Brotherston, Lez (1 of 9)  An Oral History of Theatre Design

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  • Recording date

    2006-08-28, 2006-09-04, 2006-09-21, 2006-09-26

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's studio, London

  • Interviewees

    Brotherston, Lez 1961- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Wright, Elizabeth (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: Lez Brotherston [LB], born 1961, in Aintree, Liverpool; later lived in Longview near Prescot. Parents Leslie Brotherston [LeB] and Irene Richardson [IR]. Mention of LeB’s career as an Able-bodied seaman then a coxswain. Mention of LeB’s death two or three years previously. List of IR’s jobs. Description of how LB’s parents met. Comments about not knowing grandparents except LeB’s mother; her name unknown. Comments about the move to Longview. Mention of IR’s sister, Lilly; her grown-up children. Mention that LB is an only child. Remark that the family is not religious. [0:04:14] Mention that IR still lives in the family home. Description of house in Longview; changes in architecture. Comparison of Liverpool to Manchester and Leeds. Description of the decoration in the home; LB’s feelings at grammar school about where he came from. Description of furniture in the home. Description of LB’s bedroom; parents’ attitude to decoration. [0:09:48] Description of LB’s relationship with LeB; LeB’s working hours. Description of LeB’s sister’s career; mention of LeB’s brother; LB’s suspicions about LeB’s sense of his own achievement. Mention of LB’s cousin Wendy; how she was treated differently by LeB’s mother; Christmas presents. Story about Liverpool Playhouse youth theatre [LPYT] [0:15:57] Description of IR’s childhood. Description of LeB’s schooling. Description of meals cooked by LeB; IR’s attitude to cooking. [0:20:31] Description of family Christmases. Comments about Christmas presents; making board games into different things; making a Meccano theatre; making a puppet theatre. Comments about television. Description of LB’s obsession with The Rock Follies; later work with Charlotte Cornwall; Julie Covington. Mention of The Tomorrow People; after-school television regime. [0:30:00] Description of visits to the cinema.. Mention of IR’s cinema-going in her youth; her collection of movie memorabilia. Comment about the shortage of money during LB’s childhood. Description of LeB’s Ford Anglia; days out; trips to see LeB’s boat. Description of IR’s attitude to travel. Description of holidays with IR’s sister Elsie and her grown-up daughter Sandra. Mention of LeB’s reluctance to travel; UK holiday destinations. Comments about later staying at home when parents went on holiday. Description of journeys to Wales; accommodation. Story about staying in Tenby. Description of how time would be spent on holiday. Story about staying in a ‘shed’ on a campsite; LB’s more recent stay in a similar building. [0:41:40] Story about oil lorry outside next-door neighbours’ house. Description of playing in the street. Comments about trips to the swimming baths; the ice rink. List of local friends. Comments about being with the same group of children through school; not having days off. [0:46:58] Description of first day at school; first classroom. Schools attended: Longview Juniors; Prescot Grammar School. Mention of streaming in junior school; teachers; children in LB’s class. Comments about being kept back a year because of the month he was born. Comments about being divided by surname at grammar school; lack of understanding about O-levels; not being taught grammar; not being able to draw. Description of plans for after Eleven Plus. Description of playing the Narrator in a school play. Description of feelings about sport at school. [1:01:00] Description of being bullied; grammar school uniform. Description of first trips to the theatre; Frankie Vaughn Show at the Liverpool Royal Court [LRC]; Ken Dodd Laughter Spectacular. Description of going to the theatre to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Description of going to see plays at the Liverpool Playhouse [LP]; being shown around by designer Billy Meall [BM]; work at LP; LPYT. Comments about seeing LP from backstage; atmosphere. Description of LPYT run by designer Bim Hopewell [BH] and director Tim Albery [TA]. Mention of working with BH. Description of involvement in school plays; St George and Bold Slasher. Description of the first play LB saw at grammar school. Description of sitting Eleven Plus exam. Description of going to the library with IR; favourite books. Comments about earning money; working at LP; Knowsley Safari Park funfair. [1:16:36] Comments about working as a relief Assistant Stage Manager [ASM]. Comments about BH’s encouragement of LB to be a designer. Mention of applying to Central School of Speech and Drama to be a Stage Manager [SM]. Comments about changing to O-level Art subjects. Comments about characters at LP. Comments about youth theatre; going to London with National Youth Theatre. Comments about London; staying at the Chinese Mission in North London; moving to High Elm in West Hampstead. Comments about working on England My England. [1:24:24] Comments about teachers who were helpful at grammar school. Story about teacher Mrs Webb seeing LB’s production of Volpone at Manchester Royal Exchange [MRE]. Comments about taking responsibility for his own education. Comments about weird teachers. Mention of school burning down. [1:30:08] Comments about the school turning into a comprehensive. Comments about gaining confidence in drawing; LB’s method for drawing costumes. Comments about being friends with Colin Vearncombe [CV]; his bands: The Tilt; Black. Comments about going to London to apply to study Theatre Design [TD]. Mention of Pamela Howard [PH]; John Gunter [JG]; being told he should do an art foundation course [AFC]. Comments about going on a different AFC than CV. Mention of PH’s comments about LB’s art teacher; seeing PH on television. Grammar school was called Prescot Grammar School for Boys then Prescot Comprehensive. [1:37:51] List of the O-levels LB studied; list of A-levels studied. Story about why LB applied to study TD at the Central School of Arts and Crafts [CSAD]. Mention of Sue Blane [SB]; Maria Bjornsen [MBj]. [1:40:03] Description of work for A-level in TD; design for Bartholomew Fair [BF]. Comments about building models; project for application to CSAD. Description of drawing for BF; model for Streetcar Named Desire; model for Marat/Sade. Description of advice from BH about materials and equipment; model making tips. [1:45:30] Feelings about going to art foundation course at St. Helens; comments about wanting to paint again. Comments about studying costume at CSAD; drawing garments. Comments about missing CV after they went to separate colleges. Comments about CV’s music. Comments about LB’s interest in music; clothes. Comments about being restrained at CSAD. Description of the clothes that CV wore. Comments about meeting new people on AFC. Comments about projects at AFC; print making; painting; life drawing; collage.

  • Description

    Life story interview with Lez Brotherston (1961-), theatre designer.

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