Eden End at the Ilkley Playhouse
We are delighted to inform you that this autumn the Ilkley Playhouse will be staging a production of Priestley’s 1933 play Eden End. This play (directed by Olivier for the National Theatre at the Old Vic in 1974) is an underperformed, Chekhovian masterpiece and we urge you to go and see it.
“Perhaps I am a stranger. But I don’t seem like one to myself – only Stella Kirby, back home again in Eden End.”
Stella Kirby left Eden End 8 years ago to pursue her dreams as an actress, leaving behind family and romance. One October afternoon in 1912 she returns to find the childhood home she remembered has changed more than she ever thought it would.
Whilst the spectre of the Great War looms, Stella finds that not everyone is keen to offer her a warm welcome, and an unexpected guest is not far behind her.
Presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH LTD
Directed by Andrew Leggott
Assisted by Patrick Hebbert
Sponsored by The Priestley Society
For tickets visit this link: http://ilkleyplayhouse.co.uk/IlkleyPlayhouse.dll/WhatsOn?Film=166025
J.B. Priestley at the Bradford Literature Festival
It is 80 years since J.B. Priestley wrote Time and the Conways. Or is it?
On Saturday 8th July, 1:00 pm – 2:15 pm there will be the opportunity to join writer, Anthony Peake, and academic, Luke Goaman-Dodson (also Priestley’s great-grandson), in a fascinating discussion that may change the way you perceive time forever…
J.B. Priestley’s fascination with the nature of time influenced his work to the extent that he famously wrote three plays dedicated to the topic and even penned a book of time theory.
This captivating exploration of his work will delve into Priestley’s plays and examine the questions that preoccupied him. Is time linear? Or is it a construct of the mind?
For more details and to reserve a ticket click here: https://www.bradfordlitfest.co.uk/event/time-priestleys-writing/
THE ROSE AND CROWN
Produced by the Leeds Art Centre at the Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds
The Rose and Crown
by J. B. Priestley • directed by Ken Taylor
7.30pm • Wednesday 26th – Saturday 29th April 2017
The Carriageworks, Leeds, Main Stage
The occupants of a snug bar in a pub are bemoaning their lot, and the misery of shortages and rationing in 1947’s post-war Britain. A stranger has entered, and listens to their conversation. The stranger tells the drinkers that he is the Angel of Death, and that he is one short of his daily quota. The room is sealed off, and they can’t leave. The stranger is happy for them to choose who his next victim will be and – given their misery – he’s sure that they will have a volunteer.
The Rose and Crown is being performed as part of a double-bill with After Midnight – Before Dawn.
Leeds Arts Centre is a prestigious amateur theatre group which presents a wide variety of plays at the Carriageworks Theatre on Millennium Square in Leeds.
To book tickets click here: http://purchase.tickets.com/buy/TicketPurchase?agency=LEEDS_CC&organ_val=21996&event_val=AFT_&schedule=list
A number of Society members will be attending the production on Friday 28th April
SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENTS IN 2016
We commend the following theatre companies for their Special Achievements in 2016:
Cahoots Theatre Company in association with The Other Cheek and Park Theatre, Finsbury Park, London, for their revival of The Roundabout, Priestley’s second solo play and long unstaged.
Damien Tracey Productions in association with The Old Red Lion Theatre, Islington, London, for their World Premiere stage production of Benighted, Priestley’s second novel.
Vanemuine Theatre, Tartu, Estonia for its production of The Linden Tree (Perekond Linden), the first known overseas staging of this fine but neglected play since The Society’s records began and the first production anywhere since 2014.
Priestley novel as ‘spine-chilling’ comedy on stage
From December 6th 2016 to January 1st 2017
At the Old Red Lion Theatre, Islington, London EC1 (near The Angel tube station)
Originally published as his second novel in 1927, Benighted was the first real introduction to the world of a then unknown J.B. Priestley. In 1932 it was brought to the screen by James Whale under the US title The Old Dark House. Now it is to be presented on the live stage in an adaptation by Duncan Gates. The Old Red Lion Theatre teams up with Damien Tracey Productions for the ultimate creepy Christmas treat.
