In this edited collection, scholars use a variety of methodologies to explore the history of stage plays produced for British television between 1936 and the present. The volume opens with a substantial historical outline of the how plays originally written for the theatre were presented by BBC Television and the ITV companies as well as by independent producers and cultural organisations. Subsequent chapters analyse television adaptations of existing stage productions, including a 1937 presentation of a J. B. Priestley play by producer Basil Dean; work by companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stoke-on-Trent’s Victoria Theatre and the Radical Alliance of Poets and Players; the verbatim dramas from the Tricycle Theatre and National Theatre of Scotland; and Mike Leigh’s comedy Abigail’s Party, originally staged for Hampstead Theatre and translated to the Play for Today strand in 1977. Broadcast television’s original productions of classic and contemporary drama are also considered in depth, with studies of television productions of plays by Jacobean dramatists John Webster and Thomas Middleton, and by Henrik Ibsen and Samuel Beckett. In addition, the volume offers a consideration of the contribution to television drama of the influential producer Cedric Messina who, between 1967 and 1977, oversaw BBC Television’s Play of the Month strand before initiating The BBC Television Shakespeare (1978–85); the engagement with television adaptations by modern editors of Shakespeare’s plays; and Granada Television’s eccentric experiment in 1969–70 of running The Stables Theatre Company as a producer for both stage and screen. Collectively, these chapters open up new areas of research for all those engaged in theatre, media and adaptation studies.
This book produces an important re-theorisation of the ways gender, time and
Judaism have been considered in late medieval biblical drama. It employs
theories of gender, performance, antisemitism, queer theory and periodisation to
complicate readings of early theatre’s biblical matriarchs and patriarchs. It
argues that the conflicts staged by these plays provide crucial evidence of the
ways late medieval lay producers, performers and audiences were themselves
encouraged to question, experience, manipulate and understand time.
Interrogating medieval models of supersession and typology alongside more
contemporary models of ‘queer’ and topological time, this book charts the
conflicts staged between dramatic personae in plays that represent theological
transitions or ruptures, such as the Incarnation, Flood, Nativity and Bethlehem
slaughter. While these plays reflect a Christian preoccupation with what it
asserted was a ‘superseded’ Jewish past, this book asks how these models are
subverted when placed in dialogue with characters who experience alternative
readings of time.
In the 1950s and 1960s the single play was the most prestigious form
of drama on British television. Throughout the 1950s Sunday Night
Theatre provided the dramatic highpoint of the week on the BBC and
from 1957–9 BBC Television World Theatre oﬀered an additional showcase for classic literary adaptations, traditional BBC territory onto which
ITV had begun to encroach, for despite ITV’s commitment to more
populist programming the single play was also an important part of the
commercial network’s schedules. The three ITV anthology play series
he recollections of John Alcock, a queer man born and raised in
Birmingham, begin this chapter. His experiences provide a crucial
point of departure for mapping and exploring the arenas in which
servicemen and women could play away. In 1945 John visited London for
the very first time. Upon entering Leicester Square he experienced something of an epiphany; there, among a crowd of revellers, he saw ‘young
Air Force boys wearing make-up’.1 It was a sight that encouraged him
to move to the city permanently, a city that promised sexual freedom
Post-9/11 Aesthetics of Uncertainty in PlayDead‘s Limbo (2010)
This paper explores the Gothic videogame Limbo (PlayDead, 2010) in terms of an aesthetic and conceptual precariousness and preoccupation with uncertainty that, I suggest, are particularly associated with the traumatic legacy of 9/11. It engages with Judith Butler s post-9/11 reflections in her work Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (2004) on the loss of presumed safety and security in the First World. From here, she expresses the potential for shared experiences of vulnerability to inaugurate an ethics of relationality, without recourse to investment in systems of security. I then contrast this with an alternative critical trajectory that emphasises the use-value of such systems over a desire for moral purity. This critical framework is considered in relation to the treatment of vulnerability in Limbo, through its construction of a dialogic relationship between its diegetic game-world and the formal structure of its game-system. The former is found to articulate a pervasive experience of uncertainty, whilst the latter provides a sense of security. I draw upon psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott‘s theories of play and creative living to argue that the tension between game-world and game-system in Limbo creates a model of how uncertainty can be dwelt with, through a precarious balance between the use of systems of security and disengagement from them.
