University of Westminster flag

greek tragedy on the small screenIn June 2012 BFI Southbank will screen a season of television productions of Greek tragedy (plus one quasi-satyr play) – rarely before seen since their first transmission – which offer a fascinating range of approaches to the foundational plays of Western drama and the screen presentation of ancient Greece. This season, ‘Classics on TV: Greek Tragedy on the Small Screen’, curated by Dr Amanda Wrigley, illuminates the richly interesting variety of ways that British television experimented with capturing the force of these ancient tales on the small screen from the late 1950s to 1990. It includes a panel discussion with actor and director Fiona Shaw and Classics scholar Oliver Taplin.

Booking for the season is now open: call 020 7928 3232 or for full details see the BFI website

greek tradgedy on the small screenOn 22 June, an afternoon symposium organised by the Screen Plays research project at the University of Westminster will draw together the emerging strands of the BFI season through a series of talks by experts in the field. The symposium will also feature an interview with a practitioner and a screening of a previously unseen early 1960s BBC Schools programme on Greek tragedy (details to be announced).

The registration fee for the symposium is £5.

Confirmed speakers include:

Dr Lynn Fotheringham of the University of Nottingham will talk about issues surrounding authenticity and historicity in the production of Greek tragedies for television, focusing particularly on the last major production of Greek tragedy to have been transmitted on British television – Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis produced by Don Taylor in 1990.

Professor Lorna Hardwick of The Open University will talk about the use of television transmissions for the teaching of drama by The Open University and how this has developed and changed from 1971 to the present, drawing on her personal experience working in the Department of Classical Studies during some of this period.

Dr Tony Keen of The Open University will discuss the extent to which The Serpent Son, the BBC’s Oresteia trilogy of 1979, had a science fiction aesthetic. This production of the three plays of Aeschylus featured costumes designed by Barbara Kidd, who was feted for her work on Doctor Who.

Professor Oliver Taplin of the University of Oxford will offer his thoughts on the two stage productions of Greek tragedy to have been ‘translated’ to the television medium: the 1962 ITV production of the Peireikon Theatron production of Sophocles’ Electra – given in modern Greek, without subtitles! – and Channel 4’s 1983 version of the 1981 National Theatre Oresteia trilogy, directed by Peter Hall, on which Professor Taplin served as academic advisor.

Dr Amanda Wrigley of the University of Westminster will talk about television’s creative and technological responses to the performance styles and dramatic conventions of 5th-century Athens, and specifically how ancient Greek imaginative and performative spaces were constructed in the television studio with a focus on Alan Bridges’ ‘inside-out’ production of King Oedipus for the BBC in 1972.

The event will be chaired by John Wyver of the University of Westminster.


This half-day conference will take place on Friday, June 22, 2012. The fee for registration will be £5, to cover conference documentation, refreshments and administration costs. Registration is now open

To register please download the registration form here

Organised by Screen Plays: Theatre Plays on British Television, an AHRC-funded research project at the University of Westminster