Emission Possible

More than 170 countries signed the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement at the UN this month to reduce global emissions beyond 2020. Actor and environmental advocate Leonardo DiCaprio said this was the “Earth’s last best hope”.

Plenty of time 2 Emission Impossible The Paris Agreement 4

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Drawing: F. Murray Abraham in The Merchant of Venice and Galileo

F Murray Abraham

F. Murray Abraham grew up in El Paso, Texas and was a gang member before becoming one of the most respected character actors of his generation, after his high school teacher introduced him to acting.

Since winning Hollywood’s piece de resistance, the Academy Award for his career-defining portrayal of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s bitter rival Antonio Salieri, in Milos Forman’s 1984 Best Picture, AMADEUS, he has mainly focused on classical theatre and some TV, including the award-winning series HOMELAND, collecting Emmy and SAG Award nominations.

Two of his acclaimed stage roles have been Shylock in an Off Broadway production of Shakespeare’s MERCHANT OF VENICE in 2011 and the title character in Bertolt Brecht’s GALILEO at the Classic Stage Company the following year. He reprised his Shylock role replacing Al Pacino in the Public Theatre production.

F. Murray returned to the Classic Theatre Company in New York this month in NATHAN THE WISE, which gave me the perfect opportunity to send this sketch for signing.

Drawing: Hugh Bonneville in An Enemy of the People

Hugh Bonneville

BAFTA nominee Hugh Bonneville has made a welcome return to the stage in Henrick Ibsen’s AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE at the Chichester Festival Theatre this month. He plays the brilliant scientist Dr Stockmann, standing against an entire town when he discovers that their popular local spa is polluted. Written in 1882, the play is a response to the Norwegian playwright’s public outcry against his earlier work GHOSTS, which was considered indecent because of its vague references to syphillis, while challenging the hypocrisy of Victorian morality. In a note to his publisher, Ibsen wasn’t sure if ENEMY was a comedy or a straight drama… or both.

Best known as Robert, Earl of Grantham in the ITV hit series DOWNTON ABBEY, Hugh was part of the ensemble cast that received Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations, winning the latter twice. His extensive theatre career includes work with both the National and the Royal Shakespearean Company.

I sent this portrait to Hugh at Chichester and he retuned it, signed, lickety split. AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE is directed by Howard Davies and runs until 21 May.

Drawing: Gemma Arterton in Nell Gwynn

Gemma Arterton Nell Gwyn

The World premiere of Jessica Swale’s NELL GWYNNE at the Shakespeare’s Globe transferred to the West End’s Apollo Theatre earlier this year with Gemma Arterton in the title role as the exuberant Nell Gwynn, who rose from lowly orange-seller to England’s favourite actress and mistress of King Charles ll in this hilarious, heart warming production, directed by Christopher Luscombe.

“Gemma Arterton is a sparkling stage presence,” wrote Charlotte Marshall in her London Theatre review.

I did attempt to catch Gemma in person after a couple of Saturday matinee performances, but the stage door management said she didn’t usually leave the theatre between shows, so I left this sketch with them and if came back signed.

Drawing: Yasmine Naghdi

Yasmine Naghdi

Young ballet star Yasmine Naghdi is a born and bred Londoner, with an exotic name and an exotic look, courtesy of the genes from her Iranian father and Belgian mother.

Her association with the capital’s prestigious Royal Ballet began at a young age.
She was selected to represent the Royal Ballet in an exchange programme with the Vaganova Academy in St Petersburg, the school of the Marinsky Ballet Company.

Yasmine graduated from the Royal Ballet School in 2009, winning ‘The Young British Dancer of the Year’ and was offered a contact with the company at the age of 17, becoming First Artist a year later. In 2014 she became a soloist. She has established a truly International following, performing all over the globe including China, the Bolshoi in Moscow, Taiwan Japan, Barcelona, Monaco, Milan and Columbia.

During the 2015/16 season she made her principal debut as Juliet in ROMEO & JULIET as part of the Royal Ballet’s celebration to mark 50 years since Sir Kenneth MacMillian’s production premiered at Covent Garden in 1965 with Margot Fonteyn in the lead role.

