Schools drama 1964

A-R guides us through two drama programmes for schools in spring 1964

Reading Time: 11 minutes

Drama: She Stoops To Conquer and The Playboy of the Western WorldPeople work in the fieldsIndependent Television programmes for schools produced by Associated-Rediffusion – notes for spring term 1964

Above: Tinkers at the side of a road in County Mayo. Taken from specially-shot film from the Introductory programme to “The Playboy of the Western World”.

 

Television programmes for schools will be made available in the areas indicated below. Please send any comments on the programmes or requests for further information to the Education Office (Schools Information) at the appropriate address.

Television programmes for schools will be made available in the areas indicated below. Please send any comments on the programmes or requests for further information to the Education Office (Schools Information) at the appropriate address.

1 London Region. Channel 9.
Associated-Rediffusion Ltd., Television House, Kingsway, London, W.C.2

2 Midland Region. Channel 8.
Associated Television Ltd. (ATV), 150 Edmund Street, Birmingham, 3

3 Northern Region. Channels 9 and 10.
Granada TV Network Ltd., Manchester, 3

4 Central Scotland Region. Channel 10.
Scottish Television Ltd. (STV), Theatre Royal, Glasgow

5 South Wales and the West of England Region. Channel 10.
TWW Ltd., Pontcanna Studios, Cardiff; and Television Centre, Bristol

6 Central Southern Region. Channel 11.
and South East Region. Channel 10.
Southern Television Ltd., Northam, Southampton

7 North East Region. Channel 8.
Tyne Tees Television Ltd. (TTT), The Television Centre,
City Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

8 East Anglia Region. Channel 11.
Anglia Television Ltd., Anglia House, Norwich

9 Northern Ireland Region. Channel 9.
Ulster Television Ltd., Havelock House, Ormeau Road, Belfast

10 South West Region. Channels 9 and 12.
Westward Television Ltd., Derry’s Cross, Plymouth

11 North East Scotland Region. Channels 9 and 12.
Grampian Television Ltd., Queen’s Cross, Aberdeen

12 Channel Islands Region. Channel 9.
Channel Television, The Television Centre,
Rouge Bouillon, St. Helier, Jersey

To obtain additional copies of Booklets—

Please pass this to your Headmaster or Headmistress,
who has been supplied with an order form giving details of prices for this and other publications:


To the Headmaster/Headmistress:

PLEASE OBTAIN FROM THE INDEPENDENT TELEVISION COMPANY FOR OUR AREA (ADDRESS OVERLEAF)

Drama
She Stoops to Conquer
and
The Playboy of the Western World

Number of additional copies of booklet required………………………

Name of Staff Member………………………………………………………………………………………………

Note to the Headmaster or Headmistress :—

Please do not send this form on to your local Independent Television Company, but transfer all requests for extra booklets to the special order form which has been sent to you, and which lists the titles and prices.

Independent Television for Schools Spring Term 1964


Drama Age range 13 and over

“SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER”

Drama in the eighteenth century

The eighteenth century was the age of elegance and formality, Style was all-important and this is apparent in architecture, clothes and behaviour. At this time particularly, drama mirrored the age, and to understand the drama one must appreciate the society which gave rise to it. The tragedy was barren and uninspired, relying for plot and characters on classical legend, but the comedy of manners drew on the social gaiety of the town for satire and burlesque. Even then the authors relied mostly on stock situations to provide the framework of their plays. The most commonly recognised were the husband and wife who were perpetually quarrelling, the hero or heroine in disguise and the lovers outwitting parental opposition, . all of which appear in Goldsmith’s ‘She Stoops to Conquer’.

