A Strange Interlude for television

A Strange Interlude for television

Eugene O’Neill’s remarkable play Strange Interlude opened at the National Theatre today to some strong reviews. Michael Billington for the Guardian praises the ‘excellent’ production (directed by Simon Godwin) and awards the evening 4 stars. Even at three hours twenty minutes, it’s well worth seeing, with some great performances (including from . Moreover, productions of the play come along comparatively rarely – the last on the London stage was in 1985. Which makes it all the more remarkable that back in 1958 there was a BBC Television production shown in peak-time on two Sunday evenings. In September last year I wrote about this production for the Screen Plays: Stage Plays on British Television blog and I am taking advantage of the National Theatre success to post a slightly revised version here.
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All Greek at BFI Southbank

All Greek at BFI Southbank

Thursday sees the start of a season of BFI Southbank screenings of rarely seen television productions of theatre plays from ancient Greece. The season is curated by Amanda Wrigley and has been organised with the research project Screen Plays, in which Illuminations is a partner. The nine Greek tragedies plus one quasi-satyr play offer a fascinating range of approaches to the foundational plays of Western drama and the screen presentation of ancient Greece (including an Electra, above, shown unsubtitled on ITV in 1962). Together they illuminate the richly interesting variety of ways that British television has experimented with capturing the force of these ancient tales from the late 1950s to 1990. One of the events is already sold out, and tickets for the others are going fast: to book go to the website for BFI Southbank or call 020 7928 3232.
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Out of the past

Out of the past

To the V&A for a Sunday afternoon screening of an archival recording of Michael Grandage’s 2004-05 production of Schiller’s Don Carlos. This came courtesy of the invaluable National Video Archive of Performance, which for the past twenty years has been making high-quality recordings of major theatre productions for the future use of researchers and historians – and for limited but perfectly achievable access by the rest of us. To celebrate its birthday. the NVAP has organised a rare series of public showings (see below). A fortnight back Trevor Nunn introduced his 2004 Old Vic Hamlet with Ben Whishaw and Imogen Stubbs, and last Sunday Gregory Doran spoke before the NVAP’s recording of his recent RSC production of Cardenio. Don Carlos was compelling, and fascinating in all sorts of ways, not least for its echoes as theatre-on-screen of a now-lost form of theatre-on-television.
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Our other blog

Our other blog

Regular readers may know that Illuminations is a partner in an academic research project called Screen Plays. An initiative of the School of Media, Arts and Design at the University of Westminster, Screen Plays will by May 2014 document all the stage plays produced on British television since 1930. I am currently spending half my time with Screen Plays (and enjoying it hugely), and my colleague Dr Amanda Wrigley and I are working towards a database of the three thousand and more productions. We are also developing screenings (look out for a BFI Southbank season of Greek plays on television next spring), books, journal articles and more. And we’re running a blog parallel to this one. So today’s post is to encourage you to sample – and perhaps even subscribe to – the Screen Plays blog. In the jump, you’ll find links to ten substantial (and popular) posts from the eighty or so that we’ve contributed to date. Do please take a look – I think you might enjoy them.
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