World Theatre; Interview with Christopher Fry
Gentlemen, WNYC has consistently presented on its "World Theater" the outstanding drama of the world, drama that has no rival in radio. Now, for example, we have carried BBC productions of Othello, Hamlet, King Lear by Shakespeare, Brand by Ibsen, JB Priestley's An Inspector Calls and Crime passionnel by Jean-Paul Sartre. That, of course, is to name just a few. And in addition to the drama proper, we have presented supplementary features, for example, the interview with Christopher Fry, which follows. Now this interview was aired in conjunction with the American radio premiere of Rice production of Phenix to frequent, a portion of which is to be heard, by the way, on the other side of this transcription. But right now, we should like you to listen to this interview with Christopher Fry. Why should our party instead of staying power? Well, if we have to be born into a world wild one, get this.
What else can be done if we willing to be realistic? What did you mean exactly when you wrote that? I meant that being alive is much more miraculous, tumultuous than rich and incredible than we're inclined to remember the fact that we should exist at all, but we should move and speak. There's an astonishment beyond the reach of what we've been apt to call realism is the surface appearance of life, which we've got used to. And that is one thing. But an even greater reality is the whirling phantasmagoria of miracles, which surrounds us and indeed is us. It has been said that my prayers are fantastic, but when I look out of the world and then back at the place, they seem a sober, rather inarticulate understatement compared with the teeming exuberance of life on this planet. The language of them is extraordinarily matter of fact, almost, it seems to me,
monosyllabic. Do you consider the need is not for burning an experimental plane? Certainly not. I'd rather be inclined to call prose plays experimental in the tradition of the theater in ancient Greece and medieval England and right on to the 18th century has been a poetic tradition. I shouldn't be at all surprised to learn that when prose was first mooted to carry our whole play, the old hands were most dubious and said it could ever possibly be a commercial success. The theater without poetry. What nonsense. But if they said so, they were wrong. It was a splendid experiment while it lasted, and now it seems to me it's time to be reactionary and get on with the native language of the theater. I wonder if I might just quote from myself about this. Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement. It is the language in which he says heaven and earth in one word.
It is the language in which he speaks of himself and his predicament, as though for the first time, it has the virtue of being able to say twice as much as prose and half the time. And the drawback, if you don't happen to give it your full attention of seeming to say half as much in twice the time, where do you work, Mr Fried? You shut yourself away from the world? Well, yes, I work mainly in the country in a cottage and not content with that in the middle of the night when everybody else is shot away and asleep and do work by candlelight, by candlelight and oil lamps, usually from ten or ten thirty at night until about 4:00 in the morning. And is that how you wrote the. It is not the burning? Yes. I think the whole of the letter was written down there in the courtroom. Yes. That's a lovely part of England. How did you come to write the natives? Not for burning.
That's a very big question. So many things combine to make a player come into shape. But I know that I had one particularly strong thought in writing it. I felt that we were getting into a trough of despair about the world and ourselves. We were understandably depressed and self analytical. We were very much in the state of mind in which Thomas MindShift finds himself at the beginning of the play. But those were hardly the kind of spirits in which to face the terrible complications ahead of us. Wasn't it possible, I thought, to see the full measure of darkness that without plunging about him and yet have committed to the world, I believe is fundamentally a spiritual one? Allaster is a unique talent of man. It lifts him up one ghafar into a different sphere from all the other animals. It is one of his freedoms.
Laughter. Thomas Mendham says in the play is an irrelevancy that almost amounts to a revelation. And somewhere else, he says, shall we not suffer as little as we can? And then when Jennet, the heroine of the latest novel Burning, knowing she is condemned to death, says, If I could sleep, Thomas answers, that is the heaven to come. We should be like stars. Now that it's dark, use ourselves up to the last bright dregs and vanish in the morning. Come, don't pass your lips up like a little prude at the humor of annihilation. It is somewhat broad, I admit, but we are not children. There were many other things I wanted to say in the play. For instance, a very important scene to me is the scene in Act three, when Humphrey, the mayor's nephew, offers to rescue her from being burned at the stake, Unconditionality agrees to be his mistress.