Lost in the heart of wildest Wales on a treacherously stormy night, a group of travellers are forced to abandon their car and seek refuge in a ramshackle mansion. Soaked, hungry and exhausted by their ordeal, their relief at being indoors rapidly slips away as it becomes apparent that their gracious hosts for the evening, the peculiar Femm Family (and indeed the house itself), may be far more treacherous than the raging elements outside. A spine-chilling comedy that inspired The Rocky Horror Show and many lesser imitators, Benighted is the original haunted house psycho-drama, seen on stage for the first time.
Tickets: £19.50 / 17.50 Conc. (£16 for 6th and 7th December previews)
Box Office tel: 0844 412 4307
Evenings at 7.30 Tues – Sat., plus matinees 2.30 Sat. and Sun.
No performance Monday 12 and 19 Dec., nor 24 – 25 Dec.
POSITIVE REVIEWS FOR PARK THEATRE’S REVIVAL OF PRIESTLEY’S
Following the press night last Thursday 24th August, a number of positive reviews have appeared in the press. Here is a flavour of what’s been written.
“Stylish return for early Priestley play” The Guardian
“Maybe now is the right time to revive it – after all, about as much makes sense in the Britain of 2016 as it did in the Britain of 1931.” Broadway World
“A highly enjoyable comedy” British Theatre Guide
“A funny and perceptive look at English life in the 1930s.” London Theatre 1
“A star performance from Bessie Carter… one to watch” Evening Standard
“The Roundabout boasts a stellar cast who work very well together. Bessie Carter in her first professional theatre role gives an excellent performance” London Theatre 1
“Wonderful work from Hugh Sachs” Daily Telegraph
“if you are after some traditional fun, you will certainly have a good time.” A Younger Theatre
AND THERE’S STILL TIME TO SEE IT. BOOK HERE: https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/the-roundabout
PRIESTLEY AT THE ILKLEY LITERATURE FESTIVAL
This year the renown Ilkley Literature Festival will feature a special event to coincide with the publication of a collection of Priestley essays by Notting Hill Editions.
The event offers the opportunity to Join a glittering panel of much loved writers, broadcasters and performers to celebrate the life and work of iconic Yorkshire writer JB Priestley. Barry Cryer, Margaret Drabble, Tom Priestley and critic Valerie Grove share stories about the celebrated ‘bon viveur’, give readings from his spirited essays and broadcasts, and discuss his views on a diverse range of subjects from war to conferences. An entertaining afternoon celebrating the wit and originality of one of Britain’s most distinguished writers.
Tickets for this event are available from 9.00am Tuesday 30th August.
For more information and to book tickets click here: http://www.ilkleyliteraturefestival.org.uk/events/41-grumbling-at-large-celebrating-jb-priestley-with-barry-cryer-margaret-drabble-tom-priestley-and-valerie-grove
To purchase a copy of the recently published collection of Priestley essays Grumbling At Large, click here:
THE ROUNDABOUT – A VERY RARE REVIVAL
The Park Theatre in London are reviving one of Priestley’s lesser known and seldom produced comedies, The Roundabout. Needless to say we are very excited about this and are happy to inform you that the play will preview on the 24th August and will play until the 24th September 2016.
For more information and to purchase tickets for the performances click here:
A WELCOME COLLECTION OF ESSAYS
Grumbling At Large, Selected Essays of J B Priestley, with an Introduction by Valerie Grove, is a welcome new publication from Notting Hill Editions.Beautifully produced in a pocket-sized, hardback format it includes 26 pieces drawn from Priestley’s publications throughout most of his writing career. There are some familiar pieces, such as First Snow and On The Moors, and some less familiar.
