Were it not for unforeseen circumstances, today would have marked the halfway point of the Screen Plays research project. We are at the end of the eighteenth month of what was originally a three-year project. But thrillingly my colleague on the project Dr Amanda Wrigley is pregnant with twins, who are due in the middle of February. (Congratulations once more, and warmest best wishes for this, to her and her husband Dez.) So the Arts and Humanities Research Council, along with the University of Westminster, have extended the project (on the same budget as before, of course) for a further nine months, and so we will now run into early 2015.
We feel that the project is proceeding well. We held our first conference in October, and in June Amanda curated a series of screenings of Greek drama on television at BFI Southbank, and this was accompanied with a symposium. We have contributed to several major conferences and given research seminars and other lectures. The blog remains lively, with this being the 151st post and November being the second most-popular month with exactly 3,000 page views. We are developing plans for two books to emerge from the project. Most importantly of all, our database of information about all productions of theatre plays on British television, is already populated with some 400 productions (and we are very grateful to our distinguished Advisory Board for their invaluable advice about this at a recent meeting). But of course there is still a great deal to do in the next eighteen (plus nine) months.
To mark this moment, I thought it might be interesting to detail which of the 150 previous posts have proved to be the most popular with readers. The list, with links, is below – and interestingly, apart from the remarkably successful post about Macbeth from the BBC and The Open University in 1977, all of them are part of Amanda’s work on Greek drama on television. Do please sample one or two that you might have missed – and join us for the remainder of what we intend will be an engaging and informative ‘second half’ for Screen Plays.
- A307 Drama: Macbeth (BBC / The Open University, 1977) (3,654 page views): a discussion of Shakespeare’s play produced for The Open University’s A307 Drama course; Corin Redgrave and Ann Bell are the murderous couple in Paul Kafno’s adaptation.
- Greek plays: Oedipus the King (BBC / The Open University, 1977) (2,110): Richard Callanan’s production was also made for the A307 Drama course, and stars Patrick Stewart in the title role and Rosalie Crutchley as Jocasta.
- Greek plays: the National Theatre’s The Oresteia (Channel 4, 1983) (1,904): Channel 4’s transmission of Aeschylus’ Oresteia trilogy in 1983 was a televised version of the National Theatre’s 1981 all-male production directed by Peter Hall.
- Greeks on screen (1,250): from 13 June 2011, this is Amanda’s introductory post to her case study about Greek plays on television.
- Greek plays: Antigone, part 3 of The Theban Plays (BBC, 1986) (920): 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; the plays were translated and directed by Don Taylor.
- Greek plays: Lysistrata (BBC, 1964) (673): no recording exists of this adaptation of Aristophanes comedy but as the post demonstrates a good deal can be gleaned from the fairly substantial production file at the BBC’s Written Archives Centre.
- Greek plays: The Serpent Son (BBC, 1979) (667): an impressive cast including Diana Rigg in a ‘sci-fi’ Aeschylus, with remarkable sets and costumes and extensive use of video effects by director Bill Hays.
- Greek plays: Oedipus the King, part 1 of The Theban Plays (BBC, 1986) (572): Amanda’s verdict was that this Don Taylor production (see above) brought Sophocles out of the theatre and onto television but without an energetic attempt to think through what television could bring to Sophocles
- Greek plays: Women of Troy (BBC, 1958) (566): broadcast as part of the Television World Theatre series, this production starring Catherine Lacey as the Trojan queen Helen exists only as an eighteen-minute extract (which was itself the subject of a separate post here).
- Greek plays: Sophocles’ Electra (A-R for ITV, 1962) (513): this post is about probably Screen Plays’ most remarkable ‘discovery’ – a production of Sophocles’ Electra in Greek given in primetime on ITV with no subtitles; this was a television version of Dimitris Rondiris’ internationally touring stage production with the Peiraïkon Theatron company.