As in all eighteenth century comedy, the plot is complicated with at least two stories being interwoven, and mistakes and misunderstandings following fast on each other. It is aptly sub-titled ‘The Mistakes of a Night’. The humour, however, is derived from a variety of sources. The basic plot of the gallants being tricked into thinking their host’s house is an inn and the resulting complications of mistaken identity are age-old subjects for amusement at the expense of the unfortunate victims. In fact the whole play is a series of comic situations but the humour also lies in characterisation and speech. The characters appear humorous when they try to ape those in another class, e.g., the servants from the farm trying to be dignified butlers and footmen, and Mrs. Hardcastle unsuccessfully copying the manners of the town, a joke which reminds us of ‘Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme’ by Molière, on whose work much of the eighteenth century comedy was based.

The stilted and formal quality of the language provides one of the greatest barriers to a modern audience. The eloquent oaths, ‘Egad’ and ‘Zounds’, and the meticulously balanced sentence, which is so intrinsically a part of an age dominated by the influence of the rhetorical Dr. Johnson, strike strangely on the modern ear.

Modern children may also find it hard to accept the difficulties and indecision of the four lovers, who seem to be so strongly swayed in their choice by a much greater concern for money and social status than is generally acceptable today. But, at this time when young gentlemen were not trained for any specific occupation, much did depend on being married to someone of suitable wealth and position, meeting with family approval, and it was quite usual for the parents to choose a partner for their children. This did not mean, however, that they had no say in the matter. After all Mr. Hardcastle tells Kate:

‘Depend upon it child, I’ll never control your choice.’

Finally the very costume dictates a much greater formality of movement than we are accustomed to. Elegance of dress was not then the prerogative of the ladies but was equally shared by the gentlemen, as is illustrated by the scene in which Marlow and Hastings discuss their wardrobe. When the lace cuffs hung down over the fingers, a delicate flick of the wrist before taking snuff was essential to move it out of the way, and so mannerisms were born. The tight-fitting stocking, also, was such a feature of the gentleman’s dress, that he automatically stood to show off the legs to the greatest advantage. A lady too, in a full skirted boned gown could not possibly rest her hands at her sides, but must clasp them daintily at the level of her waist. So these artificial and stilted movements often originated from restrictions of dress, and were later elaborated into affected mannerisms.

Another major factor to dictate the style of the play and playing was of course the shape of the stage. Today the proscenium arch is an accepted part of the theatre, but early in the eighteenth century it had only just been introduced and there was a large apron stage before it, with two doors on each side of the actors to make their exits and entrances. Shortly after the turn of the century, the fashion was to transform the doors nearest the audience into boxes and build two more doors behind the proscenium arch. As a result the apron stage was also considerably diminished in size, until by the time Goldsmith was writing, the stage looked more like the picture frame that is regarded as traditional theatre today, and productions were correspondingly more formal and picturesque than they had been hitherto. The best position for the actor to be seen and heard was right down on the apron stage and this accounts for so much of every play being written in duologue form. One actor would exit as another entered, so that most of the action comprised two people well down stage.

This picture of eighteenth century staging is far removed from the small television screen and ‘She Stoops to Conquer’ has been adapted to meet this new medium, particularly in the last act when a slight rearrangement of the scenes makes the passage of time more convincing. The children may well find that the nearness of the action on the screen overcomes the barriers created by the mannerisms and courtesies of another age.

This television production of “She Stoops to Conquer” was first broadcast to schools in the summer term, 1960.

(Oliver Goldsmith, 1728-1774; ‘She Stoops to Conquer’, written 1773).

 

“THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD”

The characters and story of the ‘Playboy of the Western World’ are so essentially Irish that no production of it can be presented to children without some explanation and information.

In appreciating Synge’s works, it is a help to know something of the country-side of the west coast of Ireland. In Connemara and the Isles of Aran, which fascinated Synge so much, the country is barren and rocky. The great, grey boulders stick up out of the thin soil, leaving only small patches of heather and gorse between. Where there are a few yards of soil cleared of the rock, it has been cultivated to produce a little hay. The land is networked by the stone walls which make such a patchwork of the scenery, and the lanes are brilliantly fringed by the rich, wild fuschia. It is a land of great beauty, but in Synge’s time it was barren and poverty-stricken. Many of the young people still go to America or England to earn a living and send something back to those at home.

