Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison From the Jocelyn Herbert Archive at the National Theatre
Front Cover Photograph ÂŠ Nobby Clark
Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison From the Jocelyn Herbert Archive at the National Theatre The Cookhouse, Chelsea College of Arts 12.04.2016 - 20.04.2016 Work from the Collections #8 Curated by MA Curating & Collections
Workbook #2 - Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison
Acknowledgements We would like to thank Cathy Courtney, Eileen Hogan, Sian Thomas, David Gothard, Cherie Silver, Donald Smith, and Erin Lee and Medha Chotai from the National Theatre Archive for all their help in making the Workbook #2 possible. With special thanks to Nobby Clark, Tony Harrison and Sandra Lousada for giving permission to reproduce their words and photographs for this publication. ‘Workbook’ is taken from Cathy Courtney’s publication - ‘Jocelyn Herbert: A Theatre Workbook’. Exhibition curated by MA Curating and Collections. Workbook #2 created, edited and photographed by Frances Bailey, Nicola Benford, Cairo Clarke and Eloise Showering.
Workbook #2 - Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison
Our thinking for this exhibition began with ‘The Jocelyn Herbert Lecture: Sian Thomas – Lions and Nightingales’, 11th December 2015, at the National Theatre, where Sian Thomas introduced Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison’s vibrant relationship, both on and off stage. In a moving and performative approach, Thomas relayed the pair’s relentless work ethic, groundbreaking creativity and shared visions for the theatre. This successively set the tone for our exhibition, that not only aims to celebrate one of Britain’s most renowned theatre designers but to present insights into the personal and working relationship of her collaborator and friend, Tony Harrison throughout her career. We are grateful to Sian Thomas for kindly allowing the text from this talk to be edited and appropriated by MA Curating and Collections for this foreword. Tony and I were sitting having lunch under the plane trees opposite the now derelict Hotel Vouzas. It was in that hotel that Jocelyn first stayed in Delphi with George Devine back in the 1960s. George, who was half Greek, founded the Royal Court Theatre and was Jocelyn’s partner for a number of years. Tony, who’s from Leeds, is always being told by the Greeks that he must have been a Greek in another life and it was a Greek project, The Oresteia of Aeschylus that first brought him and Jocelyn together in 1981. From where we sit under the plane trees we can see a statue of Aeschylus’s Prometheus, commemorating the first production done in the ancient theatre of Delphi in modern times: Prometheus
Bound in 1927, directed and designed by the great Greek poet Angelos Sikelianos and his American wife, Eva Palmer. When I first came to Delphi in 1996 it was with Jocelyn and Tony, they were on a recce for Tony’s film, Prometheus, which Jocelyn - ‘Joc’ was designing. The first place we went to on arriving was the Sikelianos House where the couple had lived and which was now a museum. Inside, I remember watching Joc and Tony avidly pouring over the collection of designs and costumes of the 1927 Sikelianos production of Prometheus Bound, and Joc’s eager curiosity at the hand woven detail of the material Eva Palmer had used for the flowing garments of the Daughters of the Ocean chorus, and how exactly she’d gone about making the horned mask for Io who is turned into a cow by Zeus. In some ways Joc and Tony were very similar to the two Sikelianos - idealistic, imaginative and yet practical; highly skilled in their separate disciplines - but which could fuse together to create something quite unique. In my mind I’m returning to our place under the plane trees opposite the Hotel Vouzas in Delphi, where we sat this summer toasting Joc. As we lifted our glasses, I remember Tony saying, ‘She’s gone ahead on a recce that we just can’t join her on… yet’1. Edited by Eloise Showering from Sian Thomas, ‘The Jocelyn Herbert Lecture: Sian Thomas - Lions and Nightingales’, 11th December 2015, National Theatre.
Angela Sanchez del Campo Moreno
Costume and Mask by Jocelyn Herbert for The Oresteia
Mask of The Old Men of Argos for The Oresteia , 1981 by Jocelyn Herbert, National Theatre Costume Hire. Photo: Angela Sanchez del Campo Moreno.
The intention of the display was to show the process of creating a costume, from the ideas and design to the final outcome. The presentation of the mask of the Old Men of Argos and the costume of The Fury by Jocelyn Herbert for the production The Oresteia, are both still in good condition from the National Theatre Costume Hire. Both give a sense of the fascinating and creative labour which evolved over the six months of rehearsals for the production. Generally speaking, costume design involves experimentation during the making process and sometimes the original idea is modified until the result is satisfactory for the stage. Jocelyn Herbert talked about just this in relation to the design of the masks: ‘The masks for the Old Men of Argos were originally going to be more abstract, using a wonderful African mask as a base, but I realised it wouldn’t work and that they needed to be more naturalistic. They were rather sallow and pale because of their age, with grey shadows. If you have a chorus of old men even if they’re not all speaking the same lines they are in effect saying the same thing…If I had had sixteen different male masks it would have been very confusing but by making them similar I could enhance the telling of the story by strengthening the feeling of age, of things remembered, and of coming near the end. Some-
how, although the Old Men of Argos were all in the same mask, they each looked slightly different’.2 Some other costumes are designed to look and be worn more freely, allowing minimal changes and alterations that make the outfit more versatile. This is the case for the costumes in the Furies, as Jocelyn Herbert explained: ‘Peter [Hall] wanted the cast to wear clothes based on Greek costumes but which didn’t look too Greek. I got some cheesecloth and made some droopy garments, each with slightly different details, and told them they could choose whichever they liked and wear them in any way they wanted. I used to do little drawings of them in rehearsal and when I felt that costume or a detail worked I fixed on that. I found some fishnet and threaded pieces of material through it and used that method for quite a lot of the costumes, especially the Furies, so that they were light and moved well’.3 The Oresteia of Aeschylus is a Greek drama translated and adapted by Tony Harrison and directed by Peter Hall in 1981 to be played in The Olivier at The National Theatre, London. The production also played in the amphitheatre at Epidaurus, Greece, in the summer of 1982.
