BBC radio plays
22.10.68 the seasons of the blind
The following article is a precis of a short extract from the book "British radio drama" edited by John Drakakis, entitled "British radio drama since 1960" - the passage in question is by David Wade.
...............R.C. Scriven has been one of the most distinguished genuine radio writers during the period 1960-1980. I would like to say something about this exceptional figure in the history of radio drama, particularly as he is now quite an old man who may be nearing the end of his creative life.
The astonishing thing about Scriven is that he has ever had a creative life at all. From the age of eight, when he contracted an ear infection, he has been almost totally deaf, and the same illness seems to have laid the foundations for the glaucoma which left him blind in the 1940s. Yet in 1947 he wrote his first radio play and the year later "A single taper", which was an account in verse of the operations to try to prevent his blindness. Following this, much of his radio writing has been autobiographical and in verse. It has a powerful melodiousness and an intense visual quality, which would do credit to a man in full possession of his hearing and his sight.
Here is part of a play about his childhood, "All early in the April", the first in a collection entitled "The seasons of the blind".
[ fade up the slow start of a steam train]
[ the train stops at the terminus ]
Granny met me, stooping to imprint kisses of white heather, and love, and peppermint.
[ cross fade the terminus with an old cab horse ]
Notice the setting of the long reflective narrative against the highly evocative steam train background - stillness and movement combined; the story advances in a kind of glow and everything is tinged, in a manner typical of Scriven's work, with a profound poignancy.
Surely this is an instance where a writer's immense handicaps have in fact been the making of him. Charles Lefeaux, who produced many of Scriven splays, reported him as saying, "When a man knows he will soon be blind, what he looks at stays looked at". By ferocious application he has managed to recreate what you or I could perceive as well or better merely by going to look.
....Note added by N.D:
Nigel Deacon / Diversity website
Asterisked plays known to exist in VRPCC collections
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