Staging the Air: BBC Radio and Modern British Drama
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CitationStulberg, Jacob. 2018. Staging the Air: BBC Radio and Modern British Drama. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractStudies of radio drama have tended to focus on those elements that set it apart from stage drama. This dissertation argues instead that radio plays have both drawn on and influenced the twentieth-century stage. In particular, I examine the key role of radio drama’s birthplace, the British Broadcasting Corporation, in the history of modern British stage drama. From its earliest days, the BBC’s Drama Department commissioned “plays for voices” from up-and-coming playwrights, many of whom went on to find success in the theater. Examining the work of several such playwrights alongside playwriting guidebooks, meeting minutes, letters, and memoranda, I argue that the influence of the BBC’s policies extended beyond England’s airwaves and onto its stages. Writing coherently for sound alone required new approaches to scene-setting and dialogue, which the Drama Department gradually developed into a set of inhouse protocols. In their radio writing, playwrights tested these protocols, defying listeners’ expectations of how on-air voices and sounds should behave. In their stage writing, these playwrights likewise incorporated techniques more suited to radio. Each chapter examines this pattern as it appeared in the career of a different author: Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, and Caryl Churchill. Through its analysis of their work, this dissertation locates radio drama within modernism’s more general pattern of blurring boundaries between art forms.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41128486
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