Very, very occasionally, TMINE lets you know what TV-related events the Institut français du Royaume-Uni will be presenting in London
Not technically a TV event, I know, but the Institut français will be screening the movie La fête des mères (Mother’s Day) on Sunday 25th June at 8.30pm, as part of its ‘Women Shaping the World’ season. So why mention it? Well, it stars Audrey Fleurot of Engrenages (Spiral), Les témoins (Witnesses), Safe et al, and she’ll be doing a Q&A afterwards:
La fête des mères (Mother’s Day)
in French with EN subs
FRA | 2018 | dir. Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar, with Audrey Fleurot, Nicole Garcia, Clotilde Courau, Carmen Maura
Presidents, nannies, bakers, actresses, teachers, florists, journalists, doctors… These women are progressive, benevolent, clumsy, absent, omnipresent, overworked, guilt-laden… Their children both long and fear to spread their wings and leave the nest. When daughters become mothers, they realise it’s all fun and games! This ensemble film gathers on screen a first class cast including Audrey Fleurot and Carmen Maura.
Every month, TMINE lets you know what TV the BFI will be presenting at the South Bank in London
It’s Harold Pinter season in July, with wall-to-wall Pinter plays, including some which he acted in or directed as well. However, there’s also an episode of Brownlow on Hollywood from 1980, looking at silent movies, as well as a preview of ITV’s forthcoming thriller Strangers (formerly known as White Dragon), starring John Simm and Emilia Fox, who will also be attending a Q&A afterwards.
Details after the whole of Brownlow on Hollywood, if you’re intrigued by the history of US movie-making and have 13 hours to spare…
…or if you prefer it, Pinter’s The Birthday Party, in which he also appears, which is this week’s Weekly Play.
The Twilight Zone is one of the most famous shows in US TV history. Although not quite the original US ‘anthology show’ – indeed, it started off as an episode of precursor CBS anthology show The Desilu Playhouse – it is the best known.
A science-fiction, fantasy, psychological-supernatural horror anthology show created by Rod Serling, it ran for five seasons from 1959 to 1964. Each standalone episode depicted characters dealing with paranormal, futuristic, Kafka-esque, or otherwise disturbing or unusual events that are said to have taken place in ‘The Twilight Zone’.
Famously, of course, each story typically featured a moral or surprise ending. I say famously, but there are few people who could probably tell you even one of those endings without prompting, since it’s one of those shows that’s famous without many people actually having seen any episodes of it – or of its numerousremakes, of which a new one is being developed even as I type.
At a push, people might remember its later theme tune and title sequence:
They’ll have forgotten the original one completely, mind.
They might also remember creator Rod Serling’s frequent on-screen introductions and conclusions to episodes.
But individual episodes? Not so much.
For the most part, The Twilight Zone has entered the realm of the meme – a shorthand for the weird and unexplainable, and stories with weird aliens and stings in their tails. Although, to be honest, that’s more The Outer Limits people are thinking of. Indeed, you can reduce the ‘stings’ of all 156 episodes down to just 10 minutes if you try really hard.
Adapting The Twilight Zone for the stage
Which makes adapting it for the stage, as The Almeida Theatre in North London has done, potentially both easy and hard. Easy, because if no one can remember the episodes, no one’s going to be fussed if you either simply stage one as written or divert from it and change it in some way; hard, because you’ve little to latch onto.
So the TV show was like a kind of theatre, and in turn the theatre show is based on TV. It’s a strange transference of forms. There are certainly many questions that arise when thinking about the legacy of the show and its new manifestation on stage.
How do you do a pre-commercial break cliff-hanger onstage?
How do you create a high-concept perspective twist with no camera?
What is the best form for building tension?
What is the best form for creating a sense of the paranoid, the mysterious, the genuinely strange?
But at a more basic level, even if you think of each episode as a play, it’s still a play that’s only 50 minutes long and that relies on filmic rather than theatrical techniques for the most part. And which can be pastiched as a mere twist.
John Landis and others showed us one way of doing it back in 1983 with The Twilight Zone: The Movie. That simply took three classic episodes of the show, added in a new one, and then created ‘bookend’ scenes around them.
What does writer Anne Washburn do at The Almeida? Well, let’s just say not only is a bit different to that, it’s also a bit more North London.