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CATHERINE CZERKAWSKA

CATHERINE CZERKAWSKA: RADIO PLAYS

Catherine Czerkawska began as a writer of poetry while she was reading for a degree in Mediaeval Studies at Edinburgh University. She had her first radio play broadcast in 1980, and since then has written many plays, features and dramatisations for BBC Radio 4.

She obtained a postgraduate honours degree in Folk Life Studies and incorporated her research material into a book called Fisherfolk of Carrick. She spent three years lecturing in English as a Foreign Language in Finland and in Southern Poland. On her return to Scotland she was appointed Community Writer by the Arts in Fife, working with musicians, artists and fellow writers. She continued to work on plays and features for BBC Radio 4 and also for Television and theatre.

She moved to Ayrshire where she married woodcarver and sculptor Alan Lees. Her output includes plays, series and features, including three series for Radio 4 with a Scottish theme:- The Peggers and the Creelers, and Running Before the Wind, set in Ayrshire and The Curiosity Cabinet a love story set largely in the Hebrides, past and present. She has dramatised classics including Kidnapped, Treasure Island, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Ben Hur, for BBC Radio 4.

Her television work includes Shadow of the Stone and episodes of Strathblair. She has also written novels and stage plays.

Over the past year she has completed a drama series called Voices from Vindolanda (set in the Roman Fort) for Radio 4 and is currently working on a stage play called The Price of a Fish Supper. Her novel, Noon Ghosts, is based on her own extraordinary Polish family history.

She continues to write short stories, occasional articles and features for newspapers, runs Writers' Workshops and is part of the Scottish Book Trust "Writers in Public" scheme.

Catherine has produced audio and video scripts for attractions as diverse as The Museum of Lead Mining at Wanlockhead and the Interpretation Centre at Bannockburn, training audio scripts , and a variety of leaflets, brochures and flyers. She has set up a consultancy which will specialise in providing creative content for a wide variety of businesses.

Catherine's novel, THE CURIOSITY CABINET, was published in Mar 2005; details at the foot of the page.

Her interests include collecting antique textiles, local history, music, gardening and ice hockey (as a spectator!). She also has a very active and interesting blog.

A word from Catherine Czerkawska:

RADIO DRAMA
I was an asthmatic child and radio was often my companion so when I first began to write, radio drama was what I experimented with. My first radio play (a very strange little piece called The Hare and the Fox) was nurtured along by a wonderful producer in Edinburgh, called Gordon Emslie, who died tragically young. I liked the medium, liked the immediacy of it, the way you could experiment, the way the images are transferred from one mind, directly to another. (Which perhaps explains why violence and swearing seem to be more shocking on radio than TV! ) After Gordon, I worked with a succession of excellent producers, among whom Marilyn Imrie and Hamish Wilson spring to mind as perhaps the most talented. Hamish had the good director's uncanny ability to ask all the right questions of the writer and an admirable passion for production values. The fact that the BBC let him go is symptomatic of some malaise at the heart of the system now. After he'd gone, I found my enthusiasm for the medium waning a little, and my creative energies tend to be directed elsewhere these days.

UPDATE ...The Price of a Fish Supper was broadcast on 19th April 2007, R4 at 2.15. It was a stage play - and a BBC producer who had seen it at the Oran Mor in Glasgow, advised that it be submitted, after which, it was commissioned. This was something of a surprise! 

Catherine Czerkawska

Catherine's radio work is listed below.

CATHERINE CZERKAWSKA: RADIO PLAYS AND SERIES

A BIT OF THE WILDERNESS
MAYDAYS
AMBER
NOON GHOSTS
O FLOWER OF SCOTLAND (Pye Award winner, 1980)
BONNIE BLUE HEN (Scottish Radio Industries Club award winner)
GNATS
THE GOLDEN MAN
BRIGHT AS A LAMP, SIMPLE AS A RING
SARDINE BURIAL
CLOUD CUCKOO LAND
THE BUTTERFLY BOWL
TAM O' SHANTER (play based on the writing of the poem)
THE CURIOSITY CABINET (3 PARTS)
RUNNING BEFORE THE WIND (4 PARTS)
THE PEGGERS AND THE CREELERS (3 PARTS)
DARK STAR (THE LIFE OF LORNA MOON)
VINDOLANDA (5 PARTS)

THE PRICE OF A FISH SUPPER (2007)


RADIO DRAMATISATIONS AND ABRIDGEMENTS

KIDNAPPED AND CATRIONA (TEN EPISODES)
THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR (FIVE EPISODES)
BEN HUR (FOUR EPISODES)
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (FOUR EPISODES)
MADAME BUTTERFLY
THE MYSTERIES OF UDOLPHO (2 EPISODES)
PILGRIMAGE (2 EPISODES)
MR WRONG
TALES OF THE BIZARRE:RAY BRADBURY SHORT STORIES (6 PARTS)
THE SUMMER BOOK
LEARNING TO SWIM
TREASURE ISLAND
FEELINGS UNDER SIEGE (5 PARTS)
LA GRANDE THERESE (10 PARTS)
A GIRL IN WINTER
THE REMAINS OF THE DAY

-plus radio features, corporate audio and video scripts, reviews, stories, poems and essays.

