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Millions will watch Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral. Why the fascination? – The Washington Post

LONDON — She was Queen by the Grace of God. She was a granny. She was Defender of the Faith. With a stable full of racehorses. She was Queen of this Realm and many other realms. Who loved her nipping corgis and stood astride a century of cataclysmic history and a sprawling royal family notorious for its tabloid dysfunction.

The world is demonstrably fascinated by Queen Elizabeth II. Her funeral on Monday is expected to draw nearly 500 foreign dignitaries, with hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets to see her coffin pass by and many millions watching on television.

Why? What accounts for an outpouring of affection that has stunned even her most devoted courtiers?

No one is enthralled — to be honest, no offense — in the same way by the king of the Belgians, the sultan of Brunei, the emperor of Japan, Hereditary Prince Alois of Liechtenstein, or the so-called “bicycling royals” of northern Europe — interesting and colorful as they may be.

The BBC and the royal biographers — alongside the world leaders, British rappers and the public — have hit the repeat button in praise of Elizabeth’s duty, service, steadfastness.

But that alone can’t explain her transcendent appeal.

Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral service is Monday. Here’s how to watch.

Perhaps it’s because her long life allows people to pick which memories they want to embrace: the young queen, in the black-and-white movie star head shots of the 1950s; or the middle-aged, more matronly queen, struggling with her children’s divorces and scandals; or the “dear Grannie” era, suggested by Millennial Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice in statement Saturday, when she offered comfort and tea and kitsch against a world of dizzying change.

The queen was a TV show the whole family could agree to watch.

Forget the private jet and limo. Leaders relegated to buses for queen’s funeral.

Or maybe it’s this: She never quit. No ballplayer could best her record.

She served, she survived, the longest reign in Britain — and the second-longest reign of any monarch in the history of monarchs.

A queen from the Greatest Generation

Elizabeth’s tangible legacy is harder to pinpoint.

As a constitutional monarch, she did not build Britain’s postwar welfare state or create the National Health Service. She cut ribbons on new hospitals; she didn’t pay for them. Elizabeth was the head of the Armed Forces; she didn’t send British troops to war. She took pains not to say or do anything remotely political.

But she embodied a tireless work ethic that earned her admiration. Even the pope retired. The queen never did.

By royal yacht, by propeller plane, then jets, Elizabeth ceaselessly traveled the globe. The Telegraph newspaper counted 290 state visits to 117 different nations.

“We have to be seen to be believed,” the queen is quoted as saying, and it is remarkable that in interviews with people standing in the queue to view her coffin many recall her visits — to Nepal, Mexico, Iceland, Australia, Ethiopia, Japan, Oman, Norway, etc, etc.

Just two days before she died, at age 96, she ceremonially appointed her 15th prime minister.

Photos: The queen and her 15 prime ministers

That commitment harked back to the soldiering-on mentality of the Greatest Generation, to the good old days.

Elizabeth was the long-lived embodiment of those who endured the Blitz, defeated fascism, won the war. She was just a young princess during World War II, but she served on the home front, trained as a army driver and mechanic with the rank of Second Subaltern.

Was Queen Elizabeth II a feminist?

She kept calm and carried on and on.

Her funeral is drawing a global who’s who — showing again how the queen’s stature allowed Britain, an island nation that is the second largest economy in Europe, to consistently punch above its weight.

“Even in death, she’s still working, isn’t she?” mused Christopher Matthews, a cabbie in Edinburgh, when the queen’s coffin passed through the Scottish capital.

The queen of a shrinking empire

There’s clearly nostalgia at work, too. Elizabeth was a link to the past that bled into the present — connecting Winston Churchill to the Beatles to the internet age.

Of course, looking back also offers many reasons to dislike — even despise — the figures of the British monarchy, especially if you live in the former possessions, in the former colonies, in India, in Ireland, in the Caribbean.

