Hudson, Richard (4 of 7) An Oral History of Theatre Design
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2006-12-15, 2007-07-25, 2008-04-04
Interviewee's studio, London
Hudson, Richard 1954- (speaker, male)
Wright, Elizabeth (speaker, female)
Part 4: Story about how RH was invited to design ‘Into the Woods’ [ITW] produced by David Mervish; feelings about this project; mention of costumes by Sue Blane [SB]; short length of run; impact of first Iraq war on tourism in London. Themes of ITW design; description of colours; influence of Victorian automata; wall of painted trees; SB’s work on costume. Feelings about SB’s costumes; designing both set and costume. Use of assistants for costume research; RH’s involvement in the process; role of supervisor; role of assistants for set design; taking assistants to meetings or overseas work. Mention of accompanying NG on overseas trips when RH was his assistant; finance for this; director’s assistants; volume of work on overseas operas. [0:07:22] Length of time taken to produce a costume drawings; methods for repeating drawings; style of costume drawings; size of RH’s costume drawings; frame of mind for costume drawings; finding this frame of mind; costume drawing at weekends. [0:09:24] Speculation about short run of ITW; successful Sondheim musicals; feelings about designing musicals. Feelings about designing Oklahoma! in 1994; response of director and choreographer, Lars Lubovitch, to RH’s design. Themes of Oklahoma!; feeling of vast space; pursuing this later in LK; perspective; sky cloths; opening in Plymouth then on tour. Costumes for Oklahoma!; cowboy research; young cast; working with an enthusiastic company. Making performers feel comfortable about their costume; conveying confidence in a costume fitting; performer’s who blame their costume for other problems; talking to soloists about they will wear in advance. Timescale of making costumes for opera; speaking to soloists at the beginning of rehearsals; using company photographs and measurements; GV’s comments about tall and slender details in RH’s work; drawing costumes differently for each production. Response to ‘Oklahoma!’; feelings on opening nights; problems on technical productions; opening night of FDD which was also televised live. Mention that for opera the set is onstage first and costumes might only arrive for the last rehearsal; feelings about this; lack of time to make adjustments. Description of RH’s role during technical rehearsals; sightlines. Designing ‘Oklahoma!’ as a touring production; working to the smallest space. [0:25:53] Feelings about designing ‘La Bete’ [LB] directed by RJ on Broadway; closure of the production; cult following for LB; negative critical response. Staging LB at the Lyric Hammersmith; changing costumes for London production. Mixture of 1950s and seventeenth century elements for the Broadway production; reasons for this development. Feelings about working on Broadway; expense of having set and props made; complicated approach to costume making; effects of this onstage. [0:30:33] Description of set design for LB; series of front cloths; audience response; response of Viennese audience to TOH. Audiences in different countries; audience attitudes to Verdi, Bellini and Wagner; budgets at different theatres. Comments about working on TOH with AS; working on ‘Desire’ directed by AS; subsequent work with AS in Paris and at the National Theatre [NT]. Description of AS as a director; his contribution to the design process; difficulties of working with directors based in other countries; role of AS onstage during the technical rehearsal. [0:41:06] Comments about how different directors contribute to the design process; David Pountney’s [DP] contribution to the first meeting; other directors who come without visual ideas; coaxing ideas out of them; the level of contribution RH prefers from directors; being unable to tell who contributed what to a design. Description of RJ’s visual literacy; his drawing skills; his use of drawing in the design process; number of ideas he contributes. [0:45:21] Working with AS on design for TOH; working with him in France; rough models; mention of working before e-mail or digital photography. Drawing as part of the design process; use of storyboards; photographic storyboards of the model. Themes of TOH design; Victorian influences; costumes for the chorus; set design. RH’s Victorian period; later design for ‘Rake’s Progress’ [RP]; use of colour; use of eighteenth century scenery idea to change wings and borders; costumes based on eighteenth century shapes; Japanese production of RP. Reasons for RH’s move towards colour, use of grey at the beginning of his career; advice from NG not to use green.
Life story interview with Richard Hudson (1954-), theatre designer.