A major project, which I am now becoming increasingly immersed in, is researching material for a book on the life and work of Richard Negri, the theatre designer whose vision propelled the astonishing Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester into existence.
To be more exact, 'The Life and Work of Richard Negrií (working title) is a project to research, document and evaluate 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 (Negri was head of the theatre department at Wimbledon School of Art from 1964 to 1973 ) between the infallible guru (the Negri model) at one extreme, and the current student-centred norm at the other.
Richard sadly died at Easter in 1999 and the book is intended to provide a lasting tribute to his extraordinary gifts as a theatre practitioner and the mentor to several generations of theatre designers through his work as a teacher at Wimbledon School of Art.
I am developing a website - www.richardnegri.co.uk - which will contain the major part of this research as it accrues and include sound clips of interviews with Negri's collaborators in the critical period of his design career in the late 1950s and 1960s. Any visitors to this website who have any further information on Richard's life and work - perhaps personal recollections - I would be very grateful if they would get in touch.