W.H.Auden - A Christmas Oratorio
BBC Radio 3: Drama on 3
Broadcast: Sunday 24th December 2006 @ 8:15 p.m.
W. H. Auden's rarely performed postwar passion play, "Christmas Oratorio", is a modern mystery cycle which reinterprets faith for
those exposed to the horrors of the Second World War. It begins a year-long celebration of the poet's life and work, celebrating the
centenary of his birth (the centenary takes place on 21th February 2007).
Tracing the story of The Nativity from the Advent to the Flight into Egypt, but setting it all in the modern day, "For The Time Being" is a
meditation on the meaning of the Divine in modern life. Auden's extensive and often comic use of modern mundanity – including a
weary Joseph sensitive to the obvious interpretation of Mary's pregnancy, as well as a Herod who can't believe this is happening to
him – is more than a characteristic approach to the enormity of what he is describing. It forms the basis of Auden's spirituality: his belief in
the entrance of the sacred into the profane.
The language of this post-war mystery cycle is so beautiful that it is presented here in spoken form, rather than sung. "For the Time
Being: A Christmas Oratorio" was first published in 1944.
With Rufus Sewell [The Narrator], Emma Noakes [Mary], John Dougall [Joseph], Rudolph Walker [Wise Man 2], John Rowe [Wise
Man 1], Peter Marinker [Wise Man 3], Gerard McDermott [Shepherd 1], Mark Straker [Shepherd 2], Paul Richard Biggin [Shepherd 3],
Saikat Ahamed [Gabriel], Joseph Kloska [Herod], Bethan Walker [Rachel], Tracy Wiles [The Fugal-Chorus], Damian Lynch [The
Recitative], and Grainne Hails [The Child].
Additional music performed by Alison Baldwin; the music was composed and directed by Lucinda Mason Brown.
Directed by Jessica Dromgoole, David Hunter and Conor Lennon.
Produced by Jessica Dromgoole .
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