As I remarked last week, it would be a mistake to think the UK was the only country that used to broadcast powerful, high-quality plays. The Westinghouse Studio One plays, broadcast in the US on CBS between 1948 and 1958, are rightly regarded by the likes of Dick Fiddy, the BFI’s TV programming chief, as the ‘first golden age of American television’.
All the same, it would also be tempting to think that US TV might only show original, modern plays set in the US or plays that might be regarded purely as little films. Wrong.
Notably, during the Christmas season of 1952, Westinghouse Studio One showed The Nativity, a play based on the 14th and 15th century Chester and York mystery plays. Adapted by Andrew Allen, directed by Franklin Schaffner, and with a choral accompaniment by the Robert Shaw Chorale, the play was even performed in Middle English.
And it’s today’s The Wednesday Play. Enjoy!