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Roger Singleton-Turner

Multi-camera studio drama provides some of the most popular programming on British broadcast television, judging by the figures in the weekly Broadcast magazine. As I write, the techniques are usually limited to low-budget dramas such as ‘soap operas’, though they can also be used on situation comedies where there is a live studio audience. Having said that, every so often, at least in the UK, events are staged that feature ‘serious’ multi-camera dramas. In 2005, there was the Quatermass Experiment , which added being shot on location to the stresses of

in Cue and Cut
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Editor: Gregory Vargo

The first collection of its kind, Chartist Drama makes available four plays written or performed by members of the Chartist movement of the 1840s. Emerging from the lively counter-culture of this protest campaign for democratic rights, these plays challenged cultural as well as political hierarchies by adapting such recognisable genres as melodrama, history plays, and tragedy for performance in radically new settings. A communal, public, and embodied art form, drama was linked for the Chartists with other kinds of political performance: the oratory of the mass platform, festival-like outdoor meetings, and the elaborate street theatre of protest marches. Plays that Chartists wrote or staged advanced new interpretations of British history and criticised aspects of the contemporary world. And Chartist drama intervened in fierce strategic arguments within the movement. Most notably, poet-activist John Watkins’s John Frost, which dramatises the gripping events of the Newport rising of 1839, in which twenty-two Chartists lost their lives, defends the rebellion and the Chartist recourse to violence as a means for the movement to achieve its aims. The volume’s appendices document over one hundred Chartist dramatic performances, staged by activists in local Chartist associations or at professional benefits at some of London’s largest working-class theatres. Gregory Vargo’s introduction and notes elucidate the previously unexplored world of Chartist dramatic culture, a context that promises to reshape what we know about early Victorian popular politics and theatre.

Critical perspectives

This book aims to provide resources for critical thinking on key aspects of television drama in Britain since 1960, including institutional, textual, cultural and audience-centred modes of study. It explores the continuing popularity of the situation comedy, and makes a convincing case for considering sitcom as a key popular genre. By offering a sense of how 'real' audiences respond to, and engage with, actual programmes in specific social situations, dominant conceptions of the social meanings of Carla Lane's Butterflies and Jimmy Perry and David Croft's Dad's Army are challenged and renegotiated. The book takes up Queer As Folk to focus on its status as an authored intervention in debates about the representation of homosexuality. It demonstrates that The Prisoner series inhabits contradictions by unpacking the complex question of the series's authorship, and the inadequacy of attributing its meanings to its creator, star performer or production team, for example. The book argues that The Demon Headmaster makes a significant contribution to the project of exploring and defining questions of ethics and justice in social organisation, in part, by claiming children's culture as a space of experimentation, resistance and subversion. It looks at the ways in which television drama embodies assumptions about its audience, and pursues this in a sophisticated way in relation to late twentieth-century television adaptations of 'the female Gothic'. The struggle between the BBC power-base in London and its satellite Departments in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales is also dealt with.

A ‘Lost’ Epilogue to Maturin‘s Bertram?
Massimiliano Demata

This essay discusses the possibility of a new reading of Charles Maturins Bertram; or, The Castle of St. Aldobrandon the basis of a hitherto ignored manuscript, ‘Epilogue’ to the drama found in the archives of publisher John Murray. The essay adds a new chapter to the tormented publishing history of this work and sheds light on the ambiguous and shifting moral and political interpretations given by both Maturin and his audience to one of the most famous Gothic dramas.

Gothic Studies
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Sam Rohdie

Drama Bertolucci had worked with the cinematographer Vittorio Storaro for nearly twenty years but for La tragedia di un uomo ridicolo in 1981 he chose a different cinematographer, Carlo di Palma. He explained the break from Storaro thus: I wanted a very sharp image. Vittorio is never truly sharp. His way of lighting comes from a school which uses very little light … This film concerned the absolute blurring of the question of terrorism in Italy. One didn’t understand anything. The story was very hazy. I thought it was necessary to counterbalance that with a very

in Film modernism
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Lez Cooke

Drama serials 5 With the decline of the single play on British television during the 1970s and 1980s, authored television drama increasingly took the form of the serial, or mini-series, a development that was mainly the result of increasing financial pressures as British television entered a more ‘cost-effective’ era (Gardner and Wyver, 1980). Series and serial drama provided an opportunity to spread the costs of production, while building and retaining audiences. The single play, on the other hand, was not only expensive to produce, it could not guarantee

in Troy Kennedy Martin
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Steven Earnshaw

For the theatre must not be ‘realistic’ (Guillaume Apollinaire) drama is no mere setting up of the camera to nature … (George Bernard Shaw) ‘Cup-and-saucer’ Realism versus melodrama In turning to drama it is important to recognise that concentrating on the textual aspect alone would give us only a limited insight into its relationship with literary Realism. In this chapter, therefore, as well as the texts themselves, I will look at other crucial elements such as stage design, and a technical feature often overlooked – the aside – something which

in Beginning realism
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Lez Cooke

Drama series 4 By the early 1960s series drama was the most popular form of drama on British television. ITV had largely been responsible for this, for while the BBC had two very popular series, Dixon of Dock Green and Maigret, ITV dominated the ratings with a combination of imported American series, such as Dragnet, Rawhide and Wagon Train, and homegrown series, such as Emergency – Ward 10, No Hiding Place and Coronation Street. Such was ITV’s popularity as the new decade dawned that BBC programmes rarely appeared in the twenty top-rated programmes. In 1960

in Troy Kennedy Martin

This collection of essays offers new perspectives that foster our understanding of the crucial role the Bible played in medieval culture as well as in the wake of the Reformation across Europe. The thirteen essays open up new horizons for the study of biblical drama by putting special emphasis on periodisation, the intersections of biblical narrative and performance, and the strategies employed by playwrights to rework and adapt the biblical source material. Special emphasis is placed on multitemporality, transnationality, and the modalities of performance and form in relation to the uses of the Bible in medieval and early modern drama. The three aspects are intertwined: particular modalities of performance evolve, adapt and are re-created as they intersect with different historical times and circumstances. These intersections pertain to aspects such as dramatic traditions, confessional and religious rites, dogmas and debates, conceptualisations of performance and form, and audience response – whenever the Bible is evoked for performative purposes. The collection thus stresses the co-presence of biblical and contemporary concerns in the periods under discussion, conceiving of biblical drama as a central participant in the dynamic struggle to both interpret and translate the Bible.

Lez Cooke

Experiments in television drama 3 Television drama at the moment is going nowhere fast. Informed management believe it is so bad it can’t get worse. They are wrong. It can and will destroy itself unless a breakthrough in form is made, substantiated and phased into the general run of drama programmes. Not an art set-up like the Langham group to be propitiated on the altar of prestige, but a working philosophy which contains a new idea of form, with new language, new punctuation and new style. Something which can be applied to mass audience viewing. Something

in Troy Kennedy Martin