[Vwoolf] "Life in Squares" reaction

Stuart N. Clarke stuart.n.clarke at btinternet.com
Tue Aug 4 05:27:06 EDT 2015

I watched the 2nd ep. last night, and thought it the weakest of the 3 (I’ve already seen the 3rd ep.!).  As a pedant, I was shocked to hear Vanessa say in WW1 that Charleston was a “shambles”, meaning “a scene of disorder or devastation; a ruin; a mess. orig. U.S.”, first recorded in 1926 in the OED, and specifically remarked upon as a new WW2 expression in Waugh’s “Put Out More Flags” (1942):
“Alastair learned, too, that all schemes ended in a ‘shambles’ which did not mean, as he feared, a slaughter, but a brief restoration of individual freedom of movement.”


From: Mary Ellen Foley 
Sent: Tuesday, August 04, 2015 10:14 AM
To: Jeannette Smyth 
Cc: vwoolf 
Subject: Re: [Vwoolf] "Life in Squares" reaction

[post-second episode] It's beginning to bother me that all we see are the points of crisis or sex. Okay, all narratives require dramatic tension, but going for the obvious--She's overdosed! They're having sex!--is the easy way out. There can be riveting drama in the way people choose to live in the day-to-day, as Woolf's novels show; the programmes, alas, have no subtlety.

Mary Ellen

On Mon, Aug 3, 2015 at 3:51 PM, Jeannette Smyth <jeannette_smyth at earthlink.net> wrote:

  As an American, it is not a natural reaction for me to visualize the Bloomsberries in their native habitat -- the interiors or exteriors. To see them imagined -- for example, the plain metal single beds in which Thoby dies, and Grant and Strachey have such excellent pillow talk, the plain, uncarpeted panelled room in which young Vanessa presides -- by well-informed set designers, is a real gift.

  The other real gift is to think the younger generation has let go of the sexually abused insane Virginia and replaced that ill-nuanced portrait with another I like better -- the adulterous revolutionary Virginia who snaked her sister's husband.

  The centrality of Vanessa to the revolution also is asserted, salubriously, I think, and the sweetness and industry of Grant's character. Neither come through so clearly in Woolf's own letters and diaries.

  The interiors and the charm of Grant are what I'm enjoying, along with the brilliant suggestion that we Yanks all sign up for tellypass.

  Jeannette Smyth

  From: Lindsay Martin 
  Sent: Saturday, August 01, 2015 3:49 AM
  To: 'Mary Ellen Foley' ; 'Sarah M. Hall' 
  Cc: vwoolf at lists.osu.edu 
  Subject: Re: [Vwoolf] "Life in Squares" reaction

  I agree; I would have thought for the average viewer much of it was incomprehensible, especially the end when different people suddenly appear with no clue as to who they are.  I suspect that the effort to be ‘impressionistic’ and ‘atmospheric’ has led to a minimalisation of content.

  Lindsay C Martin

  0208 245 3580/07734 106131

  From: Vwoolf [mailto:vwoolf-bounces+lindsay=lindsaycmartin.co.uk at lists.osu.edu] On Behalf Of Mary Ellen Foley
  Sent: 31 July 2015 14:17
  To: Sarah M. Hall
  Cc: vwoolf at lists.osu.edu
  Subject: Re: [Vwoolf] "Life in Squares" reaction

  Uncharacteristically for me, I no opinion of the programme as a whole, just fragments that don't add up to much. For one thing, I spent the hour answering my husband's questions about the different characters, their relationships and occupations, and whether the events in the script really happened.  I thought the costumes gorgeous.  As in the hours, we see Vanessa and Virginia kissing, this time also talking of marriage, and I am rather disappointed that now a huge swathe of the public will believe that the two of them threw their corsets out the window. (I realize that this was symbolic--you'd have to be from an alien species not to notice them hit you on the head with that one--but I mind it more when they do that to real people, in a way that I don't when they, for example, have a soaking-wet Mr Darcy meet Elizabeth because the modern audience might not understand the thorough awkwardness of their meeting, because these days we're unfamiliar with their social context.)