The August 2016 issue of The Oldie contains an article, The Odd Companions, written by Valerie Grove to mark the publication of the newbook. The article acknowledges the collaboration between the author and Tom Priestley in selecting the essays in the collection and deals extensivelywith the latter’s relationship with his father. The cover of the magazine bearsa whimsical caricature of Priestley by Gary Smith and the article isaccompanied by separate photographs of father and son. Elsewhere, there isa generous extract from one of the author’s most deeply-felt essays, On Old Age, written in 1977 when Priestley was 83 and still had nearly seven more years to live.
As part of the Chester Literature Festival The Oldie is sponsoring a LiteraryLunch at Chester Town Hall on 19 October, 2016, at which Valerie Grove will talk about the new collection.
There will also be an event to celebrate this publication at the Ilkley Literature Festival on Sunday 2nd October at the King’s Hall, Ilkley. Tom Priestley, Margaret Drabble, Barry Cryer and Valerie Grove will discuss Priestley’s life and work and the essays printed in this new volume.
For reviews of this new volume click these links:
J.B. PRIESTLEY SOCIETY ANNUAL WALK
This year’s annual walk is being held in Birmingham on Saturday 18 June.
We shall visit many of the places JB visited during his stay in the city when researching for English Journey. It is also a great opportunity to see how the city has reinvented itself in the intervening years.
Highlights of the walk (a gentle 4.5 miles!) will include:
The Museum and Art gallery
The Bull Ring
The Jewellery Quarter
The city’s canals
City of Birmingham Library
A ride on the city’s new tramway
Lunch at a historic Jewellery Quarter pub
Assemble at 11.30am outside the Grand Hotel, Colmore Row, Birmingham, B3 2BB (opposite St Philips Cathedral).
Please contact Andrew Greathead to let him know if you will be joining the walk, either by telephone on 07704465638 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
DALDRY’S ROYAL NATIONAL THEATRE PRODUCTION OF AN INSPECTOR CALLS RETURNS TO WEST END
Stephen Daldry’s staging of An Inspector Calls is to return to the West End to celebrate its 25th anniversary.
First staged at the National Theatre in 1992, the production of JB Priestley’s play will run at the Playhouse Theatre from November 4 to February 4, 2017 – with a press night on November 10.
Announcing the news, Daldry said: “Each time we have mounted this production it seems more relevant than the last; with the refugee crisis, the European referendum debate and American elections, you can’t fail to see the genius of Priestley’s writing.”
The West End run will also mark 70 years since the play was first staged in the UK.
The play has design by Ian MacNeil, music by Stephen Warbeck and lighting by Rick Fisher.
Tickets for this run can be purchased here: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/an-inspector-calls/playhouse-theatre/
TOUR DATES FOR NORTHERN BROADSIDES’ WHEN WE ARE MARRIED
The 2016 tour of the new production, by Northern Broadsides, of When We Are Married will take place from 26 September to 10 December. The full list of venues has not yet been announced.
It is just as well that the tour is beginning at the York Theatre Royal becauseso far in 2016 not a single amateur production of a Priestley play has been scheduled in the North of England.
LABURNUM GROVE IN SUNDAY READINGS IN THE PARK
Following its first series of Sunday Readings in the Park in 2015, which featured The Scandalous Affair of Mr Kettle and Mrs Moon, the New Actors Company is returning to the Park Theatre, Finsbury Park, London for a second series. The fifth reading in the series, on 17 July, will be Laburnum Grove.
The company, consisting of twelve actors, uses the traditional and often lamented Repertory Theatre model. ‘Rep’ used to be the place where actors learnt their craft and the model encouraged variety, versatility and diversity.
After each one-off performance the audience will be invited to take part in a short discussion when members of the cast and the director will give their insights into the play.
We are delighted that Priestley plays have been selected for both series and wish the company a successful outcome this season.
MAJOR AWARD FOR FILM VERSION OF AN INSPECTOR CALLS
Drama Republic’s 2015 television ﬁlm version of An Inspector Calls, which was commissioned by the BBC, won the prize for the Best Single Drama atthis year’s Broadcasting Press Guild Television and Radio Awards.
The Annual BPG Awards recognise outstanding programmes andperformances from the preceding year as voted on by the Guild’smembership.
