Ted Hughes and the Theatre

black and white photograph of Ted Hughes

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With Melvyn Bragg and guests Jonathan Kent, Tim Supple and David Thacker

This is an online-only event hosted on the British Library platform. Bookers are sent a viewing link shortly before the event and are able to watch at any time for 48 hours after the start time.

One of the giants of 20th-century British poetry, Ted Hughes was born in Mytholmroyd, Yorkshire in 1930 and was Poet Laureate from 1984 to his death in 1998.

Although best known as a poet, Ted Hughes was also an acclaimed writer of prose, non-fiction and dramatic work. The 1990s proved to be a particularly productive period for Hughes’ theatrical work as he created stage versions of European masterpieces Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind and Blood Wedding by Federico García Lorca, classical plays Phèdre, Alcestis and The Oresteia and his own Tales from Ovid. All are exceptional examples of his resonant language and all became much admired stage productions.

He collaborated closely with directors including Jonathan Kent and Tim Supple to create these versions.  At this special conversation, both Jonathan and Tim talk to Melvyn Bragg to revisit the plays and their memories of working with Hughes in what turned out to be the last few years of his life. They are also joined by David Thacker, who directed and co-adapted The Iron Man for the stage in 1993.

With selections from the plays read by Ian McDiarmid, Archana Ramswamy and Alison Reade

The event also includes a look at rarely seen items from the Ted Hughes archive housed at the British Library, selections from which are now on display in the Treasures Gallery.

Tim Supple is an award-winning British theatre director who has directed and adapted work all over the world including, Europe, Asia, Russia, North Africa, Iran, China, Australia and North and South America. Tim has regularly worked on productions for the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. He held the position of Artistic Director of the Young Vic from 1993 to 2000. Tim’s working relationship with Ted Hughes began in 1995 with their collaboration on the new adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening. They went on to work together adapting Lorca’s Blood Wedding and a theatrical version of Hughes’ own poetic work, Tales from Ovid.

Jonathan Kent CBE is a British theatre and opera director. In 1990, Jonathan was appointed as joint Artistic Director of the Almeida Theatre and remained in the position until 2002. In 2016, he was awarded a CBE by the Queen for his contribution to the performing arts. Throughout his career, Jonathan has worked with an array of artists including David Hare, Ralph Fiennes, Juliet Binoche, Cate Blanchett and Liam Neeson. In 1998, Jonathan directed Dame Diana Rigg in Ted Hughes’ adaptation of Jean Racine’s Phedra, which went on to appear on New York’s Broadway.

David Thacker is an award-winning British theatre and television director. David has been Artistic Director of the Duke’s Playhouse, Director of the Young Vic, Director in residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company and Artistic Director of the Octagon Theatre Bolton. He later became the first Professor of Theatre at the University of Bolton. David’s awards include the Olivier Award for Best Director and the Olivier Award for Play of the Year. In 1993, he co-adapted (with The Who’s, Pete Townsend) and directed the musical production of Ted Hughes’ well-known children’s book, The Iron Man, enjoying a successful run at London’s Young Vic.

Melvyn Bragg is a British broadcaster, author and parliamentarian. Melvyn is best known for his work with ITV as editor and presenter of The South Bank Show. He has been the recipient of a plethora of awards including, the BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award and the Royal Television Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as several nominations for the Man Booker Prize. In 2010, Melvyn Bragg became a fellow of the Royal Society and, in 2017, he was announced as patron of the Ted Hughes Society.

Sponsored by The Ted Hughes Estate

With thanks to Carol Hughes, and Faber and Faber

Photograph of Ted Hughes © Copyright Caroline Forbes.

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Name: Ted Hughes and the Theatre
Where: Entrance Hall
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546