"For the news you want to read (but no one else will print)"


Written and directed by Academy Award® nominee Sir Kenneth Branagh, "Belfast" is a poignant story of love,
laughter and loss in one boy’s childhood, amidst the "Troubles" in Belfast in 1969.

Updated:What's Up Film: The Making of Belfast

To listen to "Down to Joy" from the Belfast soundtrack go to Focus Features here

Sir Kenneth Branagh with a 2022 BAFTA for "Belfast" which he wrote, directed and produced.

What's in Your Phone? Pegasus?

"Pegasus can infect almost any smartphone, whether made by Apple, Google, Samsung or other companies, through a malicious link embedded in a text message or through what’s called a “zero-click attack.” Such attacks require no action by the phone’s user and begin without any kind of alert. Once Pegasus infection starts, operators of the system can do anything its owner can do — access files, contacts, passwords, photos and videos, or track the current and historic locations of targets. Operators of Pegasus also can remotely activate cameras or microphones to listen directly to conversations, make video or eavesdrop on calls.

Also, turn off your location tracking unless you really need it. Then turn it off again.

Ukraine President Zelensky asks that you withdraw support from companies doing business in Russia.
Here's how you can do more than put a blue and yellow flag on your Facebook page.

From the Front Office: Your Russian Economic Sanctions/Boycott Guide

Defunding the Russian war machine: Many companies have frozen or pulled out of funding the Russian economy. Oil companies (BP, Shell, ExxonMobil) and tech companies (Dell, IBM, Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter) led the way, and many others (McDonalds, Starbucks, Coca-Cola) eventually followed. But others have not. Here is a list of those who have decided they will not pressure Russia to stop its war on Ukraine, including 33 actively refusing to join the anti-war effort.

Subway sandwiches. Koch Industries. Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Quilted Northern toilet paper, Vanity Fair napkins and Georgia-Pacific lumber. Reebok Shoes. Authentic Brands Group, which also owns Aeropostale, Eddie Bauer, Brooks Brothers and Nine West. Focus Brands which sells Cinnabon, Carvel Ice Cream, Schlotzsky’s sandwich and Auntie Anne’s pretzel. Truvia and Diamond Crystal Salt (Cargill), Avon Cosmetics (Natura), LG Appliances, ASUS laptops, Mission tortillas (Gruma) and Pirelli tires. Oil services companies Halliburton, Baker Hughes and Schlumberger. Advertising firms BBDO, DDB and Omnicom; accountant Baker Tilly; industrial companies Air Liquide, Air Products, Greif, IPG Photonics, Linde, Mettler Toledo, Nalco and Rockwool; French hotelier Accor and retailers Auchan, Decathlon and Leroy Merlin; German wholesaler Metro; cloud service Cloudflare; International Paper; and Sweden’s Oriflame Cosmetics.

Another 72 multinationals have made only partial pullbacks from Russia, such as reducing current operations or holding off on new investments. Included here: Dunkin’ Donuts, General Mills, Mondelez (Oreos and other Nabisco products), candymaker Mars, Procter & Gamble, Yum Brands (Pizza Hut, Taco Bell), Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott.

Speak up, pass the word to your neighbors and social media, and spend your money/investments elsewhere while the war continues.

More details from the Washington Post and here at the Yale Leadership Institute.

Thom, Tom & Jonny

What's Up Music: For Radiohead's Kid A Mnesiae - Anniversary Release of Kid A and Amnesiac +

The KID A MNESIA EXHIBITION is is free: - PS5, PC & Mac

November 18, 2021 The interactive art exhibit of Kid A Mnesiae presented in video form with partner Epic games.

Update: Talk Art - Kid A Mnesia Interview (90 minutes!) with Thom Yorke and Stanley Donwood

What's Up Art: Even More Stanley Donwood

Thom Yorke as DJ at the art opening at Christie's auction house.
Donwood's paintings, which were inspired by David Hockney's large canvasses, fetched over twice the estimated value.

Enjoy the artwork of Stanley Donwood.

20 Songs for 2020: Bay Area Artists' Gift of Music - A survey from 48 Hills

Enjoy the single "Sunshine" from Criibaby and the Best of the Bay Area Beats mixtape.