This book explores connections between theatre time, the historical moment, and fictional time. It argues that a crucial characteristic of contemporary British theatre is its preoccupation with instability and danger, and traces images of catastrophe and loss in a wide range of recent plays and productions. The diversity of the texts that are examined is a major strength of the book. In addition to plays by contemporary dramatists, the book analyses staged adaptations of novels, and productions of plays by Euripides, Strindberg and Priestley. A key focus is Stephen Daldry's award-winning revival of Priestley's An Inspector Calls, which is discussed in relation both to other Priestley ‘time’ plays and to Caryl Churchill's apocalyptic Far Away. Lost children are a recurring motif. Bryony Lavery's Frozen, for example, is explored in the context of the Soham murders, which took place while the play was in production at the National Theatre, whilst three virtually simultaneous productions of Euripides' Hecuba are interpreted with regard to the Beslan massacre of schoolchildren.
Pasts at play examines nineteenth-century children as active consumers of a variety of British pasts, from the biblical and classical to the medieval and early modern. This interdisciplinary collection bridges different disciplinary approaches to chart shifting markets for historical education between 1750 and 1914: a critical period in the development of children's culture, as children became target consumers for publishers. Boys and girls across the social classes often experienced different pasts simultaneously for the purpose of amusement and instruction. Play provides a dynamic lens through which to explore children’s interaction with the past as a didactic vehicle. Encompassing the past as both subject and site for production and consumption of earlier pasts (historical, mythical or imagined), each contributor reconstructs children’s encounters with different media to uncover the cultural work of individual pasts and exposes the key role of playfulness in the British historical imagination. These ten essays argue that only through exploring the variety of media and different pasts marketed to children can we fully understand the scope of children’s interactions with the past. Sources, from games to guidebooks and puzzles to pageants, represent the range of visual, performative, material and textual cultures analysed here to develop fresh methodologies and new perspectives on children’s culture and the uses of the past. Bringing together scholars from across a range of disciplines, including Classics, English and History, this volume is for researchers and students interested in the afterlives of the past, the history of education, and child consumerism and interaction.
State of Play
There was a critic in The Daily Telegraph, James Walton, and the only
reason I wrote State of Play was because he called me a warrior of white
sliced bread, meaning I could only write working-class, and I was like
‘right, you fucker, I’m going to write something posh and you’ll have to
retract that’. After the first episode he said that it was really good but that
I’d got five hours left to fuck it up – basically that was his summary and
I was like, ‘ha ha ha, I’m just going to wipe the floor with you now’. I
wrote Shameless and State of Play in
The Evacuees (1975)
and Bar Mitzvah Boy (1976)
In the Timeshift documentary Jack Rosenthal, broadcast on BBC1,
30 September 2004, four months after Rosenthal’s death, Jonathan
Lynn argued that Rosenthal’s personal identifications were threefold:
northern, working-class and Jewish. In this chapter I will explore the
third of these elements.
There are Jewish incidents and characters in many of Rosenthal’s
television plays. These sometimes exist at the level of small details –
a removal man bringing Miss Shepherd her long-awaited desk in
Playing with citizenship
So far we have represented our participants as a thoughtful bunch.
When they reflected on the political efficacy of celebrities or the wider
social significance of a storyline in, for example, a soap opera, they
showed their ability to reflect critically on political issues, often doing
so in a serious manner. In such moments, these young people came
very close to the ‘ideal type citizen’ that we discussed in Chapter 3. They
were calm and rational when formulating an opinion about political
issues. Moreover, as they demonstrated in