A little further north in Mayo, where the ‘Playboy of the Western World’ is set, the land is a little less bleak. On the coast, there are still the great cliffs that stand up against the rough, Atlantic breakers and when the tide is low, long stretches of hard, golden sand where seaweed lies thick and brown to be gathered like a harvest by the local people. The country is still divided by stone walls and dotted with the small freshly-whitewashed, thatched cottages, each with its guard of animals, the goat, the donkey, the sheep and the dog. The land is green and soft, and there are hayfields, though much of the ground is uncultivated, terraced and scarred by the peat bogs, shining black and wet. The roads wind across the wide, open land, broken only by the great stacks of peat at the side, waiting to dry out and be taken to the cottages for the winter.

It is against this atmosphere of a beautiful, proud land where the living is hard, that Synge sets his play. It caused a riot in the theatre when it was first produced. Synge was accused of praising murder and showing the peasants as rough, violent people. In fact, in our more hardened age, tempered by familiarity with the drama of the kitchen sink and crime, the violence would hardly shock. Synge does show the people as romantics, eager to glamourise a situation and embellish it. The gift for story-telling is a well-known characteristic of the Irish – ‘to kiss the Blarney Stone’ is a commonplace expression – and Synge shows how the village folk, whose only excitement is the funeral wake of a neighbour and the prospect of Pegeen’s marriage, seize on the tale the stranger tells of how he murdered his father, and make a romantic hero out of him. To them it is another exciting fairy-tale, like the stories they make up about the Widow Quinn, but when it almost becomes a reality before their eyes, they are horrified. They do not really approve of murder and Christy is nearly hounded to death when his actions threaten to involve them. At the end of the play, it is Christy who has changed, grown in stature, so that he dominates his father as they start out together in a new relationship, leaving the village behind them to sink back into its twilight existence when the excitement has died.

(John Millington Synge, 1871-1909; ‘The Playboy of the Western World’, written 1907).

 

PROGRAMME ONE
The Eighteenth Century
January 14 at 2.59
January 15 at 3.21

The background to ‘She Stoops to Conquer’ and the world in which Oliver Goldsmith was writing are not familiar to most children. Although a knowledge of eighteenth century life is not essential to the enjoyment of the comedy, it does provide a deeper understanding and is a fascinating study in itself. This programme will briefly attempt to show something of the graciousness and elegance of the architecture, furniture and costume of the time and also some of its disadvantages; the bad state of the roads, which made travel so difficult, and the vast differences between life in the town and the country. Since some illustrations will be taken from pictures by Hogarth and Rowlandson, teachers may like to introduce the work of these artists to the classes as preparation.

PROGRAMME TWO
She Stoops to Conquer
Part One
January 21 at 2.59
January 22 at 3.21

Part 1 will conclude with Marlow and Kate coming face to face for the first time, as they are introduced by Hastings.

PROGRAMME THREE
She Stoops to Conquer
Part Two

January 28 at 2.59
January 29 at 3.21

Part 2 will conclude when Mr. Hardcastle surprises Marlow making love to Kate in the belief that she is the barmaid.

PROGRAMME FOUR
She Stoops to Conquer
Part Three

February 4 at 2.59
February 5 at 3.21

Since the scene is of such dramatic importance, this episode will go back to the moment when Marlow first sees Kate in her simple dress and mistakes her for a barmaid. It will finish with Tony Lumpkin promising to save Constance and arranging to meet Hastings in the garden later on.

PROGRAMME FIVE
She Stoops to Conquer
Part Four

February 11 at 2.59
February 12 at 3.21

This week’s episode concludes the play. In order to adapt the material satisfactorily for television, a slight adjustment in the sequence of events has been made in the final act of the play.

