Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"The Door"- Kilroy's First Radio Play

Last weekend, TCD held a celebratory series of lectures and discussions on Thomas Kilroy's work (Across the Boundaries: Talking about Thomas Kilroy ). In anticipation of it, and by way of follow-up, the media have published and broadcast a couple of items: noteworthy among them are Declan Hughes's article in the Irish Times (he is a co-founder of theatre company Rough Magic) of 27 April, and Vincent Woods's interview of some of the guests at the conference, in Arts Tonight, of 2 May. The two days were bookended by a reading of Kilroy's unproduced play, Blake, at the Abbey Theatre which is yet awaiting a full-scale production. (If you are interested in Blake, please also listen to this interesting interview with Kilroy.)
Talking of the media: one of the most interesting discoveries for me in the papers of Thomas Kilroy is how often he practices a cross-over between the stage, the airwaves, and of course, the paper it takes to get there:  over the course of his writing career, he has fashioned radio and television versions of four of his original plays, and of his adaptation of Chekhov's Seagull. He has also written four original pieces for the radio, and nine for television, not all of which made it to the airwaves.

Radio preview, 13 January 1968 (unknown paper)
The one of these that most interests me – and I'm waiting for the audiovisual archives to arrive yet, to listen to it – is the radio play The Door, which was broadcast by the BBC in early 1968 as Say hello to Johnny, after winning the 1967 BBC radio play competition. It was a very hard call for the judges, so Gus Martin in a contemporary radio newspaper column (see left). Cyril Cusack (who seems to feature in this blog a lot!) filled the speaking role of the protagonist, "James", and when Kilroy asked him to read a new stage play and give his opinion of it, he complimented him on this one: "may I now thank you for the Johnny play I was privileged to take part in. Anyone I met - Englishers - who heard it, gave an enthusiastic reaction. They were moved and edified." (21 January 1968).
Vera Orschel

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