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UAL Research Online

'Find Out Who They Are and They Will Tell You What They Must Wear': Exploring the Work of Richard Negri and Post-War Theatre in Britain

Burrows, David (2007) 'Find Out Who They Are and They Will Tell You What They Must Wear': Exploring the Work of Richard Negri and Post-War Theatre in Britain. [Show/Exhibition]

Type of Research: Show/Exhibition
Creators: Burrows, David

This exhibition presents previously unpublished original designs by Richard Negri, one of Britain’s most influential stage designers in the second half of the twentieth century. Burrows selected the work from Negri's extensive archive, housed at Wimbledon College of Art. The curatorship of the exhibition and the presentation of a conference paper was an extension of Burrows' ongoing research into Negri's life and work.

The exhibition revealed the particularity of Negri's approach to theatre design and his insistence on an understanding of character as being the principal driver for visualisation and eventual realisation on stage. Negri believed this was achieved through detailed textual analysis. Burrows' paper considered the major influences and developments in theatre design and production in the last half of the twentieth century as exemplified by Negri's oeuvre. He explored the changes in theatre design practice and aesthetics during the period and traced these influences in current design practice. He also questioned whether or not there were any enduring production values that have arisen out of Negri's work.

The paper also drew attention to the ways in which Negri challenged the prevailing theatrical conventions at the end of the Second World War. The design and building of the Royal Exchange Theatre in 1976 was the result of a long period of discussion with colleagues from the 'Manchester 59 and 69’ Theatre Companies during the 1960s and 1970s. Burrows argued that it became the culmination of Negri's career as a theatre designer and his legacy to today's practitioners. An extended version of the paper will be published in January 2008 by the University of Alabama in the journal ‘Theatre Histories'.

Additional Information (Publicly available):

Research Interests
All aspects of theatre design and visual aspects of performance practice from the latter half of the twentieth century onwards especially.

David Burrows is a theatre designer who has worked extensively in the UK and Europe. Alongside his professional practice as a designer he has worked in higher education for more than thirty years and is now Head of the Theatre School at Wimbledon College of Art.

Current Research
'The Life and Work of Richard Negri' is a project to acquire key information and perspectives on the development of post-war theatre design, from the ideas and teaching methods developed at the Old Vic Theatre School under Michel Saint-Denis, where Negri studied after serving in the Royal Navy during the second world war, to Negri's design and building of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester in 1977. The study also examines the dilemma in teaching and learning between the infallible guru (the Negri model) at one extreme, and the current student-centred norm at the other.

Long-term collaborators
Phil Young has worked with many designers in the course of his work in the UK and Europe (especially Germany) over the last thirty years, and has sustained his professional relationship with Burrows for twenty-two of these. They have collaborated on seven productions, from 'Crystal Clear' (Wyndhams, 1983) to Alistair Beaton's 'Feelgood' (The English Theatres in Vienna and Frankfurt) in 2005.
Alkis Kritikos is a Greek actor/director who has worked mainly in the UK, where he trained in the late 1970s. Burrows has collaborated on 10 of Kritikos' productions from 'Miss Julie' by Strindberg in 1981 (Sir Richard Steele, London) to 'Roast Beef' by Leah Vitali at Riverside Studios in 2004.

David Graham-Young is a more recent collaborator. A distinguished translator of contemporary play texts, particularly from Spanish, French, Portuguese and Polish, he is artistic director and founder of Contemporary Stage Company for which Burrows has designed the last five productions.

Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Wimbledon College of Arts
Date: 1 March 2007
Related Websites: http://www.davidburrows.com, http://www.contemporarystage.co.uk, http://www.richardnegri.co.uk, http://www.uapress.ua.edu/pages/THS.aspx
Related Websites:
Event Location: Minneapolis MATC; Paris 8 University; DAMU, Prague
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2009 23:39
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2010 14:40
Item ID: 1851
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/1851

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