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The Angry Gods, comprising Iphigenia at Aulis, Oresteia and The Winter’s Tale (A-R for ITV Schools, 1961)

I’ve been slowly working up my second case study for Screen Plays which concerns stage plays produced on television in educational contexts. Recently I’ve been continuing my research into The Open University’s A307 Drama distance-learning course which was transmitted on television each year for five years from 1977: there were sixteen productions in all; I’ve … Continue reading

Julius Caesar (BBC Schools, 1960)

Before I viewed this schools production of Shakespeare’s political drama, my (uninformed) sense was that such dramas made specifically for classroom viewing were under-funded and by and large unimaginative. But that is far from the case with this intelligent, pacey, handsomely shot modern dress production. Indeed, Ronald Eyre’s 1960 staging achieves a good deal more than either the BBC’s comparatively conventional studio production in togas of the previous year or the 1964 outside broadcast of the National Youth Theatre’s ‘teddy boy’ Julius Caesar. Continue reading

Greek Plays on the Small Screen symposium, 22 June 2012

In order to draw together the threads of the BFI season titled Classics on TV Greek Plays on the Small Screen, we have organised an afternoon symposium at the University of Westminster to include five papers, an interview with a practitioner and a previously unseen early 1960s BBC Schools Television programme on Greek tragedy. Continue reading

Julius Caesar (BBC, 1959)

As my post rounding-up the BBC productions of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar details, there were two full-length productions of the play before the 1959 presentation and there have been five more since. In a memo titled ‘Promotion’ circulated at the Corporation just before the 5 May 1959 transmission of Stuart Burge’s production, Assistant Head of Drama, Television, Norman Rutherford noted that the previous presentation had been back in 1951, and therefore ‘this will be the first production since the BBC covered the country with its network.’ Burge’s production is also the earliest one for which there exists a telerecording, which was achieved by 16mm filming of the live broadcast from two studio monitors. Continue reading

‘A television experiment’: the Teddington Theatre Club’s Noah (BBC, 1966)

In Everyman and His Theatre: A Study of the Purpose and Function of the Amateur Society Today, published in London in 1968, the theatre director, writer and lecturer Adrian Rendle (c. 1928-1988) discuss in detail his involvement as the presenter of the BBC Television series Making a Play which considered the typical problems faced by amateur groups. This series, produced by Victor Poole for the Further Education Department and transmitted on Saturday mornings, focused on the Teddington Theatre Club’s production of André Obey’s Noah. Over eleven programmes viewers learnt about casting, budgeting, make-up, lighting etc. Two programmes followed rehearsals and the final programme offered a twenty-minute extract from the dress rehearsal of the play. Continue reading

Julius Caesar (National Youth Theatre/BBC, 1964)

On Saturday the location filming of the RSC’s new production of Julius Caesar wrapped ten minutes ahead of schedule with every scene that we had hoped for in the (digital) can. I am producing this film with Illuminations for the BBC, and when it airs in the summer it will be the ninth full-length BBC production of Shakespeare’s play. An earlier post considered what we can know of the earliest, produced in 1938 by Dallas Bower and transmitted live, and now I intend to write about each of the six extant recordings. Today’s post is about a outside broadcast in 1964 from the Ashcroft Theatre, Croydon of the National Youth Theatre’s modern-dress Julius Caesar. Continue reading

‘Classics on TV: Greek Tragedy on the Small Screen’, a BFI season + Screen Plays symposium, June 2012

Screen Plays is delighted to announce a June 2012 season of screenings at BFI Southbank of rarely before seen television productions of theatre plays. These productions – nine Greek tragedies plus one quasi-satyr play – offer a fascinating range of approaches to the foundational plays of Western drama and the screen presentation of ancient Greece. The season, curated by Amanda Wrigley, illuminates the richly interesting variety of ways that British television has experimented with capturing the force of these ancient tales on the small screen from the late 1950s to 1990. Continue reading

Emitron camera at Alexandra Palace