Angela Sanchez del Campo Moreno
Costume of The Fury for The Oresteia, 1981 by Jocelyn Herbert, National Theatre Costume Hire. Photo: Angela Sanchez del Campo Moreno.
Giovanni Rendina & Rui Pan
The Oresteia: Masks of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Chorus and The Man with the Knitted Beard
JH/7/4/9, JH/7/4/12, JH/7/4/13, JH/7/4/14 - Masks from The Orestia, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
‘The Oresteia was the first time I’d used fulllength masks and it took time to find the style and to decide whether they should be naturalistic or not. There’s absolutely no tradition of masks in this country and I knew very little myself. I read a lot of Greek plays and everything that Edward Gordon Craig had written about masks. In all the Greek tragedies, none of the violence or blood-letting or agony is ever shown on stage; it all happens offstage and the audience is told about it. A mask allows the text to emerge more fully and gets rid of the very human face contortions which, quite naturally, happen when an actor describes scenes of horror. I discovered the cast had been told it would take six months before they could utter a word and were very disturbed by the idea of masks. Before I was involved, they had been given a mixture of masks that had nothing to do with The Oresteia so, naturally, they couldn’t speak. They had been told to look
in the mirror all the time, and that is one thing you don’t do with tragic masks. The tradition is that you never look in the mirror with a tragic or serious mask: the actor looks at the mask, puts it on and lets the text motivate his moves and gestures. The practice of looking in the mirror comes from the half-masks used in comedy where an actor looks at his reflection to find his character.’ Jocelyn Herbert Courtney, C., (1993), Jocelyn Herbert: A Theatre Workbook. Art Books International, London. p. 120
Giovanni Rendina & Rui Pan
JH/7/4/7 - Soldiers Masks, JH/7/4/8 - Electra Mask (Centre) The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
JH/7/4/17 - Chorus Woman Mask, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
Jocelyn Herbertâ€™s Masks Moulds
JH/5/43 - Mask Moulds x3, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
The Oresteia includes masks inspired from ancient Greek drama. There are 64 used in this play, and Herbert used full-length masks for the first time. Herbert discovered that the cast had been told it would take six months before they could utter a word during their rehearsals, and were apprehensive about the idea of using masks alone. She began with abstract, and then more realistic masks, with the help of two assistants, Jenny West and Sue Jenkinson. They experimented with clay many times to find the desired shapes they were trying to create. The moulds used by Jocelyn Herbert and her assistants to create the masks, along with material notes, vividly illustrate the process of mask-making and provide an insight into the inspiration behind them, and Herbertâ€™s theories and processes of mask-making.
JH/2/27/1 - Sketch of Mask, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London
Mask of Fury
I believe The Oresteia is the one of the most important collaborations between Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison. As Tony mentioned, ‘The Oresteia was a long journey and we made many discoveries together.’ Secondly, when Jocelyn and Tony worked on The Oresteia, Jocelyn was central to the vision of what the masked drama would end up like. Therefore, the mask is poignant subject in The Oresteia. There are no longheld traditions of mask making in England and Jocelyn knew very little about it at first. The Oresteia was the first time Jocelyn had used full-length masks and it took some time to perfect the style and character she wished to create, and whether the masks should be naturalistic or not. Part of Tony’s role in The Oresteia workshop was to uncover the types of language that would project clearly when spoken beneath a mask, in a large open-air theatre. When they worked on the drama, Jocelyn did a lot of historical research including
a collection of vey important historical quotes from Gorfo Craig: • Used by savages when making war, at a time when war regarded as an art • Used by ancients in their ceremonies • Used by the three great writers of the 5th century BC. Aescylus, Sophocles and Euripiedes. Jocelyn pondered on how the audience’s visual and aural perceptions of the actor was informed by the mask. What state(s) of consciousness does the mask impose, and what technique? The reason for chosing the Fury mask was because of how powerful the finished piece is. The striking red hair, and open mouth are such strong and expressive features. As Jocelyn (1981) had mentioned ‘The Furies are described as hideous figures with bloodshot eyes and snot coming out of their noses…the result was that the actors became like animals, tracking about.’
Fury Mask, The Oresteia, 1981, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
The Masks of Cassandra, Fury, and the Blue Mask
JH/4/65 (0657) Cassandra, Watercolour, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
‘In all the Greek tragedies, none of the violence or blood-letting or agony is ever shown on stage, it all happens offstage, and the audience is told about it. A mask allows the text to emerge more fully and gets rid of the very human face contortions which, quite naturally, happen when an actor describes scenes of horror.’4 Even before their first production together, Tony Harrison had learnt much about theatre from Jocelyn Herbert: his first visit to London Theatre was Herbert’s first design; The Chairs in 1957, and after many years of working independently with John Dexter, they finally produced their first collaborative work, The Oresteia in 19815. The Oresteia marked the beginning of a long friendship and many productions together. Harrison also participated in Herbert’s encounter with masks, and their significant connection to words and speech in ancient dramas6. Harrison once declared: ‘I think the exciting discovery was for me that the mask reinforced the primacy of language, that the classical mask of fifth century Athenian theatre was an existential device to carry tragic meaning and survival, and allow speech to continue in situations that might render us otherwise speechless. This, for me, was a profound discovery and could not have been made
without Jocelyn’s guidance and experience.7’Jocelyn Herbert herself had admitted that ‘there’s absolutely no tradition of masks in this country and I [Herbert] knew very little myself. I read a lot of Greek plays and everything that Edward Gordon Craig had written about masks.8’ The journey from ideas to the striking masks now contained within the Jocelyn Herbert Archive is extensive. Even in her recollection, she explained her concerns and challenges while designing the famous masks: how she and her assistants tried different materials and had to discard leather, how they had to match them to the expectations of the director and the description of the play, how they designed them individually for the actors, and how they painted the masks9. In The Oresteia files held by the archive, Herbert’s long expedition in the field of masks can be followed by looking at countless photos of masks, even from Asian cultures, articles, notes, sketches, drawings, and watercolour images, showing different stages of the final product of characters from the Greek tragedy. These objects, placed beside the completed masks make a wonderful insight glimpse into Jocelyn’s progress from committed research, through careful planning to the finished production.
