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Culture Lane

George Orwell’s son to star in musical

George Orwell’s son is to star in a new musical inspired by The Road To Wigan Pier, written and performed by the people of Wigan. Richard Blair, who was adopted by Orwell six years before his death in 1950, will perform as the narrator in Beyond Wigan Pier. It will premiere on April 27 at The Edge, a new 1,000-seat theatre a stone’s throw from the original Wigan Pier, a long-demolished coal-loading staithe on the Leeds and Liverpool canal. The show is written by Alan Gregory, a local music teacher and composer who is CEO of Pianos, Pies and Pirouettes, a social enterprise company that received worldwide publicity last year for introducing Wigan Warriors rugby players to ballet.

The musical will not just concentrate on the depressed town documented by Orwell in the 1930s, but explore what has happened to Wigan since and what it could be like in the future, according to Gregory.

Wiganers have an ambivalent relationship to Orwell’s classic, which documented the appalling living and working conditions in the industrial north of England, said Gregory.

“The Road To Wigan Pier is both a source of pride and embarrassment, in almost equal measure, to the people of Wigan, as is the site of the actual pier itself,” said Gregory, as he appealed for members of the public to crowdfund a project to take the show on the road and “take on” London’s West End.

Grammys’ task force to address bias

The Grammys have announced plans to form an independent task force to address biases against women in the music industry. The move comes from the Recording Academy, which organises the awards, after female artistes won in just 17 of 86 categories at the recent awards ceremony, and only one of the categories shown during the live television broadcast. In response to the imbalance, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said that women needed to “step up”. He was widely criticised for his remarks, and expressed his regret at failing to convey “the point I was trying to make”.

Portnow issued a second statement announcing that a new task force would review “every aspect of what we do as an organisation and identify where we can do more to overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community”. He stated that the Recording Academy would examine its own practices “and tackle whatever truths are revealed”.

Portnow’s initial remarks have led to calls for his resignation. A group of leading female music industry figures, including Pharrell Williams’ manager, Caron Veazey, shared an open letter addressing the Grammys’ failure to recognise the structural industry inequality reflected in the makeup of the Recording Academy board.

I was flat-out raped: Amy Schumer

Amy Schumer has said she was raped as a teenager in a new interview in which she also discussed Aziz Ansari’s alleged sexual misconduct, saying what the comic was accused of doing was “not acceptable”. The comedian appeared on US TV host Katie Couric’s podcast, where she said she was “flat-out raped” when she was in her late teens. She said: “My first sexual experience was not a good one. I didn’t think about it until I started reading my journal again. When it happened, I wrote about it almost like a throwaway. It was like, ‘and then I looked down and realised he was inside of me. He was saying, “I’m so sorry”, and, “I can’t believe I did this.”’”

The comic had previously said her first sexual experience was non-consensual when discussing it in her autobiography, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo. Schumer said she had similar experiences afterwards. “There are just so many factors. I had another time with a boyfriend where I was saying: ‘No, stop’ and it was just completely ignored,” she said. The comedian also discussed the recent allegations made against Ansari, saying that although she believes what he was accused of doing wasn’t a crime, it wasn’t acceptable either. 




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