In former British colonies, ghosts of past haunt mourning for queen

But unlike previous monarchs, this queen wasn’t conquering new lands. In the post-war years, the British Empire wasn’t expanding. It was shrinking.

The queen’s job was very different from her predecessors. “She’s the first one who comes to the throne with the writing on the wall that the reign is going to be about handing all this stuff back,” said Robert Hardman, a royal biographer.

“And you’ve got to get rid of it in a nice way, with a smile and a handshake, and try and keep everyone happy,” he said.

The result was the Commonwealth, a global club of 56 nations, 15 of which chose to keep the queen as their monarch. Some of those realms are now, following the death of Elizabeth, reassessing their relationships with the crown.

As Elizabeth gives way to Charles, realms consider severing ties

“Her Majesty was the anchor that held our country within the Commonwealth,” the prime minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape, wrote in a eulogy.

The Royal Family website declares that as head of the Commonwealth, she was a link “for more than two billion people worldwide.”

Fascination with royalty and all its trappings

As to why many Americans remain in thrall with the queen?

The short answer may be the popular Netflix series “The Crown.”

But all these years after revolting against the British monarchy? Boston Globe columnist Renée Graham was among those said she didn’t get it.

“The House of Windsor is beholden only to its own bloodlines and the absurd notion that their family has been divinely chosen to rule with the people as their subjects,” she said. “Until the queen’s death, I don’t think I realized how appealing that concept is to some Americans.”

For millions globally, the queen held another mystique — the fantasy of a glittering European dynasty, and the spell of real royalty. The House of Windsor has certainly swaddled itself in a History Channel come alive, with its “invention of tradition,” its bejeweled symbols and kitsch, of scepters, crowns, orbs, with the queen attended and guarded into the 21st century by ladies in waiting and yeoman warders from the Tower of London.

Unlike in the Netherlands, where royals get around by bike, the Windsors have always kept up appearances, rolling in Rolls Royces and Bentleys, Jaguars and Land Rovers.

The queen was known for frugality and unfussiness. But she was one of the richest people in Britain, and her royal estates, golden carriages, formal gardens and crown jewels suggested her grand station, and held the gaze of day dreamers and Hello magazine subscribers.

Who inherits the queen’s money? The secretive rules of royal wealth.

Artist Henry Ward, 51, describes meeting with the queen, in preparation to paint her portrait, as an almost mystical event.

At Windsor Castle, Ward said he was granted access to a yellow drawing room where she would she later sit for him in heavy regalia.

“Nothing can prepare you for the sort of the beauty of the place,” he said of Windsor. “I mean, you know, everything dripping with gold from floor to ceiling to window. Wonderful paintings by Gainsborough and Constable everywhere.”

Understanding the symbolism in the queen’s funeral processions

That paled, he said, to the woman herself.

The day of their meeting in 2015, he recalled, “she was diminutive in stature, you know, quite short. And yet, she was the biggest person I’ve ever met, like she had an almost palpable aura about her.”

Ward said, “you had to steel yourself” to focus on the work to be done: “Because it’s been said that heads of state and world leaders have been reduced to speechlessness when meeting her.”

A master image-maker

President Ronald Reagan made horseback riding with the queen a top priority during his 1982 tour of Europe, according to Foreign Office files. President Obama called her “truly one of my favorite people.”

Churchill, her first prime minister, had declared her the champion of the future. Boris Johnson was emotional in professing how her death punched him in the gut. He saw her when she accepted his resignation two days before she died, and he reported that she was “clearly not well,” but “bright” and “focused” and quoting statesmen from the 1950s.

But what the public knew about the queen was most often precisely what the royals wanted us to know.

The members of the House of Windsor — a line of the German House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, its name changed to convey Britishness amid anti-German sentiment in World War I — were the original influencers, who mostly embraced being celebrities, even as they shrank from the tabloid glare.

In the queen’s home movies, she was, essentially, doing Instagram before Instagram, a curated image. Happy kids on the lawn. A day in the countryside.

