Meall, Billy (4 of 8)  An Oral History of Theatre Design

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  • Recording date

    2006-06-16, 2006-09-11

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Liverpool

  • Interviewees

    Meall, Billy 1937- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Wright, Elizabeth (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 4: Lack of facilities at first ET; new building; company meetings; equal pay structure; community plays including ‘Love and Kisses from Kirkby’ [LKK]; doing interviews and research in Kirkby; earlier play, ‘Under New Management’; including story of mother’s death in the play; feelings about having this involvement. BM’s job title, Resident Designer; description of set design for LKK; finding materials in skips. [0:09:32] Working in the new ET space; apron stage; designs with doors in this configuration; doors in ‘Stags and Hens’; idea of having Everyman bistro customers using the toilets onstage; plumbing. Other work at ET including a design for ‘Richard III’ that was not used; description of this design; feelings about design not being used; costumes; actor playing Richard, Paul Jesson; putting a stone in his shoe to make him limp; mention of swords from National theatre armoury; pantomimes at ET; second Artistic Director, Pedr James; his other work including film of Willy Russell’s ‘Our Day Out’. [0:18:40] Next Artistic Director, Ken Campbell [KC]; working with him; his voice; anecdote about his parrot; his one-man shows. Rehearsing ‘The Warp’; locations in the play; story about bumping into KC while teaching at RADA. Further description of design for ‘The Warp’; moving between locations and involving audience in scenes; KC’s interest in concept of synchronicity; story about meeting KC when he came for interview at ET; other directors during MM’s time at ET including Bob Eaton [BE] and guest director, Alan Dosser. Leaving ET after ‘War of the Newts’ transferred to the Riverside Studios; reasons for leaving. [0:31:37] Living in Kensington, Liverpool during this time; price of terraced house; having people to stay and babysitting; decoration in the house by Les; renovations; using reclaimed timber from Russia on chimney breast; paintings on walls; daughter’s bedroom. [0:35:57] Mention that Lesley Lawton [LL] had taken over at LP while BM was at ET; working with him on plays by Alan Bleasdale and Alan Ayckbourn. Menion of seeing LL act in ‘Cabaret’; mention of painting ‘Cabaret’ for Jonathan Porter designed in the style of George Grosz; designing in the LP studio theatre; design for ‘Entertaining Mr Sloane’; designing two more Joe Orton plays, ‘Loot’ and ‘What the Butler Saw’ at RADA; trick coffin transported by motorbike; enjoying working at RADA. [0:41:17] Starting to work at RADA ten or twelve years ago; BM’s role there; story about being asked to work there by Dr Oliver Neville; facilities; staff room. Further comments about trip to Russia during time at RADA. Story about going on a protest march with RADA students. Staying at a friend’s house while working in London; commuting to London every week; travelling with CB. Mention of commuting to Dublin to work at Abbey Theatre. Feelings about being away from home; working in Hamburg; support from wife, Les; her job as head of an art department; feelings about losing her; travelling with her and good memories.

  • Description

    Life story interview with Billy Meall (????-), theatre designer.

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