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Visit a Space #1: The Calder Bookshop and Theatre

While businesses are closed around Waterloo we want to bring you their work and promote their business through our digital festival. We're starting off our series with The Calder Bookshop and Theatre, an independent bookshop specialising in theatre, philosophy, and politics.

Here, Ana Drinovan has given us a great list of books to sink our teeth into during lockdown!


Time to rediscover Anton Chekhov. All of his plays speak of some sort of ending and rebirth, ideal for present circumstances. Chekhov insisted that all of his plays were comedies, and so they should be read with that in mind.

The Cherry Orchard

An aristocratic family is forced to get rid of their estate, which is soon to be transformed by a wealthy merchant into a holiday resort. Traditionally, the play has been seen as a piece of nostalgia about a dying world overrun by a prosaic establishment run by money.

The Moscow Arts Theatre production, which set a standard view of the play, depicted the merchant as a stereotypical nouveau riche. But Chekhov, who was the son of a merchant originating in servitude, clearly identifies with the character in the play, giving him great humanity. As Meyerhold stated, the common approach deprives Chekhov's play of its hero. Chekhov had faith in the coming new world.

Uncle Vanya

Chekhov believed in work as a form of redemption – again, a reaction against the idle dominant classes of his time in Russia. He wrote: 'If you work for the present moment, you'll be worthless. One must work bearing only the future in one's mind.' Why not reread the play bearing that in mind?


We're inundated with it every day if we are even vaguely connected to the internet, but that's because it is a network unto itself, supporting our lives whether we notice it or not. This is a robust time for analysing where that structure could do with some overhaul.

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein

The political and economic systems currently in place, promising growth and freedom, have historically been reliant on the shock of violence and the perversion of democracy. Klein is masterful at revealing the connections between the direst situations of our world today and the structures that have allowed them to come to pass.

And a spot of fiction

Escapism isn't quite the right word for it; rather, many of us are finding solace in the humour and pathos of stories that feel real, with a grounding in the struggles that we move through.

The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio

Plague sweeps Florence in the fourteenth century, and so seven young women and three young men decide to leave the city to seek a safe space and to tell each other stories. Each of them offers up a tale every day for ten days, and the range runs wild, from the tragic to the comic and the virtuous to the crass. For a book written seven hundred years ago, it very much carries the energy of an enthusiastic online group call that goes on for hours.

You can still order books from the Calder Bookshop and Theatre online.

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