JH/4/65 (0673) Fury, Watercolour, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London (top), JH/4/65 (0662) Untitled, watercolour, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London (bottom).
Composer Peter Wiegold writes a passionate and detailed four-page letter to Jocelyn after being present at a rehearsal of The Oresteia. Set to open three months later at the National Theatre, Wiegold’s reaction particularly concerns that of the Chorus. The letter is filled with poetic and rhythmic principles that he refers to as ‘essences’. His musical intuition and professional background incites an almost mathematical offering to Jocelyn, extremely precise, counting beats and drawing diagrams. Yet emotive and sensory in his choice of words. A combination of formal ideas, with the informal movement of the Chorus and Jocelyn’s masks, aim to make the chorus ‘physically one’. In an interview with Cathy Courtney, Jocelyn explains just this; ‘if you have a chorus of old men even if they’re not all speaking the same lines they are in effect saying the same thing; the essence of their character is that they are old.’10 Whether this idea specifically came from Peter’s letter is unclear but the way their ideas compliment each other so well is noteworthy. Jocelyn had the amazing ability to capture essences in her masks and enhance the telling of a story through the way in which the gestures of many became the gestures of one. It is in Peter’s letter that he aims to intensify this idea throughout the entire embodiment of the chorus. In a panel discussion fifteen years later with Peter Stothard for the National Theatre, the productio-
n’s director Peter Hall talks about the neutrality of the masks and movement of the Chorus as a ‘shoal of fish or flock of birds’11. ‘The Greek Plays’ Choruses contain the most complex, metaphorical writing in the plays, not just these plays but all the Greek plays. That’s where the real meat is, because the Chorus is representing you, the audience, the community. What they say is absolutely complex […] The oscillations inside ourselves, which are completely contradictory - that’s where the Greek Chorus lies; it’s the subconscious.’12 It is important still that Wiegold writes this letter to Jocelyn and not to Peter Hall, illustrating Jocelyn’s influential and dynamic role in The Oresteia. The sketches displayed alongside his letter were contained in the same collection of correspondence. It is interesting to compare Jocelyn’s own sketches of the chorus, with Peter’s reactions to the rehearsal. Did his hand drawn diagrams influence these sketches? Were they created before? How do they relate or differ to each other? Here we see examples of meticulous detail and the importance of feedback and collaboration that can influence visualising an idea and offering it up as theatre. Jocelyn’s style, ideas and role(s) were fluid; capturing and at the same time offering essences of the dynamics of a moment as a means of storytelling itself.
JH/2/35/29iv - Four page A5 type-written letter from Peter Wiegold to Jocelyn Herbert, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
JH/2/35/29iv - Three hand-drawn sketches of the chorus for The Oresteia by Jocelyn Herbert, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
Laurie Taylor Straiton
Orestes and the Furies and Postcard to Jocelyn Herbert from Tony Harrison
The Oresteia Aeschylus, translated by Tony Harrison and directed by Peter Hall was first performed in November 1981 at The Olivier, in The National Theatre. It then went on to play in the amphitheatre at Epidaurus the following summer in 1982. Jocelyn Herbert designed the set and costumes, and during the six-month rehearsal period of the production, the costumes and masks were developed. This production was the first time that Herbert used full-length masks, she had to experiment with various ways to create them. She tried several different materials: fibreglass proved to be too dense and heavy, and leather, something she would have loved to use, would have taken too long to make all the masks that were needed. Herbert discovered that making moulds from clay was sometimes unsuccessful. This was because the shapes had to be moulded much stronger and bolder than first anticipated. When it came to painting the masks, the paint had to essentially be one colour, as it was the shadows created by the moulding process that gave the masks their character. The hair was usually black and dyed silk or cotton cord. The Furies however had hair made from died string.
Jocelyn Herbert describes the Furies as hideous figures13. Peter Hall wanted masks with blood coming from their mouths. This resulted in the actors becoming animal like, and this was something that didnâ€™t seem to work with the words from the text. After trying different expressions, it was evident that making the masks look beautiful but peculiar worked best. The tradition in which an actor puts on a mask that embodies horror and tragedy is very particular. The actor should not look in the mirror, they should only look at the mask, put it on and let the words drive their moves and gestures. The mask allows the words to emerge completely as it removes the contortions of the human face that happen naturally when actors describe scenes of horror. The objects selected give an intimate insight into the relationship between Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison. The postcard was sent to Herbert after Harrison saw an artwork in the Kunstmuseum, Bern, that reminded him of Herbertâ€™s Furies. The photograph was selected to contextualise the masks in what they were originally designed for, which brings the dialogue between Herbert and Harrison to life.
Laurie Taylor Straiton
JH 9/2/1-7 (5)a Orestes and the Furies, Photograph, 20.2x25.2cm, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London. Photograph ÂŠ David Hawtin.
JH/2/35/34 - Postcard to Jocelyn Herbert from Tony Harrison, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London (back).
