archives

Aeschylus

This tag is associated with 8 posts

End of part one

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, and so the project will be extended into early 2015. 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. Continue reading

Classics on TV: BFI Southbank programme, 23 June 2012

Today sees the fourth programme in the five-night Screen Plays season Classics on TV: Greek Tragedy on the Small Screen at BFI Southbank. This afternoon and evening we will see The Oresteia, the Channel 4 version of the landmark 1981 National Theatre production of Aeschylus’ trilogy directed by Peter Hall. (No tickets for the 3.50pm showing are available via the BFI website but it may be worth getting on the standby list in case some become available immediately before the performance.) Following the earlier screenings we tried an experiment, inviting anyone who was at the screening to contribute their thoughts about the programme on this blog. That experiment has been really successful, and so we will continue it for the two remaining screenings. Any and all responses would be welcome, however brief – and John Wyver and I will also be offering some further thoughts. Continue reading

Classics on TV: BFI Southbank programme, 19 June 2012

Tonight sees the third programme in the five-night Screen Plays season Classics on TV: Greek Tragedy on the Small Screen at BFI Southbank. No tickets for the 6.10pm showing are available via the website but it may be worth getting on the standby list in case some become available immediately before the performance. Tonight’s screening is of Agamemnon, the first part of the 1979 BBC Television version of Aeschylus’ Oresteia ​trilogy which was transmitted under the title The Serpent Son, followed by the original, quasi-satyr play Of Mycenae and Men. Following the earlier two screenings on 7 and 13 June we tried an experiment, inviting anyone who was at the screening to contribute their thoughts about the programme on this blog. That experiment was really successful, and so we will continue it for further screenings. Any and all responses would be welcome, however brief – and John Wyver and I will also be offering some further thoughts. Continue reading

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

Greek plays: the National Theatre’s The Oresteia (Channel 4, 1983)

Twenty or so years after ITV transmitted a production of Sophocles’ Electra in modern Greek and — astonishingly — without subtitles (about which I wrote a blog piece here), the second of the two known reconfigurations of theatre productions of Greek drama for British television was transmitted by Channel 4, less than a year after the network was established. Whereas the modern Greek Electra had posed a linguistic challenge for the audience in 1962, Channel 4’s transmission of Aeschylus’ Oresteia trilogy in 1983 — a televised version of the National Theatre’s 1981 all-male production directed by Peter Hall — was challenging in terms of its sheer length, for it ran over a 4½-hour slot on the evening of Sunday 9 October. In this long blog piece, I consider the other programmes which accompanied this viewing marathon, before going on to contextualise the production of Agamemnon, the first play in the trilogy, in terms of its place in Channel 4’s cultural programming schedule, think through some of the aesthetic effects of the production’s translation to the small screen and, finally, consider the contemporary critical response to the production. Continue reading

Postscript to The Serpent Son: Of Mycenae and Men (BBC, 1979)

The 1979 BBC three-part production of The Serpent Son — Frederic Raphael and Kenneth McLeish’s translation of Aeschylus’ Oresteia trilogy — which I posted about recently was followed by a ‘sophisticated modern comedy’ written by the translators. This half-hour play, Of Mycenae and Men, took the place of an ancient Greek satyr play, and it gently parodied the story of Agamemnon, the first play in the trilogy. It follows the reunion of Helen (Diana Dors) and Menelaus (Freddie Jones), with Bob Hoskins in the central role of the slave. As an original television play, Of Mycenae and Men lies beyond the methodological net of Screen Plays, but I thought it would be nice to write about it as a postscript for the holidays. Continue reading

Greek plays: The Serpent Son (BBC, 1979)

I recently spent the afternoon at the BFI watching The Serpent Son, the BBC’s 1979 three-part television adaptation of Aeschylus’ Oresteia trilogy (translated by Frederic Raphael and Kenneth McLeish), and found it to be quite unlike anything I’ve yet reviewed for the Screen Plays blog and interesting in lots of ways. There is a lot more to be said about the production of these three plays, and perhaps they deserve some closer attention in future posts, but here I will confine myself mainly to some comments on the design of the production and the original BBC commission. Continue reading

Greeks on screen

One of my first research areas is going to be the production of Greek plays on British television from the 1950s, when the first Greek play appears to have been televised. The first well documented broadcast is a 1958 BBC World Theatre production of Women of Troy. I’ll say much more about Women of Troy in one of my next blog posts. Today my aim is to offer a taster of the range of productions of Greek drama on British television across the half century from the 1950s. Continue reading