Information supplied by Catherine Czerkawska and used by permission.
Catherine's website is at www.wordarts.co.uk and her blog at http://wordarts.blogspot.com

NOTES

THE GOLDEN MAN....1987
11 Apr 87, SNT. Evocative ghost story about 'The Golden Man' , buried centuries ago within a circle of standing stones. 90m. Cast includes Louise Beattie / Simon Donald (Recording sent by Tricia Revest; many thanks.

NOON GHOSTS
An elderly Polish gentleman goes to have his suit altered for his daughter's wedding, and gets into conversation with his tailor...he remembers the days before his own wedding, and his wife. Then war broke out, and life was never quite the same again... an interesting play, with skilful use of flashbacks, and fine performances from Callum Mills and Harry Stamper.

The story is based on the extraordinary family history of Catherine Czerkawska, and her novel of the same name explores the lifelong passionate friendship between Polish aristocrat Maryanna Diduska and Piotro, her Ukrainian estate manager.

    This was Callum Mills' last performance. Recording not kept by the BBC. - CC


THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME....1989
6 Jan 89, rpt. 24th May 91. By Victor Hugo, translated by John Sturrock and dramatised in five parts by Catherine Czerkawska. Part 1: The Feast of Fools. Paris, 4th January 1482. Phoebus ......... Christopher Bowen, Pierre Gringoire ....... Dermot Crowley, Quasimodo ........... Jack Klaff, Esmeralda ........ Emily Morgan, Dom Claude Frollo ........ Nigel Terry, Jehan Frollo ......... Ian Michie, Robin Poussepain ........ Dominic Rickhards, Michel Giborne ......... John Bull, Mahiette .......... Joanna Mackie, Oudarde .......... Jo Kendall, Thérèse .......... Elaine Caxton, Clopin ........... Joe Dunlop, The Recluse ........ Joan Matheson, Coppenole ........ Richard Tate, Usher ......... Ken Cumberlidge, Bailiff ........ David Goudge, Old woman ........ Eva Stuart, Girl .......... Alice Arnold, Woman ........ Marcia King. Music by Philip Pickett, Tom Finucane and Stephen Henderson. Producer Marilyn Imrie.


Part 2: Monster and Maiden Phoebus ......... Christopher Bowen, Pierre Gringoire ....... Dermot Crowley, Quasimodo ........... Jack Klaff, Esmeralda ........ Emily Morgan, Dom Claude Frollo ........ Nigel Terry, Robert D'Estouteville ........ Richard Tate, Clopin ........... Joe Dunlop, Dame de Gondelaurier ..... Eva Stuart, Jehan Frollo ......... Ian Michie, Robin Poussepain ........ Dominic Rickhards, Florian Barbedienne ...... Norman Bird, Clerk ....... Ian Targett, Mahiette .......... Joanna Mackie, Oudarde .......... Jo Kendall, Thérèse .......... Elaine Caxton, The Recluse ........ Joan Matheson, Fleur de Lys ...... Zelah Clarke, Berangère ...... Alice Arnold, Amelotte ........ Melinda Walker, Diane ......... Marcia King, Beggar ....... David Goudge. 13 Jan 89, rpt 31 May 91.

Part 3: The Phantom Priest Phoebus ......... Christopher Bowen, Pierre Gringoire ....... Dermot Crowley, Quasimodo ........... Jack Klaff, Esmeralda ........ Emily Morgan, Dom Claude Frollo ........ Nigel Terry, Fleur de Lys ...... Zelah Clarke, Dame de Gondelaurier ..... Eva Stuart, Berangère ...... Alice Arnold, Diane ......... Marcia King, Jehan Frollo ......... Ian Michie, Verger ........ Christopher Scott, Charmolue ........ Philip Sully. 20 Jan 89, rpt. 7 Jun 91.

