Blog Post, Blog Tour, Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood Live in Conversation about The Testaments

Today, I’m thrilled to be sharing some exciting news about an upcoming project in support of the release of Margaret Atwood’s THE TESTAMENTS, a long-awaited sequel to the incredibly popular and disturbing THE HANDMAID’S TALE. Many thanks to the publicists for including me in the process.

Have you read THE HANDMAID’S TALE? I know you will be as excited about this event as I am! 

Toronto, ON, March 7, 2019 – Fane Productions presents Margaret Atwood live on stage and in cinemas on Tuesday, September 10th in celebration of the global publication of The Testaments, Atwood’s highly anticipated sequel to her seminal work, The Handmaid’s Tale.

Margaret Atwood: Live in Cinemas will be broadcast to over 1,000 cinemas across the globe, including cinemas throughout the US, UK and Canada, with delayed screenings planned in Australia and New Zealand. Filmed live from the National Theatre in London, BBC journalist and New York Times best-selling author Samira Ahmed will interview Atwood about her remarkable career, her diverse range of works and why she has returned to her handmaid story, 34 years later. The event, presented in partnership with Equality Now, will include a number of special guests to be announced later this year.

Margaret Atwood: Live in Cinemas will be broadcast to Cineplex cinemas across Canada.

Cinema tickets go on sale Friday, March 8 at 10AM ET at http://www.margaretatwoodlive.com.

Margaret Atwood says: “I am delighted that the launch of The Testaments will take place not only in London on September 10th, but also by live-streaming to over 1000 cinemas around the world. I can’t be in all the places at once in my analogue body, but I look forward to being with so many readers via the big screen.”

Alex Fane says: “We are thrilled to announce the continuation of our relationship with Margaret. To launch her new novel on an unprecedented global scale feels like a fitting gesture for such an innovative author whose work speaks to so many.”

The publication of Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985 and the current, Emmy Award-winning television series have created a cultural phenomenon, as handmaids have become a symbol of women’s rights and a protest of misogyny and oppression. In this brilliant sequel, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades. When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead. Margaret Atwood’s sequel The Testaments picks up the story fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

‘Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.’ – Margaret Atwood

The Testaments will be published by Penguin Random House and will be released on September 10, 2019.

Fane Productions’ live cinema broadcast is Executive Produced by David Sabel, the creator of National Theatre Live, with BY Experience, the New York based event cinema pioneer, global distribution representative of The Met: Live in HD and the global (ex-UK) distributor of National Theatre Live, distributing to cinemas, ex-UK. UK cinema distribution by National Theatre Live.

Women’s rights, female empowerment and resistance are at the core of Atwood’s story and in partnership with Equality Now these events will take on the issues faced by women in today’s world with vivid imagination and unflinching clarity.

“Equality Now uses a combination of national, regional and international human rights law to secure justice for survivors of discrimination and violence, to hold governments accountable for their promises, and to bring local issues to the attention of human rights bodies. Margaret Atwood’s work has had a huge impact on bringing attention to our cause and we are privileged to be partnering with her on these events.” – Yasmeen Hassan, Global Executive Director, Equality Now

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. Her novels include Cat’s Eye, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin and The MaddAddam Trilogy. Her 1985 classic The Handmaid’s Tale went back into the bestseller charts with the election of Donald Trump, when the Handmaids became a symbol of resistance against him; and the 2017 release of the award-winning Channel 4 TV series. Sales of the English language edition have now topped 8 million copies worldwide. Atwood has won numerous awards including the Booker Prize, the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Imagination in Service to Society, the Franz Kafka Prize, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade and the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award. She has also worked as a cartoonist, illustrator, librettist, playwright and puppeteer. She lives in Toronto, Canada.

http://www.margaretatwoodlive.com

For more information, interviews or photos, please contact:

Touchwood PR (for Cineplex) Keira Hunt
Publicist
P: 416-593-0777 X 210

E: keira@touchwoodpr.com

Cineplex
Tiana McPhee
Associate, Communications and Investor Relations
P: 416-323-7479
E: tiana.mcphee@cineplex.com