In that scene, Janet, who has been trying to take an entirely material and rational view of the world, finds herself aware of certain compulsions in her nature, which cannot be explained materially and rationally. What is deemed as love is deep. I'll have deep. What is good as love is good. I have well. Thomas has also noticed strangely disturbing mysteries about the world, which he was determined to leave something condones the world incorrigibly. He says both restlessly aware of forces beyond their knowledge and begin to know that it is worth living through the damnable for the sake of the mystery. I don't want to lay out in front of you every reason I had for writing as I did. I think that poetry should try to speak as
an experience, not as a sermon. And in this case, in the case of the ladies, not for burning as an experience of comedy, but I should like to think that audiences will trust me on one point. I should like them to believe that I mean the words I say and I've chosen them and what music they carry with them to try and create as an exact an experience as I can. The jokes are not only there for a joke, but for what the joke says. Let me give a single and perhaps rather obvious example. The play begins with Thomas Mandeb crawling through a window to Richard Clarke, who is working at a desk, he calls, Oh hey, so and then when Richard muttering over his account says and the plasterer, that's 15 well, but stopped in the draft in the private, Thomas
shouts, Body, you're calculating piece of clay. Now, I wrote this opening so that everybody should know what the play was about as soon as possible. So body the argument and conflict between these two, between soul and body, which is the main drama of human existence and so on through the play. It's very simple. If the audience will only believe that the words are there on purpose jokes and all. But when I said that the play remains a comedy, not something to be worried about. It is a comedy of April on a complicated world and are to be enjoyed, I hope enjoyed as we would enjoy an April day, showers and all. Thank you very much, Mr. Fry, for being with us this evening. This is Maureen Mosher and Christopher Fry signing off on the studios
- World Theatre
- Interview with Christopher Fry
- Producing Organization
- WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
- Contributing Organization
- The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This is the special interview with Christopher Fry, as described above. An announcer addresses the listener, presumably the members of the Peabody Board, directly, describing the overall series and the context for this interview.
- Series Description
- "It can be safely said that WNYC's WORLD THEATER...featuring the finest productions of home and abroad...offers to discriminating listeners a feast of mature, literate drama unavailable anywhere else on the airwaves. "By presenting to the American audience the finest productions of the British Broadcasting Corporation (and just to list some of these productions is their best advertisement...CANTERBURY TALES, OTHELLO, AN INSPECTOR CALLS, THE CHERRY ORCHARD and many, many other rewardingly vibrant plays) WNYC is infusing a fresh breath of life into the jaded, tired atmosphere of current radio drama. "Besides these dramatic productions, WNYC this year offered many special cultural features produced by the B.B.C. which had current value to the American listener. The special tribute by British leaders to George Bernard Shaw, soon after his death, was received with great attention by WNYC listeners. And this season, when the British poet-dramatist Christopher Fry was the rage of Broadway, WNYC alertly reflected this interest by broadcasting, exclusively, his A PHOENIX TOO FREQUENT as well as a special interview with this fabulous word-artist of our time. "Domestic productions as well--in fact, the best in American radio--occupy a significant part of WORLD THEATER activities. Every Friday night, WNYC has presented dramatizations of novels by such luminaries as Voltaire, Henry Fielding, Balzac, Dickens, Stendhal, Hawthorne and Victor Hugo. WNYC's active drama staff produced the prize-winning THE HUMAN ADVENTURE series, dramatic stories of 'adventures in ideas'. Several times throughout the year WNYC presented an original dramatic program to commemorate an important holiday...a good example of this phase of its activities was the well-received PAUL IS A LONELY NAME...in honor of United Nations Human Rights Day. Even so mundane--but so important--a subject as the city's street-cleaning problems--was treated via a fast-paced drama-documentary...THIS IS MY BLOCK. "This then is WNYC'S WORLD THEATER...from documentaries on street-cleaning to dramas by Shakespeare...done with taste and, above all, respect for the intelligence of its audience."--1950 Peabody Awards entry form.
- Broadcast Date
- Created Date
- Asset type
- Media type
Interviewee: Fry, Christopher
Interviewer: Mosher, Maureen
Producing Organization: WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the
University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-860c19603ff (Filename)
Format: Grooved analog disc
Generation: Transcription disc
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- Chicago: “World Theatre; Interview with Christopher Fry,” 1951-01-08, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 26, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-526-4j09w09z2g.
- MLA: “World Theatre; Interview with Christopher Fry.” 1951-01-08. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 26, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-526-4j09w09z2g>.
- APA: World Theatre; Interview with Christopher Fry. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-526-4j09w09z2g