In 1959, a groundbreaking TELEVISION series that began in the united states. The Twilight Zone came to be regarded as a classic of science fiction for the small screen. Now the Almeida Theatre in London is taking eight episodes to make a twilight Zone of the stage.
The Actor Sam Swainsbury the envy of the people who saw the original the Twilight Zone, when he began on American television in the late 1950s.
“If I had seen the series at that point in the story, I think it would have blown my mind. I don’t think that in reality there was nothing around like it.
“If you look at them now, they have that thing on the TV of the time, which can be quite slow and maybe a little stilted in the acting. But if you deepen the stories are all saying something about the society at that time – and I think that translates to today. There is something about them that is wholly attractive and compelling.”
Swainsbury – to return to the BBC in the second season of the comedy of the Mother – is one of a cast of 10 in the Almeida bringing the life of Anne Washburn’s new script based on the television original. The game combines elements of the eight episodes to create a new story, set in the America of the original period.
Washburn is modest about his contribution. “You know that the main authors are really Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson, who wrote the original. I’m coming along more than one adapter.
“The series ended in 1965, but I would say that in the united states people from more than about 35 are still familiar with the series. Ask any American of any age that episode scarred them as a child and will always have a response.
“The director is Richard Jones, and the first thing that we did was to watch all 150 episodes. I turn away about 30 that I was most interested in was that it was a combination that I thought that they were just great and that I saw it really could work in the scenario.
“The stories that we eventually treated, some of them are used in a manner much more comprehensive than that of the others. There are great fans of The Twilight Zone and I will love spotting what bit comes from where. There is a real push and pull between the episodes of we use.”
The creator of the original was a writer-producer Rod Serling, who died in 1975. Serling’s work for American TELEVISION in the 1950s was noted for his energy and social conscience.
In 1956, starring Jack Palance in his drama Requiem for a Heavyweight. It’s still considered a classic of the era in which the TV drama is broadcast live and in black-and-white.’Sexual Fantasy’
Building on that success, Serling developed The twilight Zone CBS: self-contained half-hour dramas that attracted large number of viewers with their stories of fantasy and science fiction.
Over five seasons, the defining feature of an interest in the strange and disturbing. But some stories are also offered on the basis of the comments on social problems such as racism and the abuse of power.
Lizzy Connolly, as the entire cast, is wary of saying much about the multiple roles that it is playing. “I can say that one of my characters is a sexual fantasy. But basically we’re maintaining an element of surprise, both for fans of the series and for people who has never seen it.”
Despite the fact that it is made by a difficult period of trial, Connolly says that the way the show looks and sounds is special. “We have costumes of fantasy and the design and the lighting. And there is a great soundscape by Sarah Angliss who refers back to the original TV music. But it is also your own fresh creation and it’s really exciting.”‘Doo-doo’ theme
Even people who only know the TV series are often familiar with the space-age theme of the music. A lot of the music used in the series was Bernard Herrmann, but the unforgettable “doo-doo, doo-doo”, that was the topic of a piece by Marius Constant that had originally been commissioned for the CBS music library.
Washburn says that the best Twilight Zone stories can have a fantastic set-up. “So, for example, we start with a diner in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night with the snow falling. There is a group of bus passengers who have been abandoned. And then realize that one of them is an alien from outer space.”
She adds that she has learned a lot about what the Writer wanted for his project. “He came out of a fan of the tradition of social commentary and then discovered that he was not able to tell the stories they wanted to tell.
“I think it was a generation that thought they had a new tv and I had a responsibility to use it for the good of society.”
Washburn says she doesn’t want critics to see his work as an implicit comment in the united states today. “I think they take the series and completely turn to the day of today would be neither here nor there: the stories were made for a different time and we’ve kept in that time.
“At the same time, I have to say that these episodes – for all who are on the creepy and the fantastic – are at the heart of all about the human nature and that does not change. It is the human nature under pressure and in times of change and stress and anxiety.
“I don’t know to what extent all speaks to the current political moment, but it speaks to the current state of humanity.”
The twilight Zone plays in the Almeida Theatre in London until 27 January.
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