Criibaby's gender-neutral, intentionally inclusive debut EP, "Love Songs For Everyone" is here!

Buy it today at Bandcamp!

Dropping just in time for National Coming Out Day! Available for streaming wherever you listen.

Link Tree for Criibaby

What's Up Music: Criibaby "Some Kinda Voodoo" is the new single from criibaby

How do you Voodoo?

DiamondKesawn talks with Criibaby about her music

The Daring Dozen: genre-defying musicians.
"By intentionally avoiding gender-specific words like "she" or "he" Criibaby's music becomes more inclusive,
and refrains from promoting a heteronormative, gender binary-focused viewpoint of relationships."

Criibaby shares 10 LGBTQ+ artists for fans to check out this Pride weekend over at Earmilk.

For Criibaby, “Pride is every day. And it’s thanks to those who fought- and keep fighting- for all of us.”

Hear Criibaby's new single "Some Kinda Voodoo" nowon Spotify.

Review of "Some Kinda Voodoo" at Stereofox

The debut single "Sunshine" dropped from criibaby back on February 14, 2020.
Celebrate with the inclusive music of criibaby

Play it now

What's Up Music: Criibaby's single "Sunshine" hit over 20K listens on Spotify!

The neo-soul hit was featured in Spotify's "Discover Weekly" playlist. What are you waiting for?

Marin Theatre Company presents the West Coast premiere of Mother of the Maid, directed by Jasson Minadakis.

Mother of the Maid

Playwright Jane Anderson had a suit of armor when she was eight years of age, being obsessed, as she calls it, with Joan of Arc.
In what Ms. Anderson calls her most personal play, she imagines what happens to a family when a peasant girl in France follows an ultimately tragic path to a terrible end.

A country girl like Joan Arc (Rosie Hallet) will have no agency, no autonomy, and at best can hope to be married off to a suitable village boy. Instead Joan embraces a very different divine decree with ferocity and steadfast determination. Her mother Isabelle Arc (Sherman Fracher) looms the threads that keep the fabric of her family connected. She prods, cajoles, erupts, tamps down, and smoothes the way. She launches 10 words for every silence of her husband. Her belief in the decency of humanity means she does not astutely sense the dangers her daughter courts. Though unschooled and unwise in the wider ways of the world, she is quick and able, a believer in God and God’s will, and a mighty force. She is the every-mom.

Joan has a clear-eyed and no-nonsense father Jacques (Scott Coopwood) who suffers no fools. This includes his innocent teenage daughter whom he will protect against herself—by force if necessary. Her doting and playful brother Pierre (Brennan-Pickman Thoon) indulges her to best her or engages in sibling squabbles-- giving and getting, but with the imprimatur that comes from being male. Pierre prefers mead and a good meal to daily manual labor; he is happy enough to leave such a rustic life behind when asked. He is furthest from imagining the dangers his sister will face when he travels to court to keep Joan safe. The members of the Arc family know what’s expected of them, in their relationships, in their village and they’ve accepted the terms of service, because that’s just how it is.

Except for Joan. She will walk her mother Isabelle--who is compelled to support her daughter--right up to the portal of destiny, then through it.

Courage or folly? Do you give your young daughter the freedom she demands? What if she knowingly places herself in mortal danger? What are the ways in which we show love?

Mother of the Maid at Marin Theatre Company, through December 15, 2019.

Brennan Pickman-Thoon stars as Tennessee Williams in "The Gentleman Caller" at the New Conservatory Theatre Center in San Francisco.

In 1944, a flamboyant young writer named Tennessee Williams (Brennan Pickman-Thoon) is preparing for the world premiere of his play "The Gentleman Caller" - which is to become the master work, "The Glass Menagerie." During that same year, a closeted theatre critic from Independence Kansas named William Inge (Adam Niemann) serves as Arts Editor for the St. Louis Star-Times, but longs to follow his own true muse and become a playwright.