I left this drawing at the Royal Opera House last October, where Yasmine signed and  dedicated it for me.

Drawing: Rob Beckett in Mouth of the South

Rob Beckett

I caught up with one of the rising stars of British Comedy, Rob Beckett on Saturday night when he arrived at the Leicester Square Theatre for his final performance of MOUTH OF THE SOUTH after a week long residency. He started stand-up in 2009, appearing in MOCK THE WEEK, LIVE AT THE APOLLO and CELEBRITY SQUARES, making his Edinburgh Festival three years later with his solo show ROB BECKETT’S SUMMER HOLIDAY.

The Guardian described Rob as “A likeable high tempo comic”. Not only is he a likeable comic, but a likeable guy, who happily signed my sketch. Catch Rob over the next few months as he tours the UK with MOUTH OF THE SOUTH.

Curtains

Curtains 3

The BBC reported:
“We are only four months in, but it’s already been a dark, dark 2016”

“Enough, 2016” and a more vulgar alternative are phrases people are uttering.

It now seems rare for a week to pass without a significant celebrity death being reported.

It’s a jump from only five between January and late March 2012 to a staggering 24 in the same period this year.

Drawing: Bette Midler in I’ll Eat You Last

Bette Midler

Showbiz icon Bette Midler returned to Broadway in 2013 to play her late friend, the legendary super-agent who ruled Hollywood during the 1970’s Sue Mengers, in John Logan’s I’LL EAT YOU LAST at the Booth Theatre.

I drew this drawing of Bette in the role and managed to get it to ‘The Divine Miss M’ when she toured the UK last July. Nothing came back, so I assumed it was assigned to the round file or left unopened along with zillions of other fan mail. When it arrived through the post last month I was very happy… for a brief moment, until I realised it was probably a ‘secretarial’.

This is a term used in the ‘graph business for signatures by authorised personnel but not the authentic autograph of the celebrity. It’s one of the disappointing aspects of collecting, one which I have experienced on a few occasions. All the more reason to try and get a graph in person. Bette does sign in person and did so at the stage door, but through the mail is a different matter. Bette’s original graph is more ‘energetic’ and her ‘M’ is more divine, without a loop as it darts across from crossing the ‘t’s’. I checked exemplars of her authentic graph and the secretarial versions and this one, sadly, looks like the latter. I’ll just have to catch her in person next year when she takes the lead role in the Broadway revival of HELLO DOLLY or pops back to Britain.

Drawing: Alina Cojocaru

Alina Cojocaru

At the age of fifteen, Romanian ballerina Alina Cojocaru won a scholarship at the prestigious Prix de Lausanne ballet competition to train at the Royal Ballet in London. She decided to become a Principal at the Kiev Ballet instead, but  in 1999 she returned to the Covent Garden, becoming a soloist a year later then Principal in 2001. Her partnership with Dane Johan Kobborg is considered to be one of the greatest in the history of ballet. In 2012 she became the only ballerina to receive the Prix Benoisnde la Danse twice after her performance in John Neumeier’s LILI at the Hamburg Ballet.

The New York Times wrote “Alina Cojocaru’s line, her beautiful extension and airy jumps, her wraithlike weightless quality are all gorgeous. This is technique rendered invisible by artistry.”

In 2013 she left the Royal Ballet and became a Principle at the English National Ballet.

Alina signed this sketch I sent to her at the ENB and returned it along with a card thanking me for my letter and the drawing.

Drawing: Laurretta Summerscales

Laurretta Summerscales

Multi award-winning English National Ballet star Laurretta Summerscales began dancing at the age of two and fifteen years later joined the company, moving up the ranks to First Soloist in 2013. This year she was promoted to Principal. It was announced on stage after performing the role of Medora in LE CORSAIRE at the London Coliseum by the ENB’s Artistic Director and Prima Ballerina Tamara Rojo.

“Laurretta is such a special dancer, her classical technique, her musicality and her emotional theatrical instinct, makes her a stage animal! And I have no doubt that she will be a Principal dancer with an International reputation,” she said.

I left this sketch to Laurretta at the ENB’s home near the Royal Albert Hall and she kindly signed and returned to me.