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‘Theatre Plays on British Television’ conference programme, 19 October 2012

We are delighted to announce the confirmed papers and panels for the Theatre Plays on British Television conference, the first conference arising from the Screen Plays research project to take place at the University of Westminster on 19 October 2012. Continue reading

Stage 2: The Duchess of Malfi (BBC, 1972)

Playing at London’s The Old Vic until 9 June is a splendid staging by director Jamie Lloyd of John Webster’s great Jacobean tragedy. Forty years ago director James MacTaggart made a distinguished version of the play for BBC Television that is available in thirteen parts on YouTube (although it is missing the end credits) – and it is this recording that is the subject of my post. Shooting on videotape on location at Chastleton House, MacTaggart achieves a fluid and compelling production that is entirely credible (far from easy through the second-half bloodbath). Among its strengths are a stately but vibrant performance by Eileen Atkins as the Duchess and some truly remarkable chiaroscuro camera work. Continue reading

Greek plays: Oedipus at Colonus, part 2 of The Theban Plays (BBC, 1986)

This is the second of three posts on The Theban Plays, a trilogy of Sophocles’ tragedies Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone, directed by Don Taylor, which was broadcast on BBC2 over three evenings of one week in September 1986 (and all three are available on YouTube). Oedipus at Colonus is, in some ways, a play constructed on a more accessible scale than Oedipus the King and this production features some fine performances – notably, from Anthony Quayle as Oedipus and Julliet Stevenson as Antigone. Continue reading

Beyond the boundaries: intermedial ideas in Paris

Paris, you will be delighted to know, looked gorgeous in the spring sunshine over the past two days. Not, of course, that I saw much of the city, because I was attending the colloquium Théâtre au cinéma / cinéma au théâtre: aires culturelles francophones et anglophones at which I was presenting a paper. This was the first conference in 2012 at which Screen Plays was represented – but there are plenty more to come in the year, including the Classical Association Annual Conference and the Performance and Television Space Conference, both in April, the International Screen Studies Conference at the end of June and our own one-day event on 19 October (further details of which will be available soon). Continue reading

Greek plays: Oedipus the King, part 1 of The Theban Plays (BBC, 1986)

The Theban Plays, a trilogy of Sophocles’ tragedies Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone, was broadcast on BBC2 over three evenings of one week in September 1986 (and all three are available on YouTube). The plays were translated and directed by Don Taylor who would, four years later in 1990, turn to Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis which is, to the best of my knowledge, the last Greek tragedy to be produced on British television. My work on these four Don Taylor productions will form the last chapter of my Greeks on Screen case study. In this first post, I tackle Oedipus the King. Continue reading

Othello (BBC, 1955)

The 1955 BBC production of Othello directed by Tony Richardson is the earliest extant British television Shakespeare. Yet to date there has been comparatively little critical discussion of the show, in large part because it has remained almost unseen across nearly sixty years. The quality of the BBC’s recording is far from perfect, with the early scenes in particular being dark and lacking sharpness (there is also an unmotivated shift away from a lighter image in Act IV Scene 1), but it is unquestionably watchable enough to reveal a richly interesting and often compelling production. Continue reading