Connellan, Patrick (2 of 9) An Oral History of Theatre Design
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2007-09-20, 2007-11-30, 2008-01-11, 2008-02-15
Interviewee’s Home, Coventry
Connellan, Patrick 1961- (speaker, male)
Wright, Elizabeth (speaker, female)
Part 2: Further comments about PC’s birth; problems caused by pyloric stenosis; parents’ worries about this; operation to resolve this. Family home in a council house in Stoke by Nayland [SBN], Suffolk; father’s work in the same village, which had a Secondary Modern School; his main subject, mathematics, PC’s worst subject. Father’s teacher training at Goldsmiths College; parents’ homes in Chelsea and then Richmond, where father was doing teaching practice in Surbiton and taught Eric Clapton; his subsequent job in SBN; location of the village. [0:06:28] Mother’s work in London, including with Denys Lasdun; mention that mother designed the dressing rooms of the Royal Albert Hall; her architectural approach to drawing; her life drawings; mention that mother did not do much professional architectural work after this. [0:08:00] Brief description of council house. [Crying baby] [0:08:36] [Pause] Father’s decision to build a house with the help of architect friends; plot of land in White Street Green near to two other families building homes; photographs of the house building in progress; father’s practical nature. Design of the house; imported Danish windows and fixings; peculiarities of the house. Early memories of this house; playing in the garden; collecting mechanical things in own corner; playing with boxes and containers rather than toys; clothes worn by PC as a child made by mother; sisters’ clothes; playing with a doll; parents’ attitude to toys; carving guns later on. Feeling happy in home environment; playing with neighbouring children; being called home by a ship’s bell. [0:19:03] Other buildings in the hamlet; nearby Polstead, known for the story of ‘Murder in the Red Barn’; houses in Boxford. Playroom at home; trunk of dressing up clothes; younger sister’s toys and interests; older sister’s violin playing; differences between the three siblings. Sister, two years younger; her birth; visiting London with mother and when sister was born; staying with family friend, Gunvor Stallybrass [GS]; her large Victorian house near the BBC Two mast at Crystal Palace; PC’s feelings about London and growing up in Suffolk; staying at GS’s house when sister was born; her husband, the translator Oliver Stallybrass; living with her for first few terms of college. [0:27:19] First seeing baby sister; her hair. [0:27:52] Visiting the Natural History and Science museums as a child; concrete dinosaurs at Crystal Palace; bricked-up tunnels near GS’s home; favourite museum exhibits; interest in aeroplanes, especially from the First World War. [0:31:38] Childhood bedroom; making dens in the garden; shed. Favourite book, ‘Stig of the Dump’; making a den inspired by this; playing at a gravel pit. Father’s interest in gardening; beginning to build a chicken run. [0:36:10] Playing in the nearby wood owned by Brigadier Stirling [BS]; not being allowed in other places by landowners; joining in with Scout camps there; BS’ appearance; mention that Ruth Rendell later lived in this house. Making friends with a boy who lived nearby, Nicholas Kingsbury [NK], from the age of about eight; his garden and neighbouring fields; playing on the River Box; islands of gorse left by cows. NK’s air rifles and guns; attitude of people in the countryside to nature; fox hunting; feelings about foxes; fox hunting as an assertion of upper class authority; meeting the children of these people as a teenager. [0:45:01] NK’s family, owners of Kingsbury Builders; working for them in holidays; NK’s mother; helping the family to build their swimming pool; swimming in winter; riding motorcycles and driving cars in fields. [0:48:52] Feelings about school; first school in SBN; classroom with stove in the corner; teachers; first day at school; parents’ attitude towards religion; Religious Education; school uniform. Transferring to a primary school in Boxford aged seven; feelings about this; meeting friend, Neil Kent. Art teacher, Lynn Edwards; her style of dress; activities in her class; her influence on PC; teacher, Pat Williams, who taught English; problems with learning to read and write which meant being in the remedial class with Mrs Kingsbury; being taught to read by father. Head Teacher, Mr Lowe, a disciplinarian; being given the cane by him; story about an accident with a television at school. Father’s route into becoming a Head Teacher; his year of training in Cambridge; visiting him there; meeting his friends; his first job at SBN primary school; story about school trip to Wales, where father had a disagreement with Mr Lowe; joining SBN school for final year of primary school; feelings about this; ethos of the school. [1:08:40] PC’s disinterest in maths; ceramics; school theatre; making puppets; making ‘Cine 8’ films and animations. Change from three tier school system in Suffolk; going to middle school; problems with teaching there; carpentry teacher, known as Mac, who was vicious towards children; art teacher at middle school; learning to draw; beginning to find lessons interesting; becoming good at running; after school film class; ambition to become a film director; being teased at school about this; making animations in the style of ‘Monty Python’; having a children’s theatre at home. First visiting the theatre; being influenced by television including ‘Play for Today’, drama documentaries and work of Ken Loach, Barry Kyle and Howard Brenton on television. [1:19:56] Going to comprehensive school; going shopping to Colchester with mother; Sainsbury’s; travelling in a Minivan. Going on holiday to Ffestiniog, Wales in the van; learning to fish here; hearing Welsh spoken; getting to know another family who holidayed here; occasions when father did not come on holiday; going on holiday later with neighbours to a campsite near Tenby; feelings about father not going on holiday; neighbour’s son, Paul, who died in an accident there; being close to his father, Brian, known by PC as “King Brian”, who stood for parliament as a Labour candidate; interesting visitors to his house including Michael Foot; reading the Communist Manifesto found in his shed; mention that his wife, Margaret, recently died; e-mailing him. [1:34:04] Reading Henry Treece’s historical novels for children; interest in Vikings; seeing archaeological digs in Colchester; Norman castle built on the foundations of a Roman temple; making a Centurian’s helmet at primary school. Reading ‘Tin Tin’ books; racism in these. [1:38:05] Mix of furniture in family home; parents’ friend, John Morton, a furniture designer who ran Lupton Morton, later purchased by Habitat; mother’s time working with Terence Conran; her opinion of him. Friends’ opinions of this furniture; furniture made by father, including a settee. Family cats, including Snap; goldfish. Description of PC’s teenage bedroom; political and music posters; Russian record player; carved African soldier; Troll toy; Meccano kit; making working models. Bedroom décor; mural, a massive portrait of Man Friday from ‘Robinson Crusoe’ film; photographs and paintings on the walls; ceramics; father’s paintings, including of Bible stories. Father’s approach to cleaning windows; his tendency to break things.
Life story interview with Patrick Connellan (1961-), theatre designer.