Gill, Peter (12 of 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 12: PG’s liking for [Jez Butterworth’s] ‘Jerusalem’; a good play, resembling old RCT production, not self-serving; an attempt to show different side to England; pre-bourgeois world belonging to the people, direct connection with nature, poetry in lives of persons. Alternative life in cities like Bath and Brighton: Big Issue sellers, dogs etc. Life affirming, made audience feel good. PG reminded of his grandparents, agricultural poor. Genuinely funny. Attempt to write about Merry England, in part what Shakespeare tried to write, and directors find difficult to do; Falstaff as Lord of Misrule; writing against the idea of the court. PG’s production of [Granville Barker’s] ‘The Voysey Inheritance [TVI]’; invitation from Nicholas Hytner to do a play from that period [1890s-1920s], suggestion of TVI; Lyttelton too big a theatre for play, originally done at Court Theatre [1905]. Play is about a Ponzi (fraudulent investment) scheme. Jane Howell’s RCT production, 1970s. PG’s love for the play; wonderful evocation of upper-middle-class life. Explanation of setting of play, milieu. Difficulty of set designs for PG and AC; wanting realism; influence of Linley Sanbourne house in Kensington; explanation of set. [15.50] Casting difficulties, especially part of father; need for leading part to engage you; PG’s choice of Dominic West binding play together; a good cast; father played by Julian Glover. Granville Barker an underestimated writer. PG’s interest in theatre from 1880s to 1950s: a struggle, no money, no art theatre, censorship; public saw foreign plays but very ad hoc; no funding, purely commercial, occasional benefactors; many small theatres in London; theatre-going a big thing but not part of intellectual discourse. Oscar Wilde. [25.28] PG’s recent production [2007] of ‘Importance of Being Earnest’: only one slightly mean line in play; using young actors; a generous-spirited play. Casting Penelope Keith, her performance. Inexperience of young cast, teaching them to speak lines, to have fun; difficulty of opening scene. BG’s RADA production of ‘The Man of Mode’; his success in teaching the students to speak lines correctly. Influence of social class on actors’ speech; casting has become more class-based since early RCT period. Edith Evans not posh, but able to hit off upper-class parts, but performance not bourgeois; Margaret Leighton a stylish actress. Eileen Atkins, Margaret Tyzack. Talented actors today not given enough scope to develop and change. Anthony Hopkins [36.30]; PG’s early friendship not sustained; PG’s casting of him in LA’s production of ‘Julius Cesar’ and in ‘A Provincial Life’; his acting; a consummate mimic, but can also embody, better than Alec Guiness. Little transforming acting today; Mark Rylance; John Normington; Nicol Williamson. Richard Griffiths in Alan Bennett play. John Gielgud in TR’s production of Charles Wood play [‘Veterans’] about making of ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’. Laurence Olivier’s inability to do accents; his performances in ‘The Entertainer’ and at Chichester; in ‘The Master Builder’; in ‘Othello’; his dynamism and sexuality. Michael Redgrave. Peggy Ashcroft as adorable juvenile, and in ‘Jewel in the Crown’; less good an actress than Edith Evans, but a great soul. Ralph Richardson, too eccentric for PG. Difficulty of knowing who was good in the past. Ronald Squire. Many great actors, now forgotten.

  • Description

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

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