Why are we so invested in imagining children as innocent? All of us, former children, surely remember moments of cruelty, greed and nastiness from ourselves and our peers. As cultural and educational theorist Henry Giroux has argued, the myth of the pure and innocent child serves to distract us from all the ways that our society shapes childhood and how, in turn, cultures of childhood and of play reflect the overarching power structures of our broader society. Consider for a moment that even the idea of childhood (a period
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.
Single plays 2 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
3 Playing away T 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
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.
State of Play 5 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
Anglo-Jewish plays 8 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 Well
9 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
As you like yt / a booke As You Like It was first published in 1623, as the tenth of the 14 plays that make up the first section of Mr William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Tragedies & Histories (the First Folio). The text had been typeset in William Jaggard’s printing shop on Aldersgate Street, nearby London’s Barbican, towards the end
1 Context: playing the past Scottish play-acting began after the Second World War and intensified in the 1980s and 1990s. This chapter examines the phenomenon’s historical context and some of the broad cultural currents which inspire and shape it. The Scots of Europe are agents in the memory boom, a time of heightened public interest in the past and its commemoration. They strive for physical and affective experience; they have a sensuous approach to Scottish history and tradition (genuine or invented). And they choose to appropriate someone else’s past; their