The crowd is its own character in Julius Caesar; they are there to be angered, to forgive, to protest, and most importantly, to be persuaded. In Oskar Eustis’s controversial production, the ensemble sat among the audience for most of the play, standing up to protest only midway through the show. This became confusing during one of the final performances, when a 24-year-old, right-wing activist named Laura Loomer rushed the stage after the assassination scene in the Senate, shouting “Stop the normalization of political violence against the right!” (“We’re not promoting it,” an actress onstage said to Loomer in the moment. “This is Julius Caesar.”)
First Annual Report / National Endowment for the Arts / 1966 / 9 minutes (2,200 words)
With the signing of the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act on September 29, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson completed the vision supported by John F. Kennedy for a federal council for the arts. The Trump Administration’s newly proposed budget would eliminate the program entirely. Here is an excerpt from the NEA’s First Annual Report from 1966.
We asked a few writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in various categories. Here, the best in arts and culture writing.
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Earlier this year, Pitchfork began publishing Sunday reviews that explore albums released in the time before said site debuted. This, in turn, has led to a whole lot of smart writers weighing in on the classics, the cult classics, the interesting failures, and the historically significant. Jeff Weiss’s epic take on “Jackson’s final classic album and the best full-length of the New Jack Swing era” is the sort of narrative music writing that’s catnip for me, the kind of work that sends me deeply into my own memories, and leaves me rethinking my own take on the album in question. Read more…
We asked a few writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in specific categories. Here, the best in arts and culture writing.
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Senior writer with Sportsnet magazine
Stephen Colbert has pulled off the rare feat of being a public figure for the better part of a decade while keeping his true self almost entirely obscured behind a braying façade. Here, with such uncommon intelligence, sensitivity and nuance, Joel Lovell shows us who’s been under there the whole time. The writer is very present in the story, sifting through the meaning of what he finds and tugging us along behind him through reporting and writing that starts out rollicking and then turns surprisingly raw and emotional. But Lovell never gets in his own way or turns self-indulgent; that’s a tough thing to pull off. The word I kept coming back to in thinking about this story was “humane”—it just feels so complex and wise, and unexpectedly aching, buoyed with perfect, telling details and effortlessly excellent writing. Read more…
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One morning in March 2014, shortly after returning to his home in Iran, sculptor Parviz Tanavoli awoke to the sound of his daughter’s screams. About twenty men had broken the locks on his front door and entered his house. It looked like the clumsiest art heist in history, but this ragtag group worked for the municipality of Tehran. They were there on strict orders to confiscate Tanavoli’s artwork. Read more…