Connellan, Patrick (9 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

    The British Library

  • Interviewees

    Connellan, Patrick 1961- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Wright, Elizabeth (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 9: Reasons for time elapsed since previous recording; feelings about previous session; experience of talking about life and personal experiences; talking about self. Thinking about the interview afterwards; remembering certain phrases; speaking to Sarah about the interview; low mood last year and reasons for this. [0:03:31] Teaching and lecturing over the years; association with Birkbeck directing course; opportunity to teach at Nottingham Trent University [NTU] via Kate Burnett; reasons for enjoying teaching; teaching contract for the following year; applying for post as Lecturer in Scenography at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design; wanting to continue to practice as a designer. Being thrown in at the deep end at NTU; being thanked by parents of students; comments from father of a talented student, Sophie Phillips. [0:09:31] Creating student projects; choosing less obvious plays to work on; feeling that 'The Atheist's Tragedy' was too difficult; successful projects on contemporary work; practical aspects of the teaching. Encouraging the design students to think like directors; rediscovering the design process through working with students. [0:13:44] Ways of helping students overcome the feeling that there should be "a big idea"; process of analysing and asking questions about the play; comment that they spend too much time researching and sketching; encouraging them to design in the model; helping them to lose the fear of modelmaking; individual tutorials; writing to judges of Linbury Prize. [0:19:02] Advice to students about finding work; idea of total theatre; teaching theatre design at art schools as opposed to drama schools; skill level of students; rising level of achievement in education. Political aspect of teaching; avoiding conflict; advantages of being a visiting lecturer. Not having directed recently because of teaching; ambition to run a small theatre. [0:27:37] Feelings about the term “scenography”; learning academic terminology; assessment criteria. Trends apparent in Society of British Theatre Designers exhibition held at NTU; total theatre approach; influence of companies such as Kneehigh. Definition of “total theatre”; lasting impact of anti-war movement on theatre; themes of ‘Taking Care of Baby’ [TCB]. [0:36:14] Invitation to design TCB directed by AC; respect for work of Dennis Kelly [DK]; description of TCB, its themes and characters; thinking about this interview whilst working on the play; memory and perception; DK’s interest in design; interest in research into collaboration between designers and writers. Options for designing this kind of play; decision to take a different approach; making a visual comment on themes; description of the multi-layered design; opinion of projection and use of multi-media in theatre; use of text in TCB; emotional affect on the audience; distorted words of the play so that the audience would realise it was a construct; negative review of the design; questions about theatre design brought forth by this play. [0:51:36] Design for contemporary playwriting; decline in opportunities for new writing. [0:53:58] First impressions of TCB; developments in each draft. Designing for HT; hope that the play would transfer; mention of play AC is currently designing, ‘Life After Scandal’ [LAS] by Robin Soans, that will probably have a commercial future; echoes between the two plays; mention that some of the subjects of the play will be at the first night; feelings about meeting people like Jonathan Aitken, Christine Hamilton and Craig Murray [CM]. [1:01:37] Background to Respect Party that came out of the anti-war movement; purposes of the party; working as an election agent; enthusiasm from local community; thoughts about why the party was not more successful in that ward; sectarian edge to politics in Coventry; meeting members of the community; seeing how people live; idea for establishing a community forum. Thoughts on George Galloway [GG] as leader of Respect; victimisation of him; going to picket line of Post Office strike; hearing positive opinions of GG there. [1:15:56] Costume design for TCB; decisions to make about costumes for LAS; costume fittings for contemporary plays; sensibilities of costume fittings; treating some characters as types but not caricatures. Further comments about costume fittings; costume as part of the overall vision for a design; complexities of the design process. [1:26:47] Technical rehearsal for TCB; audience response; poor ticket sales. Discussing work with SB; working in the same room. Feelings about the idea of children going into theatre design; RC’s interest in photography and journalism; personalities of younger children; recent trip to the park with DC; his free-spiritedness. [1:36:55] Thoughts about life in the future; being a grumpy old man; anger at injustices in politics, for example role of former head of the CBI [Confederation of British Industry] [Digby Jones] in Labour Cabinet; recent news about investment in railways funded by raise in ticket prices. [1:40:43] Feelings about recording this interview; initial qualms; thoughts on completing the interview.

  • Description

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

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