On 19 October 2012, Dr Ruth Adams gave a paper at a conference entitled ‘Theatre Plays on British Television’ at the University of Westminster. The conference was organised by the AHRC-funded project Screen Plays, and tackled issues and topics within the broad area of theatre plays on British television from 1930 to the present. Ruth’s paper was called ‘Abigail’s Party – “It’s not a question of ignorance, Laurence, it’s a question of taste’, and offered a textual and socio-cultural analysis of Mike Leigh’s iconic play, and of critical and popular responses to its various incarnations – on stage, television and video.
First produced at the Hampstead Theatre in April 1977, it was later broadcast by the BBC and was a surprise hit, attracting 16 million viewers. While affectionately regarded by many, some critics damned it as a cruel and snobbish play, which poked fun at the social and cultural aspirations of the suburban lower-middle-classes. Ruth posed the question of whether the play would really be looked upon so fondly by so many, if it genuinely reflected little more than the prejudices of a North London elite, and considered the impact of the post-modern valorisation of kitsch on its reception more recently.
You can read more about the conference here: http://screenplaystv.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/conference-report-theatre-plays-on-british-television-19-october-2012/ and here: http://lukemckernan.com/2012/10/22/beyond-the-stage/ and more detail about the AHRC project here: http://screenplaystv.wordpress.com/about/