Bored? There’s plenty in store for 2012

Our cultural correspondents give their tips on what to see at the start of this year

Michael Joyce, Film

To my eyes, 2011 was a year in which mainstream Hollywood blockbusters were more interesting than the art house fare and I think 2012 will be much the same. It’s a year packed with big superhero pieces as we get a new, English Spider-man and all those Marvel characters like Thor, Captain America and Iron Man gathering for the ensemble Avengers movie. But the one I’m most hoping will beat the end of the Mayan calendar or the collapse of the Euro is Christopher Nolan’s last Batman film The Dark Knight Rises. Of course what I am really looking forward to is any kind of surprise.

Michael White, Music

Locally, I’m looking forward to the Hampstead and Highgate Festival getting back into something like shape after the problems of the past year or so. The accumulated debts from 2010 are, I’m told, now settled and the hugely successful Stephen Kovacevich and Friends recital, which substituted for a festival proper in 2011, proved that there s an audience for international-quality concerts here in north-west London. So although the festival committee haven’t yet decided what they are doing for 2012, there will certainly be something and I just hope it’s a decisive step on the road to recovery. More broadly, I’m looking forward to John Adams’ controversial but captivating opera The Death Of Klinghoffer making its long overdue London stage premiere at ENO in February: a must-see. Some way off but ring-marked in my diary (because I’m running it), there’s a study day at Wigmore Hall based on the life and work of the late, great Hampstead singer Jennifer Vyvyan – September 29 for those who like to plan ahead.

Kate Agnew, Books

One children’s book I’m particularly looking forward to this year is The Secret Hen House Theatre by Helen Peters. This is an absolutely delightful first novel by a Muswell Hill-based author, which will be published by Nosy Crow in April. Astonishingly accomplished for a first novel, it is on one level an engaging story about a group of children determinedly staging a play in a disused old henhouse and, on another, a warm-hearted and compassionate account of a family coming to terms with loss. I enjoyed the proof so much that I read it in two sittings (to the detriment of my Christmas preparations!) and can’t wait to have copies in the shop to sell as I know it’s one our customers will love too. I’m also very much looking forward to getting a proof copy of the second novel by Sita Brahmachari, Jasmine Skies, whose first novel, Artichoke Hearts, was published to great critical acclaim last year.

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Alison Oldham, Art

What I am looking forward to is the exhibition Mondrian/Nicholson: In Parallel which opens at The Courtauld Gallery in Somerset House on the Strand in February. It will explore the creative relationship developed in the 30s by two innovative artists who believed that abstraction could offer an antidote to the discord of the modern world. The exhibition will focus on the two years from 1938 to 1940 when Mondrian lived and worked at 60 Parkhill Road, Hampstead. He came to London from Paris at Nicholson’s invitation and became part of the group of avant-garde artists then living in Hampstead – including Naum Gabo, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth – who contributed to London becoming, for a short period, an international centre for Modernist art. The exhibition promises to offer not only exhilarating paintings but insights into the two artists – including their mutual admiration for Walt Disney’s films!

Shyama Perera, Theatre

The must-see show of 2012 is Sweeney Todd. Jonathan Kent’s production brought audiences to their feet every night when it aired at Chichester’s Festival Theatre at the end of 2011. Visually stunning and musically sumptuous, it boasts extraordinary performances by the unlikely duo of Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton. Even those who don’t warm to Sondheim – and I am one – will celebrate this production as a rare and wonderful treat, which comes to the Adelphi Theatre in March.

Miriam Gillinson, Theatre

Hampstead Theatre will be looking to build on Edward Hall’s promising opening season, with Simon Stephens’ The Trial Of Ubu opening this month. A modern day version of Alfred Jarry’s 1986 play, about a megalomaniac monarch, this production should benefit from Katie Mitchell’s probing direction, Stephens’ textured lyricism and a whole host of puppets. Artistic director Nic Kent goes out with a bang at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn with The Bomb, a multi-authored examination of the nuclear bomb, running from February to April. The Barbican will host a theatrical dream team in March, when Simon McBurney and Complicite bring Bulgakov’s magical realism novel The Master And Margarita, to life. While April sees the launch of the headline grabbing, World Shakespeare Festival, which will see 37 international companies tackle an epic number of Shakespearean productions. That should lead us nicely to the biggest theatrical show of the year – The Olympic Opening Ceremony, in July, with Danny Boyle holding the torch for British culture.

Edward Thorpe, Dance

London audiences can look forward to a rich feast of dance in the New Year. Sadler’s Wells offers new programmes, many from foreign companies. They include Ivan Putrov’s Men In Motion this month – a celebration of the male dancer including stars from the Bolshoi and Maryinsky companies. Scottish Ballet bring their new production of A Streetcar Named Desire, based on Tennessee Williams’ play, in April and Rambert Dance Company revive Nijinsky’s 100-year-old L’Apre-midi d’un faune alongside a new take on the work entitled What Wild Ecstasy in May. English National Ballet return to the Coliseum with a tribute to Serge Diaghilev including a new production of The Firebird and new designs for MacMillan’s Rite Of Spring as well as Lifar’s Suite en Blanc in March and April. The Royal Ballet at Covent Garden presents the world premieres of new one-act works, as yet untitled, by Liam Scarlett and Wayne MacGergor in a triple bill in April and revive MacMillan’s modern fairy tale The Prince Of The Pagodas, based on John Cranko’s 1957 scenario and with the only ballet score written by Benjamin Britten, in June.