In creating his fictional account, playwright Philip Dawkins has Williams languidly introduce himself to the audience and set the stage and terms of the night's exploration. As the iconic but painfully, exquisitely, human Tennessee Williams, Brennan Pickman-Thoon cuddles up to everyone in the room--much as he cuddles up to Inge, his sole focus on the stage--but in speaking directly to us, we are already taken into his confidence, on his side, in on the gentle jokes and jibes. From the first moment, we are seduced by this silver-tongued man who yearns for intimacy, yet wears his protective garments whether his trousers are on or off. A carefully-scripted look into the hearts and minds of two men struggling with the meaning and iterations of life and love, and the grit it takes to go on living. What is the definition of love? Being at ease? What if you can never feel at ease, never let down your guard?

"The Gentleman Caller" opens on April 5, 2019 and runs through May 5, 2019 at the New Conservatory Theatre Center, San Francisco, in its regional premiere.
Philip Dawkins' play is directed by Arturo Catricala.

Westie the Wokest Dog at the San Francisco Women's March


Timon of Athens, directed by Rob Melrose, at the Cutting Ball Theatre. Previews begin 30 March.
Update: Performances extended through 6 May 2018.

As Timon, "Brennan Pickman-Thoon’s portrayal is stellar, at one point depicting a business-like but blithe adherence to the social contract with ramrod assurance and later, with reptilian writhing, revealing contempt and rage for the values and people who surround him." -- For All Events, Victor Cordell

"From the elegant suited philanthropist of the first act to the degraded, madman of the later scenes, Brennan Pickman-Thoon inhabits his character with a dedication that elevates his performance to lofty heights. It’s both a deeply introspective and athletic role and Brennan breathes life into this seldom seen character. Like Hamlet, Timon has the traits of a tortured soul and bares them to us with a vulnerability and rawness that is electrifying to behold. I had the opportunity to see Stephen Spinella's two-time Tony-winning performance in Tony Kushner’s very Shakespearean-esque Angels in America. With Timon of Athens, Brennan Pickman-Thoon has his very own Prior Walter."
-- For All Events, Steve Murray

“The moon's an arrant thief, and her pale fire she snatches from the sun.” -- Timon of Athens

What's Up Art: More Stanley Donwood

Radiohead: The King of Limbs

What's Up Music:

Radiohead - The Zen Album
The King of Limbs: Explore, Expand, Embrace

Here, and more here, on the music page.

What's Up Art: More Stanley Donwood

Stanley Donwood in the Panic Office: The Art of the Bear at the Carriageworks in Sydney

From a 1996 interview with Kenneth Branagh

KB: Shakespeare always denies sleep to his tragic heroes in moments of crisis, a spectacular example being Macbeth. In Macbeth he calls it "nature's balm... the cure for hurt minds." You don't get sleep because you are anxious.

CMM: Do you still feel daunted when you start a project, or when you arrive on the set for the first day of shooting?

KB: Getting sleep is a tough thing to do. It's a constant anxiety, and I'll go through various things: I'll take some sleeping pills, I'll take some herbal pills, I'll try to have a massage, or anything that will trick me into getting the sleep that is necessary. That's a crucial thing; it's a very Shakespearean thing. Shakespeare always denies sleep to his tragic heroes in moments of crisis, a spectacular example being Macbeth. In Macbeth he calls it "nature's balm... the cure for hurt minds." You don't get sleep because you are anxious.

CMM: As an actor or as a director?

KB: In both cases. As an actor because you are aware of a greater amount of expectation, particularly from yourself, in playing a role that is so open to interpretation, which relies so heavily on the personality of the actor. Whether it's Shakespeare or anything else, your try to find, in the current state of knowledge, what you think to be the sort of appropriate state of preparation to act well.

This is a constant mystery to me, because it changes all the time. It changes as you get older, you work with different people, it's a different project, you're having a bad day, you're having a good day, it worked yesterday when you had drank a cup of coffee before the take, but then a cup of coffee makes you forget your lines... You get anxious as an actor; and as a director, you're anxious for other people.

CMM: You've done Hamlet several times on stage, for different directors, and you've done a radio version. Was there a sense here, because this is a big-budget film, or because of your age, that this Hamlet was going to be your last crack at it, that this is the version that's going to fix it?

