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Anton Chekhov

This tag is associated with 8 posts

Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood (BBC, 1957)

Yesterday came welcome news of the publication of the online edition of the latest issue of Critical Studies in Television, a themed collection of essays titled ‘The Liveliest Medium’: Television’s Aesthetic Relationships with Other Arts which promises to enrich significantly current debates on television aesthetics. It contains three essays that explore the aesthetics of theatre plays on television: John Wyver’s ‘Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance and the Politics of Possibility in Two Television Adaptations’, Billy Smart’s ‘Three Different Cherry Orchards, Three Different Worlds: Chekhov at the BBC, 1962-81′ and my own ‘Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood, “a Play for Voices” on Radio, Stage and Television’. In this blog post I share a taster of my essay, in the hope of directing readers to the volume as a whole. Continue reading

Conference report: Theatre Plays on British Television, 19 October 2012

On 21 February 1896 in what was then the Regent Street Polytechnic Louis Lumiére brothers showcased his Cinematographe for the first performance of a moving film to a paying audience in Britain. On Friday what today is the University of Westminster’s Regent Street building hosted an only slightly less auspicious occasion, when some thirty or so interested scholars, together with a contemporary producer or two, gathered for the Screen Plays conference Theatre Plays on British Television. Continue reading

100 television stage plays: [10] 2001-2011

It was the worst of times; it was the best of times. There were fewer stage plays on British television in the first decade of the twenty-first century than in any previous ten-year period. The maturing of multi-channel broadcasting, coupled with additional competition from other home entertainment forms and the internet, increased the pressure on free-to-air terrestrial channels to deliver ratings. Filmed original drama was perceived to attract audiences far more effectively than stage plays, and the high production costs of the latter were only rarely out-weighed for commissioning channels by any reputational value, which in any case was in most cases thought increasingly to be of marginal worth. Continue reading

100 television stage plays: [7] 1976-1981

Having split the BBC and ITV outputs in the previous four posts, here I am considering them together for the six years before the arrival of Channel 4. As before, this outline of one hundred significant television stage plays offers a first tentative map of the history of the form. Some of the productions no longer exist, and of the ones that are still in the archives, there are many that I have not (yet) seen. Continue reading

Bookshelf: Television: The Ephemeral Art (1970) by T. C. Worsley

T. C. Worsley’s Television: The Ephemeral Art belongs on the (very short) library shelf labelled ‘distinguished collections of television criticism’. It rounds up Worsley’s newspaper columns between 1964 and 1969 and as a consequence it is an unrivalled account of one person’s detailed responses to the supposed ‘golden age’ of the medium. Continue reading

Back for the future: NT Live’s The Cherry Orchard

I was delighted to be invited last night to watch the live transmission from the Olivier Theatre on London’s South Bank of Howard Davies’ staging of The Cherry Orchard. While the drama itself left me unmoved, I was fascinated to see NT Live’s six HD cameras in action. The operation reminded me of nothing so much as classical studio drama, much of it working comprising plays originally written for the theatre, of the kind that dominated the broadcast schedules in the 1950s and early 1960s. Continue reading

Pre-war theatre from BBC Television, 1.

Thanks to the online Radio Times listings, it is possible to explore in detail BBC television in the pre-war years. So in this first of three posts I look at small-screen productions of great playwrights between 1936 and 1939. What follows are some first brief notes about which writers from the past featured in the early schedules … Continue reading

Small-screen Chekhov

According to Neil Taylor’s 1998 essay ‘A History of the Stage Play on BBC Television’, Chekhov was at that time the fifth most-staged playwright (after Shakespeare, Shaw, Ibsen and Priestley), but since then I can think of only a close-to-unwatchable theatre recording in the early days of BBC Four of Michael Blakemore’s production of Three Sisters, 2003, with Kristin Scott Thomas. Continue reading