  I thought the acting prize should go to the fellow playing Lytton!  I saw that they gave him a lankier look by making his sleeves too short, but *how* did he make his posture and movements and hands so Lyttonesque?  (Misquoting Olivier to answer my own question: "Acting, dear boy.")

  I look forward to seeing the next one, when they're older.  I hope to be able to watch it without needing to give a running commentary--

  Mary Ellen

  On Fri, Jul 31, 2015 at 1:56 PM, Sarah M. Hall <smhall123 at yahoo.co.uk> wrote:

  Ah, yes, their 'choice' is often a programme they want to say something about, for good or ill. I expect they feel they have to do this in the interests of 'balance'!


    From: Stuart N. Clarke <stuart.n.clarke at btinternet.com>
    To: vwoolf at lists.osu.edu 
    Sent: Friday, 31 July 2015, 13:49

    Subject: Re: [Vwoolf] "Life in Squares" reaction

    It’s my *textual deduction* that the “Radio Times” must believe that the TV schedules are rubbish, if they consider that a programme they slate is one of the best of the week.


    From: Sarah M. Hall 

    Sent: Friday, July 31, 2015 1:08 PM

    To: Stuart N. Clarke ; vwoolf at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu 

    Subject: Re: [Vwoolf] "Life in Squares" reaction

    On the subject of the timing, I get the feeling that the Monday night slot was a last-minute decision. On Wed 22nd the BBC Media web page was giving a broadcast date of 30 July; the day after, it had been changed to say that the first episode would be Mon 27 July. More confusion in the Charleston magazine Canvas, where an article by the drama's producer Lucy Bedford refers to 'the series that will air on BBC2 in August', only for a note at the end to tell readers 'Life in Squares will be broadcast on BBC2 from 30 July (scheduling may be subject to change).'

    It was obvious that the series was going to focus more on the lives than the work (it's a drama, after all), but I'm hoping that we'll hear more about VW the writer in episodes 2 and 3. I thought the sets and costumes were great, and hope they continue so.

    I can't agree with you about the quality of British TV, though, Stuart -- there is some fantastic stuff, you just have to be selective (the Radio Times would help!). I recommend sticking chiefly to the BBC channels.



      From: Stuart N. Clarke <stuart.n.clarke at btinternet.com>
      To: vwoolf at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu 
      Sent: Friday, 31 July 2015, 10:00
      Subject: [Vwoolf] "Life in Squares" reaction

      We no longer buy the “Radio Times”, but a friend left a copy of the 25-31 Jul 2015 issue in our house.  There is a feature, "Bloomsbury Bedhoppers: Virginia Nicholson - Virginia Woolf's great-niece - insists that there's more to this cerebral set of friends than love triangles . . .", which incorrectly stated that the first episode was on Thursday (as originally scheduled), rather than Monday (as actually scheduled).  The preview page for Monday had a negative summing up by Alison Graham.  Finally, the “best this week” section summarised: "Unintentionally gigglesome biopic of the tiresome Bloomsbury Group, centred on sisters Vanessa and Virginia. Everyone is terrifically tortured."

      I deduce from this last that even the “Radio Times” thinks that the TV schedules are rubbish.


      From: Maggie Humm 

      Sent: Thursday, July 30, 2015 6:11 PM

      To: Roy ; 'Dianne Hunter' ; vwoolf at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu 

      Subject: Re: [Vwoolf] Fwd: [MKTG] News from Charleston - Life inSquares reaction, Summer Activities, Cressida Bell

      I disagree.

      The costumes are often exact models of many seen in photographs of the Bloomsbury group. For example Vanessa's painting smock resembles the one she wore painting Lady Cecil 1905 Tate Archive. See Frontispiece Bell Sketches in Pen and Ink.

      The lighting and cinematography have a dark authenticity as you would expect from Simon Kaijser the Swedish film director (who describes himself as a secular humanist and climber - perfect for Bloomsbury?). The filmic quality is immediately evident in the deftly overlapping conversations at Thoby's Thursday evenings.