ABOUT FANE PRODUCTIONS

Fane Productions specializes in the production of bespoke live events for leading talent. We work with a diverse range of artists at the top of their respective professions, for whom live work adds an exciting dimension to their principal careers, whilst also acting as agents for other live work such as corporate bookings and keynotes. An innovative and collaborative company, Fane Productions work alongside agents, publishers and producers with a focus on creating dynamic live platforms to present and promote both the client and their work; be that a book, TV series, podcast or other venture. Over 350,000 tickets were sold in its first two years through events with the likes of John le Carré, Margaret Atwood, Nigella Lawson, Dolly Alderton, Stacey Dooley and Grayson Perry. Our programming team run the Sunday nights at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, as well as putting on over 800 shows per year at central London venue, Crazy Coqs, with a mix of music, theatre, cabaret, comedy and literary events in one extraordinary 80 seat venue. Words Weekend – our own take on a literary festival – was launched in November 2018 and the first three festivals will take place at Sage Gateshead, The Lowry in Salford and Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. In December 2018 Fane Productions acquired JHI Ltd, a creative marketing company who provide services for live theatre events, both nationally and on an international platform.

ABOUT BY EXPERIENCE

BY Experience, the “live cinema event powerhouse” (Variety) is “in the business of breaking through the barriers posed both by time limitations and space” (Fast Company”). BY Experience pioneered the digital revolution of live events to movie theaters and other locations globally with David Bowie’s 2003 Reality album launch and since then, millions of tickets have been sold worldwide for cinema events BY Experience has distributed globally. Current cinema series credits: Distribution Representative, The Met: Live in HD (Worldwide; since 2006), the UK’s National Theatre Live (ex-UK; since 2009), Bolshoi Ballet (North America; since 2014), Stratford Festival on Film (U.S. 2019) and Great Art on Screen (U.S. 2019). BY Experience has executive produced and/or distributed several diverse programs for cinema including numerous rock concerts, radio programs, fine art exhibits, major studio anniversary events, faith programs, spoken word, and other events. BY Experience distributes to over 75 countries, to over 3,000 movie screens. http://www.byexperience.net.

ABOUT EQUALITY NOW

Equality Now is an international human rights organization that works to protect and promote the rights of women and girls around the world by combining grassroots activism with international, regional and national legal advocacy. It’s international network of lawyers, activists, and supporters achieve legal and systemic change by holding governments responsible for enacting and enforcing laws and policies that end legal inequality, sex trafficking, sexual violence, and harmful practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation. For more information go to http://www.equalitynow.org.

ABOUT CINEPLEX EVENTS

Cineplex Events brings unique world-class entertainment to theatres across Canada and provides guests with a front-row seat and backstage access. Presented in high-definition with digital surround sound, communities large and small can experience the best in original one-night only and series- based programming from around the globe. Programming includes The Met: Live in HD, Exhibition on Screen, Stratford Festival HD and National Theatre Live, in addition to Broadway productions, concerts, eSports and documentaries. More information is available at Cineplex.com/Events.

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1001 Books, 2012 Challenges, 2012 TBR Challenge, Book Review, Dystopia, Fiction, Literature, Margaret Atwood, Religion, Sociology

Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Final Verdict: 3.75 out of 4.0

YTD: 04 


Plot/Story:
4 – Plot/Story is interesting/believable and impactful (socially, academically, etc.)

The Handmaid’s Tale is a rather terrifying vision of an America wherein the government has fallen to religious (Christian) extremists, and society is forced to regress to puritanical social and cultural constructs.  First, women are forced out of their jobs.  Then, their bank accounts are frozen and their funds accessible only by their husbands or male next of kin.  Soon, women, non-believers, and sinners are being rounded up and sorted out – either to fulfill various “roles” in the new society or to be exterminated as examples of “justice” being served for violators of God’s laws.  The Jews are shipped out of America or killed.  Children birthed out-of-wedlock or born to parents who are in their second or third marriages (and, thus, unrecognized by the Church) are stolen from their parents and subjected to early indoctrination.  Offred, the main character, is a Handmaid.  She is hunted down, separated from her husband and daughter, and mercifully “allowed” the chance to serve God’s purpose, by becoming a live-in sexual servant to a Commander – one of the new society’s highest leaders.  All women are subjects, after all, and their primary purpose is to serve their men by giving birth to children (and births have declined rapidly due to toxins in the air, water, etc.).  Offred must accept, or die. But, beneath all tyrannical regimes there exists small rays of hope – freedom fighters and subversives, working slowly, quietly toward change.  Will Offred live the remainder of her life – however long or short that may be- in full service of her Commander and the will of the new regime?  Will she be tormented by echoes of the past – memories best forgotten and certainly left unsaid?  Or will she find a way out, after all? 