The images of the queen were micromanaged, designed to stir patriotism, convey a sense of national identity, and always to perpetuate a hereditary monarchy into the modern time.

From the queen’s home movies (she personally approved the release of hundreds of reels) to her star turns with Paddington Bear during her Platinum Jubilee or James Bond during the 2012 Olympics, what the public saw might be considered empire-building for hearts and minds.

The queen was wickedly funny, as James Bond and Paddington Bear found out

“Almost all royal ‘work’ is a staged photo opportunity,” said Hannah Yelin, senior lecturer in media and culture at Oxford Brookes University. “All of it is image management to manufacture consent for their continuation as an institution. Every single charity photo op is a reproduction of power. The queen was always acutely aware of this and adept at cultivating an image underpinned by concepts like ‘duty’ and ‘sacrifice.’”

Yelin added, “this is essential to diffuse public anger at the inequality the monarchy represents. As part of this, the queen has been a pioneer of public image management, understanding that the monarchy needed Twitter, then Instagram and then TikTok. These newer media platforms are at odds with the queen’s traditional stance of dignity and distance.”

The royal family’s TikTok account has 1.4 million followers.

End of carousel

Andrew Ross, 27, from Cambridge, was in the queue on the very first night possible to see the queen lying-in-state at Westminster Hall. He said the queen united families, “as a monarch over us for 70 years, me, my parents, my grandparents, my great grandparents, we all experience the same feeling.”

“She’s the world’s queen,” he added. “She’s incredibly special not only our small, wee country, but to the entire world.”

He suggested that her appeal was related to her inscrutable politics — that no one really knew what the queen thought.

What kind of monarch will King Charles III be? Different from his mum.

She entertained many leaders deemed controversial over the years. Visits from Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe’s all raised eyebrows at the time. Protesters launched a “Trump baby blimp” above London when President Trump arrived for his state visit.

The queen rolled out the red carpet for all.

“She was very welcoming even to leaders that most would say wouldn’t deserve it,” Ross said. “She showed complete grace and decorum to whomever she met.”

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Tom Hardy To Narrate Upcoming Sky Original Nature Series Predators – Sky Group

Image is available on SEAC

28 September 2022: Sky today announces that actor and producer Tom Hardy will narrate Sky Nature’s upcoming Sky Original series, PREDATORS.

The thrilling natural history series follows five apex predators face the ultimate test of survival in drastically changing environments across the globe. Marking Sky’s first co-production with Netflix, PREDATORS is produced by True to Nature and Sky Studios and will launch on Sky Nature and streaming service NOW in December 2022.

Trailer: Link here

Sky’s Director of Documentaries and Factual, Poppy Dixon, said: ‘This series celebrates some of the most exhilarating and impressive animals on earth, whilst recognising the impact of climate change on their lives and habitats. To bring PREDATORS to life with one of the UK’s most gifted and reputable talents, who has a passion for environmental causes, is a great pleasure.’

In this compelling new blue-chip nature series, five apex predators face the ultimate test to survive as their rapidly changing world impacts both their own lives and that of the wild kingdoms over which they rule. Those at the top are now being challenged. Territories are being redrawn and new relationships formed.

In this ever-shifting landscape, each predator must overcome new challenges and grasp new opportunities. For polar bears in Canada, wild dogs in Zimbabwe, pumas in Chile, lions in Botswana, and cheetahs in Tanzania, this is the ultimate power struggle. The stakes have never been higher – who will win and who will lose?

We follow the stories of these five apex predators at a critical moment in their lives as they attempt to secure the future for the next generation. Grappling with multiple responsibilities these are deadly hunters, caring parents, and cunning survivors who hold secrets and thrilling stories in their quest to survive.

