This tag is associated with 19 posts

Greek plays: Sophocles’ Electra (A-R for ITV, 1962)

At 9.45pm on Wednesday 28 November 1962 the ITV audience witnessed an extraordinary broadcast―a production of Sophocles’ Electra in Greek with no subtitles. But this was no antiquarian exercise in declaiming ancient Greek. Rather, this was a television version of Dimitris Rondiris’ internationally touring stage production with the Peiraïkon Theatron company and, using Ioannis Gryparis’ translation, it was being given in the living language of modern Greek. Here I draw on the extant recording at the BFI together with newspaper articles and reviews in working towards a critical interpretation of this production fifty years after its first broadcast. Continue reading

GBS on Independent Television, 1966-83

On the heels of my first post listing plays by George Bernard Shaw on ITV in the years 1955-62, here is a list of commercial television productions by the author in the years after 1962. They include three short adaptations for schools and also a single production for Channel 4, but overall the relative paucity of Shaw plays on ITV since the mid-1960s is striking when compared with his presence in the schedules in ITV’s first decade. Continue reading

GBS on Independent Television, 1955-62

Following on from my 16 June post Ibsen on Independent Television, I am also beginning to map ITV productions of plays by George Bernard Shaw. This first of two posts details early ITV productions of Shaw and includes the four-play season mounted by Granada at the end of 1962; a second post, detailing productions between 1966 and 1983 follows tomorrow. Continue reading

Terence Rattigan on television — and DVD

The centenary of Terence Rattigan’s birth has shaken lose some true treasures from the archive, released by the BBC’s DVD label 2 Entertain in a five-disc box set, The Terence Rattigan Collection. I have listed the nine productions below, and over the coming weeks we will review each of them here. Today I want both warmly to recommend the set and to muse on two questions that it prompts. The first is to ask, particularly in relation to two precious fragments of filmed stage productions, why 2 Entertain can be so casual with their contextual materials? And the second is to explore what’s missing from the box-set. Continue reading

Played Upon a Stage: She Stoops to Conquer (A-R for ITV, 1960)

The BFI Southbank programme notes for tonight’s presentation of a 1960 schools production of Oliver Goldsmith’s 1773 comedy consisted mostly of paragraphs from about the original play. Since these notes invariably track down reviews for the most recondite productions, it was clear that the production on offer was both obscure and undocumented. The print was one of those recently turned up in the Library of Congress archive, and while at times the audio was echo-y and the pictures wobbly, the production proved to have a simple, winning charm. Continue reading

International Theatre: The Wild Duck (John Clements / Saville Theatre / A-R for ITV, 1957)

Having now seen eight out of the ten programmes from the BFI’s immensely welcome unLOCked screenings, I am happy to hail the 1957 ITV production of The Wild Duck as the most significant discovery of the season. The Wild Duck is a 35mm feature film of a theatre production shot on a sound stage at Shepperton Studios. In part as a consequence of such an unconventional production process, this ‘filmed play’ has an entirely distinctive visual style and a rare dramatic effectiveness. Continue reading

The Typewriter (A-R for ITV, 1962)

Jean Cocteau’s play The Typewriter, as adapted by Giles Cooper and produced and directed by Joan Kemp-Welch for Associated-Rediffusion, is a strange strange beast. The scholar of French literature Jacques Guicharnaud has written that the 1941 drama is ‘generally considered [Cocteau’s] worse play and one that he himself repudiated’ and as transferred to television here with the conventions of a British drawing-room detective story it becomes almost incoherent. Continue reading

Ibsen on Independent Television

Ibsen on television will be one of my research projects as Screen Plays develops, but while there is an accessible list of BBC Ibsen dramas (although this is no sense complete), nothing comparable exists online for the ITV plays. So today’s blog post offers just that. 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

Emitron camera at Alexandra Palace