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Don Taylor

This tag is associated with 8 posts

The Edwardians: Play of the Month: Waste (BBC, 1977)

The centenary in 1977 of Harley Granville Barker’s birth was marked by a revival of the playwright’s The Madras House, directed by William Gaskill for the National Theatre, and by Don Taylor’s remarkable BBC television presentation of Waste. The two productions demonstrated how finely-crafted are Barker’s major dramas, how powerful a playwright he is, and how pertinent and relevant is his social analysis. As the next presentation in the Screen Plays BFI Southbank season ‘Classics on the Small Screen: Edwardian Drama on Television’, Waste is screened on Tuesday 20 May 2014. The production has never been released on DVD and this is a rare chance to catch a truly powerful studio production. 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

Classics on TV: BFI Southbank programme, 26 June 2012

Tonight sees the fifth – and final – programme in the five-night Screen Plays season Classics on TV: Greek Tragedy on the Small Screen at BFI Southbank. This evening we will see Iphigenia at Aulis, Don Taylor’s production of Euripides’ play for BBC Television in 1990. This happens to be the last full production of … Continue reading

‘Greek Tragedy on the Small Screen’: University of Westminster symposium

On Friday afternoon around thirty people, including a number of friends and colleagues, gathered at the University of Westminster in Regent Street for the Screen Plays symposium about Greek tragedy on British television. Dr Amanda Wrigley brought together five experts on the subject for discussions to complement the hugely successful BFI Southbank season. Following are notes from my own enjoyment of the event but, if you were present on Friday, we would love to hear your thoughts and responses. Continue reading

Greek plays: Iphigenia at Aulis (BBC, 1990)

Following on from my recent posts on Don Taylor’s 1986 The Theban Plays trilogy for the BBC, I turn my focus to his very last work for television in 1990, which was another Greek tragedy – Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis – and which, as it happens, appears to be the last full production of Greek drama on British television. In this post I draw on Taylor’s aim to achieve what we may call ‘mass media theatre’, through techniques such as multi-camera continuous shooting, to analyse the intentions that lay behind his productions and to ascertain whether he was successful within the parameters he set himself. I would also like to offer some thoughts about the ways in which this production made good use of televisual devices to create effects which would simply not be possible in the theatre. This post concludes my chronological journey through the best documented productions in my Greeks on Screen case study. (Good timing, too, Screen Plays will shortly announce the ‘Classics on TV: Greek Tragedy on the Small Screen’ season of screenings at BFI Southbank in June 2012, together with an associated symposium at the University of Westminster on 22 June … save the date and watch this space!) Continue reading

Greek plays: Antigone, part 3 of The Theban Plays (BBC, 1986)

This is the last 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). Antigone is by some degree the most successful production of the three, with strong performances throughout and a thoughtfully designed set which works dynamically with the director’s interpretation of the play. 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

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