In support of the research
on this project, the
National Life Stories
project at the British Library have been commissioned
to conduct a series of interviews with former colleagues and associates
The final interview of this series, conducted by Lydia O'Ryan, with director
Frank Dunlop was completed in February 2007 and clips
from that session have now been added.
of the audio clips on the site (.mp3 format)
Please note that the audio clips open in
a separate window which enables the viewer to continue exploring the site
4mb 10kb, 8 minutes 28 seconds - close colleague of Negri's from
1969, Michael was the project manager of the Royal Exchange project.
In this clip he describes the evolution of the '69 Theatre Company, its
residency at Machester University's Century Theatre and the development
of plans for a new theatre in Manchester, eventually realised by the Royal
62kb, 6 minutes 31seconds -
an actor's memories of Richard Negri, a fellow student at the Old Vic
early days in the profession at the Piccolo Theatre in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy
and work at the University Theatre in Manchester prior to the building
of the Royal Exchange.
Johanna Bryant (November
06kb, 6 minutes 20seconds -
resident designer at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre for several years,
one of Negri's first students, recalls her early memories of his influence
on her as a designer and teacher. (The interview was recorded whilst sitting
outside a harbourside restaurant in Woodbridge, Suffolk, which explains
the unfortunate ambient noise).
25kb, 8 minutes 44seconds - during
this clip Johanna describes the period
of her professional life following graduation from Wimbledon
and the contact with Negri during this time. There's an interesting analysis
of the designs for the trolls in both 'Peer Gynt' productions (that Negri
designed in 1963 and 1970) and his seeming reluctance to address the rawness
and sexuality demanded by Ibsen's text.
65kb, 5 minutes 28 seconds - Johanna
describes the process of realising Negri's vision of the setting for Peer
Gynt in 1970 at the University Theatre, Manchester.
Particular focus is on the description of acquiring the slate slabs
a Welsh quarry and the conflict with Litz Pisk who refused to allow her
dancers to perform on a surface that she thought would lacerate their
152kb, 6 minutes 32 seconds - Johanna
recalls Michael Elliott's story as told to her of the evolution of the
design for 'As You Like It' at Stratford in 1961,
then goes on to describe Negri's setting for the Tempest at the University
Theatre, Manchester in 1970.
540kb, 5 minutes 2 seconds - anecdotal recollections of the design
of 'The Round Dance' (adapted from Schnitzler's 'La Ronde' by Richard
Negri and Casper Wrede, who also directed) at the Royal Exchange in 1982
Frank Dunlop (February
4 minutes 54 seconds -
Lydia O'Ryan begins the interview with Frank Dunlop recalling first meeting
Richard Negri at the Old Vic Theatre School and then recounting the establishment
of the Piccolo Theatre Club in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy. This clip includes
an amusing tale of being taken to court for non-compliance with the club
status of Piccolo's performing licence.
8 minutes 58 seconds - More on the Old
Vic School and its ethos, a description of how Negri looked and what kind
of personality he had. Dunlop also talks about Negri's approach to design
including a description of the setting for 'Treasure Island' at the Piccolo.
minutes 15 seconds - Memories of Negri's
designs for 'The Women Have Their Way' by the Quintero Brothers, Piccolo's
first production and a tribute to Percy Harris as tutor and influential
18 seconds - More on the shared attitude
to the theatre that Dunlop had with Negri and a detailed description of
the production of 'She Stoops to Conquer' by Oliver Goldsmith at the Piccolo.
Particular reference is made to Rosalind Knight creating a precurser to
Dame Edna Everidge with her portrayal of Mrs Hardcastle.
12 minutes 10 seconds - Frank Dunlop
describes the beginnings of the Piccolo Theatre Company, its continuation
into his future work and Negri's position on the board of the company
until his death. There is a passage describing the sense of being part
of a long tradition whilst a student at the Old Vic School and a comparison
between French and English traditions in terms of respect for the text
and the impact of Vaudeville on Dunlop's work as a director. He reflects
on the social backgrounds he and Negri shared as being something that
they had in common as students and their willingness to work hard physically.
Dunlop goes on to say that he agreed to join Laurence Olivier at the National
Theatre because of the two sharing similar beliefs in the value of performance
traditions like Vaudeville.
to the Bernard Cribbins website
671kb, 3 minutes 48 seconds
- Bernard Cribbins begins his interview with Lydia O'Ryan in December
2006 talking of faint memories of first encounters with Negri during weekly
repertory work at Oldham Coliseum.
501kb, 2 minutes 50 seconds - Bernard Cribbins describes his
role working with Negri on the adaptation of the upper room of the Conservative
Club in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy into the Piccolo Theatre.
1mb 818kb, 3 minutes 35 seconds - Bernard Cribbins discusses
with Lydia O'Ryan his impression of the group of graduates from the Old
Vic School who went up to Oldham to form the Piccolo Theatre, the possible
difficulties of living in Oldham for them and having a row with Frank
737kb, 1 minute 20 seconds - Bernard Cribbins recalls Negri's
Goonish sense of humour and visiting him in hospital after hearing of
his apparent nervous breakdown.
