by Keith Ovenden

A stage full of actors at the height of their powers--what could be better? A review of Sean Matthias' production of Waiting for Godot

Samuel Beckett wrote “Waiting for Godot” after the Second World War, when he had been settled in Paris for twenty years or so. He had become completely bilingual, and the play as first performed at the Théâtre de Babylone in 1953 was almost certainly first conceived and written in French.

Hilary Mantel's award-winning Wolf Hall skillfully dances the line between fiction and biography

Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, even if it hadn't won the Man-Booker Prize this year, will surely install her as one of the great inventive stylists of English literature. Compared with A.S.

Novelist Margaret Drabble's self-exposure in a new autobiography is both uncomfortable and illuminating

This year’s valedictory in the Eng. Lit. School of Life is given by the Head Girl, Margaret Drabble.

Gioacchino Rossini wrote serious comic opera that is still relevant

Anyone who pays at least some minimal attention to the surface sheen of contemporary Italian politics will know about the antics of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Wellington's Circa Theatre tackles the difficult Spanish drama Blood Wedding with mixed results

Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia Lorca, which dates from 1933, is the first of a trilogy of late dramatic works, written in blank verse—the others are Yerma (1935) and The House of Bernada Alba (1936)—and performed in the years immediately preceding the Spanish Civil War of which Lorca himself was an ear

Why do museum and gallery directors give space to rubbish masquerading as art? Because it suits the establishment

I remember an occasion during the Democratic Party Convention in Chicago in 1968 (which I attended) when a leader of the Yippies—a sort of off-shoot of the hippie movement, hippies with attitude they would have been called in the 1990s I imagine—announced that he and his colleagues intended to napalm a pig in Grant Park.

For an insight into the theorising and scientific nous that goes into fine art, head to Te Papa's Impressionist exhibition

Peter Conradi, in his life of Iris Murdoch, describes her shock, on going to teach at the Royal College of Art in London in 1963, at how little the students had read. Gifted as they were in painting and design, photography and lithography, the use of materials and tools, most of them were, in literary and intellectual terms, more or less illiterate.

Alex Ross has written a useful and user-friendly history of 20th century music—from an American point of view

The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, by Alex Ross, can lay some claim to being the music book of the decade.

Keith Ovenden's cultural highlights of 2008

2008 was the year that the Age of Trash started to falter. That’s the optimist in me. In March we were treated to an evening of modernist music from France as a part of the International Festival of the Arts.

Under-appreciated here in New Zealand, 75-year-old sculptor Tony Stones is continuing to create ambitious bronze works in England and China

Tony Stones, sculptor, will soon be seventy-five: a New Zealander of surpassing talent, but for whom there are unlikely to be celebrations or presentations in what was once his homeland, no Prime Minister’s prize for contributions to art, no TV special to look back on an artist’s life well lived, or forward to a blooming talent that still has much to contribute to sculpture - not just in subjec