wednesday 3 February: Luc Sante on Wisconsin Death Trip (2000)
A haunting tale of murder, madness and suicide that took place behind the thin veil of respectability in small-town America at the end of the 19th century. Drawing on reports in the weekly newspaper, plus archive photographs and re-enactments of events, this creative essay film chronicles the tragedies that befell residents and neighbours of Black River Falls, Wisconsin. (Dir. James Marsh)
Luc Sante, cultural critic and Low Life chronicler of New York and Paris, recently published his second essay collection, Maybe the People Would be the Times (Verse Chorus Press).
Wednesday 17 February: Sir Willard White on Pavarotti: The Last Tenor (2004)
For 40 years, Luciano Pavarotti was hailed as one of the greatest tenors of all time. Narrated by Sir Ian McKellen, this close study chronicles his background and upbringing, and follows him for a year as he performs to sell-out audiences in richly distinct contexts on three continents, culminating with his valedictory performances of Tosca at the Met in New York. (Dir. Francis Hanly & Adam Sweeting )
Sir Willard White is one of the world’s most celebrated and best-loved operatic singers.
Wednesday 3 March: Anne Diebel on James Ellroy’s Feast of Death (2001)
Singular crime writer James Ellroy’s acclaimed works include LA Confidential, The Black Dahlia and My Dark Places, the latter a harrowing memoir of his own mother’s murder. As the second volume of his Underworld USA trilogy was published, Feast of Death takes a tour of Ellroy’s often disturbing world. (Dir. Vikram Jayanti)
Anne Diebel works as a private investigator in New York and is a regular contributor to the LRB and New York Review of Books.
Wednesday 17 March: Philip Hoare on The Hunt for Moby-Dick (2008)
Writer Philip Hoare embarks on an epic journey across the globe, diving deep into culture and history, to investigate humankind’s ongoing fascination with the whale, while bringing all these elements into focus through an intensely personal exploration of Melville’s novel. (Dir. Adam Low)
Albert and the Whale (Fourth Estate), Philip Hoare’s latest exploration of the intersection between life, art and the sea, will be published in March this year.
Wednesday 24 March: Marina Warner on Stanley and His Daughters (2018)
Stanley Spencer’s visionary art, his obsession with his work and intense private life wreaked havoc on his family. We follow his daughters’ relationship – fractured, fraught but ultimately loving – as they try to understand and reclaim their father and investigate their family’s emotional archaeology. (Dir. Francis Hanly)
Writer of fiction and cultural history, Marina Warner’s memoir, Inventory of a Life Mislaid (William Collins), first serialised in the LRB, is published in March this year.
Wednesday 31 March: Alice Goodman on Sister Wendy and the Art of the Gospel (2012)
Arena goes in search of the ‘real’ Sister Wendy, the hugely popular nun, art critic and broadcaster, who, at 82, talks frankly, humorously, and profoundly about her life and spirituality for the first time. Wendy’s story, inseparable from that of the Gospel, is told alongside her selection of paintings by the greatest old masters, revealing the emotional insights they have given to her, and to the world. (Dir. Randall Wright)
Alice Goodman is a poet and the librettist of two operas by John Adams, Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer. She is also an Anglican priest.
Wednesday 14 April: Geoff Dyer on Dylan in the Madhouse (2005)
Surprisingly, Bob Dylan first came to the attention of the British public through his role in a 1963 BBC TV play, The Madhouse on Castle Street. The tape was later wiped and has since become the holy grail of missing Dylan works. Joining the hunt, Arena uncovers rare Dylan tracks and the fascinating story of the first time he visited London. (Dir. Anthony Wall)
Essayist Geoff Dyer’s latest collection, See/Saw, gathering his photographic criticism from the last decade, is published this April by Canongate.