JH/2/35/34 - Postcard to Jocelyn Herbert from Tony Harrison, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London (front).
Chanchan Liu & Qingfang Li
Costumes from The Oresteia; Aegisths & Cassandra
RNT/CO/1/139 - Five pages from The Oresteia costume bible. The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
We are presenting the contextual materials related to the costumes for The Oresteia, focusing on the characters Aegisthus and Cassandra, with objects from the costume bible of Jocelyn Herbert. A costume bible is created as a reference for future plays and dramas, and records the ideas around the costumes, notes, sketches and fabrics samples. The costumes on stage are a medium of transmission, expressing the characterâ€™s emotion and the storyline, how they integrate into the drama and enhance the play and its characters are all extremely important. In Agamemnon, Aegisthus plays the role of the adulterer of the Queen Cassandra. He murders the King Agamemnon together with Cassandra. After killing Agamemnon, Aegisthus does a duet with the chorus. In this play, there is only one true antagonist, namely, Aegisthus. The Queen Cassandra kills the King because she wants to revenge on him as he has killed their daughter.
Yet, Aegisthus is a total mercenary adulterer. Therefore, we find watercolour paintings of Aegisthus in the Jocelyn Herbert archive. His clothes are all in bright colours and far more colourful than those of other roles. Jocelyn Herbert wanted to present a visual contrast to the audience and make them produce an intuitive impression of Aegisthus, his costume, the colours and materials reflecting the bold nature of the character.
Chanchan Liu & Qingfang Li
JH/4/65 (JH0676), JH/4/65 (JH0589) - Watercolour paintings of costumes by Jocelyn Herbert. The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
JH/4/65 (JH0589), JH/4/65 (JH0576) - Watercolour paintings of costumes by Jocelyn Herbert. The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
JH/14/45 - Prometheus, 1998, Film, 2h10mins, Tony Harrison’s film Prometheus, Film Four. The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
Prometheus (1998-9) was written and directed by Tony Harrison, with set design by Jocelyn Herbert. In this selection, there is a poster for Prometheus, and a storyboard for the film’s plot. These two objects reflect the nature of the project, which is a film production.
is: The eye of history [that] will later view Harrison’s Prometheus as the most important artistic reaction to the fall of the British working class as the twentieth century staggered to it close, a fall symptomatic of the international collapse of the socialist dream.14
Two watercolour paintings show the development of costumes and characters portrayed in the film. Jocelyn wanted to ensure these costumes transcend beyond the original Grecian characters and were representative of 90s style.
Though their collaboration has mostly appeared in theatre productions, Tony Harrison still insisted on letting Jocelyn Herbert bring his first practice in feature film to life.
In Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison’s eighth collaboration since 1981, Prometheus is a production besides plays. This film was screened at esoteric venues and produced by Film Four. After then, it disappeared from the public view completely. Regardless, it is highly regarded. British scholar of classics, specialist of Ancient Greek Literature, Edith Hall believes Prometheus
This selection is important to the exhibition as it highlights their partnership in the field, and emphasises their trust, support and dependency on each other. Simultaneously, this selection complements the exhibition as it is the only different type of work in Jocelyn Herbert’s archive beyond theatre materials and ephemera.
JH/4/84 (1779), JH/4/84 (1784) - Two watercolour paintings by Jocelyn Herbert. The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
JH/4/84 (1851) - Storyboard sketches for Prometheus 1998. The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
The Labourers of Herakles
‘Perhaps the best way to describe the relationship that ensued following the production of The Oresteia is to say that they fell in love. Not a romantic love, but rather the discovery of a partner with a shared vision of what was possible in the theatre, a desire for a theatre as a social and political weapon.’15 On the 23rd August 1995 a one time only performance of original work titled The Labourers of Herakles was staged upon the excavated site of the intended open air Phrynichos Theatre of the European Cultural Centre of Delphi in Greece. The play was co-produced between the National Theatre Studio and the ECCD and was sponsored by the Herakles General Cement Company of Greece. The play written and directed by Tony Harrison and designed by Jocelyn Herbert was staged not long after their previous collaboration in Austria of The Kaisers of Carnuntum in June 1995. The Labourers of Herakles was to be their fifth staged production in their collaborative process and has been hailed as a perfect example of the type of theatre they had been building together over many years. The play was based on fragments of text from the ancient Greek play Capture of Miletus written by the poet Phrynichos. Phrynichos’ play was based on the Persian’s brutal conquest of the city of Miletus in 494 BC. Not long after this conquest did Phrynichos write the play, which was then performed in front of an Athenian audience. Unfortunately, the Capture of Miletus stirred up many negative
memories amongst the Athenians, so much so that Phrynichos was fined and his play and the subject material was banned from any future realisations. Phrynichos became known for his treatment of mythological texts with contemporary subject matter, which is significantly reflected in the work of Tony Harrison and Jocelyn Herbert. Their collaboration revolved around the importance of the text to bring design and space together and it was through this shared understanding that they were able to rediscover ancient Greek texts and confront contemporary political and social concerns. Within Tony Harrison’s research for The Labourers of Herakles Harrison formed links between the Capture of Miletus and the horrendous ethnic cleansing that was taking place in Bosnia in 1995. In particular, as mentioned in Harrison’s postcard to Herbert the ‘Fall of Srebrenica….’ that relates to the execution of hundreds of boys and men from the town of Srebrenica, a town that was supposedly declared a “safe area” by the U.N. in 1993. Harrison himself appeared within the performance as the spirit of Phrynichos and delivered a speech confronting war and genocide and also noting the geographic location of Delphi to former Yugoslavia. Harrison also incorporated into the text the mythological character Herakles from which he uses Herakles’ filicide as a comparison of the devastation behind war atrocities. Through Harrison and Herbert’s conjoined sharing of research and ideas in the form of sketches, written correspondence and
their recce visits that the production took shape. This process between director and designer within theatre is vital and it seems particularly relevant between Harrison and Herbert also appearing to have proved incredible fertile in their collaborative process. Through the sharing of ideas Herbert was able to incorporate space and design in such a way that still allowed the text to stand strong. The final design for The Labourers of Herakles as seen in the production photographs and Herbert’s set sketches incorporated the use of the Herakles cement logo onto the high-vis waistcoats of the Labourers and onto the silo cement tower from which the fragments of Phrynichos’ play was delivered. The space became surrounded by a number of cement mixers, which took on the role of the Greek chorus whilst the Labourers worked away preparing the cement for the new theatre’s orchestra. During the performance Labourer 1 becomes possessed by the spirit of Herakles and attacks a number of cement bags pulling out ribbons of red and white tape representative of the killing of Herakles’ children. Traffic cones for hats and construction netting for robes represented the Persians as suggested in the correspondence between Herbert and Harrison. It was through Herbert and Harrison’s collaborations that they seemed to find a conjoined belief in the way they worked and what they were aiming to achieve. Through many of their collaborations text, space and design all served a truthful purpose in the staging of their productions.