Actors Ken Stott and Miranda Richardson, who played Mr and Mrs Birling inthe ﬁlm, were present at the Awards ceremony.
We offer our warmest congratulations to Drama Republic on its success.
Notice of Annual General Meeting of
The J B Priestley Society to be held on Sunday 17th April 2016 at 11.00am
at Glyde House, Glydegate, Bradford BD5 0BQ
Please note: It is possible for non-members to attend and join on the day. Please inform the secretary, details below.
Directions: Glyde House is about 100 yards from the Media Museum. Parking is available at the rear of the Media Museum.
The ten members of Council are appointed for three years. In order to comply with the Constitution it is necessary that one-third of the present Council members will retire from office but all will be eligible for re-election.
Applications from other members who wish to stand for office must be received by the Honorary General Secretary not later than 2nd April and applications should be accompanied by a brief biographical description of up to about 20 words.
Propositions involving alterations to the Constitution should also be in the secretary’s hands by Saturday 2nd April 2016.
Hon General Secretary: Rod Slater
6 Massey Brook Lane, Lymm, Warrington, WA13 0PN
Tel: 01925 752 216 email: email@example.com
And in the afternoon:
Showing of DVD of Laburnum Grove (1936, b/w, 71 minutes)
MEDIA MUSEUM FILM SHOW IS SELL-OUT SUCCESS
On Sunday 31 January the Cubby Broccoli Cinema at the National MediaMuseum, Bradford was sold out for the showing of the 1958 BBC documentary ﬁlm Lost City, which features J B Priestley making a return to his native city in search of the places and people he had known in his early years. In his search he is accompanied by Society Member Mavis Dean, who is happily still active 58 years on and who made a personal appearance after the show. Interviewed by The Society’s Films Ofﬁcer, Bill Lawrence she conﬁdently and entertainingly talked about her role in the ﬁlm and delighted the audience with a song at the end of the interview.
The event was organised by Bill Lawrence in association with the National Media Museum and included the short documentary ﬁlm We Live In Two Worlds (1937), for which Priestley provided the script and commentary and in which he appears as presenter. Several other pieces of ﬁlm archive featuring Priestley were also shown, including two fascinating excerpts from Battle For Music (1943), a part-documentary, part-ﬁctional account of the wartime campaign to save the ﬁnancially beleaguered London Philharmonic Orchestra, a campaign in which Priestley played a prominent part.
It is hoped to arrange another ﬁlm show towards the end of 2016 or early 2017
MAJOR THEATRE AWARD FOR SOCIETY VICE-PRESIDENT
Kenneth Cranham, one of The Society’s Vice-Presidents, has been named Best Actor in the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards at a ceremony in the Prince of Wales Theatre, London. The award was given for his performance in The Father, which he has already played 171 times and intends to play ‘for almost another 100′.
New Production of Priestley’s The Rose and Crown
Martin Foreman of Arbery Productions is directing
J B Priestley’s The Rose and Crown
for the Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group
at the Churchill Theatre, Edinburgh
in the Scottish Community Drama Association Festival,
19 February 2016
For more information about this production and to purchase tickets please click on the links below:
An Afternoon With J.B. Priestley
On Sunday 31st Januay there will be a filming of The Lost City, a 1958 film made by the BBC when J.B. Priestley returned to Bradford, the city of his birth, to revisit his childhood home and other key landmarks that were such an integral part of his youth. The screening will take place at the National Media Museum at 14.00.
In the film Priestley arrives by train at Forster Square Station and is greeted by the press. One lady journalist challenges him about his outspoken views of Bradford which she says have caused offence to Bradford people. Priestley takes her on a tour of Bradford starting with his childhood home on Saltburn Place. They visit the Swan Arcade, Bradford Kirkgate Market, the Theatre Royal on Manningham Lane and other well-known Bradford locations. The pair also visits a rehearsal of the Halle Orchestra at St George’s Hall and a local dance hall more recently known as the Mecca Locarno then Dollars and Dimes and finally The Town and Country Club.
