Following last year’s acclaimed radio adaptation of Midwich Cuckoos, Graeae Theatre Company and Naked Productions Limited (NPL) have joined forces once again to present a radical and pertinent new imagining of Charles Dickens’ classic Little Dorrit for BBC Radio 4, to be broadcast over new year 2018/19.
Amy Dorrit is a young woman fighting to get through A Level resits, whilst caring for her disabled father and coping with the demands from a varied group of tenants on the same council estate. When the threat of redevelopment looms large, the tenants start to fight for their homes, and Amy finds herself an unexpected leader and out of her depth.
At a time when homelessness is out of control, residents are being forced out of housing and global resistance is mounting, Dickens’ great tale of debt and the social inequities of Victorian London is brought to vivid life and relevance in the 21st century.
The stellar cast of D/deaf and disabled actors includes Audrey Brisson (Pericles/Pinocchio, National Theatre), John Kelly (Graeae’s Reasons to be Cheerful/The Threepenny Opera) and Liz Carr (Silent Witness, Assisted Suicide – The Musical), making her radio drama debut.
Jenny Sealey, Graeae’s artistic director, and Polly Thomas, NPL co-producer, have formed a close creative partnership over many years to create radical new interpretations of classic texts for BBC Radio 4, led by casts of D/deaf and disabled actors whose voices are otherwise rarely heard on radio.
Jenny Sealey said: ‘I’m delighted that we’re working with the team at Naked Productions to re-imagine another literary classic for BBC Radio 4. It’s fantastic to be collaborating with writers April de Angelis and our Write to Play graduate Nicola Werenowska on this new adaptation which couldn’t be more relevant for a 21st century audience, bringing this story to life in a way that’s never been heard previously.’
The predominantly female team have taken on this invitation to adapt the Dickens classic for a a 21st century setting – and to shake up his Victorian heroine, Little Dorrit.
Polly Thomas, NPL co-producer said: “We were fascinated to find the modern resonances for a group of women battling with debt and social inequity, just as Dickens’ heroines did, but in our version, they find their voice and take a little more control of their own destiny.”
In a bid to shake up Dickens’ vision, the drama makes visible the disability inferences at the centre of the novel.
Nicola Werenowska, Co-Writer said: ‘As a disabled writer, collaborating with Graeae, NPL and co-writer April De Angelis has been a wonderful introduction to audio drama. Our radical retelling of this story draws parallels between the world of Dickens’ London and the world we inhabit now. How much has changed since Dickens? How do we live? And how should we?’
Amy Dorrit can be heard on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds:
Episode 1: 3pm on Sunday 30 December 2018
Amy struggles to find time to revise for her English Literature A Level resits, as her aging disabled father makes demands on her, her talentless aspiring singer sister warbles tunelessly all day and her many friends on the estate constantly want her advice and support. When she is hired by Mrs Chaudry and a chance reunion with her son Arthur rekindles the possibility of dormant romance, Amy thinks her problems are solved. However, when the housing estate is in danger of being sold off, the local community goes up in arms, and Amy Dorrit’s life becomes more complex than ever.
Episode 2: 3pm on Sunday 6 January 2019
Unexpected newfound riches mean Amy can escape to university – but inevitably, she is pulled back to the Marshalsea estate by her debt-ridden father. Once there, she becomes mired in the campaign to stop the sell off. She and her friends realise that they are the only ones who care and who can make a difference….
A Naked Productions Ltd/Graeae Theatre Company collaboration for BBC Radio 4.