JH/1/33 (top and bottom right) JH/1/56 (bottom left) Postards from Tony Harrison to Jocelyn Herbert. The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
JH/4/83 (4779), JH/2/24, JH/1/33 (clockwise from top to left) - Herakles General Cement Co. The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
Alessandra Di Lorenzo
The Labourers of Herakles
The Labourers of Herakles, written and directed by Tony Harrison, was commissioned in 1995 for the 8th International Meeting on Ancient Greek Drama. The Premiere was set on the excavated site for the new Phrynichos Theatre of the European Cultural Centre of Delphi on the 23rd of August 1995. Jocelyn Herbert was the stage designer for this play: she first started collaborating with playwright Tony Harrison in 1980 for The Oresteia, which was also played in Greece, at the Epidaurus Amphitheatre. This was the beginning of a rich partnership lasting for several years. For this exhibition I selected two stage drawings, part of series of six, made by Jocelyn Herbert for the The Labourers of Herakles. I chose these sketches because they are an example of the minimalism and simplicity in her work as set designer. The set of the play consisted of a 35-foot-high cement silo and nine cement mixers forming a circular orchestra. In the middle of the scene six black characters are shown, representing the chorus and
wearing Greek masks that Jocelyn created for several of her costumes, while a man is working. The drama recalls the discovery of a Herakles statue, which possesses the labourers and gives start to the drama. In both sketches for the play, the concrete mixers and the silo can be seen as a fundamental part of the set design. Particularly, the yellow silo is bearing the trademark of the Heracles Cement Company of Greece: a dark profile of Herakles wearing the lion skin on his head. The first drawing is dominated by very dark colours among which the eye is caught by the brilliant yellow of the silo and of the workerâ€™s jacket. The second sketch, where the chorus is missing, is principally focused on three labourers and on concrete mixers which are here painted in light yellow, as to attract the attention of the observer. In the background - in contrast - two men in black are working on scaffoldings and are meant to show the construction site in its progression. â€ƒ
Alessandra Di Lorenzo
JH/4/83 (4785) - Set Drawings for ‘The Labourers of Herakles’, 1995, pencil and paint on paper, 29 x 41.5 cm, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
JH/4/83 (4786) - Set Drawings for ‘The Labourers of Herakles’, 1995, pencil and paint on paper, 29 x 41.5 cm, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
The Kaisers of Carnuntum
‘What Jocelyn brings to this work is an enormous faith in writing as a theatre power, as the main dynamo, brings the tradition of commitment to the contemporary writer. That commitment is a marvelous tool for discovering the contemporaneity of an ancient piece.’16 The Kaisers of Carnuntum (1995) is a play that shows the shared sense of originality and adventure between Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison. The play was hosted at the ancient Roman Amphitheatre in the small town of Carnuntum around 30 miles outside of Vienna, Austria. Since it was Roman, it was never a theatre for the imagination, but only an Amphitheatre of anguish; displaying the live slaughter of gladiators by wild beasts. The actress in the play, Sian Thomas, spoke about her experience at the National Theatre’s annual Jocelyn Herbert lecture: ‘Tony wanted to reverse what the Romans had done and reclaim the ancient Roman arena as a place of life, imagination in the ancient Greek spirit of theatre as a means of ‘bringing the dark back up to the light’17 Largely bound by the reality and recent history, the Kaisers of Carnuntum used design and text to comment not just on the Amphitheatre as a site intended to display the power and wealth of Rome, but on the bloody imperial
legacies of Europe, from Commodus to Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini. The play was based on the story of Marcus Aurelius, who wrote his famous Meditations in Carnuntum, had a son called Commodus who was his exact opposite: a brutal killer. He was known to dress in women’s clothing, and kill hundreds of slaves in the arena before lunch. The play was about the brutality and civilization, both fruit growing on the same vine. There is a brilliant moment when Commodus encourages the audience to indicate their choice for life or death by the sign of thumbs up or thumbs down. Then he says, ‘You see how democratic dealing death can be.’ Thus Commodus goose-stepped onto the acting space, so the point was not lost on the Austrians; they themselves shared responsibility for the Nazi concentration camps during the World War Two. At the last scene of the play, Commodus says he will now show the most ‘dangerous and savage beast,’ that is himself, man. Orpheus enters, plays his lyre, and men pour out of crates that open at the sound. They are dressed in riot gear, and overpower Commodus; muzzling and chaining him like a bear. According to the letter between Jocelyn and Piero, it also shows how Tony Harrison insisted to keep the visual link between the two worlds; reality and theatrical, and in terms of choosing the costumes for the armed forces.