As an Academy Award® nominated actor and producer, Tom Hardy has quickly become one of today’s most versatile and sought-after talents. He is best known for his leading roles in The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road and Legend, all of which led to him being honoured with the prestigious British Actor of the Year award by London Critics’ Circle in 2015. Over the years, Hardy has earned widespread acclaim and recognition from critics and audiences alike for his transformative performances and extensive range across film, television, and theatre.

In 2018, Hardy was awarded a CBE in recognition for his services to drama. Hardy currently serves as a Trustee for REORG Charity, a global non-profit organization that supports the mental health and well-being of veterans, active military and first responders. He also serves as an Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. In the past, Hardy also served as the President of Hari Budha Magar’s Gurkha Everest Expedition, as well as a Patron for Expedition 8848, which aimed to educate today’s youth on the effects of climate change and protecting the planet’s future.

The series was commissioned by Zai Bennett, Sky’s Managing Director of Content, and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual. Predators is executive produced by Wendy Darke. Showrunner for the series is Vanessa Coates and series director is Dan Smith. Produced by True to Nature and Sky Studios, in association with Netflix. The series is distributed by NBCUniversal Global Distribution on behalf of Sky Studios.

For further information please contact: Marina Forsythe / Patricia Deveer

About Sky 

Sky is Europe’s leading media and entertainment company and is proud to be part of the Comcast group. Across six countries, we connect our 23.4 million customers to the best entertainment, sports, news and arts including our own award-winning original content. Sky Nature is the home of breath-taking natural history programming and is dedicated to exploring the beauty and wonder of the natural world and inspiring us all to do more to look after it.

Our technology, including the market leading Sky Q, connects people to everything they love – with entertainment from Sky TV, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer, and apps like Spotify, YouTube, BBC Sounds, Highbrow, Peloton, Fiit, and more, in one place, easy. Our streaming service NOW brings viewers all the enjoyment of Sky with the flexibility of a contract-free service.

Through our new B2B broadband provider, Sky Connect, we offer superfast broadband with business-grade 4G back-up to small businesses in the UK.

Building on the success of Sky Originals like Chernobyl, Gangs of London and Brassic, we are doubling our investment in original content by 2024 through Sky Studios. Sky News provides impartial and trustworthy journalism for free, Sky Arts is the UK’s only dedicated free-to-air arts channel making the arts accessible for everyone and Sky Sports, our leading sports broadcasting service, brings customers some of the biggest and best global sporting events from the Premier League to Formula 1 and everything in-between. Our new TV and movie studio, Sky Studios Elstree, which will open in 2022, is expected to create over 2,000 new jobs and generate an additional £3 billion of production investment in the UK over the first five years.

We believe that we can be a force for good in the communities in which we operate. We’re committed to being Europe’s first net zero carbon entertainment company by 2030 and we’re proud to be a Principal Partner and Media Partner of COP26. We take pride in our approach to diversity and inclusion: we’ve been recognised by The Times and Stonewall for our commitment to diversity and we’ve set ambitious 2025 targets to continue to increase diversity and representation. We’re also committed to investing £30million across our markets over three years to improve our approach to diversity and inclusion, and to tackle racial injustice.

About NOW

NOW is the home of brilliant entertainment. Join in for the latest movies, critically acclaimed shows and biggest live sports on over 60 devices – including our app.

With a Cinema Membership, access the latest blockbusters and unmissable collections with over 1000 movies on demand.

With an Entertainment Membership, enjoy award-winning dramas and the best of HBO – plus Sky Originals and epic kids TV.

With a Sports Membership, stream all 11 Sky Sports channels including the Premier League, International Cricket, Formula 1, golf and more.

Members can also enjoy an upgraded experience with Boost – ad-free* streaming in VOD, Full HD and Surround Sound on up to three devices at once.

For super-fast broadband, enjoy a contract-free membership with Brilliant Broadband, Fab Fibre or Super Fibre.

*Ad-free excludes live channels and trailers promoting NOW content. Boost features available on selected content and devices only. See here for full details.

