ArtBeat: Race in theatre, The MAC in the mix for a top award, playing for peace and Eamonn Holmes v Phillip Schofield

Jane Hardy on the Tambo & Bones controversy; The Mac is shortlisted for a top award; and Eamonn Holmes lets rip on the Phillip Schofield affair

Phillip Schofield's woes deepened when Eamonn Holmes shared his firm views about the disgraced former This Morning presenter
Jane Hardy

A real controversy surfaced when The Theatre Royal, Stratford East, London, decided to ban white audience members from one performance of a race satire, Tambo & Bones. The management said it would be “free from the white gaze”.

But can this audience apartheid work, and is it fair? Actually, I get it. So men might be barred from David Hare’s great play Slag which considers a feminist response to sexism in an all-female world. And straights would be barred from Paul McVeigh’s wonderful gay love story, The Big Man, which was at The Lyric last year.


Paul McVeigh, writer of The Big Man. Picture by John Minihan


McVeigh comments: “Initially, I thought no, we don’t want to exclude anyone, but it’s an interesting question. And if I’d written Big Man for an exclusively gay audience, it would have been different, using a shorthand.” A safe space for those who understand the topic from personal experience might add something. Some theatre people I approached weren’t keen to comment – maybe we do live in a tofu-eating woke society after all, and race and gender are now almost beyond discussion.


Three cheers for The MAC, our wonderful arts centre that has just been shortlisted for the important Art Fund Museum of the Year award (up against big boys like the V&A and The Natural History Museum). The MAC’s art curator Hugh Mulholland says: "From the very beginning, we wanted to enable viewers here to see work they’d otherwise have to travel to enjoy.

"So we’ve had shows by Gilbert and George, David Hockney and Alfred Wallis. But we also want to show the best of local talent, such as the artist Louise Wallace whose Midnight Feast exhibition is currently on.”


The MAC, Belfast


Look out for work by top Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai later in the year and a fascinating show about the role of flowers in art, I See His Blood on the Rose, with work from the Ashmolean Museum Collection, Oxford.


The concept of winners and losers has become deeply unfashionable. Even Bargain Hunt now has winners and runners up. So what about extending this to the most black and white human activity, sport?


Play 4 Peace takes place on June 15


Artist Emily Bisgaard, now based in Belfast, has introduced the novel idea of a three-sided football game in her Play 4 Peace. She introduced the no winners version, inspired by Danish situationist Asger Jorn, and got together a diverse mix of players. Mark Ervine, muralist and son of David, Jack Dowling from Antrim GAA, former Ulster player Niall Conlon, plus a decent mix of Catholics and Protestants. If you want to see how this works, head for The Shankill Mission at 4.30pm on June 15.


Finally, Eamonn Holmes made a good initial comment on the Phillip Schofield/This Morning debacle which saw the presenter quit suddenly after revelations about an affair with a much younger male colleague.


Eamonn Holmes


Schofield was finally being seen for who he was, said Holmes, who added that ITV bosses were also to blame for not addressing a potential abuse of power. Safe to say Holmes and Schofield are off each others' Christmas card lists...