JH/9/1/9, JH/4/83 - Scan of mixed media drawing and photographs in photo album. The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
JH/1/21, JH/1/21, JH/4/82 (4820) - Letter from Jocelyn to Piero, costume sketches and photograph of police in riot gear, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London, (from left to right).
Rebuilding Legends: The Kaisers of Carnuntum and The Labourers of Herakles
Taped together to create panoramic views of the set’s locations and nearby surroundings, these colour photographs are from the recces that Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison went on for the making of their fourth and fifth productions together, The Kaisers of Carnuntum and The Labourers of Herakles. The Kaisers of Carnuntum was performed on the 2nd and 3rd June in 1995 in the Roman amphitheatre of Petronell/Carnuntum. Over 1700 years ago gladiator and animal fights took place in the arena at Carnuntum, making it the ideal setting for the unveiling of this comedic tragedy; a play that demonstrates the barbaric inclinations of the Roman Emperor Commodus 180-192 AD. Carnuntum was located on the Danube River halfway between Vienna and Bratislava and was one of the most important Roman settlements in Austria; the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Commodus’ father, resided there for three years 172-175 AD during the war against the Marcomanni. Commodus first witnessed the brutal killing of a man - dressed as the Greek musician and poet Orpheus - by a wild bear in this very arena at the age of 10. Jocelyn Herbert built four towers out of scaffolding around the arena, displaying paintings of animals in combat - concealing the real lions, tigers and bears in cages below the audience’s seats - as well as a map of the Roman Empire across the arena floor and a model of the Coliseum. In the play Commodus prepares for a bloody gladiator show of his own, and just as he recalls the first fight he observed there, Orpheus’s ghost appears before him. Commodus is overpowered by men dressed as gladiators, muzzled like a bear and paraded around the arena with a real bear before being
killed by Orpheus. The production only fully came together with the inclusion of real animals the night of the first performance, as the dress rehearsal was cancelled early due to a thunderstorm. The Labourers of Herakles was Tony Harrison’s contribution to the ‘VIII International Meeting on Ancient Greek Drama - First Theatre Olympics’, and was performed only once on 23rd August in 1995, on an excavation site intended for the new open air theatre of the European Cultural Centre of Delphi in Greece, located on the top of a hill overlooking the bay of Itea. The HERAKLES General Cement Company sponsored the play and donated the nine cement mixers that acted as a “chorus”, positioned in a ring around the set, along with a thirty-five-foot cement silo. The Labourers of Herakles is a contemporary approach to fragments from the ancient tragedy Capture of Miletus by the poet Phrynichus. The play opens with five labourers beating a rhythm on the cement mixer drums and stacked wheelbarrows. The labourers in turn are drawn to the centre of the circle in front of the cement silo by the voice of their ancient selves, a voice coming from within the silo itself. A plank falls down to reveal a statue of Herakles, as if he has returned from the underworld. The set was modest in scale compared to the other productions at the Theatre Olympics, yet around a thousand people stood and sat to watch the performance. The dedication and passion that Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison shared in creating their one-off productions in such remote settings can be felt through these images, and they give us a powerful insight into their pursuit to reactivate ancient texts through contemporary approaches.
JH/9/2/10 - The Kaisers of Carnuntum and The Labourers of Herakles, Photographer Unknown, 1995, Colour Photographs, Various Sizes, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
The Invisible Designer; Zen, The Art of Jumpers and Postcards from Tony Harrison
Jocelyn Herbert was a frontline activist, manning the barricades and spreading her values. She established trends and set high standards the British stage. Herbert’s work was largely based on poetic aesthetics, lending itself to abstraction. From the newspaper cutting, The Invisible Designer, Zen, and the Art of Jumpers discuss Jocelyn Herbert’s creative experience and approach at the National Theatre. The article explains how she: ‘absorbed an ideal of the theatre as an autonomous family: An egalitarian collective, all familiar with each other’s jobs and all serving the playwright. That is to say, she did not just blindly pursue innovation, but absorbed different cultural backgrounds and values to create the stage. Herbert writes ‘there seems no right way to design a play, only a right approach. One of respecting the text, past or present, and not using it as a peg to advertise your skills, whatever they may be, nor work out your psychological hang-ups with some fashionable gimmicks.’ The reason why I have chosen these two newspaper cutting is because I want to present other people’s views on Jocelyn Herbert
and her values. It provides viewers with general information about her stage. Additionally, the review about her cooperation with Tony Harrison also attracted me. Similarly, in Square Rounds, they tried to match Harrison’s poem on the Janus-face of science with a magically design elaborated from the image of a conjurer’s hat. I found some postcards from Tony Harrison regarding the production, showing inspiration and the creative process. The postcards discussed many materials such as a Maxim Kit, black top hats, DeKolta flowers and ideas such as a proposed division of the Englishman and German body. Those materials are linked to the word ‘illusion’ mentioned many times in the postcards. ‘Illusion’, as a keyword offers further thought to the viewers regarding what is reality and illusion, as well as the contrast between the theme of war and peace. I think these postcards constitute as evidence by recording the sources of inspiration and creative background of Square Rounds.
