Back to the tavern

Back to the tavern

If it’s Wednesday, it must be the live broadcast day of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Live from Stratford-upon-Avon broadcast of Henry IV Part II. We’re back at the Boar’s Head tavern, which is where Falstaff, Hal and the company acted out the banishment of the fat knight in Part I (below). Prepare to have your hearts broken tonight…

Catching up…

Catching up…

It has been just over a month since I last posted, for which I can only apologise. Not that I haven’t had things to write about. Rather too many of them, in fact. Which in part accounts for my failure to contribute anything new here in the past four weeks and more. Last Wednesday I produced the latest Live from Stratford-upon-Avon cinema broadcast of Henry IV Part I, and on Friday there was a shoot for the trailer of Two Gentlemen of Verona. I was at the Shakespeare450 conference in Paris and I have curated the current ‘Classics on TV: Edwardian Drama on the Small Screen’ at BFI Southbank. There is a screening of Don Taylor’s exceptional 1977 BBC production of Harley Granville Barker’s Waste on Tuesday evening and a half-day symposium linked to the season on Friday. And today was the press day for Kenneth Clark: Looking for Civilisation at Tate Britain (that’s the man himself, above), which I have had a hand in putting together and for which I have written a catalogue essay. These events – and more – now deserve some reflections, which is what I am to provide over the coming days…

The making of the Henry IV trailer

The making of the Henry IV trailer

On Friday the Royal Shakespeare Company launched the trailer for their new productions of Henry IV Parts I and II:

Following November’s successful showing of Richard II, these new stagings will be broadcast in cinemas for Live from Stratford-upon-Avon on 14 May and 18 June in Britain, and then over the following months abroad. The broadcasts are produced by the RSC, as is the trailer, and not by Illuminations, but I am involved as the producer – and I thought it might be insteresting to share some notes about how the Henry IV trailer came together.
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Second thoughts, and a first look, part 1

Second thoughts, and a first look, part 1

At lunchtime on Sunday I sat in the front row of Screen 2 at the Barbican watching – for the first time on a big screen since November – Richard II Live from Stratford-upon-Avon. Tonight I sat in the front row of Screen 3 of Cineworld Haymarket at the premiere of Digital Theatre’s screen version of Private Lives. Two months on from making Richard II I’m still trying to organise my thoughts about it, and doubtless I’ll continue musing on Private Lives, in part because it takes such a different approach to translating a stage play for the screen. But I can’t help but say that I was once again thrilled by what the team achieved with Richard II - and remember Henry IV part one is to be broadcast on 14 May (above) - and a touch disappointed by Private Lives.
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2013 top ten, 1: Linda Zuck

2013 top ten, 1: Linda Zuck

At the end of every year each of us at Illuminations and at our sister company Illuminations Films contributes a top ten of cultural highlights of the year.

We run these through this holiday period, with today’s first contribution from Illuminations’ partner and MD Linda Zuck. As with most of these offerings, her ten is in no particular order.

1. Stoner by John Williams

A rediscovered neglected classic, an American novel about an unassuming literary scholar first published in 1965 and re-issued in 2006. It’s so beautifully written and profoundly moving and utterly compelling. A work of quiet perfection.
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Links for the weekend

Links for the weekend

With the RSC Live from Stratford-upon-Avon broadcast on Wednesday, it’s been a busy and fairly intense week. One lovely and sort-of-related online offering this week is the full audio track from the RSC’s Midsummer Night’s Dreaming event with Google back in the summer, which is now available on SoundCloud. Which gives me an excuse to showcase the image above from a recent Radio 3 blog post which is a detail from a publicity image of a 1937 BBC television production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  And what else can I find in scrabbling around among its online ruins? Across the jump is a selection, including some for which thanks are due to @stevenbjohnson, @matlock@drszucker, @KeyframeDaily and @ProfShakespeare.
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‘… and there an end’

‘… and there an end’

Slowly trying to make sense of last night. In many ways the broadcast was immaculate – it looked great and, in the OB truck, it sounded great. There were no significant problems in Stratford but I know that a small number of cinemas around the country had local difficulties. A very few screenings were cancelled and one or two other cinemas had problems with the sound. With the RSC’s distribution partner Picturehouse Entertainment we are investigating where we can. But in most venues it seems to have been a bit of a triumph. Through this evening I aim to draw together some of the reactions and add a few first reflections.
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‘Think what you will’ [Updated]

‘Think what you will’ [Updated]

This is the post I’m using to chronicle events up to Wednesday evening; you can also follow how things are unfolding via @livefromSuA, @TheRSC and @Illuminations.

6.11pm
Everyone is returning and we’re about to do a final check on the insert films and the top of the show. I think I’ll sign off now – and wish everyone a great show!

6.04pm
I’m almost alone in the OB truck. Everyone else is at the spicy chilli. How worried should I be with less than 45 minutes before we start transmitting? At some point I’m going to stop Tweeting and start “producing”, although I’m not entirely sure that I know the difference between the two activities.

5.55pm
And, gentle readers, this is me – in the latest production diary, filmed on Monday… many thanks to James Oprey and his RSC colleagues for this and all the other excellent diary pieces, as well as tonight’s two insert films.


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‘Lords, be ready all’ [Updated]

‘Lords, be ready all’ [Updated]

Uncertain as I am about whether the details of the RSC Richard II Live from Stratford-upon-Avon production schedule are really of any interest, I took a stab at chronicling that on Sunday, and I’ll continue that today. Later today we will run a rehearsal of the full production in front of the cameras. This will allow us to test all of the equipment and the plans of screen director Robin Lough, as well to check how costumes and make-up look on screen. So let me see if I can continue to capture something of the process of getting a complex live broadcast production into (and out of) the Royal Shakespeare Theatre – and if this is your first visit, read from the bottom up.

Monday

5.50pm: One of our key concerns has been whether we have sufficient time to strike the camera equipment from the theatre and return all the removed seats before the show this evening. We had scheduled a 90-minute period for this after the rehearsal, and there had been much musing on whether this was sufficient. In fact, the crane was clear of the auditorium within 50 minutes and the whole operations was completed within 80. Job done, and we started our informal review process over a pint in the Dirty Duck. The company, however, has to play again this evening.
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‘How near the tidings of our comfort is’

‘How near the tidings of our comfort is’

First day of the new month, and just twelve to go until the Live from Stratford-upon-Avon broadcast to UK cinemas of the RSC’s Richard II (full details and links to ticket sales here). On Sunday the trucks arrive for our first camera rehearsal on Monday. On Tuesday the theatre and broadcast teams will review the tape and start to make adjustments, and then the trucks will return on the following Monday. I will blog the process further and also tweet it via @Illuminations. Meanwhile, there is last week’s production diary to catch up on – and following that I want to point you to some further reading and address Michael Kaiser’s recent alarmist remarks about cinema broadcasts of performance.


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