Space and Place in Joan Kemp-Welch’s Television Productions of Theatre Plays

Wrigley, Amanda (2014). Space and Place in Joan Kemp-Welch’s Television Productions of Theatre Plays. Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 34(3) pp. 405–419.



Joan Kemp-Welch (1906–1999), one of the first female television directors, started out as an actor on both the stage and film before becoming a theatre director and finally moving to television in 1955. She directed a variety of entertainment programmes for Associated-Rediffusion before marrying her evident skills as a television director with her rich experience of theatre work, in a number of important television plays, some from the stage and others written for the new medium. This article will examine how Kemp-Welch’s experience of theatre practice may have inscribed itself on her television productions of stage plays, focusing on the practical and aesthetic use she made of space in extant studio productions of plays set in very different locales and time periods, including Sophocles’ Electra (1962), Three Sisters (1963), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1964) and Romeo and Juliet (1976). This case study of an accomplished director of television plays will, therefore, attempt to understand the social, cultural and specifically theatrical meanings of the use of space in these productions to represent and suggest a variety of domestic, rural, urban and national places on the British small screen.

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