Connellan, Patrick (7 of 9)  An Oral History of Theatre Design

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  • Recording date

    2007-09-20, 2007-11-30, 2008-01-11, 2008-02-15

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee’s Home, Coventry

  • Interviewees

    Connellan, Patrick 1961- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Wright, Elizabeth (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 7: Meaning of term “commercial” referring to touring and West End work; mention of working with John Adams at BR and West Yorkshire Playhouse [WYP] which was picked up by commercial producers. [0:01:12] [Pause] First commercial design an adaptation of ‘Misery’ by Stephen King at the Criterion theatre; use of revolve for this design; staging the moment when a foot is chopped off; working with lighting designer, Tim Mitchell; creating horror and suspense; being paid well for this work. Not enjoying producer-led theatre; working with famous actors, such as Sharon Gless on ‘Misery’. Working with television producers, who would give extensive notes after the preview. [0:05:30] ‘A Passionate Woman’ [APW] by Kay Mellor; working with Ned Sherrin [NS] for the first time; design challenges of APW; working within a small amount of space and being blamed for this; success of the play and its tours; mention of reviving this production in Athens and in the round at NV. Working on ‘Salad Days’ with NS; feeling drawn towards musical theatre but hating it on each occasion; feelings about ‘Salad Days’. [0:10:51] Notable productions designed by PC at WYP including ‘The Atheist’s Tragedy’ [AT] which had only been done once before in the twentieth century at BC in 1974; success of the WYP production; learning to deal with period costume; Peter Stein approach to historical plays; multi-historical approach to costume; using this again on ‘Julius Caesar’ [JC]; finding a parallel moment in history; approach to costume for JC; using multi-historical method on AT; difficulty that this can pose for actors; description of AC’s term “leotarding”. [0:21:11] Description of set for AT, which was part of the winning British exhibit at the Prague Quadrennial in 1995; themes of the play; staging of brothel scene; dislike of surrealism. Work with AC revealing the themes of the play gradually through the interaction between set and costumes; “total” theatre approach. Working on Christmas plays written by AC; design for version of ‘Pygmallion’ at BR; supernumerary actors; response of the cast to the design; criticism of the design by one of the actors on the “Front Row” radio programme, giving PC no opportunity to respond; problems of collaborating with actors within short timescales; growing interest in directing because of this. [0:33:03] Approach to costume on ‘Pygmallion’; new writing at BR; learning to like the work of George Bernard Shaw, including ‘Saint Joan’; frustrations of working on new plays as a designer; working with writers; tendency for new writing to be staged in small spaces; success of The Door theatre at BR; writing by Paul Lucas; favourite play of his, ‘All That Trouble That We Had’, directed by AC but not designed by PC; other favourite new writing including ‘Paddy Irishman, Paddy Englishman And Paddy..?’

  • Description

    Life story interview with Patrick Connellan (1961-), theatre designer.

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