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High Point Theatre Proudly Presents: HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr – Yes! Weekly

Oct 7, 2022 – High Point Theatre Proudly Presents: 

HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr

– A True Story of Hollywood Glamour & Scientific Genius –

The 24x Award-Winning, Internationally Acclaimed NYC Play

Written & Performed by Heather Massie & the Hedy Lamarr Film Festival – Oct 4-6, 2022

High Point Theatre – High Point, NC – Oct 7, 2022

“Hedy Lamarr, glamorous siren of the silver screen, was more than ‘The Most Beautiful Woman in the World’. She invented Frequency-Hopping Spread Spectrum Technology that makes the world of wireless communication tick. From Austria to Hollywood, WWII, torpedoes, ecstasy, and intrigue to the very cell phone in your pocket, Hedy Lamarr is there!” 

Hedy Lamarr graphic_updated.jpg

High Point, NC High Point Theatre is proud to present the play HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr on Oct 7, 2022 in High Point, NC. Fresh off her tour of the show in South Africa and Egypt, Fulbright Specialist and New York City artist Heather Massie will deliver her 24x Award-Winning, Internationally Acclaimed New York City show. The show celebrates the unexpected scientific genius of Viennese-born Hollywood screen siren and inventor Hedy Lamarr. Known as the ‘Most Beautiful Woman in the World’, Lamarr defied expectation by inventing technology for torpedoes during WWII.  Also known as Frequency-Hopping Spread Spectrum Technology, her invention is used today in cell phones, WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth. Portraying 36 characters in this solo play, Massie enchants the audience as Hedy Lamarr, along with Jimmy Stewart, George Sanders, Louis B Mayer, and more! Hedy is summoned to unearth the truth behind how a glamorous actress could create an invention which launched today’s wireless technology revolution! The show’s mission is to inspire audiences to make the world a better place, especially to encourage young women in science and technology, and to establish Hedy Lamarr as a role model for intelligence, ingenuity, and invention

Playing Friday, October 7, 2022 @ 7:30PM (Doors Open @ 6:30 PM) for the 90 minute show, followed by a Q&A with artist and Fulbright Specialist Heather Massie. Tickets: $10-$15.

Tickets & Information Here:

(A 60 minute performance of the show for area schools will also be presented on Thursday, October 6 @ 10 AM – for information please contact High Point Theatre at (336)887-3001.) 

In conjunction with the performance of HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr on Oct 7, 2022, High Point Theatre is proud to present their inaugural classic film series, the Hedy Lamarr Film Festival from October 4-6, 2022. Film screenings will be at 7 PM (Doors Open at 6 PM) each evening. Tickets: $9.37.

Ecstasy – Tuesday, October 4 @ 7 PM –

Sampson & Delilah– Wednesday, October 5 @ 7 PM –

Ziegfeld Girl – Thursday, October 6 @ 7 PM –

Following each film there will be a Q&A/talkback with Heather Massie, Fulbright Scholar and the writer/performer of the HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr production on October 7.

(Descriptions of each film are included below.)

WHAT: HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr

WHO: Written & Performed by Fulbright Specialist Heather Massie

PRESENTED BY: High Point Theatre

WHEN: Friday, October 7, 2022 @ 7:30 PM (Doors Open @ 6:30 PM)

WHERE: High Point Theatre, 220 E. Commerce Ave., High Point, NC 27260

TICKETS: $10-$15


BOX OFFICE: (336)887-3001 – 12-5 PM, M-F


Show Blurb:

Hedy Lamarr, glamorous siren of the silver screen, was more than ‘The Most Beautiful Woman in the World’. She invented Frequency-Hopping Spread Spectrum Technology that makes the world of wireless communication tick. From Austria to Hollywood, WWII, torpedoes, ecstasy, and intrigue to the very cell phone in your pocket, Hedy Lamarr is there!