Part 4: Sanctuary! Phoebus ......... Christopher Bowen, Pierre Gringoire ....... Dermot Crowley, Quasimodo ........... Jack Klaff, Esmeralda ........ Emily Morgan, Dom Claude Frollo ........ Nigel Terry, Jehan Frollo ....... Ian Michie, President of Court ...... Geoffrey Whitehead, Charmolue ........ Philip Sully, Torturer ........ Simon Cuff, The recluse ....... Joan Matheson, Fleur de Lys ...... Zelah Clarke, Old woman ........ Eva Stuart. 27 Jan 89, rpt. 14 Jun 91.

Part 5: The Little Shoe Phoebus ......... Christopher Bowen, Pierre Gringoire ....... Dermot Crowley, Quasimodo ........... Jack Klaff, Esmeralda ........ Emily Morgan, Dom Claude Frollo ........ Nigel Terry, Jehan Frollo ....... Ian Michie, Clopin ....... Joe Dunlop, Recluse ....... Joan Matheson, Hangman ....... Simon Cuff, Serjeant ......... Peter Craze, Soldier ......... Ian Targett, Commander ...... Ken Cumberlidge. 3 Feb 89, rpt. 21 Jun 91.



SARDINE BURIAL
A heartwarming play about a holiday romance. Two women in Spain: one vivacious and the other a rather timid teacher...will either of them find a handsome Spaniard, or will they be stuck with Derek and Colin for the week? With Petra Markham as Marianne, Arturo Venegas as Manuel, and Kay Stoneham as Anita, with Ken Cumberledge and Philip Sully as the ignorant Englishmen. Directed by Jeremy Mortimer.

BRIGHT AS A LAMP, SIMPLE AS A RING
A woman becomes aware of Amnesty International. She attends her first meeting and begins writing to a man in a Chilean prison. Her letters go out; she has no idea if they get through...an excellent play; very well-cast, though at the time of writing I have no details of the actors or director.


AMBER....1995
A love story by Catherine Czerkawska, with Oona Beeson and Lyndam Gregory. Pianist: Trevor Allan Davies. Produced by Marilyn Imrie. 60m. 17 Feb 94 and 29 May 95, R4.

When English-born Emily comes to Poland she finds a country, like a leaf in amber, caught and held in its past. She falls in love with Poland, and with Adam, her Polish cousin. But can she ever become part of the country, and change as it changes?

Oona Beeson.................Emily
David Burke.................Casimir
Lyndam Gregory..............Adam
Lala Lloyd..................Pani Anna
Diana Payan.................Maria
Colin Pinney................Michal

"Amber" is based on the memories of Julian Wladyslaw Czerkawska, the author's father (who died the following year), and is dedicated to him. (.....s-j of "radiofans")

BBC7

BEN HUR....2004
....a production new to BBC 7 - Catherine Czerkawska's four-part dramatisation of Lew Wallace's Ben Hur. Directed by Glynn Dearman, this biblical epic stars Michael Gambon, Jamie Glover, Samuel West and Phyllis Calvert. Excellent family listening. Broadcast in the week 26-30 Jan 04.


Jan 2005: ........... THE PRICE OF A FISH SUPPER,
which BBC R4 didn't want, is to be produced as part of David McLennan's spring season at the new Oran Mor centre in Glasgow.


UPDATE ...The Price of a Fish Supper, broadcast on 19th April 2007, R4 at 2.15. It was a stage play - and a BBC producer who had seen it at the Oran Mor in Glasgow, advised that it be submitted, after which, it was commissioned. 

 It is a long monologue, with Paul Morrow as Rab; the producer is Gerda Stevenson. It's since been published in a new anthology, Scottish Shorts, by Nick Hern Books, launched at the Edinburgh Festival in August 2009.

....also....THE CURIOSITY CABINET - Catherine's novel - was published by Polygon in March 2005. ISBN No 1904598420 Paperback. 256pp. Price £8.99.

A story of love and obligation....when Alys revisits the beautiful Hebridean island of Garve after an absence of twenty five years, she is enchanted by the embroidered cabinet on display in her hotel. She discovers that it belongs to her childhood playmate Donal, now a creel fisherman, and soon they resume their old friendship. Interwoven with their love story is the darker tale of Henrietta, kidnapped by the fearsome Manus McNeill and held on Garve against her will. With three hundred years separating them, the women are linked by the curiosity cabinet, by the tug of motherhood and by the island itself.

The Curiosity Cabinet was one of three shortlisted novels for the 2005 Dundee Book Prize.

More recent work: a big piece of non fiction published by Birlinn - God's Islanders, a History of the People of Gigha (a big hardback) and two more plays for the Oran Mor: Burns on the Solway, about the poet's last days, and The Secret Commonwealth, about Robert Kirk, Aberfoyle's 'fairy minister'.




Nigel Deacon / Diversity Website / Mar 2013

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