Negri  photo in B+W




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 of Negri.

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.

List 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 whilst listening.

Michael Williams (January 2009) - link to biography

Audio clip 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 Exchange building.

Avril Elgar
(November 2007)

Audio clip
3mb 62kb, 6 minutes 31seconds - an actor's memories of Richard Negri, a fellow student at the Old Vic Theatre School
, 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 2007)


Audio clip
3mb 06kb, 6 minutes 20seconds - resident designer at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre for several years, Johanna Bryant, 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).

Audio clip 4mb 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.

Audio clip 2mb 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 from 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 bare feet.

Audio clip 3mb 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.

Audio clip 2mb 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 2007)

Audio clip 861kb, 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.

Audio clip
1mb 58kb, 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.

Audio clip
571kb, 3 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 practitioner.

Audio clip
580kb, 3minutes 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.

Audio clip
2mb 14kb, 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.

Bernard Cribbins
(December 2006) link to the Bernard Cribbins website

Audio clip
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.


Audio clip 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.

Audio clip 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 Dunlop.

Audio clip 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.

George Hall (February 2006)

Audio clip 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.

Audio clip
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.

Audio clip 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.

Audio clip 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).

Audio clip 647kb, 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 a "genius" as a teacher.

Audio clip
1mb 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.

Richard Pilbrow (June 2006) - link to biography

Audio clip 754kb, 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

Audio clip 536kb, 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".

Audio clip 1mb 8kb, 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.

Audio clip 1mb 03kb, 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.

Audio clip 846kb, 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 claims, "miraculous".

Audio clip 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.


Audio clip 1.2 mb, 6 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."

Ronald Harwood (November 2005) - link to biography

Audio clip 670kb, 2 minutes 51 secs - Ronald Harwood's reflection on first meeting Negri on the 1959 production of 'Brand'.

Audio clip 1mb 5kb, 6 minutes 29 seconds - more on 'Brand', theatre lighting and memories of Negri as a person.

Audio clip 1mb 8kb, 4 minutes 45 seconds - on Harwood's work with Donald Wolfit, Negri as a collaborator.

Audio clip 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.

Audio clips from interviews with Negri's immediate family
The following excerpts are from interviews conducted by David Burrows late in 1995.

Audio clip
2mb 34kb, 5 minutes 3 seconds, Louise, the second eldest daughter reflects on childhood and rebelling against her Roman Catholic upbringing.

Audio clip
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.


Audio clip 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.

Audio clip 166kb, 42 seconds. Catherine, Negri's eldest daughter, reflecting on Richard Negri's obituary in The Stage newspaper.

 
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