The British Library publishes four original recordings of Tom Stoppard’s radio plays for the first time to mark the playwright’s 75th birthday
Sir Tom Stoppard, the eminent playwright and scriptwriter, will celebrate his 75th birthday on 3 July this year. To mark the occasion The British Library is publishing a 5CD set entitled Tom Stoppard: Radio Plays, containing the original BBC broadcasts of four of his plays written specifically for radio: Albert’s Bridge, Artist Descending A Staircase, The Dog It Was That Died and In The Native State. The recordings are being released under license from the BBC and, with the exception of The Dog It Was That Died, this is the first time they have been made commercially available.
Although Sir Tom is recognised primarily for his work in the theatre, he has also written screenplays for films, notably winning the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay as co-writer of Shakespeare in Love, and original plays and adaptations for television, including the forthcoming BBC series Parade’s End, adapted from the tetralogy by Ford Madox Ford. His original plays for radio form a major part of this non-theatre work. As William Baker, co-author of Tom Stoppard: A Bibliographical History, comments: ‘Radio was of crucial importance in the development of Tom Stoppard’s career’. The four plays chosen for inclusion in this set represent Stoppard’s most substantial achievements in the genre and the opportunity to hear them again will surely confirm their place among his very finest works.
Albert’s Bridge (1967), starring John Hurt, was the first full-length (hour-long) play that Stoppard wrote for the radio, winning the Prix Italia in 1968 and the award in the Czechoslovak International Radio Play Festival the same year. Artist Descending A Staircase (1972) was the BBC drama entry for the 1973 Prix Italia and was later adapted by Stoppard for the stage. The Dog It Was That Died (1982), featuring a cast led by Charles Gray, Dinsdale Landen and Penelope Keith, was commissioned for the BBC’s 60th anniversary and won the Giles Cooper Award in 1982. In The Native State (1991), commissioned by BBC producer John Tydeman, won the Giles Cooper Award in
1991 and was later adapted by the author for the stage under the title Indian Ink. The longest of Stoppard’s radio plays at over two hours, In The Native State stands as his most significant success for radio and the broadcast production, with Felicity Kendal and Peggy Ashcroft in her final dramatic performance, is recognised as an outstanding example of the art of radio drama.
An event to mark Sir Tom’s birthday and the release of Tom Stoppard: Radio Plays will be held at the British Library on 6 July, attended by Sir Tom, with Mark Shenton as chair, and Felicity Kendal and John Hurt each reading extracts from their original roles in the plays.
“It has been an immense pleasure to produce this set of recordings to mark Sir Tom Stoppard’s 75th birthday”, says Richard Fairman, Audio Manager at the British Library.
“Ever since we released the first British Library CDs featuring historic broadcasts sourced from the BBC, it has been our ambition to bring these marvellous Stoppard radio plays back into circulation. With their dazzling wit, sharp sense of satire and ability to tap a seemingly inexhaustible fount of knowledge, they are Stoppard at his most brilliant, and it is hard to imagine that any radio productions in the future, or individual performances, are likely to surpass these originals. They are four jewels of radio history.”
Notes to Editors
Tom Stoppard: Radio Plays is published by the British Library on 3 July 2012, price £40.00. The 5CD set contains the original BBC broadcasts of Stoppard’s most substantial radio plays – Albert’s Bridge, Artist Descending A Staircase, The Dog It Was That Died and In The Native State - total duration 332 mins (ISBN 978 0 7123 5123 2). The recordings are copyright of the BBC. The booklet accompanying the CDs includes an essay by William Baker, co-author of Tom Stoppard: A Bibliographical History.
The 5CD set is available from the British Library Shop (tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7735 / e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) and online at www.bl.uk/shop as well as other bookshops throughout the UK.
‘Tom Stoppard: Radio Days’ will be held at the British Library on 6 July, attended by Sir Tom, with Mark Shenton as chair, and Felicity Kendal and John Hurt each reading extracts from their original roles in the plays.
Track Listing Tom Stoppard: Radio Plays
Date of original broadcast: 13.07.1967
Bob - Nigel Anthony
Charlie - Alexander John
Dad - Geoffrey Wincott
Albert - John Hurt
Chairman - Victor Lucas
Dave - Ian Thompson
George - Anthony Jackson
Fitch - Ronald Herdman
Mother - Betty Hardy
Father - Alan Dudley
Kate - Barbara Mitchell
Fraser - Haydn Jones
Director - Charles Lefeaux
Artist Descending A Staircase
Date of original broadcast: 14.11.1972
Martello (senior) - Stephen Murray
Beauchamp (senior) - Rolf Lefebvre
Donner (senior) - Carleton Hobbs
Sophie - Fiona Walker
Martello (junior) - Michael Spice
Beauchamp (junior) - Peter Egan
Donner (junior) - Dinsdale Landen
Director - John Tydeman
The Dog It Was That Died
Date of original broadcast: 09.12.1982
Rupert Purvis - Dinsdale Landen
Giles Blair - Charles Gray
Hogbin - Kenneth Cranham
Slack - Peter Tuddenham
Pamela Blair - Penelope Keith
Mrs Ryan - Katherine Parr
Commodore Arlon - Stephen Murray
Matron - Betty Marsden
Dr Seddon - John Le Mesurier
Vicar - Noel Howlett
Chief - Maurice Denham
Wren - Lockwood West
Director - John Tydeman
DISCS FOUR AND FIVE
In The Native State
Date of original broadcast: 21.04.1991
Duration: 72.02 and 63.08
Flora Crewe - Felicity Kendal
Nirad Das - Sam Dastor
Mrs Swan - Peggy Ashcroft
Anish Das - Lyndam Gregory
Nell - Emma Gregory
David Durance - Simon Treves
Nazrul - Amerjit Deu
Pike - William Hootkins
Coomaraswami - Renu Setna
Resident - Brett Usher
Rajah - Saeed Jaffrey
Francis/Englishman - Mark Straker
Emily Eden/Englishwoman - Auriol Smith
Director - John Tydeman
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