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The Week in Arts: Idris Elba Revives Luther; Margaret Thatcher Sees the Queen


The Week in Arts: Idris Elba Revives Luther; Margaret Thatcher Sees the Queen

June 1, 3;

No, this isn’t your everyday dance recital. Once a year, the New York City Ballet-affiliated School of American Ballet parts the curtain on its talented students, many of whom go on to grace dance companies here and abroad. This year’s program highlights three ballets by George Balanchine — “Concerto Barocco,” “Bourrée Fantasque” and the Garland Dance from “The Sleeping Beauty” — as well as William Forsythe’s “New Sleep,” a 1987 work set to an electronic score by Thom Willems. It’s the first time a Forsythe work has been included in a workshop performance. On Monday, Arthur Mitchell, an alumnus of the school who died last year, will be honored with a performance of the pas de deux from Balanchine’s “Agon.” But the main attraction is the students: It’s always a joy to see who is waiting in the wings. GIA KOURLAS

June 2;

Whether or not Idris Elba ends up as James Bond, we’ve always got “Luther.” And with the myriad tricks up his sleeve — let alone that indelible swagger — in Season 5, debuting on Sunday on BBC America, that just might be enough.

That, and Alice Morgan. As D.C.I. John Luther hunts down the psychopath turning London into a kinked-out blood bath, Ruth Wilson’s maniacal genius returns from the dead in this four-part season, arriving four years after the series’s last installment.

But is this the end? In December, Elba confirmed that the show’s creator, Neil Cross, is at work on a screenplay that would scale things up, making Season 5 a likely segue into moviedom and a leap into a larger market.

“It will be more murder, more Volvos, more frowning Luther,” Variety quoted Elba as saying. “Essentially we just want to try to take it to a much bigger audience and scale, and perhaps international as well.” Which is sure to make viewers, Elba — and even Luther — smile. KATHRYN SHATTUCK

June 6;

Azniv Korkejian, the singer-songwriter who performs as Bedouine, seems to operate somewhere outside the bounds of space and time. A descendant of Armenian refugees, born in Syria and raised in Saudi Arabia, she chose her stage name as a nod to her inherited itinerancy — a legacy she carried on once her family landed in the United States, moving to Boston, Houston and Savannah.

Now based in Los Angeles, Korkejian records songs that rest at the intersection of folk and soft rock; they sound like they could have been released yesterday, or 40 years ago. While she looks backward for musical inspiration — among her influences are Carole King and Nick Drake — her lyrics often touch on contemporary concerns, as on “Echo Park,” a recent single about the rapidly gentrifying Los Angeles neighborhood in which she observes “The rising cost of coffee/The skyline inching higher.” Bedouine performs at Rough Trade on Thursday, just after her sophomore album, “Bird Songs of a Killjoy,” comes out. OLIVIA HORN

Through Oct. 6;

Commissioned to finish touching up a room in the London mansion of the shipping tycoon Frederick Leyland after another artist dropped out, James McNeill Whistler got carried away and repainted the room from top to bottom. The resulting masterpiece, a garden of intricate, gold-leaf peacocks strutting across otherworldly blue-green backgrounds, was not what Leyland was expecting, and it lost Whistler an important patron. But he later found a better one in Charles Lang Freer, an American industrialist who acquired more than 50 of the watercolors Whistler started making after his falling-out with Leyland — as well as the Peacock Room itself, from Leyland’s widow — and left them to the Smithsonian, where they’re showing until Oct. 6 in the Freer Gallery of Art. Get there quickly, because the muscular little depictions of beaches, sunsets, and domestic scenes, never lent out and rarely exhibited, will be up for only five months; a new refurnishing of the Peacock Room with the sort of blue and white Chinese Kangxi porcelain that Leyland had intended to put in it will remain indefinitely. WILL HEINRICH

June 7-20;

You almost never read a movie review by Pauline Kael wondering what side she came down on. Critical objectivity? That was for sapheads. And she liked what she liked, whether anyone else did or not. When she hailed “Bonnie and Clyde,” whose unsparing violence divided audiences in 1967, as “the most excitingly American American movie since ‘The Manchurian Candidate’” — and a cultural event in itself — The New Republic refused to publish her essay. So The New Yorker did, hiring Kael the following year as a film critic, a job in which she delighted and infuriated readers until 1991.

Kael, who died a decade later, would have turned 100 on June 19, and starting Friday, the Quad Cinema in Manhattan is celebrating with “Losing It at the Movies: Pauline Kael at 100.” The 25-film lineup runs the gamut from those she adored — Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” I and II, Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown”; Bernardo Bertolucci’s “Last Tango in Paris”; Éric Rohmer’s “Love in the Afternoon”; and Robert Altman’s “Nashville” — to those she didn’t, including Clint Eastwood’s “The Gauntlet.” “The only talent involved in this movie belongs to the agent who sold the script,” she wrote in 1978. “The sale price of $500,000 suggests genius.” KATHRYN SHATTUCK

June 6-23;

In the coming weeks, the conductor Bernard Labadie will oversee an impressive initiative for the finale of his debut season as music director of the Orchestra of St. Lukes’s: the first-ever OSL Bach Festival, a celebration of J.S. Bach’s music that includes orchestral and chamber concerts as well as dance performances. On Thursday, June 6, Labadie, a specialist in music of the Baroque and Classical eras, conducts the ensemble in an all-Bach program at Zankel Hall, featuring a mixture of vocal and instrumental works. Over the following days, the OSL will collaborate with the choreographer Paul Taylor and his company in presenting Taylor’s complete dances set to Bach’s music. And the festival continues for two more weeks, with highlights including the United States premiere of Labadie’s own orchestration of the Goldberg Variations. WILLIAM ROBIN

June 4-30,

“Is her majesty a socialist?” Margaret Thatcher asks her husband.

“I don’t think she’s an actual Bolshevik, old love,” he replies.

Still, in Moira Buffini’s Olivier Award-winning comedy “Handbagged,” Queen Elizabeth II isn’t exactly apolitical, either. Meeting weekly for private chats with the steely Thatcher, her prime minister, the queen emerges as by far the softer touch — a socially minded stealth ambassador who looks on international engagement, and her own subjects, with a kindly eye.

Set between 1979 and 1990, the years of Thatcher’s power, “Handbagged” traces the development of their odd-couple relationship. Like Peter Morgan’s “The Audience,” whose Elizabeth entertains a procession of prime ministers, Buffini’s play is a stroll through the past. But in this one, we glimpse the seeds of our own divided present. Directed by Indhu Rubasingham as part of the Brits Off Broadway festival, “Handbagged” starts previews on Tuesday at 59E59 Theaters in Manhattan. LAURA COLLINS-HUGHES

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