This iconic film is a must see for Priestley fans and anyone interested in what Bradford looked like almost 60 years ago. There are some fantastic views of Bradford in this film.
The screening will also feature a post-film conversation with Mavis Dean, the young reporter who accompanied Priestley in 1958.
For more information and to book tickets online click the link below or visit the website of The National Media Museum.
J.B. Priestley features in Sunday Readings in the Park
The Priestley play Mr Kettle and Mrs Moon will be the first in a series of one-off performances of little known dramatic works at the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, London.
Mr Kettle is a bank manager who, perplexingly, flees from the conventions of his job, his life, and his responsibilities; opting instead to stay at home and play a childhood game he always adored – but the bank has a game of its own and they don’t intend to lose.
For full information and booking clik this link:
Still places available for the
Annual J.B. Priestley Society Lectures 2015
This free to enter event at Queen Mary University of London this Saturday 31 October 2015 2pm-4pm is now only three days away.
It is not too late to book a place. Please click the link below for full details and to reserve your place.
This year there will be two lectures not one and we are delighted that our two lecturers will be Anthony Peake author and time theorist, and Dr Katy Price Lecturer in Modern Literature, QMUL.
Their theme will be:
J.B. PRIESTLEY, DREAMS AND TIME
J.B. Priestley Translated into Arabic
A play titled ‘Soul Bar’ has been creating quite a stir on Facebook. The play is an adaptation of the one-act play written by J.B. Priestley, entitled “The Rose and Crown”, and has been rendered in classical Arabic.
To read all about it click here http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2015/10/13/despite-chaos-soul-bar-receives-wide-praise/
5.00pm 24th September at the Leeds College of Art, there will be a talk about Priestley’s life and influences. This event is in conjunction with the English Journey Photographic Display housed at the college.
In 2013 photographer John Angerson embraced the spirit of J.B. Priestley’s 1933 classic text, English Journey, by travelling the country and photographing the contemporary scene. His photos do what Priestley’s words also did: captured the essence of Englishness and the state of the nation today. The subtitle for Priestley’s book: ‘Being a rambling but truthful account of what one man saw and heard and felt and thought during a journey through England.’ is very apt. Now John’s photographic record can be viewed at Leeds College of Art, 24 July – 02 October 2015.
For full details click these links:
Enjoy the BBC adaptation?
There’s lots of information about An Inspector Calls for teachers and students on the large button above and two commentaries on the play if you click on An Inspector Callls in our famous works section on the right hand side.
New BBC Adaptation of An Inspector Calls is on BBC1 at 9pm on Sunday, September 13
This new production will see David Thewlis join the roll call of Priestley’s inspectors
Annual J.B. Priestley Society Lectures 2015
At Queen Mary University of London
2 – 4 p.m. Saturday 31 October 2015
To register and book a place visit:
We are very pleased to announce that this year there will be two lectures not one and we are delighted that our two lecturers will be Anthony Peake author and time theorist, and Dr Katy Price Lecturer in Modern Literature, QMUL.
Their theme will be:
J.B. PRIESTLEY, DREAMS AND TIME
J.B. Priestley was fascinated by time. This most ephemeral of perceptions re-occurs as a theme over and over again in his plays. I Have Been Here Before, Dangerous Corner, Time and the Conways, Johnson Over Jordan and An Inspector Calls all use time as a major plot device and explore the nature of time in some way. Priestley also wrote extensively about the subject in his autobiographical works, culminating in his fascinating work Man and Time.
Anthony Peake will discuss major influences on Priestley’s philosophy of time, especially as seen in his ‘Time Plays.’ In 1963 Priestley appealed to the public on BBC television’s Monitor programme to send in their own accounts of experiences that appeared to challenge the ‘common-sense’ idea of Time, including precognitive dreams. Anthony was the first person, since JBP himself, to be given access to all of those letters. He will describe the contents of a dozen or so of these letters and will present them within the JBP philosophy as presented in the “Time Plays”.
