“… worth using twice”? Making a Short Story Long. Tom Stoppard’s Two Early One-Acters
AbstractThe article focuses on Tom Stoppard’s TV drama Another Moon Called Earth (1967)and the radio play Artist Descending a Staircase (1972). Moving from the analysis of their peculiarities in relation with the medium they were written for, the essay considers their function in the writing of two stage dramas: Jumpers (1972) and Travesties (1974). In both cases, the borrowings from other works, namely Shakespeare’s and Oscar Wilde’s, have been an essential element of the transformation of short pieces into longer ones. Yet, somehow against expectations, the second pair of dramas (Artist Descending a Staircase and Travesties) is characterized by a lessening in dramatic force and complexity in the passage from the short to full-length play. This brings forth the hypothesis that Stoppard, in his production for TV and radio, felt less constrained by the commercial rules regulating the production of West End plays. This is further reinforced by looking at other two short radio plays (M is for Moon Among Other Things, 1964 and If You’re Glad I’ll Be Frank, 1966) – here briefly examined – which reveal how Stoppard possessed an ability of dealing with human sentiments that was not detectable in the longer plays of the period.
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