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The Life of Galileo and Brechtian television drama

Smart, B. (2013) The Life of Galileo and Brechtian television drama. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 10 (1). pp. 112-129. ISSN 1755-1714

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3366/jbctv.2013.0125


Bertolt Brecht's dramaturgy was as influential upon the development of British drama on television between the 1950s and the 1970s as it was in the theatre. His influence was made manifest through the work of writers, directors and producers such as Tony Garnett, Ken Loach, John McGrath and Dennis Potter, whose attempts to create original Brechtian forms of television drama were reflected in the frequent reference to Brecht in contemporary debate concerning the political and aesthetic direction and value of television drama. While this discussion has been framed thus far around how Brechtian techniques and theory were applied to the newer media of television, this article examines these arguments from another perspective. Through detailed analysis of a 1964 BBC production of The Life of Galileo, I assess how the primary, canonical sources of Brecht's stage plays were realised on television during this period, locating Brecht's drama in the wider context of British television drama in general during the 1960s and 1970s. I pay particular attention to the use of the television studio as a site that could replicate or reinvent the theatrical space of the stage, and the responsiveness of the television audience towards Brechtian dramaturgy.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:31043
Publisher:Edinburgh University Press

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