824kb, 1 minute 39 seconds
- George Hall recalls 'King John' at the Old Vic School, Negri's
design for 'Playboy of the Western World' for Piccolo and compares
Negri's design work with that of the Berliner Ensemble.
905kb, 5 minutes 9 seconds
- George Hall on 'Brand', 'As You Like It', early meetings of the core
group from the '59 Theatre Company that discussed a vision for the future
of theatre in the UK, and the Old Vic season in 1962.
729kb, 4 minutes 8 seconds
- more details of meetings of the core group from the '59 Theatre Company,
as above, but with especial reference to the influence of the Norwegian
philosopher and Ibsen specialist Amund Høningstadt.
1mb 53kb, 3 minutes 03 seconds - George Hall on the founding of the
Piccolo Theatre Company. Some of the 'facts' he asserts are doubtful or
need further investigation (for example that Casper Wrede set the company
up with Negri when all evidence to date suggests that Frank Dunlop was
the partner. George Hall also says that Margaret Harris (of the design
team Motley) put up the money to get the company going, which may be true,
but it is also clear that Negri did use a small inheritance of his own).
1 minute 17 seconds
- George Hall comments on Negri's personal 'language' which he thought
only served to confuse actors. However, he then suggests that Negri was
as a teacher.
2kb, 2 minutes 28 seconds
- George Hall
describes what it was like to work with Negri and gives the opening night
of Maria Marten for the Piccolo Theatre Company as an example of the good
company atmosphere that existed.
4 minutes 17 secs
- Richard Pilbrow recalls first working with Negri on 'Lady at the Wheel'
a musical directed by Wendy Toye. He also refers to designing the show's
lighting by using Wimbledon School of Art's lighting lecturer Robert Stanbury's
scale model lighting equipment
3 minutes 03 secs
- on the production of Ibsen's 'Brand' at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith,
in 1959 for the '59 Theatre Company. Pilbrow describes
it as a "sensation".
2 minutes 9 secs
- Richard Pilbrow recalls 'The Dream of Peter Mann', designed by Richard
Negri and directed by Frank Dunlop at the Edinburgh Festival in 1960.
5 minutes 50 secs
- an excerpt reflecting on the '69 Theatre Company's national reputation
that may, in part, be attributed to Pilbrow's role as a producer during
that time, bringing productions to the West End from the provinces. He
also recalls a '69 Theatre company production of 'When We Dead Awaken'
directed by Michael Elliott that went "on the road" thinking,
wrongly as it turns out, that it was designed by Negri - it was Johanna
Bryant's work, a former student of Negri's who was later to become Head
of Design at the Royal Exchange.
4 minutes 49 secs
- here Pilbrow recounts a process, led by Laurence Olivier, that was followed
by the National Theatre Building Committee, (of which he and Michael Elliott
were both members), to determine ideal actor/audience relationships by
researching the strengths of West End theatres. He says that he believes
noone understood, until too late, that it was the density of the audience
that is far more important than the optimum distance from the actor's
'point of command' centre stage to the furthest seat in the auditorium,
which was the preoccupation of the Committee at the time. This was the
lesson that the Royal Exchange certainly understood and was, as Pilbrow
1.2 mb, 2 minutes 14 secs
- recalling experiments with auditoria forms that Negri pursued at Wimbledon
School of Art and the part they played in the development of his ideas
for the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.
minutes 51secs - an excerpt concentrating on the development of the
Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester and Pilbrow's view that "it
is the most unique theatre in the World."
minutes 51 secs - Ronald Harwood's reflection on first meeting Negri
on the 1959 production of 'Brand'.
1mb 5kb, 6 minutes 29 seconds - more on 'Brand', theatre lighting
and memories of Negri as a person.
1mb 8kb, 4 minutes 45 seconds - on Harwood's work with Donald
Wolfit, Negri as a collaborator.
1mb 36kb, 5 minutes 48 seconds - on the formative meetings of
the creative team who developed a vision of a theatre that was eventually
to be the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.
clips from interviews with Negri's immediate family
following excerpts are from interviews conducted by David Burrows late
34kb, 5 minutes 3 seconds,
Louise, the second eldest daughter reflects on childhood and rebelling
against her Roman Catholic upbringing.
2mb 14kb, 3 minutes 38 seconds, Catherine, the eldest
daughter, talks of her Catholic upbringing, Vincent's birth (the eighth
child) and his illness, and her view that it was her father's desire for
a second son which led to her parents having eight children.
336kb, 1 minute 25 seconds. Rena, Negri's elder sister, in conversation
with David Burrows, recalling Negri's love of making things for his grandchildren
in the last years of his life.
166kb, 42 seconds. Catherine, Negri's eldest daughter,
reflecting on Richard Negri's obituary in The Stage newspaper.