Time’s Up leader to head Grammy effort on women

Tina Tchen will head The Recording Academy's new task force focused on inclusion and diversity. (File photo: AP)
Updated 07 March 2018
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Time’s Up leader to head Grammy effort on women

NEW YORK: The body that administers the Grammy Awards on Tuesday named a leader of the Time’s Up anti-harassment movement to lead a task force on better including women.
The Recording Academy named Tina Tchen, a chief of staff to former first lady Michelle Obama, to head the effort after controversy over women’s low representation at the music industry’s latest awards.
Tchen is the co-leader of the legal defense fund of Time’s Up, a campaign launched in January by Hollywood women to combat sexual harassment across industries in the wake of dozens of abuse allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein.
“The music industry faces numerous challenges — from combating long-held biases to making sure women are represented and respected within the community,” Tchen said in a statement.
Tchen heads of the Chicago office of law firm Buckley Sandler LLP. She had also led the White House Council on Women and Girls started by the Obama administration to incorporate female welfare into federal government decision-making.
A number of female artists voiced dismay that not more women won or were nominated at the January 28 Grammys, where funk revivalist Bruno Mars was the night’s big victor.
Adding fuel to the controversy, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow, asked by a reporter why more women were not winning, said that female musicians needed to “step up.”
Portnow, who faced calls by female executives to resign, hailed Tchen’s appointment.
“In this moment, the Recording Academy can do more than reflect what currently exists; we can help lead the industry into becoming the inclusive music community we want it to be — a responsibility that the Board and I take seriously,” he said in a statement.
The Recording Academy said that the task force, whose other members are yet to be announced, will make recommendations on how better to bring in “under-represented communities,” including in the telecast gala and in deciding the awards themselves.


West End theater turns migrant camp to get London audience talking

Updated 20 June 2018
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West End theater turns migrant camp to get London audience talking

  • The Playhouse Theatre in London’s West End aims to immerse the audience in the squalid camp in the northern French port city of Calais that inspired “The Jungle.”
  • The immersive play offers a glimpse into life in the camp, telling the story of asylum-seekers, people smugglers and charity workers who used to populate it.

LONDON: London theatergoers used to spectating in comfort are in for a rude awakening after the authors of a play swapped the traditional plush velvet seating for wooden benches and covered the floor with soil to simulate the feel of a migrant camp.
The Playhouse Theatre in London’s West End aims to immerse the audience in the squalid camp in the northern French port city of Calais that inspired “The Jungle,” whose authors hope their play will stoke debate about migration.
“People often hold strong opinions about this subject because it doesn’t seem to have any immediate answer,” said Joe Murphy, 27, who co-wrote the play.
“Discussion is the only think that is going to get us forward ... and hopefully this play can provide some of that space for debate,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.
Co-author Joe Robertson said the pair had “tried to depict both the terrible conditions that existed in the Jungle camp, but also the hope that existed in that place.”
Up to 10,000 people seeking ways to reach Britain used to live in the giant slum before it was cleared by authorities in late 2016.
Immigration remains a major political issue across Europe, as well as in the United States, where the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the Mexican border has caused an international outcry.
Several European leaders including those of France, Germany, Italy and Austria are to hold talks on Sunday to explore how to stop people from moving around the European Union after claiming asylum in one of the Mediterranean states of arrival.
Murphy and Robertson, 28, based the script on their experience as volunteers in Calais, where they ran a temporary theater within the camp.
The immersive play offers a glimpse into life in the camp, telling the story of asylum-seekers, people smugglers and charity workers who used to populate it.
“There were 25 different nationalities of people all forced to live side by side often on top of each other and the phenomenal story about that place was people did make an effort to come together,” said Robertson.
Theatre-goers are invited to seat at the tables of the camp’s makeshift Afghan café, where the action unfolds.
“The closer you are to the audience the better the message is delivered,” said actor Ammar Hajj Ahmad, who plays one of the leading characters.
Ahmad, from Syria, is one of many actors from a refugee background featured in the play. Several asylum-seekers the authors met in Calais are also part of the cast.
“I am proud of this, I love telling stories ... about the many people who lived in Calais,” said cast-member Mohamed Sarrar, a musician from Sudan who arrived in Britain two years ago.
The play, which premiered at another London theater The Young Vic, last year, runs from July 5 to November.