Anthony is a writer who deals with borderline areas of human consciousness. His first book, Is There Life After Death? was published in 2006 and since then he has gone on to develop his own ideas together with exploring the latest areas of research in his field. He has published eight books in total and has lectured on Priestley’s ideas about time at The National Theatre. For more information about Anthony visit his website at http://anthonypeake.com/
Dr Katy Price’s research interests include para-psychology in literature and culture; and the social history of precognitive / prophetic dreams. Her lecture will briefly review the terms on which Priestley’s writings are being appreciated by literary scholars today, before turning to the Monitor letters themselves as a rich repository for social history. It is thanks to Priestley’s appeal for time experiences that we have access to records of people’s reading habits and inner lives in the mid twentieth century. The letters also reveal the multiple benefits that fans derived from Priestley’s works and from a sense of connection with a trusted storyteller, to whom they looked for guidance and support.
Katy Price is a lecturer in modern and contemporary literature at Queen Mary University, London. Katy is the author of Loving Faster than Light: Romance and Readers in Einstein’s Universe, and is currently writing a book about prophetic dreams in the twentieth century. Katy has given talks about Priestley’s collection of time letters from television viewers to audiences in psychology, psychical research, history of science, literary and media studies. An article about mental health aspects to parapsychology experiences as told to Priestley in 1963 is free to download from Science Direct: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369848614000867
An Eventbrite page has been created for the lectures. Please go here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/jb-priestley-society-annual-lecture-2015-tickets-16763969484 to register and book.
The lectures are free and open to the public as well as members of the J.B. Priestley Society.
English Journey Photographic Display at Leeds College of Art
In 2013 photographer John Angerson embraced the spirit of J.B. Priestley’s 1933 classic text, English Journey, by travelling the country and photographing the contemporary scene. His photos do what Priestley’s words also did: captured the essence of Englishness and the state of the nation today. The subtitle for Priestley’s book: ‘Being a rambling but truthful account of
what one man saw and heard and felt and thought during a journey through
England.’ is very apt. Now John’s photographic record can be viewed at Leeds College of Art, 24 July – 02 October 2015.
For full details click these links: http://www.leeds-art.ac.uk/news-events/events-exhibitions/2015/07/24/john-angerson-english-journey/
Priestley and An Inspector Calls to feature at the Bradford Literature Festival
The Enduring Appeal of J B Priestley’s An Inspector Calls
To celebrate 70 years since its first performance and to coincide with a new TV adaptation, Bradford Literature Festival are bringing together a panel of renowned Priestley experts to offer their insights on the play’s enduring appeal. This will take place on Sunday 17th May. To book your place click this link: http://www.bradfordliteraturefestival.co.uk/events/the-enduring-appeal-of-j-b-priestleys-an-inspector-calls/
To celebrate 70 years since its first performance and to coincide with a new TV adaptation, we’re bringing together a panel of renowned Priestley experts to offer their insights on the play’s enduring appeal.
To begin, there will be a specially filmed discussion between President of the J B Priestley Society and the author’s only son, Tom Priestley and actor Kenneth Cranham, known for his masterly performances as Inspector Goole in London and New York.
The screening will be followed by a live discussion between Lee Hanson, Chairman of the J B Priestley Society and John Baxendale, cultural historian at Sheffield Hallam University with a particular interest in the life and times of J B Priestley.
Lee Hanson is series editor of the Rediscovering Priestley Series for Great Northern Books and forewords to Valancourt editions of Priestley novels. John Baxendale is author of Priestley’s England: J B Priestley and English Culture.
The Inspector is Crossing the Atlantic
A professional production of An Inspector Calls will be staged by the Pioneer Theatre Company, Salt Lake City, Utah from 19 February to 5 March 2016. We look forward to hearing more about this production.
A Rare Production Indeed
A very rare production in North America of Laburnum Grove was staged by Western Gold Theatre in the PAL Studio Theatre, Vancouver, British Columbia from 20 to 22 March 2015.
