From Balladeer’s Blog’s Forgotten Television category, it’s a look at the 1969 episodes of N.E.T. Playhouse. For the opening look at the 1966 episodes click HERE.

barbara bossonTHE TIN WHISTLE (January 10th) – Barbara Bosson starred in this 80-minute adaptation of Richard S. Burdick’s play about 12-year-old Martin Palmer, who channels his newly discovered powers of witchcraft through his tin whistle. Martin targets two teachers who have tried to discipline him. A 10-minute short film, Eugene Atget, which looks at the man’s Belle Epoque photos, padded the runtime to 90 minutes.

THE NATIONAL THEATER OF THE DEAF (January 17th) – The first part of this hour-long production featured members of the National Theater of the Deaf reciting, miming and signing poetry by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, William Blake, Yang Ti, Robert T. Panara and others. The second part saw the theater members performing an adaptation of Puccini’s comedy Gianni Schicchi. The production used instruments specially designed by French sculptor Francois Baschet, which produce vibrations discernible to the deaf. 

silent songSILENT SONG (January 24th) – Filmed version of Hugh Leonard and Frank O’Connor’s play with only partial dialogue and the rest in mime. In a trappist monastery, the monks honor their vows of silence but indulge in vices like drinking and betting on horse races. The 75-minute effort starred Tony Selby, Milo O’Shea and Jack MacGowran.

blood knotTHE BLOOD KNOT (January 31st) – Athol Fugard’s play set in his native South Africa. Two brothers, one black and one who can pass for white, examine their values and loyalties when the darker skinned brother begins corresponding with a young white woman. In its original 1964 American run this play starred James Earl Jones as the darker brother and, as the lighter skinned brother … J.D. Cannon. Yes, James Earl Jones and Chief Clifford from McCloud once played brothers on stage. 75 minutes. 

THE BOSS’ SON (February 7th) – This 1-hour production was written and directed by France’s Danielle Hunabelle in the form of a dramatized documentary. A wealthy young man begins a romance with a woman who works in his father’s factory. The resulting social pressures tear the couple apart. Followed by a filmed discussion of the class issues in the story.

TALKING TO A STRANGER (February 14th-March 7th) – For 4 weeks running, N.E.T. Playhouse presented John Hopkins’ quadrilogy of plays about the tragic dissolution of a family over the course of an eventful weekend. Each of the 4 plays presents the events from the point of view of one particular family member, Rashomon style. Judi Dench starred. Each play ran 90 minutes. 

ANATOL (March 14th) – Arthur Schnitzler’s comedy about the title figure, a 19th Century Vienna playboy who ultimately gets his comeuppance from the 3 ladies he is cavorting with. Robert Hardy, Elvi Hale, Moira Redmond and Priscilla Morgan starred. 90 minutes.

cathy come homeCATHY COME HOME (March 28th) – 82-minute version of Jeremy Sandford’s play about the way the housing crisis in England of the 1960s causes the downfall and separation of a married couple and their 3 children. Like a 20th Century Dickens work, Cathy Come Home caused a public uproar and spawned organizations to help the homeless. An 8-minute animated short, Two off the Cuff, by Bob Godfrey, padded the runtime to 90 minutes.

FLOWERING CHERRY (April 11th) – Adaptation of Robert Bolt’s play about Jim Cherry, an aging man who hides from life behind his elusive dream of owning an apple orchard. Bernard Lee, Simon Ward and Nicola Pagett are among the cast members. 90 minutes long. 

THE QUEEN AND THE WELSHMAN (April 25th) – Hour and a half production of Rosemary Anne Sisson’s play about Catherine de Valois’s affair with Agincourt hero Owen Tudor and its many positive and negative results. Starred THE Jeremy Brett, Dorothy Tutin, Derek Godfrey and Jack Wild. 

THE PRODIGAL (May 2nd) – Meg Foster, Kim Hunter, Roy Poole and John Heffernan are among the stars of this staging of the Jack Richardson play. The story of Agamemnon, Orestes, Electra and others is presented through a different lens. Though Orestes tries to avoid the path of revenge and power-seeking, he ultimately gives in to his fate with the lines “The world demands that we inherit the pretensions of our fathers, that we go on killing in the name of ancient illusions about ourselves, that we assume the right to punish, order, and invent philosophies to make our worst moment seem inspired.” 90 minutes.

let me hear you whisperLET ME HEAR YOU WHISPER (May 23rd) – A scrubwoman (Ruth White) in a laboratory befriends a dolphin who will talk only to her. She sets out to save the dolphin from fatal experimentation. Iggie Wolfington, Bil Bairds, Philip Bruns and Anthony Holland co-starred. The 90-minute story was written by Paul Zindel.

THE SIEGFRIED IDYLL (June 6th) – Dramatization of composer Richard Wagner’s 8-year affair with Cosima von Buelow, the wife of his best friend and the mother of his four children. Their affair lasted through Wagner’s period of poverty in Vienna, his exile in Switzerland and his joining the court of Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria. 81 minutes padded to 90 by way of a 9-minute animated short Color Music Opus 5 by Edward Snyder.

