Aristophanes at the BBC, 1940s-1960s

Wrigley, Amanda (2014). Aristophanes at the BBC, 1940s-1960s. In: Olson, S. Douglas ed. Ancient Comedy and Reception: Essays in Honor of Jeffrey Henderson. De Gruyter, pp. 849–870.



This essay investigates the performance life and history of Aristophanes’ plays on BBC Radio in the 1940s and 1950s, alongside a BBC Television production of Lysistratain the 1960s, paying attention to both their production contexts and the way audiences engaged with them. It not only explores the various approaches that have been taken in response to the challenge of rendering a highly visual comic form—Aristophanic drama—in purely aural and imaginative terms for production on the notoriously ‘blind’ medium of radio, but also charts how works from the unfamiliar and sometimes obscure genre of ancient comedy were made intelligible and understandable for the mass, non-specialist audience. The symbiotic relationship drawn out between these mass media productions of Aristophanes’ plays and the spheres of education, publishing and the stage highlights important points of creative engagement between classicists and writers on the one hand, and creative professionals in radio and television on the other, focusing especially on the contributions of Gilbert Murray, Louis MacNeice and Patric Dickinson

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