T.S. Eliot in a suit and tie sits beside an old style radio microphone

He Do The Waste Land in Different Voices

We’ve been enjoying a recent BBC adaptation of The Waste Land, available for streaming on BBC Sounds for the next few weeks. With a cast of well-known character actors, including Maggie Steed, David Haig, Adrian Edmondson and David Calder, the production reimagines Eliot’s polyphonic verses as a full-cast radio drama.

Sensitively handled, it asks whether The Waste Land can be read as anticipating Eliot’s later adventures in theatre. Whether you’re familiar with the poem already, or experiencing it for the first time this production brings the text to life with clarity and vigour.

The adaptation also includes a preface which contextualizes and introduces the poem. It includes contributions from Lyndall Gordon (Senior Research Fellow, St Hilda’s College Oxford), Professor Mark Ford (University College London), Professor Seamus Perry (University of Oxford), Professor Stephen Connor (University of Cambridge) and Nancy Fulford, archivist for the T S Eliot Estate.

An early title for the poem was He Do the Police in Different Voices. It was taken from Dickens and refers to a character who read the newspaper out loud very well. Eliot was not to write drama for another ten years but the first glimmers of Eliot the dramatist are here in The Waste Land. It has been described as a radio play written before such a thing existed. It is possible to trace different characters, different voices, through the poem; this is the approach taken for this production, which is faithful to the text, recorded word for word as written, relishing the collection of voices within it.’

Download or stream He Do The Waste Land in Different Voices here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0018yl5

Cardiff BookTalk will be discussing The Waste Land on 15 August 2022. The event is free and open to all via Zoom. Book your place via Eventbrite at the link below: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cardiff-booktalk-the-waste-land-registration-379527345507

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