CONFRONTATION: THE ANATOMY OF A STUDENT REBELLION (June 13th) – Richard Dysart stars in this docu-drama about the seizing of buildings on a college campus, based on real-life events at Columbia and Cal-Berkeley. Conflicts erupt when one of the campus houses for African-American students is torn down to accommodate construction of a Defense Department laboratory. 90 minutes. 

FREDERICK DELIUS: A SONG OF SUMMER (June 27th) – This is the often-neglected work from director Ken Russell’s productions about composers. The 72-minute presentation dramatizes the final 6 years in the life of composer Frederick Delius, who, despite having been struck with paralysis and blindness, produced many of his most famous works during that period thanks to the help of organist Eric Fenby. Eric moved in with Delius and his wife and helped the immobile Delius realize his orchestral vision. The 10-minute Polish short People of the Road was paired with the Russell film.

A MAN ON HER BACK (July 4th) – Peter Luke’s comedy about musician John Gilliam (Norman Rodway), who falls in love with Mary (Valerie Gearon), a soft-hearted young woman whose platonic friend Colin (Barrie Ingham) always needs her to bail him out of assorted troubles. 75 minutes and paired with the Polish short film Lines and Dots, which has no dialogue and runs 6 minutes.

THE SEEKERS (July 18th-August 1st) – For 3 weeks running, N.E.T. Playhouse presented each play in Ken Taylor’s trilogy about humanity and belief systems. Each play ran 90 minutes and the titles were The Heretics, The Idealists and The Materialists. Michael Bryant and Suzanne Neve were among the stars.

kasaneTHE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR THE DEAF ENCORE (August 15th) – This time around the performers teach children sign language and then act out 2 short works while signing. The 1st is Chekhov’s On the Harmfulness of Tobacco and the 2nd is the Japanese Kabuki play The Tale of Kasane, by Tsura Namboko. Rounding the runtime up to 2 hours even is a 29 minute short film So Where Are You, God?, which received the National Conference of Christians and Jews Brotherhood Award.

THE FATHER (September 18th) – 90-minute adaptation of August Strindberg’s horror-tragedy about a respected man of science (Robert Shaw) emotionally buffeted and ultimately driven to madness by his wife (Michelle Dotrice) and daughter, who even turn his own brother against him. 

REMBRANDT (October 2nd) – Dramatization of artist Rembrandt van Rijn’s life from 1642 to 1669, produced for the 300th anniversary of his death. The story follows Rembrandt from his high point, to his turning point painting The Night Watch, to his descent into poverty and death. Richard Johnson starred, with Jill Bennett as Geertje and Terri Stevens as Hendrickje. 90 minutes. 

GLORY! HALLELUJAH! (October 30th) – This was a 2-hour production of female playwright A.M. Barlow’s “parable play” about the Bowden Family of Louisiana and their travails during the U.S. Civil War. The contrast between the battlefield and the homefront is emphasized. John Schuck, Michael Learned, Kitty Wynn and Ken Ruta were part of the cast. 

heimsHEIMSKRINGLA! OR THE STONED ANGELS (November 6th) – Produced by Brice Howard, directed by Tom O’Horgan and performed by New York’s experimental La Mama Theater Troupe, this 90-minute work incorporated live action with the new visual arts approach of “Videospace”. The story was an often surreal presentation of Leif Ericsson falling out with his fellow Vikings and discovering America, resulting in the enslavement and slaughter of Native Americans. John Scanlon and Gretchen MacLane starred.

THEATRE AMERICA – STORY THEATRE (November 27th) – The Yale Repertory Theatre Company performed stylized versions of some of the Tales of the Brothers Grimm, like The Golden Goose, The Bremen Town Musicians, The Blue Light, The Clever Gretel and The Goose Girl. David Ackroyd, Joan Pape and David Spielberg starred. Along with that 70-minute piece is the 20-minute short film Mamako’s Baggage, starring Japanese mime Mamako Yoneyama.  

THE DUEL (December 11th) – This was an adaption of Chekhov’s short story about a souring affair between a civil servant and a married woman in a Crimean town and its impact on third parties. John Harvey and Katharine Blake were among the cast members. Paired with the 83-minute production was a 5-minute animated Polish short titled Pyramid.

TRAVELER WITHOUT LUGGAGE (December 18th) – 82-minute Canadian-produced version of Jean Anouilh’s play. A man suffering amnesia from injuries during the First World War is claimed by the Renaud Family as their long-lost son Jacques. As the amnesiac spends more and more time with the family and they try to jog his memory about his past life, the more he becomes disgusted with “Jacques”, who seems to have been a monstrous human being. Padding the runtime to 90 minutes was the Polish animated short The Kidnappers.





Filed under Forgotten Television

9 responses to “1969 EPISODES: N.E.T. PLAYHOUSE

  1. Interesting. The recital by deaf persons might have been good.

  2. Old but valuable! Well shared 👍

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