      Frances Spalding's review is very accurate. The Lady review summed up one of the delights of the series so far with its praise for the "epicene" men - James Norton particularly fine as the young Duncan but it's an ensemble cast.


      Some of the dialogue is anachronistic but hopefully will bring in younger viewers. I'd have liked a less angsty Virginia but her wit and humour may develop in later episodes.

      Can't wait for episode 2


      From: Vwoolf [vwoolf-bounces+m.humm=uel.ac.uk at lists.osu.edu] on behalf of Roy [roy at mantex.co.uk]
      Sent: 30 July 2015 14:32
      To: 'Dianne Hunter'; vwoolf at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu
      Subject: Re: [Vwoolf] Fwd: [MKTG] News from Charleston - Life in Squares reaction, Summer Activities, Cressida Bell

      Don’t worry – you are not missing much

      The programme is an awful example of BBC costume drama

      It’s poorly acted, with bad casting, wooden dialogue, and atrocious lighting

      If you know anything about the Bloomsbury Group, it will leave you feeling queasy.

      Roy Johnson

      From: Vwoolf [mailto:vwoolf-bounces at lists.osu.edu] On Behalf Of Dianne Hunter
      Sent: 30 July 2015 12:05
      To: vwoolf at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu
      Subject: [Vwoolf] Fwd: [MKTG] News from Charleston - Life in Squares reaction, Summer Activities, Cressida Bell

      How can this be seen in the US?
      ---------- Forwarded message ----------
      From: Charleston <info at charleston.org.uk<mailto:info at charleston.org.uk>>
      Date: Thu, Jul 30, 2015 at 5:02 AM
      Subject: [MKTG] News from Charleston - Life in Squares reaction, Summer Activities, Cressida Bell
      To: Diane <dianne.hunter at trincoll.edu<mailto:dianne.hunter at trincoll.edu>>

      Summer Activities at Charleston for all

      View this email in your browser<http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=323082af50&e=03a771b0d6>


      So - did you watch the first episode? Well over 2 million people did, and we're delighted at the response to the BBC2 drama Life in Squares<http://charleston.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=fc024fe86b&e=03a771b0d6> so far. Some of the reaction is highlighted below, and we look forward to episodes two and three where Charleston will feature more prominently (August 3 and 10, 9pm).


      Notwithstanding the interest surrounding Life in Squares, we continue to have a busy summer. After sell out performances of Opera in the Orchard and Twelfth Night earlier this month, we encourage the younger generation to Charleston with plenty of activities for families including special family tours, garden trails and our Young Bohemians creating their own production of Midsummer Night's Dream!

      Our crowd funding campaign is boosted with the reveal of Cressida Bell's exclusive designs for the silk scarf reward - beautiful and a brilliant reward for donating to the appeal.

      Finally, with all the interest in Charleston we have extended our summer opening hours<http://charleston.us2.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=01a2095b1a&e=03a771b0d6>. However we strongly recommend that if you want to visit or indeed revisit us this summer, please book in advance <http://charleston.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=2f4e88c269&e=03a771b0d6> to avoid disappointment - everything Bloomsbury seems to be very popular!!

      "Life in Squares - Reviews and Reaction

      "The original rebels without a cause are back" The Telegraph<http://charleston.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=cd27e2b824&e=03a771b0d6>

      Who's Who and played by Who - Radio Times<http://charleston.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=1adb1386ad&e=03a771b0d6>

      "Their great legacy is not liberated sex but the paramount value they placed on friendship" The Sunday Times<http://charleston.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=0d5ef9650e&e=03a771b0d6> - by Priya Parmar (subscription required)

      "I grew up with the Bloomsberries. For me, it isn’t a story, it’s real" The Times <http://charleston.us2.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=5cfdf2256c&e=03a771b0d6> - by Virginia Nicholson (subscription required)

      "Many of our modern ideas about art, economics, history, sexuality and feminism come from them".The Guardian<http://charleston.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=9553242929&e=03a771b0d6> - preview

