Recent and upcoming conferences, screenings and listening events that I’ve been involved in organising:
Louis MacNeice, Radio Writer and Producer: a series of listening events at the British Library, May-June 2016
I have curated a short series of public listening events to radio feature programmes written and in many cases produced by Louis MacNeice. Each listening is prefaced by a short introduction and followed with a discussion and Q&A. Venue: Foyle Suite, British Library. Booking via the British Library’s Box Office.
6pm Thursday 19 May 2016
Modernity and the Past in Louis MacNeice’s Portrait of Athens (1951)
Introduced by Amanda Wrigley (Research Fellow, University of Westminster), and followed by discussion.
6pm Thursday 2 June 2016
Louis MacNeice’s Persons from Porlock (1963): A Poet Interrupted…?
Followed by panel discussion and Q&A with Paul Long (Professor of Media and Cultural History, Birmingham City University), chaired by Amanda Wrigley (Research Fellow, University of Westminster)
6pm Thursday 9 June 2016
Louis MacNeice, America and the War: Christopher Columbus (1942)
Followed by panel discussion and Q&A with Dr Peter Golphin (The Open University), chaired by Amanda Wrigley (Research Fellow, University of Westminster)
6pm Thursday 16 June 2016
Louis MacNeice’s radio features on India and Pakistan in 1948
Followed by panel discussion and Q&A with Aasiya Lodhi (Lecturer in Radio and Journalism, University of Westminster), chaired by Amanda Wrigley (Research Fellow, University of Westminster)
American Plays, a series of six screenings at BFI Southbank, January 2015
The Screen Plays research project, on which I work alongside John Wyver at the University of Westminster, is thrilled to announce details of its fourth season of screenings at BFI Southbank in January 2015. Following on from our successful seasons of Greek plays, Jacobean tragedy and Edwardian plays, this season will highlight rarely-seen television productions of theatre plays by major American playwrights. Among those whose works will be shown are Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neill, Arthur Miller and Clifford Odets, but the season also includes some more surprising choices as well.
The six productions collectively demonstrate how theatre in the United States has spoken with honesty and conviction about the elusiveness of the American dream and the individual’s search for meaning amid swirling political and social changes. The season, curated by Amanda Wrigley, demonstrates how playwrights have taken on questions of personal identity, ideas of exile and rootedness, and the politics of race and gender. At the same time the screenings also highlight how British television has interpreted these plays in highly distinctive ways, often assembling impressive casts (Laurence Olivier, Eartha Kitt, John Malkovich, David Suchet and Zoe Wanamaker are among the stars on show) while also responding to the formal experiments of a figure like O’Neill and lesser-known writers such as Charles Sebree and Greer Johnson.
Booking is now open: www.bfi.org.uk and 020 7928 3232.
Listening events at the British Library, Oct.-Nov. 2014
I was delighted to curate a series of ‘public listenings’ to early BBC Radio feature programmes with Professor Hugh Chignell of Bournemouth University for the British Library. Written by Louis MacNeice, Edward Sackville-West, Dylan Thomas, David Jones and D. G. Bridson, these five works stand at the pinnacle of the mid-twentieth century radio feature as art form. What makes them so distinctive, so good and of such continuing relevance? These acts of communal listening were followed by rich discussions. Click through each title to find out more:
Edwardian Drama on the Small Screen, a half-day symposium at BFI Southbank, 23 May 2014
Following on from our successful ‘Classics on TV’ seasons ‘Greek Tragedy on the Small Screen’ (June 2012) and ‘Jacobean Tragedy on the Small Screen’ (March-April 2013), Screen Plays is delighted once again to be working with BFI Southbank. In May 2014 ‘Edwardian Drama on the Small Screen’ will present six programmes of television productions of plays written between the 1890s and the First World War. Curated by John Wyver, the season includes notable productions of plays by Oscar Wilde, Harley Granville-Barker, George Bernard Shaw, John Galsworthy, J. M. Synge and D. H. Lawrence. In addition, on the afternoon of Friday 23 May at BFI Southbank we are organising a symposium to explore some of the issues raised by these productions. Participation is free, but seats are limited; please drop me an email if you wish to attend. The programme includes:
Dr Billy Smart, Research Officer on The History of Forgotten Television Drama project at Royal Holloway, University of London, will open the symposium with a keynote on the subject of John Galsworthy on the small screen, considering three BBC productions from the 1970s.
