Gill, Peter (11of 14).  The legacy of the English Stage Company.

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  • Recording date

    2008-11-10, 2009-02-27, 2009-03-25, 2009-05-17, 2009-09-29, 2009-11-25, 2009-12-10, 2010-01-21, 2010-02-10, 2010-03-05, 2010-03-29

  • Interviewees

    Gill, Peter, 1939- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Devine, Harriet (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 11: [Session 9, 10 February 2010] Hosting [SBTD] Theatre Design exhibition at RS; selection of work for Prague Quadrennial, very catholic view of British theatre; PG’s first view of Alison Chitty [AC]’s work, his invitation to her to design ‘Measure for Measure’. AC a great team member; her subsequent work for PG; her light touch, her drawing; her work on NT Studio refurbishments. AC as professional, very thorough, realising the text in a poetic way; sense of colour; good costumes. Tendency for PG and AC to oversimplify. AC’s need to feel she is in a team, her liking for working with people she knows, to be in control. Her ability to work quickly. Bold colour, bold simple ideas, understanding of what piece requires. Liveliness of recent AC exhibition. Timing of choosing a designer for a production; deciding on designer for recent production in Bath; working with Jess Curtis. [14.03] Percy Harris [PH] as head of Motley Design Course, a maverick; AC more thorough. PH favouring the boys, a good ability. Early RCT as feminist theatre, no discussion about promoting women. Peggy Ramsay’s low opinion of women as playwrights; her favouritism; her helpfulness; as PG’s agent; her friendship with AP, and with David Hare, Joe Orton, Christopher Hampton; her ferocious letter to GD, championing play in Stoke on Trent; her eccentricity, her comments on PG’s play and audience reception. PG’s present agent; what they do for him, sorting things out, not getting him work. PG not good at pitching, networking; his lack of success at getting work he really wanted: example of David Storey’s ‘In Celebration’; his over sensitivity, puritanism. Getting poems accepted for publication under a pseudonym. [28.28] PG’s play ‘The Second Wife’, based on ‘Dombey and Son’; explanation of the plot; difficulty in getting it on because of size of cast. Desirability of getting plays done in sequence, soon after they are written. PG’s reasons for choosing conventional structure for ‘York Realist’; rebellion in theatre against well-made plays, five characters, one set, but a good form. Hard to write. Started with image of main character and his sister. PG’s satisfaction with the play, but difficulty in getting it staged; Ian Rickson told, not by PG, that it was an RCT tribute play; explanation of plot, and its relation to the RCT; its success at RCT and in West End. PG and Shakespeare [40.30] Learning all Hamlet’s soliloquies as a young actor; first Shakespeare seen at Stratford, ‘Measure for Measure’; knowing it was a poor production but getting something out of it. Seeing Alan Badel’s Hamlet at Stratford. Not good production, but very well acted. PG’s English teacher, a neurotic sadist but an interesting teacher; his teaching of Keats’ Ode to Autumn. Getting to know particular plays. Discussions of Shakespeare at RCT, different peoples’ views. PG’s Shakespeare productions in UK and elsewhere. ‘The Soldiers of Fortune’ at RCT. Being asked to do productions or choosing to do them. [50.48] John Burgess article in book on Shakespeare productions, his discussion of PG’s ‘As You Like It’ and ‘Twelfth Night’; Bill Dudley’s set for ‘Twelfth Night’; PG’s desire not to present play as melancholy and autumnal; box-like nature of set; direction of end of play, Antonio prevented from leaving. PG’s definition of ‘Shakespearean’ productions; need to engage with substance of the play, a more naked interpretation. Problem with visual element. Need for speed and plasticity. PG’s dislike of conceptualised productions. Plays he would like to do, and those he would not; preference for tragedies over comedies. Difficulty of casting Hamlet; Hamlets he has seen; Peter O’Toole, story of DO’D; David Tennant, no passion. SD’s liking for Alec Guinness as Hamlet. Avoiding seeing King Lear because of probable fury at production. PG’s lack of definite future plans; his depression at not having a project in the pipeline.

  • Description

    Life story interview with Peter Gill, theatre director, playwright and actor.

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