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Origins[ edit ] The concept for the series originated in with Cedric Messinaa BBC producer who specialised in television productions of theatrical classics, while he was on location at Glamis Castle in AngusScotland, shooting an adaptation of J.
By the time he had returned to London, however, his idea had grown considerably, and he now envisioned an entire series devoted exclusively to the dramatic work of Shakespeare; a series which would adapt all thirty-seven Shakespearean plays.
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He had anticipated that everyone in the BBC would be excited about the concept, but this did not prove so. Furthermore, they argued that Shakespeare on television rarely worked, and they were of the opinion that there was simply no need to do all thirty-seven plays, as many were obscure and would not find an audience amongst the general public, Hamlet essay questions tutor tales in England.
Disappointed with their lack of enthusiasm, Messina went over the departmental heads, forwarding his proposal directly to Director of Programmes, Alasdair Milne and Director-General, Ian Trethowanboth of whom liked the idea.
Clarke-Smith as Iago 14 December. None of them survive now. Produced and directed by Ronald Eyreand starring Roger Livesey as Falstaffthe series took all of the Falstaff scenes from the Henriad and adapted them into seven thirty-minute episodes.
Featuring nine sixty-minute episodes, the series adapted the Roman plays, in chronological order of the real life events depicted; CoriolanusJulius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra.
At the end of its run, the production was remounted for TV, shot on the actual Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage, using the same set as the theatrical production, but not during live performances. Due to the popularity of the broadcast, the series was again screen inbut the three plays were divided up into ten episodes of fifty minutes each.
Funding[ edit ] The BBC Television Shakespeare project was the most ambitious engagement with Shakespeare ever undertaken by either a television or film production company. So large was the project that the BBC could not finance it alone, requiring a North American partner who could guarantee access to the United States market, deemed essential for the series to recoup its costs.
In their efforts to source this funding, the BBC met with some initial good luck. Challender knew that Morgan were looking to underwrite a public arts endeavour, and he suggested the Shakespeare series to his superiors.
Morgan contacted the BBC, and a deal was quickly reached. Securing the rest of the necessary funding took the BBC considerably longer — almost three years.
Exxon were the next to invest, offering another third of the budget in However, because CPB used public funding, its interest in the series caught the attention of US labour unions and theatre professionals, who objected to the idea of US money subsidising British programming.
That was in itself a kind of extraordinary feat. This idea was quickly rejected, however, as it was felt to be an unacceptable compromise and it was instead decided to simply have one season with seven episodes. Initially, Messina toyed with the idea of shooting the plays in the chronological order of their compositionbut this plan was abandoned because it was felt that doing so would necessitate the series beginning with a run of relatively little known plays, not to mention the fact that there is no definitive chronology.
When the production of the inaugural episode, Much Ado About Nothing, was abandoned after it had been shot, it was replaced by The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eight as the sixth episode of the season.
Messina had wanted to shoot the eight sequential history plays in chronological order of the events they depicted, with linked casting and the same director for all eight adaptations David Gileswith the sequence spread out over the entire six season run.
The second set of four plays were then directed by Jane Howell as one unit, with a common set and linked casting, airing during the fifth season. When Cedric Messina attempted to cast Jones as OthelloEquity threatened to strike, as they wanted only British and Irish performers to appear in the shows.
Another early idea, which never came to fruition, was the concept of forming a single repertory acting company to perform all thirty-seven plays.
The RSC, however, were not especially pleased with this idea, as it saw itself as the national repertory. During the planning for season two, when it came to their attention that Messina was trying to cast James Earl Jones as OthelloEquity threatened to have their members strike, thus crippling the series.
This forced Messina to abandon the casting of Jones, and Othello was pushed back to a later season. This was based upon what Messina knew of TV audiences and their expectations. His opinion, supported by many of his staff, was that the majority of the audience would not be regular theatregoers who would respond to stylisation or innovation.The Purdue University Online Writing Lab serves writers from around the world and the Purdue University Writing Lab helps writers on Purdue's campus.
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