The Show:

HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr celebrates the unexpected scientific genius of Viennese-born Hollywood screen siren and inventor Hedy Lamarr. Known as the ‘Most Beautiful Woman in the World’, Lamarr defied expectation by inventing technology for torpedoes during WWII.  Also known as Frequency-Hopping Spread Spectrum Technology, her invention is used today in cell phones, WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth. Portraying 36 characters in this solo play, Massie enchants the audience as Hedy Lamarr, along with Jimmy Stewart, George Sanders, Louis B Mayer, and more! Hedy is summoned to unearth the truth behind how a glamorous actress could create an invention which launched today’s wireless technology revolution! The show premiered Off Broadway in 2016 on Theatre Row in New York City, and has since toured throughout the United States, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Egypt, Sweden, Ukraine, Italy, Iceland, and Finland, and virtually in Germany and Switzerland, garnering 24 awards and critical acclaim. Written and performed by Fulbright Specialist Heather Massie, its mission is to inspire audiences to make the world a better place, especially to encourage young women in science and technology, and to establish Hedy Lamarr as a role model for intelligence, ingenuity, and invention

The Performer:

Heather Massie Headshot scan Square.jpg

Having studied Astrophysics with dreams of becoming an astronaut, Heather Massie marries her loves of art and science in the person of Hedy Lamarr. She studied Astrophysics at the University of Virginia before studying Theatre Arts in the Virginia Tech School of the Arts and becoming a professional actress in NYC and throughout the US. She has toured the world with her show HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr garnering 24 awards and international critical acclaim. She brings the show to theatres, arts festivals, science festivals, science centers, technology conferences, museums, universities, schools, Jewish centers, STEM & STEAM Events, and cultural and scientific organizations throughout the United States and around the world.  In 2019 she served as a Fulbright Specialist with a tour of the show through South Africa sponsored by the US State Department, World Learning, and the US Embassy South Africa. 

High Point Theatre’s innaugural classic film series: The Hedy Lamarr Film Festival will feature October 4-6, 2022 at 7 PM (Doors Open 6 PM). Tickets: $9.37.

All screenings will be at High Point Theatre, 220 E. Commerce Ave., High Point, NC 27260. Following each film there will be a Q&A/talkback with Heather Massie, Fulbright Scholar and the writer/performer of the HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr production on Oct. 7.

Ecstasy – Tuesday, October 4 –

Come see what all the fuss was about in 1937 in this renowned but infamous art film shot in Prague. Banned by Hitler and denounced by the Pope, audiences of the day were enthralled by Hedy Lamarr in this film directed by Gustav Machatý.

Eva (Hedy Lamarr) has just gotten married to an older gentleman. She leaves him, and one day meets a young man and they fall in love. Fate brings the husband together with the young lover that has taken Eva from him.

As part of this art film night, the short film Ballet Mécanique will screen before Ecstasy. This is an avant-garde film by artist Fernand Léger. It has a musical score by the American composer George Antheil, who was Hedy Lamarr’s co-inventer of technology for torpedoes during WWII. Come learn how the concept of a player piano was key in their invention!

Sampson & Delilah – Wednesday, October 5 –

When strongman Samson (Victor Mature) rejects the love of the beautiful Philistine woman Delilah (Hedy Lamarr), she seeks vengeance that brings horrible consequences they both regret.

Samson and Delilah is the romantic biblical drama film produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille. It depicts the biblical story of Samson, a strongman whose secret lies in his uncut hair, and his love for Delilah, the woman who seduces him, discovers his secret, and then betrays him to the Philistines.  

Ziegfeld Girl – Thursday, October 6 –

In the 1920s, three women become performers in the renowned Broadway show the Ziegfeld Follies, where they find fame, love, and tragedy.

Ziegfeld Girl stars James Stewart, Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr, Lana Turner, Tony Martin, Jackie Cooper, Eve Arden, and Philip Dorn, and features musical numbers by Busby Berkeley.

