england

  The Solid Sound Festival returns to MASS MoCA this weekend. The Richard Thompson Trio will play in Joe’s Field on Saturday.

Named by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the Top 20 Guitarists of All Time, Richard Thompson is also one of the world’s most critically acclaimed and prolific songwriters. He has received Lifetime Achievement Awards for Songwriting on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2011, Thompson was the recipient of the Order of the British Empire - personally bestowed upon him by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. Most recently, the Americana Music Honors & Awards nominated him for “Artist of the Year”.

Yesterday his new album, Still, was released yesterday on Fantasy Records. The album was recorded in The Wilco Loft in Chicago and is produced by Wilco front-man Jeff Tweedy.

Joan Marcus / AP

  The Audience is a play written by Peter Morgan, directed by Stephen Daldry, and starring Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth the II. It opened in the West End in 2013 earning Olivier Awards for Mirren and one of her co-stars, Richard McCabe. McCabe portrays Harold Wilson who was a British Labour Party politician and served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1964 to 1970 and 1974 to 1976.

In The Audience, Peter Morgan has written imagined conversations between the Queen and her Prime Ministers during their weekly private meetings in Buckingham Palace. The play floats from year to year and decade to decade making use of theatre and costume quick-change magic and, of course, the skill of tremendous performers.

The Audience, now running on Broadway through June 28, is nominated for three Tony Awards - one for Dame Mirren, one for Bob Crowley for his costume design, and one for our guest, Richard McCabe.

  Tina Packer is one of the country’s foremost experts on Shakespeare and theatre arts and now the actor, director, and master teacher offers an exploration of the women of Shakespeare’s plays in her new book: Women of Will: Following the Feminine in Shakespeare's Plays.

  When Helen Macdonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer—Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood—she'd never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk.

JOAN MARCUS

  Jim Dale started his professional career as a seventeen year old comedian playing the Music Halls of Britain. A little down the road he became a pop singing star during the early days of rock and roll and appeared in fourteen of the legendary Carry On films for the British cinema.

At the request of Laurence Olivier he joined the British National Theatre. He starred in the first Musical by Cameron Mackintosh, The Card, and played Fagin in Oliver! at the London Palladium. He first appeared on the American stage in 1973 - in 1980 he won the Tony Award for his work in Barnum.

    In January, 1649 -- after seven years of fighting in the bloodiest war in Britain's history, Parliament had overpowered King Charles I and now faced a problem: what to do with a defeated king, a king who refused to surrender? Parliamentarians resolved to do the unthinkable, to disregard the Divine Right of Kings and hold Charles I to account for the appalling suffering and slaughter endured by his people. A tribunal of 135 men was hastily gathered in London, and although Charles refused to acknowledge the power of his subjects to try him, the death sentence was unanimously passed. On an icy winter's day on a scaffold outside Whitehall, in an event unique in English history, the King of England was executed. When the dead king's son, Charles II, was restored to the throne, he set about enacting a deadly wave of retribution against all those - the lawyers, the judges, the officers on the scaffold - responsible for his father's death. Some of the 'regicides' - the killers of the king - pleaded for mercy, while others stoically awaited their sentence.

Bestselling historian Charles Spencer explores this violent clash of ideals through the individuals whose fates were determined by that one, momentous decision in his book Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I.

  From the immense staff running a lavish Edwardian estate and the lonely maid-of-all-work cooking in a cramped middle-class house to the poor child doing chores in a slightly less poor household, servants were essential to the British way of life. They were hired not only for their skills but also to demonstrate the social standing of their employers—even as they were required to tread softly and blend into the background. More than simply the laboring class serving the upper crust—as popular culture would have us believe—they were a diverse group that shaped and witnessed major changes in the modern home, family, and social order.

Lucy Lethbridge explores the servants' stories in her book, Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times.

    When Lions Roar begins in the mid-1930s at Chartwell, Winston Churchill's country estate, with new revelations surrounding a secret business deal orchestrated by Joseph P. Kennedy, the soon-to-be American ambassador to Great Britain and the father of future American president John F. Kennedy. From London to America, these two powerful families shared an ever-widening circle of friends, lovers, and political associates – soon shattered by World War II, spying, sexual infidelity, and the tragic deaths of JFK's sister Kathleen and his older brother Joe Jr. By the 1960s and JFK's presidency, the Churchills and the Kennedys had overcome their bitter differences and helped to define the “greatness” in each other.

Acclaimed biographer Thomas Maier tells this dynastic saga through fathers and their sons – and the remarkable women in their lives – providing keen insight into the Churchill and Kennedy families and the profound forces of duty, loyalty, courage and ambition that shaped them.

    

  Fearless on the battlefield, Churchill had to be ordered by the king to stay out of action on D-Day; he pioneered aerial bombing and few could match his experience in organizing violence on a colossal scale, yet he hated war and scorned politicians who had not experienced its horrors. He was the most famous journalist of his time and perhaps the greatest orator of all time, despite a lisp and chronic depression he kept at bay by painting.

On the fiftieth anniversary of Churchill’s death, Boris Johnson celebrates the brilliance of one of the most important leaders of the twentieth century in the book, The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History.

  If you're an Indo-Muslim-British-American actor who has spent more time in bars than mosques over the past few decades, turns out it's a little tough to explain who you are or where you are from.

In No Land's Man, Aasif Mandvi explores this and other conundrums through stories about his family, ambition, desire, and culture that range from dealing with his brunch-obsessed father, to being a high-school-age Michael Jackson impersonator, to joining a Bible study group in order to seduce a nice Christian girl, to improbably becoming America's favorite Muslim/Indian/Arab/Brown/Doctor correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Pages