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Listen and enjoy: Joseph Andrews

Many aspiring radio dramatists make the mistake of attempting to dramatise a novel or short story for radio before they have written and had produced several original radio scripts.  You should master many of the challenges posed in the foregoing exercises first.

In dramatising I recommend that you read the book two or thee times.  Then put it to one side and spend several days ruminating on a stylistic approach and a structure that will capture the essence of the book.

Thus with Henry Fielding John Scotney, instead of attempting to jump straight in and simply abridge the long and beautiful opening prose passage, decided to express the underlying theme by having the main (and some minor) characters interweave their diverse opinions in a witty, 18th Century manner.

They will be more clearly identified after the following introduction, as we enter the world of Fielding's story and follow his narrative.

It is appropriate that we have left dramatisation to last.

The Script

ANNOUNCER: 'Joseph Andrews' by Henry Fielding, dramatised in four episodes by John Scotney, with June Barrie, John Franklyn Robbins, Cornelius Garrett and John Rye.
FIELDING: (AS NARRATOR)   The first part, which treats of the death of Sir Thomas Booby, with the affectionate and mournful behaviour of his widow and the great chastity of Joseph.
1st ACTRESS: (Fervently respectful) Chastity!
2nd ACTRESS: (Ditto) Chastity!
ADAMS: (Ditto) Chastity!
FIELDING: Nay, is not male chastity as becoming to the human species as female?  Yet the character of a chaste man is a thing few authors among the moderns have seen fit to dwell upon.
1st ACTRESS: Whilst female chastity is everywhere to be found, at least in the bookshops.
2nd ACTRESS: (Catty) Who has not heard of the celebrated chastity of sweet, dear, pretty Pamela Andrews?
1st ACTOR: So admirably recorded by Mr. Samuel Richardson in his "Pamela"
2nd ACTRESS: Or "Virtue Rewarded".
1st ACTRESS: Pamela, a pretty, fifteen year old servant girl artlessly sets down how she virtuously resisted all manner of lewd and lustful advances by her master including an attempted rape.
2nd ACTOR: Which she describes in some detail.
LADY BOOBY: Until defeated at last by her chastity her master offered her the joy of becoming his wife.
1st ACTRESS: And so was able to legitimately enjoy those attentions, which she had so often attempted to force on her in vain.
1st ACTRESS: Such a theme is the soul of religion, good breeding and morality in our present age and the pulpit as well as the coffee house has resounded with Pamela's praise.
2nd ACTOR: But what of her brother?
JOSEPH: Mr. Joseph Andrews, who by keeping his sister's virtues ever before his eyes,
ADAMS: and attending to the wise advice of the Reverend Mr. Abraham Adams
JOSEPH: was also able to preserve his chastity in the face of as many and as great temptations as were placed before his sister.
2nd ACTRESS: Who has heard of him?
1st ACTRESS: Who among those thousands to whom the name 'Pamela Andrews' is now so familiar, has heard of Joseph Andrews?
1st ACTOR: To correct the which omission we now present before the public the authentic:
FIELDING: History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and his friend, Mr. Abraham Adams, as faithfully recorded by your servant, Mr Henry Fielding, Gentleman.
Our history opens in the year of grace seventeen hundred and thirty seven upon a Sunday morning in summer as Parson Adams
walks through the Churchyard receiving the bows and salutations of his flock.
ADAMS: Or as he was pleased to regard them: his children.

The classic serial remains one of the BBC's most successful and long-standing slots and the art of dramatising novels is alive and well.  However the BBC will only invite experienced playwrights to undertake the task,

The above is from Writing Dramatizations in Chapter 7 of Writing for Radio 
by Shaun MacLoughlin, obtainable from www.amazon.co.uk

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We also recommend the following radio scripts: Polaris by Fay Weldon in Best Radio Plays of 1978, I Never Killed My German and Of the Levitation at St Michael's by Carey Harrison in A Suffolk Trilogy, The Village Fete by Peter Tinniswood in Best Radio Plays of 1987, Cigarettes and Chocolate by Anthony Minghella in Best Radio Plays of 1988, Death and the Tango by John Fletcher and Song of the Forest by Tina Pepler in Best Radio Plays of 1990 and In the Native State by Tom Stoppard in Best Radio Plays of 1991.  Sadly some of these scripts are out of print.  However you should be able to order them from your local library

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