Composer Errollyn Wallen meets some of the artists working in places of conflict, violence and oppression around the world. She hears their personal testimonies and explores why art and music, poetry and drama can sometimes flourish in times and locations of danger and violence.
What use is art in a warzone, and what can these individuals and their work tell artists in more peaceful places about making art that helps us question and communicate?
Cartoonist and free improvisational trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj talks about his work during the 2006 Lebanon war and the problem of exoticising art from warzones. Journalist and poet Bejan Matur describes how living as a Kurd in southeastern Turkey has shaped her work. Actor and educator Ahmed Tobasi explains how Jenin's Freedom Theatre changed his life, and Mustafa Staiti discusses his work as artistic director of the city's new Fragments Theatre. Composer Matti Kovler explores the impact of his experiences in the Israeli Defence Forces during the Second Intifada.
Featuring music from Mazen Kerbaj and Richard Scott, The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians, AWA, Matti Kovler, Rotem Sherman and Suna Alan.
Image courtesy of Mazen Kerbaj.
Producer: Michael Umney
A Resonance production for BBC Radio 4.
Mums and Sons
The relationship between mothers and sons as depicted in the arts is complex and, as anyone familiar with Medea's story will attest, not always terribly positive.
As Lauren Laverne discovers, however, there are many examples of stories, films and dramas in which the love between mums and sons is very much celebrated, and as a mother of two boys herself, Lauren is very keen to unpick the particular facets of the relationship as depicted on page, stage and screen.
She meets Sophie Ellis Bextor, mother of four boys, and hears about carving out a space in which she can continue her career as a singer - even if that has meant at times recording songs with a baby in her arms.
Patrick Ness is the author of the novel 'A Monster Calls' and also wrote the screenplay for the successful film. He tells Lauren how the story, about a boy dealing with the imminent death of his mum from cancer, was originally conceived by another author, Siobhan Dowd, who died before getting chance to complete it.
Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear, a highly successful mother and son band from Kansas, talk about how they came to play together and the various upsides of being together on the road.
Finally, Lauren meets Jonathan Butterell and Dan Gillespie Sells, who helped create the West End hit 'Everybody's Talking About Jamie', the musical version of a true story about a teenage boy from County Durham who is determined to go to the school prom in a dress. The story appealed to both Jonathan and Dan because each of them recognised the 'fierce and open hearted relationship' they shared with their own mothers.
Presenter: Lauren Laverne
Producer: Geoff Bird.
Don't Panic! It's The Douglas Adams Papers
John Lloyd unearths the private papers of his friend and colleague Douglas Adams, and discovers more about the agonies he went through to write The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, forty years ago.
The papers, donated to St John's College, Cambridge University, include note books, ramblings, rants about how hard it is to write, unfinished scenes and passages never included in Douglas Adams' books.
John Lloyd co-wrote the first series of Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, which started on Radio 4 in 1978. He reveals that he and Douglas Adams had been commissioned to write the first novel together, following the success of the radio series, but Douglas decided to "give me the boot" and went on to write the books on his own. The novels have sold something in the region of 14 million copies.
Other contributors to the programmes include the original producer and now novelist Simon Brett; original cast members Simon Jones, Geoffrey McGivern and Mark Wing-Davey; and Paddy Kingsland of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
John also discusses how unpublished writings by Douglas Adams have just been used in a new series of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, about to be transmitted on Radio 4.
A Bite Media production for BBC Radio 4.
The Bald Truth
For thousands of years, bald men have been the subject of ridicule. As a result they've felt ashamed and have resorted to desperate measures to hide their condition. During the decades when hair style was a cultural battleground between youth and the establishment, the balding man was at the bottom of the heap. No prime minister since Clement Attlee has been bald. But increasingly, bald men are coming out of the closet and shaving their heads - and some women too. Research shows that bald men are perceived as less attractive but more dominant. Now that we are more relaxed about hair style, and more willing to tolerate tonsorial diversity, are bald men finally able to shed the stigma? And could the comb-over finally make a come back? Ian Marchant, who has shaved his head since the early 1980s, investigates.
Producer: Jolyon Jenkins.
The Art of Now - Greek Revival
As Athens struggles through what's been called a "forever crisis", the critic Alastair Sooke reports on the arts boom in Greece.
Culture is experiencing a moment of richness in debt-stricken Athens. In light of declining state support for the arts, young Athenians are taking matters into their own hands. They're benefitting from the city's cheap rents, generous studio spaces and its new galleries popping up in abandoned spaces.
Alastair explores the city, meeting a generation of artists coming to terms with a new Greece. ATH1281, one of the most prolific street artists in Athens, takes him on a graffiti tour, to explain how his murals provide a cutting commentary on modern Athenian life.
At the 2004 Olympic Park on the outskirts of town, many of the buildings are now derelict. Filmmaker Sofia Exarchou used this village as the setting for her award-winning feature film Park. Her collaborator, the musician The Boy (Alexander Voulgaris) also used the crisis as an artistic catalyst, writing and recording an entire album in one week, in response to the 2015 referendum.
When Documenta, one of the world's most influential art exhibitions, was held in Athens last year, Greece's resurgent arts scene was put on the international map. Alastair meets some of the British artists who have moved to Greece, including digital artist James Bridle and recent graduate Catriona Gallagher. What's it like to be a newcomer in a city brimming with new artist-run spaces? And what do they make of the idea that Athens is the "New Berlin" for the arts?
Produced by Paul Smith
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.