Victory: The Play and Reviews - A Critical Edition

Lead Research Organisation: University of South Wales
Department Name: Creative and Cultural Industries


I am under contract with Rodopi to produce a critical edition of Basil MacDonald Hasting's dramatisation of Joseph Conrad's Victory (produced 1919) along with the collected thatre reviews, photojournalism and censor reports of the play. The stage adaptation of Conrad's 1915 novel proved to be a highly successful production enjoying a run of over eighty performances at the Globe Theatre in London with actor-producer Marie Lohr as Lena. Despite the popular success of the play, the reviews of the production were fascinatingly mixed ranging from the laudatory to the systematically destructive. In the adaption, Conrad's Victory - a complex and ambiguous novel - is shifted towards the certainties of melodrama: the play presents a rigidly black and white universe with good and eveil characters. Such melodramatisation is unsurprising in the ocntext of post-Great War popular theatre. Despite the formulaic aspect to the work, the play remains a fine example of the genre of late melodrama and is especially intersting in its characterisation, in particular the depiction of 'foreign' characters in a post-war context and the stage construction of the 'woman-hating' Mr Jones. The implied homosexuality of Jones is not in the least diminished on the stage and yet was overlooked by the notoriously stringent British board of stage censorship - the Lord Chamberlain's office - which despite being concerned that the play was 'lurid' and 'dreadful' in its violence, delighted in the populistic thrills and intrinsic 'literariness' of the Victory adaptation and granted permission for the play to be performed without a single cut being made. The critical edition of the Victory adaptation that I will be editing will form one of the first titles to appear as part of Rodopi's ambitious Conrad Studies series. In addition to reproducing these original texts, I will also provide an extended introduction (as well as detailed annotations and footnotes) which will provide a contextual, historical and theoretical analysis of the play, its genesis and reception. As well as this editorial and original textual work, I will also lead some extracurricular workshops in the drama studio with undergraduate and postgraduate volunteers to explore the play in a practical studio context.


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Description The research project, culminating in the Rodopi publication, drew together the process, development and reception of B M Hastings' 1919 stage adaptation of J Conrad's novel Victory. The most successful stage adaptation of Conrad to date, the research allowed the full articulation of the story of this major production produced and starring Marie Lohr, the adaptive process, the figures involved (including Conrad himself) and the full script plus collated reviews. This was further enhanced by rare illustrations and images.
Exploitation Route Potential interest regarding the highly popular process of adapting literature.