Musical inspired by Greek mythology wins at Tony Awards

The show is a modern take on the underworld myth of Orpheus and Euridyce. (AFP)
Updated 10 June 2019
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Musical inspired by Greek mythology wins at Tony Awards

  • “Hadestown” was the big favorite of the 73rd annual awards with 14 nominations and in the end it took home eight gongs
  • It has become a hit album and an off-Broadway show in London and Canada

NEW YORK: A musical inspired by Greek mythology and a play about the conflict in Northern Ireland were the big winners Sunday at the Tony Awards, the highest honors in American theater.
“Hadestown” was the big favorite of the 73rd annual awards with 14 nominations and in the end it took home eight gongs, including best musical.
The show, a modern take on the underworld myth of Orpheus and Euridyce with jazz and folk, arrived on Broadway in April after an unusual 13-year journey.
From its 2006 origins in Vermont as a musical show without choreography, it has become a hit album and an off-Broadway show in London and Canada.
“If Hadestown stands for anything, it is that change is possible. That in dark times, spring will come again,” producer Mara Isaacs said as she received her Tony.
“The Ferryman,” written by Jez Butterworth, was also among the favorites this year with nine nominations and ultimately won four Tonys, including best play.
Directed by Sam Mendes, who won as best director of a play, it depicts a day in the life of a rural family in Northern Ireland in 1981 at the height of “The Troubles.”
Its large and colorful cast of characters includes a baby and a goose.
British actor James Corden, master of ceremonies at the event broadcast from Radio City Music Hall, opened the awards by extolling the virtues of live theater against streaming.
While his humor was apolitical, others spoke out during the three-hour show.
Bryan Cranston, who won best leading actor in a play for his role in the “Network,” adapted from the satirical 1976 film about a TV anchor, dedicated his award to “all the real journalists around the world.”
“The media is not the enemy of the people. Demagoguery is the enemy of the people,” the “Breaking Bad” star said, taking aim at President Donald Trump who frequently rails against unfavorable media as “the enemy of the people.”
While the entertainment world is frequently accused of downplaying the contributions of women and minorities, Broadway tried to redress the balance a bit on Sunday.
Actress Ali Stroker became the first wheelchair user to win a Tony for her role in the musical “Oklahoma!” but Rachel Chavkin, director of “Hadestown,” was the only woman directing a musical this year.
“There are so many women who are ready, so many artists of color who are ready,” Chavkin said in her acceptance speech.
“It’s not a lack of preparation, it’s a lack of imagination on the part of a sector supposed to imagine how the world could be.”


Ancient Afghan citadel collapses, cultural heritage sites at risk

Updated 15 June 2019
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Ancient Afghan citadel collapses, cultural heritage sites at risk

  • The old citadel known as Ghaznain Fort originally had 36 towers, but 14 of the towers had collapsed in recent years
  • The fort is one of dozens of unique historic sites in Afghanistan in urgent need of protection

GHAZNI, Afghanistan: An ancient tower dating back 2,000 years in the historic Afghan city of Ghazni collapsed this week, local officials said, raising concerns about the vulnerability of the country’s cultural heritage and the government’s ability to protect them.
The old citadel known as Ghaznain Fort originally had 36 towers, but 14 of the towers had collapsed in recent years due to decades of war, heavy rain and neglect.
The fort is one of dozens of unique historic sites in Afghanistan — ranging from the pre-Islamic Buddhist center in the Bamyan valley to the 12th century minaret of Jam in a remote area of Ghor province — in urgent need of protection.
Officials in Ghazni, which nearly fell to the Taliban last year in some of the heaviest fighting seen in the war, said the tower collapsed on Tuesday following heavy rain. A short video posted on social media shows it crumbling but local residents say negligence also contributed to its collapse.
“The government paid no attention to the sites and didn’t build canals to divert flood water,” said Ghulam Sakhi, who lives near the citadel.
“We have warned the government about the dire condition of the citadel but no one visited,” Sakhi said.
Mahbubullah Rahmani, acting director of culture and information in Ghazni, said heavy rain and recent fighting had contributed to the tower’s collapse but said the government was working on a plan to protect the site from complete destruction.
He said a German archaeologist had worked at the site as recently as 2013.
Ghazni, a strategically vital center on the main highway between Kabul and southern Afghanistan and two hour drive from the capital, is home to a range of cultural and archaeological artefacts, some of which date back to pre-Islamic period.
The province and its cultural heritage was officially declared as Asian Capital of Islamic Culture in 2013 by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, a Morocco-based body created in 1981, supported by UNESCO.
The collapse of the tower in Ghazni follows concern over the condition of the 900-year-old Minaret of Jam, in Ghor, which has been on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Properties in Danger since 2002.
The Taliban during their austere regime from 1996-2001, before they were toppled by the US and coalition force in late 2001, blew up two giant Buddha statues in central Bamiyan province, calling them idols.