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Britten 100: Billy Budd - These Buttons We Wear

For Radio 3's Britten centenary celebration, Keith Dewhurst's retelling of the story of Billy Budd, interwoven with the story of the author who came to write it: Herman Melville.

The playwright Keith Dewhurst adapts Herman Melville's powerful story of persecution and retribution in the aftermath of the Naval Mutinies at Nore and Spithead in 1797. He also tells the story of the man who wrote it. Herman Melville was a man who himself had more than a passing acquaintance with mutiny. There was a history of it amongst his forebears and his own escapades as a sailor in the South Pacific involved him in a mutiny of his own.

The play stars the late Gerard Murphy, who died in August several months after the recording of this play.

Sounds effects specially recorded off the Cornish coast, this is a story steeped in the naval history of two nations. It is also a touching account of creative aspiration, failed adventuring and a family haunted by misfortune.

Keith Dewhurst is one of our most eminent writers for both stage and screen. As a writer for the stage, he is a master of the epic: one of the major dramatists with Bill Bryden's companies at the Royal Court and the Cottesloe in the seventies and eighties. His plays ranged from the Napoleonic 'Corunna!' to the definitive promenade adaptations of 'Lark Rise' and 'Candleford'. As a writer for both large and small screen, his many credits include The Land Girls, The Man In The Iron Mask, The Three Musketeers, Joe Wilson, The Empty Beach, Juliet Bravo and 'Z- Cars'.

Songs arranged by John Tams.

A Unique production for BBC Radio 3.

1 hour, 30 minutes

Last on

Sun 29 Dec 2013 22:00


Role Contributor
Herman Melville Gerard Murphy
Eleanor Melville Monica Dolan
Long Ghost/Captain Vere Robert Portal
Guert Gansevoort/John Claggart David Westhead
Bill Budd Mark Quartley
Young Eleanor Caitlin Welch
Liverpool/The Dansker Simon Greenall
Salem/The Stranger Nathan Osgood
Consul WIlson/Captain Graveling Pip Donaghy
Dr Johnstone/Lieutenant Ratcliffe Robert Hastie
Rope Yarn/Donald John Tams
Director Frank Stirling
Adaptor Keith Dewhurst
Writer Herman Melville


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