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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

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Broadcasting Beckett: Adaptations from the BBC Written Archives

15th October 2014, 17:30 to 19:00, Seminar Room, Hallgarth House, Prof. Matthew Feldman

An Inventions of the Text seminar.

This paper will reconsider Beckett's relationship with the BBC through recourse to neglected files held at the Written Archives Centre in Caversham. Collectively, these materials - covering a range of aspects concerning Beckett's work for the BBC - including contracting, correspondence, negotiation over content and so on - reveal a far greater engagement with radio broadcasting than has been previously acknowledged. During the crucial years between 1957 and 1962, this not only included his five oft-discussed radio plays, but extended adaptations of most of his major works (including the Trilogy, Waiting for Godot with a narrator (!), and other surprises), debates over musical accompaniment and BBC framing and much more, bearing out Donald McWhinnie's prophetic, internal BBC memorandum from 1957: ‘if he is to write at all in the near future it will be for radio, which has captured his imagination’. While an overview of these materials will be offered, consideration of these key five years will be included insofar as they may have contributed to a change in Beckett's poetics toward 'abstract drama' and writing.

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