KB: Absolutely. "Time's winged chariot" was hurrying very near. What I tried to do was to convince myself, with many years of preparation, direct and indirect, experience in playing the part, with my own relationship with the part, with all the homework in the world done, that, in a way that couldn't really happen when I did Henry V, my obligation as Hamlet was, once that camera turned, to be as real and as natural and as truthful as possible in the moment, within the style of what we were doing, and to forget about all that information, forget about what you prepared. Julie Christie used to say to me, "You do it different every time, don't you?" I said, "If you say it different to me, I'll say it different to you." It's just however it comes out.

We've got to trust the work we've done. I don't believe in trying, on film, to repeat some loved moment from the theater, recreating something, repeating things --"I was terribly effective when I did the line like that." I like to try to give it away, and just, in that moment, to have worked up to the point where you might be able to leap off into some inspirational percentage, that you and the other actors might just catch something so that your scene and the performance sings a bit in that kind of mysterious way.

CMM: Can you give me an example from the film?

KB: The closet scene was different with Julie Christie than any time I had played it before. There's one specific scene -- it's a scene I like very much -- the "recorder" scene, with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, after the play. We were in this tight space in this little theater we created, and the camera crew and everybody was saying, "You should break this up -- this shot here, this shot there -- let's block it so that we can cover it from six or seven different angles." And I said, "No, I feel that we should do this in one." I've always wanted that scene in the theater to go like some whippet; Hamlet is in a way at his least attractive, but he's also at his wittiest, with his extraordinary aggression against these two lads. We had everybody kind of cooking at the right time, and I thought the scene was funny and vicious.

We did a number of things in the film where we shot things in one, which puts some real flame under the actors. They get kind of nervous; it creates a kind of theatrical effect. It actually helped to create conditions, as I thought, that were conducive to bringing out that sort of extra under-the-skin kind of tingle that the audience can feel, I'm sure, when it's happening right in front of you, and you don't know what's going to happen next.

CMM: Are stage actors or film actors more receptive to that kind of approach?

KB: I find my best experiences are with people who do a combination of the two. What you do have from stage actors is an ability to learn three or four pages of dialogue, and to be able to come up with it zippily, and not need to do it line by line. If you've got actors who can remember it and are really on the tips of their toes about it, and they're also good film actors, then I think you get the best of both worlds. I sometimes feel frustrated when I want to do things with the camera and with the scene, which, I believe, essentially, gives the scene to the actors, and an actor can't sustain it for over a minute or so. But, what these [film] actors do have often is, in the moments they produce, an absolute, laser-beam radio-signal connection with the truth.

CMM: What's still out there that you want to do?

KB: In the not so distant future, if I have the chance to do them, Love's Labour's Lost and Macbeth. I want to do Love's Labour's Lost as a musical. I've always liked the play. It's very funny, very melancholy, very unusual, and has this peculiar Shakespearean magic in there, it really breaks your heart at the end, and it's also silly -- very, very silly.


I find that I get an idea about the world in which it's set, the period if you like (though I try to make all our periods pretty loose), and then you just keep putting every scene and every character up against that idea to see whether it's going to limit it or work for that character. For Macbeth, it's witchcraft -- you really have to find a world in which you believe that witchcraft is in the air, that it's real. I want get a world going for the characters where the witchcraft really sends shivers down your spine, so that you know, when Macbeth knows, when he makes this pact with the devil's representatives, how very serious it is; so religion has to be very important. Then the marriage between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth -- that marriage has to be very carefully set. She says, "I have given suck," and yet they don't have children; is she older, is she younger? And it's Scotland. You get an idea, you get pictures. And these I find are "anchor pictures."

With each of those plays now, in terms of the development of a film, I've got several scenes in each (many more in Love's Labour's than in Macbeth) where I can see the film and hear it. I can see the dance routine in Love's Labour's Lost: I can see a fantastic library, a fantastic circular library, and a dance routine on skateboards (but it's not a set now; a version of skateboards), and with them going all the way around the ceiling. I can see the women on punts on a river.

So I'm currently bashing away at those two plays. I carry copies of the plays with me (I've got them in my bag), and I'll sit and study a scene for a bit, and make notes, and work up some storyboarded images.

Excerpt from an interview with Kenneth Branagh in the Mainichi Weekly Online
20 July 2007

Q: According to your biography, you left Belfast when you were 9 to escape the Troubles. Do you think your experience of the conflict there influences your battle scenes?