A Talk on Priestley’s Wars
Priestley’s Wars by Neil Hanson, published in 2008 by Great Northern Books, was, and remains, an important addition to the Priestley bibliography, especially because it incorporates the 1941 Postscripts. These, of course, were very much more than a pendant to the perhaps more celebrated 1940 series.
At the Leeds City Art Gallery on 17 March Neil Hanson, accompanied by his son Jack, gave a presentation on the ‘war and peace’ themes covered by the book. Jack Hanson read extracts not only from the Postscripts themselves but from other books, including Lost Empires, Margin Released and English Journey. Most of these extracts were familiar, as, indeed, was the content of Neil Hanson’s talk but the presentation as a whole was none the less valuable, especially since the speaker talked of Priestley in an extremely positive fashion.
In the question and answer session which followed we were able to correct a misapprehension contained in the introduction to the talk by a member of the Gallery staff (or so we assumed), namely that few of Priestley’s books were currently in print, with those that are conﬁned to the Great Northern Books series. We pointed out that in recent years three other publishers had reissued what has amounted to a signiﬁcant number of the novels, plays and short stories.
One unfortunate piece of information which Neil Hanson revealed at the end of his talk was that he only had two copies of the book for sale, the rest of the stock having been lost in a ﬂood.
Johnson Over Jordan at the BFI a Sell Out Success.
The BFI’s rare screening of the television adaptation of Priestley’s epic and extraordinary play, Johnson Over Jordan was a massive success. The depth of feeling generated when Everyman Robert Johnson shivered, turned up his coat and disappeared into the vast space and the smoky mist led many in the audience to break out into spontaneous applause.
First screened in 1965 this TV revival of the 1939 stageplay traced Robert Johnson’s experience when he is catapulted into his own afterlife. The original stageplay was Priestley’s first attempt to push out beyond the the middle-class naturalism which critics assumed was his normal habitat. Johnson, a decent deficient man, is at first brutally examined and exposed before gaining the opportunity to relive certain key moments in his life and come to some understanding of his own Self.
The screening was introduced by Dr Billy Smart and also Hannah Gordon who landed her first ever television role playing the part of Freda, Johnson’s daughter. Dr Smart an expert in film and television studies and the joint curator of the BFI’s Forgotten Drama Series spoke at length about the difficulties the play created for the production team and director Lionel Harris. Hannah Gordon explained how Sir Ralph Richardson had been so very kind to her and how the role was a springboard to what became a long and flourishing television career.
Johnson Over Jordan is featured heavily in the latest Journal of the Society. This is free to members but can be purchased via our downloads page.
Also on the bill was You Know What People Are, the only surviving edition of JB Priestley’s attempts to create an original drama that could only be told through the new medium of television, using a fixed repertory company of the same four actors for each play in the series. Sadly the other three episodes were lost, but this one, found in the BBC archives, received its first airing since 1955.
In the series Priestley aimed to ‘avoid the grand and pretentious and aim at something not out of place on the domestic hearth.’ The episode screened resembled something like modern day comedy sketch shows with a series of scenes, short in length, where a particular attitude or human characteristic was shown through either monologue or conversation. Most of the settings were commonplace: a bus queue, a bar, an office etc and all were comedic. Priestley appeared in several (most notably dressed up as a Martian in a scene that depicted how humans and spacemen might communicate should they ever meet) and held the entire programme together with narration between the scene changes. It was dated, but it did, in its way foreshadow the sort of sketch show that is now so much a fixture of British television.
CAST ANNOUNCED FOR BBC’S AN INSPECTOR CALLS!
David Thewlis, as Inspector Goole, heads the cast of the BBC One commissioned Drama Republic film of An Inspector Calls.
Mr Birling will be played by Ken Stott and Mrs Birling, by Miranda Richardson. They will be joined by Chloe Pirrie, Kyle Soller and Sophie Rundle.
As already announced, filming will take place in Yorkshire this month and the completed production will be aired on BBC later this year as part of its season of classic 20th century literature adaptations.
We will continue to update you with news of this production when we have it. Needless to say we are excited at the prospect and delighted the BBC have chosen to adapt this great piece of drama.