HEDY! The Life and Inventions of Hedy Lamarr


“Captivating.”  –  The Huffington Post


“Effervescent” – Silicon Republic 

“Fascinating”  – Belfast Times

“Highly inventive”  – The Irish News

“Richly realized”  – Blogcritics Magazine 

“Highly entertaining”  – Splash Magazine

“Magnetic performance”  – Theater Scene

“Exceptionally talented”  – MD Theatre Guide

“Lively & enlightening” – Sarasota Herald-Tribune

“Remarkable”  – Theatre in the Now

“Gorgeous”  – Total Theater

24 Awards Including:

US Embassy Sweden Grant – Sweden

Mid Atlantic Arts – Turku, Finland

UMEZ – Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Grant – NYC

US Embassy Iceland Grant – Reykjavík, Iceland

The Maine Award – RVK Fringe, Reykjavík, Iceland 

Audience Choice – IndyFringe, Indiana

Sold Out Award – IndyFringe, Indiana

Fulbright Specialist South Africa

Best Performance – PRO.ACT Fest, Ukraine

Character Actor Award & Maine Award – RVK Fringe, Iceland

Oscar Award & Magna Cum Laude Award – PortFringe, Maine

Best Actress – Galway Fringe, Ireland

US Embassy Zimbabwe Grant – Intwasa Arts Festival, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

US Embassy Zimbabwe Grant – Harare International Festival of the Arts, Harare, Zimbabwe

Outstanding Performance – Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, NYC

Best Actress – SaraSolo Festival, Florida

Audience Choice – Shenandoah Fringe, Virginia

Festival Bestseller – United Solo Festival, NYC

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Berlusconi bounces back with return to Italy’s parliament – Newsday

Silvio Berlusconi

The Italian right-wing coalition’s resounding victory in Sunday’s general election marks a return to parliament for former premier Silvio Berlusconi, nine years after he was kicked out over a tax fraud conviction.

Berlusconi, who turns 86 on Thursday, won more than 50% of the votes in a Senate race in the northern constituency of Monza, where the billionaire owns a villa and the local soccer club, newly promoted to the Serie A top division.

“I’m going to try to act as playmaker in the (next) government,” Berlusconi told supporters after casting his vote, indicating his desire to stay in the political front-line despite his age and frail health.

Berlusconi had major heart surgery in 2016, became badly ill with COVID in 2020 and has been in and out of hospital over the last year with various ailments. He often slurs his words and appeared to have trouble walking at a Rome rally last week.

In parliament, he will be joined by his girlfriend, Marta Fascina, 32, who won a seat in Sicily. Fascina is set to take up a seat in the lower Chamber of Deputies, while Berlusconi was elected to the upper house, the Senate.

He will have to give up a seat in the European Parliament, which he won in 2019, as serving in both the Italian and EU assemblies is not allowed. Some have speculated he might seek the presidency of the Senate, despite his health worries.

In other high-profile races, hard-right leader Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy party and likely new prime minister, trounced rivals as she took more than 51% of the vote in the central constituency of l’Aquila.

The election seemingly ended the short, but fast-paced career of outgoing Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, who also has served as deputy prime minister, labour and industry minister over the last five years.

In the previous election in 2018, Di Maio led the populist Five Star Movement to a stunning victory, with around 33%. This time, he was defeated in a constituency contest in Naples, and his small breakaway party took less than 1% nationwide.

Defeat came despite some inventive campaigning, which

saw Di Maio re-enact a famous scene of the “Dirty Dancing” movie, with a group of pizza-makers lifting him up in a flying pose to the soundtrack of “Time of My Life”.

Emma Bonino, another former foreign minister and veteran civil rights campaigner, also missed out on re-election after losing in Rome, while Lazio soccer club’s colourful chairman, Claudio Lotito, was luckier.

Lotito, whose campaign pledges included a promise to “compensate” local team Campobasso for a 1987 third-division relegation at the hands of Lazio, won a Senate seat in the southern Molise region for Forza Italia, Berlusconi’s party.

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