Characterization:
3 – Characters well developed.

The world Atwood has created in The Handmaid’s Tale is by far the most important character in it.  The plot is executed in such a way as to lend a feeling of suspense and mystery to the novel, an accomplishment which makes the book simultaneously more than just “literature” and more than just “entertaining.”  This is accomplished primarily because of the slow development of the story’s primary character, which is the world itself – the religious regime and the cloistered, domineering social structure.  They are living, breathing elements of the book – just as much as Offred, Ofwarren, the Commander, or any other character within it.  That being said, the story itself is so powerful and commanding, that it allows less room for growth and development of the traditional characters.  While there are certain changes to watch for, primarily in Offred, the Commander, Nick, and Ofwarren (and, also in Offred’s relationships with each of these characters, which also change and develop slowly, in different ways, throughout the course of the novel), the back stories of many of the characters are left untold – hinted at, but never completely explained.  This is one of those books where one might wish it had been another 50 or 100 pages long, simply to allow for more character development and interaction.  What exactly happened with Serena Joy, for example?  Or, how are Rita and Cora different – what does it mean that one is always smiling and tender, while the other is guarded and gruff?  So much, including the ending, must be guessed, assumed, inferred – this does add to the mystery of the story and allows for personal interpretation but, personally, I would have loved just a bit more guidance and clarity.  Small complaints, really, for what turns out to be an incredibly engaging read.  


Prose/Style:
4 – Extraordinary Prose/Style, enhancing the Story.

Atwood creates a style of prose – a type of narration – which was completely new to me, and highly appropriate to the conditions in which the narrator lives.  Most of the book is narrated in such a way as to depict not just internal monologue, but a person who spends time speaking to herself.  This makes sense, considering the fact that most Handmaids had few, if any, people they could speak openly with – but how Atwood actually manages to physically narrate in such a way as to give the reader the impression of a narrator who is talking to herself, without expressly mentioning it, is beyond me.  Still, she absolutely does it.  The exceptions to this style are found in the form of brief moments of dialogue and in the epilogue.  Speaking of the epilogue – this turns out to be a transcript of a speech given at a “Gileadean Symposium.”  It is a section at the end that I almost skipped because it was labeled “Historical Notes” – just another example of Atwood’s cleverness.  To get full appreciation for the story, be sure not to miss this last section of the book! 


Additional Elements: Setting, Symbols/Motifs, Resolution, etc.
4 – Additional elements improve and advance the story.

There are so many reasons to love this book:  the language and the prose; the setting – familiar but so changed; the mystery and suspense; the humor.  The best of all these, though, the reason to truly love this book, is because of the story itself.  It is terrifying in theory and would be equally terrifying in practice (allowing one’s self to admit that such practices did exist, largely, and still do exist, in certain communities, makes the sting even sharper).  Also adding to the intrigue is the understanding that societal changes such as this one are not too difficult to imagine.  How many times in the history of humankind have we witnessed the seemingly rapid rise of brutal dictatorships?  How quickly are we “re-educated” – turning in neighbors, friends, co-workers for their transgressions, in hopes of keeping ourselves, our families safe?  The situation described in The Handmaid’s Tale can be compared effortlessly to that of Nazi Germany – the treatment of the Jews, the gays, the “others.”  It is larger than that, though – there is a deep, dark element of human nature being explored here; something that is more than just racism or sexism or any form of bigotry or dominance.  It is the nature of fear and power.  What really controls us?  How can we be made to do things we would never, in our right minds, consider doing?  Fear and power.


Suggested Reading for:
Age Level: High School+
Interest:  Dystopian Society, Religion, Social Constructs, Power, Male/Female Dynamic, Fear.

Notable Quotes:

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum – Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

“Newspapers were censored and some were closed down, f or security reasons they said.  The road-blocks began to appear, and Identipasses.  Everyone approved of that, since it was obvious you couldn’t be too careful. “

“She is a flag on a hilltop, showing what can still be done: we too can be saved.”

“There is something reassuring about the toilets.  Bodily functions at least remain democratic.  Everybody shits, as Moira would say.”

“Better never means better for everyone, he says.  It always means worse for some.”

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