JH/2/35/24 - Five postcards from Tony Harrison to Jocelyn Herbert, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
JH/1/40 - Article from the Independent on Sunday, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
Square Rounds Rehearsals by Nobby Clark
Written and directed by British playwright, translator and poet, Tony Harrison, Square Rounds was first performed at the Olivier Theatre, part of the National Theatre in London and opened to the public on the 1st October 1992. Directly termed as a ‘theatre piece’ not a play, Square Rounds was inspired by events during the Gulf War, honing in on the history of relations between the East and the West, with warfare in particular. The evolution of modern weaponry, from TNT to nerve gas was acted out almost entirely by women in verse, song and dance. To the rhyme and dance, magicians performed mime, juggling and trickery alongside strange effects to complete the picture. The photographer, Nobby Clark, who was commissioned by all the major English theatre companies and extensively by the National Theatre, described Tony Harrison and Jocelyn Herbert as “great friends”18. Clark, who worked closely with Harrison and Herbert documenting several of their theatre productions together revealed that Harrison portrayed an ‘earthy, gritty poet for the people’ and Herbert, as, ‘the don of theatre’ who was distinctly “always hands on” up until the day she died19. Square Rounds, was arguably one of Herbert’s most distinctive productions with a strong visual priority evident in it’s design. A simple, bare, monochrome stage purposefully juxtaposed the performers robed in blocks of colour and tuxedos. ‘It looks like a bare stage, but in fact it wasn’t, a lot of work had gone into the designing of Square
Rounds and Jocelyn had kept it to a bare minimum’ Clark continued ‘because of their space on the stage, they made me aware of what the actors were doing’20. How the body used the stage was a way of working that was central to Herbert and Harrison’s productions. Similarly, actress and close friend, Sian Thomas spoke candidly about Herbert at the National Theatre in December affirming Herbert’s ‘extraordinary way of seeing into the heart of a play and a space, and releasing both by a kind of distillation - an essence - very like poetry in a way. One of her most beautiful designs for the Olivier was for Tony’s play Square Rounds. It was about the history of chemical weapons – not an easy subject you might think… but Jocelyn and Tony hit upon the metaphor of magic and colour to dramatise chemistry’21. In an article by the Guardian, Herbert acknowledged Harrison’s dramatic ideas and visual imagination exclaiming ‘some writers just write and have little idea what it will look like, but he [Tony] always knows exactly what he wants’22. These black and white film photographs, shot and developed by Clark, capture the mutual respect and predominantly harmonious relationship shared by two of theatre’s most renowned characters; Harrison as director and Herbert as designer. The outcome of their creativity and hardship lied in their successful stream of productions, and is equally depicted here in the photographs from the Square Rounds rehearsals.
JH/9/1/32 - Tony Harrison and Jocelyn Herbert, Square Rounds Rehearsal, 1992, Film Photograph, 20 x 25cm, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London. Photograph © Nobby Clark
JH/9/1/10 - Square Rounds Rehearsals, 1992, Film Photograph, 20 x 25cm. The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London. Photograph © Nobby Clark
JH/9/1/10 - Tony Harrison, Square Round Rehearsals, 1992, Film Photograph, 20 x 25cm, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London. Photograph © Nobby Clark
Sophie Den Toom
Chinese Costume Sketch and Textile Panel
Jocelyn Herbert worked together with Tony Harrison many times, designing the set and costumes for plays such as The Oresteia, The Kaisers of Carnuntum and Square Rounds. The latter production constitutes the third Harrison-Herbert collaboration and premiered in 1992 at the Olivier Theatre. Square Rounds discusses chemical warfare of the early 20th century and focuses on scientists Fritz Haber, the inventor of TNT and Hiram Maxim, who developed the machine gun. Illustrating the ambivalent nature of chemical weapons, possessing both a creative and destructive potential, the poetry verses were brought to life by an almost all-female cast in male roles, performing magic, conjuring, songs and movements. In Cathy Courtney’s publication Jocelyn Herbert: A Theatre Workbook, Herbert explains that Tony Harrison discovered that weaponry was not only limited to the West, but was prominent already about 2,000 years ago in China23 (e.g. bamboo could be processed to flutes or guns).24 Thus, towards the end of the play, the scenery moved to ancient China. I was curious to further examine this Chinese element in Square Rounds, more specifically Chinese costumes. I decided to exhibit two objects taken from a file containing Herbert’s research material relating to Chinese and English costumes. The first item is a picture of a textile panel showing a green-and-blue dragon in a mountain landscape. The caption above the image reveals the Qianlong
period (mid to late 18th century) as the motif’s origin, and further lists the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada as the panel’s holder. Alongside the textile panel is a costume sketch by Jocelyn Herbert for the role of a Chinese magician, played by quick-change artist Arturo Brachetti, whose name was noted at the bottom right of the drawing. Brachetti, having played a shell-shocked boy in the initial part of the play, later transformed into a Chinese magician who informs the West about ancient China as the first culture to introduce guns and poisonous gases, but also about China’s rejection of this type of warfare. The juxtaposition of an example of Chinese research material alongside Herbert’s original costume design is interesting as it illustrates Herbert’s working process. In that sense, some elements of the textile panel are repeated in the costume drawing: the image of the dragon reappears on the costume’s torso, the swirly clouds can be found on the costume’s seam. These items also bear the contrast between black and white and colour. This alludes to the set design for Square Rounds which was intended to be black and white at the beginning of the play and then ‘burst into colour’ in the Chinese part. My two objects propose an idea that is the other way around: The initial part of the design process (the research) was marked by colour, but the final product (i.e. the costume drawing) was black and white.
