Art Books International
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Jocelyn Herbert:
A Theatre Workbook

Edited by Cathy Courtney
May 1997
Art Books International
Distributed By Trans-Atlantic Publications
240 Pages, Illustrated, 10 1/4 x 11"
$62.50 Paper

This book is the first to examine in depth the work of a contemporary British stage designer. It follows the career of Jocelyn Herbert from her student days at the London Theatre Studio in 1936 to her productions at the Royal National Theatre in 1992. In 1956 she joined the Royal Court where she developed her long working relationships with the directors George Devien, Tony Richardson, Lindsay Anderson and John Dexter.

Thanks to The Court's championship of new playwrights, she designed the first performances of plays by John Arden, Arnold Wesker, John Osborne and David Storey, and in the 1950s began a close association with Samuel Beckett, which lasted until his death.

Jocelyn Herbert first designed for the National Theatre at the Old Vic in 1964 and was on the building committee for the South Bank site, where she has recently collaborated with poet and playwright Tony Harrison.

While much has been written about the roles of director and actor, few are aware of the extent to which the work of a good designer may influence the style of performance and the overall values of a production. By including, where appropriate, comments from writers, directors, and actors, this book seeks to recapture some of the chemistry at work in the process of bringing a text alive on stage, examining the problems posed by each play and the degree to which the chosen solutions succeeded.

Research for the book began in the mid-1980s and it now forms an archive for the words of those contributors who did not live to see its publication -- Peggy Ashcroft, Samuel Beckett, John Dexter, Ronald Eyre, Tony Richardson and Suria Saint-Denis -- as well as the testimony of those with whom Jocelyn continues to collaborate.


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