Sophoclean television: Electra without subtitles on ITV in 1962

Wrigley, A. (2015). Sophoclean television: Electra without subtitles on ITV in 1962. In: Vatain-Corfdir, J. ed. La Scène en Version Originale. Presses de l'université Paris-Sorbonne (PUPS), pp. 55–65.



In 1962, the commercial television networks in the UK transmitted a studio presentation of Dimitris Rondiris’ internationally touring stage production of Sophocles’ Electra, performed by the Peiraïkon Theatron in modern Greek and without subtitles. It was, unexpectedly, an extraordinary success. This essay explores some of the terms in which Electra was considered to have been such a huge success amongst both the 2½ million viewers and numerous critics writing in the press, in light of the obvious language barrier for most of the audience. Qualities as beauty, intensity and emotion were, for example, cited as emerging from the perceived expressivity of performative elements such as choreography and the musicality of spoken and sung Greek. The essay also discusses the crucial importance of other, more prosaic, communicative modes to convey to the potential audience basic information about the play’s characters and its action.

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