A: I think it makes me aware of how easy it is for people to hate, rather than to love. I think it's a very exciting time in Northern Ireland right now. Politically, a massive, massive shift has occurred, and ancient hatreds have been put aside. I think an awareness of conflict and the need to resolve, the need for peace was very much part of my background. And this film [The Magic Flute, directed by Branagh] certainly is about the need for peace.

Q: What is your motto in life?

A: A good question. A hard question. It sounds like a cliche, but there is a line from Hamlet, at the end, where he says, "The readiness is all." In that context, it's probably about being ready for death, but I think it's a motto for me and it's about trying to be open in life, be open to experience, be open to situations and to people. And be ready, be ready to be surprised, sometimes be ready to be disappointed, be ready to be excited and be ready for anything. But be ready for things to change. Be active and positive. I suppose another way of saying the same thing would be: 'Anything can happen, enjoy it.'"

For more background on Branagh's film version of Hamlet, try The Readiness is All -- The Filming of Hamlet

Kenneth Branagh in David Mamet's "Edmond". Reviews and photos of Branagh at the National Theatre.

Offsite Offerings

Need Shakespeare? Check here for outside Shakespeare links.

Need a Shax monologue? Try the Monologue Archive.

Read Shakespeare here, at the Literature Network online.

Go to Page 2 of the Front Page

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Features of the Daily Telegiraffe

What's Up: BOOKS Sarah Hatchuel, "Branagh and The Bard: A Companion to the Shakespearean Films of Kenneth Branagh"

What's Up: FILM Waking Will Divinely: Shakespeare in Love

What's Up: STAGE Kenneth Branagh's Macbeth


*** DID YOU KNOW? ***

NEW YORK - "Hamlet" was chosen as the greatest poem of the millenium in the New York Times Magazine millenium review!

LONDON (Reuters) - William Shakespeare was picked as Britain's "Man of the Millennium" by a poll of BBC radio listeners!

ENJOY . . . Chosen as the greatest poem of the millenium, Hamlet endures.

ENJOY . . . Who is the "Greatest Fictional Character in World Literature and Legend" - - one guess.
With the Austen lover's link.

ENJOY . . . Back issues of our features, indexed by subject on the front page, and on current feature pages.

ENJOY . . . Programme notes from the NFT's Branagh Retrospective, now added off of the Hamlet page.

ENJOY . . . Gertrude and Claudius, a book by John Updike, explores the new King and Queen.

ENJOY . . . Shakespeare in Less Than 10 Minutes Review of a video of restorations of the earliest surviving silent Shakespeare films from 1899-1911. Also, can you choose your five favourite Shakespeare films? Check your picks against Kenneth Branagh's choices.

ENJOY . . . Director Michael Almereyda's film "collage" of a knit-hatted Ethan Hawke as a Gen-X slacker. Our review of his Hamlet is here.

Almereyda does Denmark as a corporate prison. From the New York Times: Two Fortinbrases and the Ghosts of Hamlets Past. The last stage Hamlet of 1999 in New York becomes a photo album of Hamlets past, including Branagh, Olivier, and Gibson. Added: The New York Post muses on performing Hamlet.

ENJOY . . . Glimpses of genius. In praise of HAMLET: Kenneth Branagh's film version captures the soul of Hamlet.

Also find on the Hamlet Page an interview with Kenneth Branagh (now with photograph) and an account of the London benefit screening of Hamlet, at which Branagh appeared.

ENJOY . . . The New York Times review of "Discovering Hamlet" a short film which documents Branagh's early take on the stage role under the direction of Sir Derek Jacobi.

ENJOY . . . Kenneth Branagh's interview at his NFT Retrospective, as conducted by the Guardian newspaper. Complete text, and complete Questions and Answers now available.

ENJOY . . . The films " Onegin" and "The End of the Affair" open with reviews, interviews, and photographs. Fiennes has been searching for Pushkin's anti-hero Eugene Oneginfor some time.


The Good Bits




What's Up: STAGE

What's Up: BOOKS

What's Up: MUSIC

What's Up: FILM

Fictional Characters

What's Up:

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