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Professor’s dramatisation of Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table to feature on BBC Radio 4

The Periodic Table is a collection of short stories by the acclaimed writer Primo Levi. Graham White, Professor of Drama and Creative Practice at Roehampton has written 12 plays which follow the form of the collection, mirroring the book’s deceptively simple structure and exploring its extraordinary combination of history, science, autobiography and literary imagination. These will be aired on BBC Radio 4 from the 18th July.

Posted: 12 July 2016

Part memoir and part fiction, The Periodic Table is a meditation on the nature and presence in human life of the components of The Periodic Table of the Elements – Argon, Potassium, Zinc, Carbon, etc. It uses those elements as prompts for individual stories, both fictional fantasies and reflections on episodes from Levi’s own extraordinary life.

An Italian Jewish industrial chemist who survived incarceration in Auschwitz during World War II, Levi became a profound chronicler of the experience and significance of the Nazi extermination camps. After the war his novels and short-stories often focused on science and its role in human life, particularly in the working lives of ordinary people. 

Professor White is a playwright and academic researcher. His research often focuses on the narration of selfhood and memory in episodes of social conflict and it’s often explored through playwriting as well as conventional academic publication. Previous plays for Radio 4 have included The Trial of the Angry Brigade, Oswald in Russia and a dramatisation of Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy. His dramatisation for Radio 3 of BS Johnson’s experimental novel The Unfortunates won a BBC Audio Award for Innovation. 

In 2006 The Periodic Table was voted the best ever science book by the Royal Institution. Professor White’s dramatisation will bring this compelling blend of science, memoir and history to vivid, dramatic life.

The plays are scheduled to run across a week, for the full schedule and more information please visit BBC Radio 4.

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