Saturday, June 02, 2012

Radio 4 to dramatise Ulysses

Station announces five-and-a-half-hour celebration of James Joyce's 'difficult' novel on 16 June – 'Bloomsday'

Barbara Jefford as Molly and Milo O'Shea as Leopold in the 1967 film of Ulysses. Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive

James Joyce's Ulysses is notoriously difficult and lurks unread on many a bookshelf. But Radio 4 is about to take the effort out of wrestling with the modernist classic with plans to air what it claims is the novel's first full-length dramatisation in Britain.
The network is to air its five-and-a-half-hour adaptation of the novel in seven chunks over one day on 16 June, known by Joyce aficionados as Bloomsday after the protagonist and because it is the date on which the book is set.
Featuring a cast of 24, the dramatisation is part of a celebration marking 90 years since the novel was published in 1922.
Radio 4's commissioning editor of drama, Jeremy Howe, promises that the adaptation will "not be Ulysses lite" – though he admits that no drama could possibly cram in the book's 265,000 words. In 1982 the whole book was broadcast by the Irish radio station RTE, but this lasted 29 hours and 45 minutes. In the same year, an obscure musical version written by Anthony Burgess called Blooms of Dublin was broadcast by Radio 3.
Howe said the book represented a work of literature that many Radio 4 listeners would want to have read but probably had not found the time. "But they will want to hear it as it is written," he said.
The sexually explicit sections of the book, including Molly Bloom's famous soliloquy, will air in the late evening. "Fortunately the sex comes late in the book, so it will be broadcast late at night," said Howe.
Set on 16 June 1904, the day Joyce had his first date with his future, much loved wife, Nora Barnacle, it focuses on two men, Leopold Bloom, an advertising agent, and Stephen Dedalus, often seen as Joyce's alter ego, who will be played by Henry Goodman and Andrew Scott respectively. Stephen Rea will narrate, while Niamh Cusack voices Molly Bloom.
Full story at The Guardian.


Stephen Dedalus said...

As usual, Bloomsday is being celebrated in Auckland on the night of June 16 in the red-light area of K Rd.
If you go to the Thirsty Dog pub there you'll be able to hear one of New Zealand’s leading actors, Wellington-based Carmel McGlone, reading from Molly Bloom's notorious soliloquy.
Besides Carmel McGlone, this year’s Auckland Bloomsday will feature a dazzling line-up. George Henare will be busy playing three parts — one male, one female, one transvestite. Dublin actor Brian Keegan will be reading from Ulysses and will be joined by chanteuse Linn Lorkin, famed yiddisher band The Jews Brothers, mezzo soprano Yuko Takahashi, international busker Farrell Cleary, renowned left-wing tenor Chris “Crubeen” Trotter, and a barbershop quartet singing Danny Boy. Unite Union’s Dublin-born born organizer Joe Carolan will take the nationalist high ground as The Citizen (he’ll also play The Citizen’s mangy mongrel).
If Auckland wants to be taken seriously as a world-class city, it doesn’t need a new Casino Convention Centre, it needs more scabrous back-alley art like this. This is what makes a world-class city.
Jews Brothers’ Bloomsday
Thirsty Dog Tavern, corner Karangahape Rd and Howe St,
Saturday night, June 16, 7.30pm-10.30pm.

G MacDowell said...

A full-on recorded dramatised reading was broadcast 12 years ago on access radio Planet FM in Auckland. It ran from midnight to about 5.30am on Jan 1, 2000, making it the first Bloomsday celebration of the new millennium anywhere in the world.
The NZ Herald, previewing the broadcast, noted, "Listeners are warned - or advised - that the brothel sequence will play around 2.30 am and Molly's stream of consciousness will begin about 4 am."