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Peter Hall

This tag is associated with 2 posts

Bookshelf: The Wars of the Roses (1970) by John Barton with Peter Hall

In my earlier post about Michael Barry’s memoir From the Palace to the Grove which details his life in television from 1938 to 1952 I lamented that he did not twin this revealing volume with a personal account of his later career. That prompted me to pull from my shelf a handsome volume that, in part, is a commemoration of one of Barry’s greatest small-screen triumphs. The Wars of the Roses by John Barton with Peter Hall (and some assistance from William Shakespeare) was published by the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1970. That date is rather odd since it is the script of an adaptation of four of Shakespeare’s History plays that was first seen in Stratford-upon-Avon in August 1963 and then shown in three parts on BBC Television on 8, 15 and 22 April 1965. 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