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Trevor Griffiths' 'Absolute Beginners': socialist humanism and the television studio

Panos, L. (2013) Trevor Griffiths' 'Absolute Beginners': socialist humanism and the television studio. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 10 (1). pp. 151-170. ISSN 1755-1714

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3366/jbctv.2013.0127


This article examines how conventional studio production strategies were active in the construction of political meaning in the 1974 television play 'Absolute Beginners' written by Trevor Griffiths. Produced for the BBC anthology series Fall of Eagles, the play dramatises Lenin's involvement with the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party (RSDWP) and explores the contradictions between personal ethics and political necessity. Through close textual analysis and contextual discussion of other plays in the series, this piece demonstrates how shot patterns and spatial and performative devices in 'Absolute Beginners' supported the drama's socialist-humanist themes. Drawing on existing writing about the studio mode, it argues that the qualities of intimacy and presentational distance that it engendered were highly appropriate for the personal and the political dialectic in 'Absolute Beginners'. While using authorship as a convenient category for referring to the coherence of Griffiths' thematic concerns and dramatic structure during this period, the article complicates notions of the television dramatist as author by arguing for the importance of visual style and showing how 'ordinary' studio form was operational in the play's political meanings.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:33240
Uncontrolled Keywords:Trevor Griffiths; studio; space; aesthetics; socialist humanism; feminism; political
Publisher:Edinburgh University Press

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