      "the performances are uniformly wonderful" The Guardian<http://charleston.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=cb6980abfe&e=03a771b0d6> – review

      "the imaginative power of this series. It successfully gets inside the complicated emotions behind the unorthodox relationships within Bloomsbury, which is an impressive feat." The Conversation<http://charleston.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=d30f0877e3&e=03a771b0d6> – by Frances Spalding

      You can watch Episode 1 on the BBCiPlayer<http://charleston.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=379ef777dd&e=03a771b0d6>

      Childrens' Activities at Charleston this summer


      There are plenty of ways to fulfill the artistic and inquisitive minds of your younger ones this summer at Charleston with activities for all ages and families.

      Young Bohemians<http://charleston.us2.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=f08db3b498&e=03a771b0d6> - All week, the Young Bohemians will create their own production of Midsummer Night's Dream. Set, props and costume will be made from scratch, parts learnt, friends made, all culminating in a magical end-of –week performances for families and friends. 17-21 August. Book Now<http://charleston.us2.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=4fb8edf7ee&e=03a771b0d6>

      * Secret Garden Trails<http://charleston.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=08c30f8239&e=03a771b0d6> - FREE and available from the shop and focus on searching for statues in the Charleston gardens, drawing and colouring in
      * Family Tours<http://charleston.us2.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=9662c59bd7&e=03a771b0d6> - We do special 30 minute tours at 11.30am on Saturdays 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29 August. The best day for families with very young children to visit is Sunday. On Sundays there are stewards in each of the rooms so that you can see the house at your own pace. There is also a children’s trail that you can do together as you go around the house
      * Outsider Events at Small Wonder Festival, Sept 23-27 - Storytelling in the Garden<http://charleston.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=b587854e05&e=03a771b0d6>; Create a Picture Book workshop<http://charleston.us2.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=75c1112396&e=03a771b0d6>; Illustrated Fantastical Fiction workshop<http://charleston.us2.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=381dabce5f&e=03a771b0d6>

      Art Happens : Cressida Bell's exclusive design for our Silk Scarf revealed!
      We're delighted that Cressida has designed an exclusive Charleston pattern, used for the first time to support our Art Happens campaign in the form of a 32 inch x 32 inch beautiful silk scarf<http://charleston.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=963c543406&e=03a771b0d6>.

      By donating £100<http://charleston.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=a7e59aa364&e=03a771b0d6> to our campaign to restore some of the painted surfaces in the House - you will not only receive this beautiful scarf but also a pair of tickets to the VIP unveiling of the restoration work in March 2016 at Charleston.

      We're now up to 65% towards our target of £25,000 which is amazing - your support as always is invaluable, but we need to get 100% in order to access any of the funds promised so far.

      Coming soon : the design for the Tote Bag reward.... watch this space!<http://charleston.us2.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=155c0334ad&e=03a771b0d6>

      <http://charleston.us2.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=c0b3ea4412&e=03a771b0d6>[https://gallery.mailchimp.com/6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e/images/a1949ad0-ee19-489c-85ad-992a3082ca23.jpg] <http://charleston.us2.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=c0b3ea4412&e=03a771b0d6> <http://charleston.us2.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=c0b3ea4412&e=03a771b0d6>

      ‘Art Happens’<http://charleston.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=92e06a7ce0&e=03a771b0d6> is a crowd funding campaign with several levels of donation ranging from £5 to £995. In return, supporters will receive rewards which range from postcard sets with Charleston’s iconic design motifs to mounted fragments of wallpaper from the Library (£200) to an exclusive patterned scarf (£100) and tote bag (£25) designed by Cressida Bell. There will also be the opportunity to have lunch with Henrietta Garnett, grand-daughter of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, prior to attending the unveiling of the restoration work at the start of next season in March 2016. Donate Now<http://charleston.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=1afe5cef14&e=03a771b0d6>

      Watch Jon Snow exploring the need for this restoration project<http://charleston.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=6693a0c45ceff92c07e52c75e&id=76bbe20ac0&e=03a771b0d6>

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