There will be two complementary papers on the 1969 BBC production of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband. In her talk, ‘An Ideal Husband – a realistic marriage? Wilde, feminism and Britain’, Dr Michelle Paull, Senior Lecturer in Drama at St Mary’s University, London, will discuss the production in terms of its immediate cultural and sociopolitical context in 1969, reflecting on this modern engagement with the ‘New Woman’ of this period.
Dr Leah Panos, Postdoctoral Researcher on the Spaces of Television: Production, Site and Style project at the University of Reading, will speak on ‘Colour, Cartier and An Ideal Husband‘, examining this production as one of the earliest major dramas from the BBC in colour and discussing Cartier’s early commitment to colour television.
Robert Knights, who directed The Voysey Inheritance for the Play of the Month strand in 1979 (which will be screened in the season on Thursday 15 May), as well as many other dramas for Play for Today in addition to movies and mini-series, will be interviewed by John Wyver of Screen Plays.
John Wyver will explore the reasons why George Bernard Shaw should be, after Shakespeare, the most performed playwright on British television, with at least 99 productions to his name (for context, see John’s article here).
Dr Amanda Wrigley, also of Screen Plays, will place the 1960 BBC Schools production of J. M. Synge’s Riders to the Sea in its original context as a transmission for the classroom, discussing the popularity of Edwardian drama in both the BBC and ITV transmissions of drama series for schools at this time.
Louis MacNeice, Radio Writer and Producer: a one-day conference at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 19 October 2013
Following on from the welcome revival of interest in recent years in Louis MacNeice as writer and producer for radio, as well as a poet, a one-day conference will be held at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, on Saturday 19 October 2013.
This occasion will mark both the half-century since MacNeice’s death and also the June 2013 publication of an Oxford University Press volume of eleven of MacNeice’s radio scripts, all of which draw on his interest in Greek and Roman history and literature (link here for further information).
The aim of the conference will be to consider the full span of MacNeice’s career as writer and producer for radio (and, indeed, television) from 1941 to his death in 1963 and it is hoped that an edited volume of essays, also to be published by Oxford University Press, will arise from the conference. In this way the conference seeks to stimulate further work on MacNeice’s important contribution to cultural broadcasting in this period.
The list of speakers and topics follows below. To book a place at the conference, please email Professor Stephen Harrison on firstname.lastname@example.org. The conference fee of £20, to cover coffee, lunch and tea, is to be paid in cash on the day. Please direct enquiries to Dr Amanda Wrigley on email@example.com.
Dr Richard Danson Brown, Senior Lecturer in English, The Open University
‘Arabesques of Elizabethan Sound in Features and Poetry: MacNeice’s The Death of Marlowe (1943) and “Suite for Recorders” ‘
Professor Hugh Chignell, Professor of Media History, University of Bournemouth
‘ “The Stones Cry Out” (1941): Louis MacNeice’s Broadcasts to America’
Professor Claire Davison, Chair of Modernist Literature, Université Paris 3 (Sorbonne Nouvelle)
‘ “If only we had Alexander”: Impurifying Propaganda in MacNeice’s Alexander Nevsky (1941)’
Dr Peter Golphin, Research Associate, The Open University
‘India at First Sight: Independence and Partition (1948)’
Dr Paul Long, Reader in Media and Cultural History, Birmingham City University
‘Inventing Sound: MacNeice at Work’
Dr Peter McDonald, Christopher Tower Student and Tutor in Poetry, Christ Church, Oxford
‘ “The Solidity of a Dream”: MacNeice, Yeats, and The Dark Tower (1946)’
Dr Simon Workman, Lecturer in English, Carlow College, Ireland
‘ “This chain of simple notes”: Louis MacNeice, Radio, Poetry and the Auditory Imagination’
Mr John Wyver, Senior Research Fellow, University of Westminster; writer and producer with the media company Illuminations
‘Admom and Everyman: Television in Louis MacNeice’s One for the Grave (1958-9)’