PROGRAMME SIX
Background—An Introduction to the Ireland of J. M. Synge

February 18 at 2.59
February 19 at 3.21

When Synge wrote ‘The Playboy of the Western World’, he was describing the country and the people he had met on the west coast of Ireland. The land there is very beautiful, wild and rugged, rocky and bleak, and provides only a poor living for the folk who live there. They must rely on the meagre harvest they can gather, and on fishing in the dangerous waters. At the turn of this century, they had little contact with the outside world. When their sons went to England or America they went for good. Their entertainment and pleasure was what they could provide for themselves: dancing, singing, racing and above all story-telling. Little wonder then that any visitor from strange parts or any unusual happening was an event to be marvelled at and romanticised.

This programme will illustrate the background to the play and the story of its first production in Dublin which almost caused a riot.

PROGRAMME SIX
Background

Half-term repeat of last week’s programme
February 25 at 2.59
February 26 at 3.21

PROGRAMME SEVEN
The Playboy of the Western World
Part One

March 3 at 2.59
March 4 at 3.21

An evening in the autumn.
Into the quiet village life of a remote corner of Mayo, comes a stranger, Christy Mahon, who claims to have killed his father. The village folk regard him as a great hero, particularly the two ladies who vie for his attention, the Widow Quinn and the beautiful barmaid Pegeen Mike.

GLOSSARY
wake: Watching over corpse before burial, usually accompanied by lamentations and merrymaking.
peelers: Police.
whist: ‘Be quiet!’ or ‘Shut up!’
stooks of the dead women: Name given to dangerous cliffs where many fishermen had lost their lives.
boers: Dutch South-Africans.
i riz the loy: ‘I raised the spade’
loy: A large spade.
drouthy: Thirsty.
streelen: Wanderer.
streeler: Wanderer.
da: Dad.
shebeen: A country pub not too particular about serving drinks outside normal licencing hours.
blather: Talk.

PROGRAMME EIGHT
The Playboy of the Western World
Part Two

March 10 at 2.59
March 11 at 3.21

The next morning.

All the village flock to see Christy and bring him presents. He becomes very fond of Pegeen but while they are out his father arrives, and is sent away by the Widow Quinn. She now has a hold over Christy. She is the only one who knows the truth of his ‘murder’.

GLOSSARY
frish frash: Leavings or Dregs.
mitch off: Run off.
curragh: Crude home-made boat of canvas.
boreen: A winding road.

PROGRAMME NINE
The Playboy of the Western World
Part Three

March 17 at 2.59
March 18 at 3.21

Later the same day.

Christy wins all the races at the local sports and is the hero of the day until his father returns. The villages are disgusted with him when they learn that he did not murder his father, and he is laughed to scorn, so Christy decides to earn their respect and Pegeen’s love by murder again, but this time it does not have the same effect.


Cast Lists

She Stoops to Conquer

Marlow .. .. Paul Daneman
Mr. Hardcastle .. .. George Woodbridge
Mrs. Hardcastle .. .. Margaret Courtenay
Kate Hardcastle .. .. Jane Downs
Hastings .. .. Tristram Jellinek
Constance Neville .. .. Jocelyn James
Tony Lumpkin .. .. Patrick Newell
Sir Charles Marlow .. .. Kynaston Reeves
Landlord .. .. Reginald Marsh
Diggory .. .. John Cater
Pimple .. .. Vivian Pickles

The Playboy of the Western World

Christy Mahon .. .. James Caffrey
Pegeen Mike .. .. Eileen Colgan
Widow Quinn .. .. Peggy Marshall
Shawn Keogh .. .. Tony Doyle
Michael James .. .. Joe Lynch
Old Mahon .. .. Brian O’Higgins
Philly Cullen .. .. Desmond Perry
Jimmy Farrell .. .. Chris Gannon
Sarah .. .. Kate Binchy
Susan .. .. Colette Dunn
Nelly .. .. Maggie FitzGerald

 

A man and woman embrace

Above: Paul Daneman as Marlow and Jane Downs as Kate Hardcastle in a scene from “She Stoops to Conquer”.

 

The Lee Barnard collection in the Transdiffusion archives

About the author

Transdiffusion: the independent broadcasting authority since 1964

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