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Since 1st March, 1999
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Beijing bans Bard

Beijing, June 13: China’s Shakespeare Association and more than 60 other seemingly inoffensive academic and cultural groups have been banned by the Communist Party authorities in Beijing.

A list of newly illegal organisations appeared on the website of the civil affairs ministry with a note saying they had failed to fulfil “registration requirements”. “Effective immediately, no person is allowed to hold activities using the names of these groups,” the order said, threatening “serious punishment” for offenders.

Since its foundation by the Chinese dramatist Cao Yun in 1984, the Shakespeare Association has organised performances and academic conferences on his work and the problems in translating it. No specific reason was given for the bans, but it is thought that many of the groups had failed a tough registration clause demanding that they show assets of 100,000 yuan (£8,000).

Lillie’s love

London: A necklace given by the future Edward VII to his mistress, the actress Lillie Langtry, fetched almost £20,000 at Bonhams in London on Thursday. It is believed that Langtry wore the necklace on the opening night when she played Cleopatra at the Prince and Princess’ Theatre in London in 1890. The Victorian necklace set with coral, turquoise, moonstones and ancient amulets was later replaced by costume jewellery that could be seen more easily from a distance. The necklace was purchased by the then Prince of Wales, who succeeded to the throne in 1901, from royal jewellers Hancock’s, which bought it back at the auction.

Mobile talk

London: Almost half of mobile phone users prefer text messaging to talking, according to research published on Friday. Of 2,000 people questioned by the mobile insurance group CCP, 45 per cent said they used their phone only to send text messages. The figure is higher among under-25s, with more than eight in 10 saying they would rather send a text message than speak over the phone. Text messages have also transformed the way young people conduct their romantic affairs, with around a quarter of them using texts to flirt, and 17 per cent using texts to ask someone out.

Baz bombs

New York: Baz Luhrmann’s La Bohème, a daring attempt to bring grand opera to Broadway, will close this month after losing its backers £3.6 million. The Australian director’s version of the Puccini opera attracted rapturous reviews and a huge turnout of stars at its opening in December, but never drew the audiences needed to return a profit. Even before its premiere, Luhrmann, known for films such as Moulin Rouge and William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, called the experiment of putting classical opera sung in Italian on the New York stage “crazy”.

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