Sophie Den Toom
JH/2/35/35 - Detail from scan of “Costumes and Chinese Research” textile panel with swirling clouds on mountain with pavilion at right, Krenz Collection, Toronto, Canada, “Costumes and Chinese Research”, Artist unknown, (c. 1992), The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
JH/2/35/35 - ‘Costumes and Chinese Research’ textile panel with swirling clouds on mountain with pavilion at right, Krenz Collection, Toronto, Canada, Artist unknown, (c.1992), (left), JH/2/35/35 - Costume Sketch, c. 1992, ink on paper, 21 cm x 29.7 cm, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London. (right)
Tzu Ying Chen
Kyllene and Satyr from The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus
By 1988 Jocelyn Herbert was at her 70s, yet she worked energetically with Tony Harrison. He wrote the The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus to be performed in the ancient stadium in Delphi, Greece with a subsequent performance at the Royal National Theatre two years later in 1990. The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus is based on the fragments of Ichneutae, a satyr play by Athenian dramatist Sophocles found at Oxyrhynchus, and Tony Harrison’s experience when tracing these remnants inspired his production. Harrison’s play consisted of contemporary elements and figures, featuring Apollo, Silenus, Hermes, two archaeologists Grenfell and Hunt, mountain nymph Kyllene and a chorus of twelve who were first Satyrs and later football hooligans. In the play, the space was divided into three acting areas with tall screens, which were painted to be resemble to the papyrus, stretched across the central of the Stadium and burnt by hooligans at the end of the play. The wooden crates of the Grenfell and Hunt were used for storing their findings, gradually, the crates were assembled neatly in front of the first screen
and the boxes each fell open to reveal a satyr inside. This is one of the most imaginative stage performances of Tony Harrison and brought alive by Jocelyn Herbert. ‘The idea of satyrs jumping out of boxes in Trackers is wonderful for the stage. Some writers just write and have little idea what it will look like, but only Tony always knows exactly what he wants.’ 25 The costume of Kyllene demonstrated the principle of Jocelyn Herbert to ‘Move away all the clutter’26 of the staging. In her mind, less was more and ‘an attitude to life, as well as to the theatre’.27 It can be seen from the photo, the costume of Kyllene, played by Juliet Stevenson, was inspired by a caryatid; a Greek column created from a female structure. The mountain nymph wore a chiton and a hat to resembling the top of the column. When Kyllene stood on the top of a crate, she was not only a character within the play, but also part of the stage forming the space. By simply combining Kyllene, with the crouching satyr below inside the crate, which would burst open creating the floor, an interesting visual is created signifying the significant collaboration between Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison.
Tzu Ying Chen
JH/9/2/5 - The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus, 1988, Photograph, Jocelyn Herbert Archive at the National Theatre, London. Photograph ÂŠ Sandra Lousada
JH/9/2/5 The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus, 1988, Photograph and Slide, Jocelyn Herbert Archive at the National Theatre, London. Photograph ÂŠ Sandra Lousada.
The Press Reception of the Trackers of Oxyrhynchus
As ‘the Yorkshire working class boy who made it into the world of scholarship,’ Tony Harrison’s creative partnership with Jocelyn Herbert seemed to traverse class boundaries. Herbert’s technical skills and set design allowed Harrison’s ideas to be fully realised in The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus, a play in which he sought to illuminate the pervasive class differences in the theatre world. Through the use of crude vaudevillian costume and flaunted northern English accents, Harrison created a provocative piece of theatre that confronted the division between high and low art, high art being defined as the ‘overpriced snob art of the opera houses and the Royal National Theatre.’ The production provided a scathing social commentary, while also embodying Harrison’s inner conflict between his heritage and passion for the theatre, his ‘love of an ancient popular culture and loathing of its elitist inheritance.’28 The reviews on display help to contextualise the play within its historical and socioeconomic background. The more left-wing press lauded Harrison’s ‘powerful Yorkshire rhyming couplets’29 and described how he created ‘a glorious piece of total theatre’30 that eroded cultural divisions. His depiction of the Satyrs as the homeless population of the South Bank was lauded as, ‘a statement that
has been made many times but never with the voice, vision and unity of this work.’31 In its critique, the more conservative press criticised the production’s ‘limp doggerel’ and ‘the awful predictability of its rhymes,’32 calling Harrison ‘as intellectually elitist as the contemporary Britain he seeks to condemn.’33 The mixed reception received by the play exemplifies Tony’s point only too well. The production premiered at the Ancient Stadium of Delphi in 1988 and was then performed at the National Theatre in 1990, returning ‘to mock the well heeled audience.’34 During the same year it was performed at Salts Mill, Saltaire, in Bradford, its showing at the former textile mill seen as a homecoming by Harrison. A photograph on display shows Harrison in front of Salt’s Mill and in another drinking from a goblet dated 450BC before a performance, illustrating a sense of his connection to the past and a nostalgia for the ‘vigorous popular culture’ that was community theatre in ancient times. These photographs of Tony are complemented by a shot of Tony and Jocelyn during rehearsal at the scenic location of Delphi, depicting an intimate working relationship that in itself eroded cultural divisions.
JH/9/7 - Tony Harrison drinking from a goblet dated 450BC, Saltaire, 1990, 25.5cm x 20cm, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London. Photograph © Nobby Clark.
JH/9/7 - Tony Harrison outside Salt’s Mill, Saltaire, (detail), 1990, 25.5cm x 20cm, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London. Photograph © Nobby Clark.
The Trackers of Oxyrhychus-1988-REH-10 Tony and Jocelyn during rehearsal on location in Delphi, (detail), 1988, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London. Photograph © Sandra Lousada.
Mutuality, Mirrored by Words
‘Working with Tony Harrison is not just putting on another play, it is a life enhancing experience.’35 What makes the relationship between Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison particularly compelling is the uttermost respect and admiration each held for one another’s work. I was first intrigued by their relationship when hearing Sian Thomas’ anecdotes at her captivating lecture Lions and Nightingales, at the National Theatre in December 2015. This interest was reinforced during the following Cathy Courtney and Eileen Hogan talk at Chelsea College of Art. With this in mind, I visited both the Jocelyn Herbert Archive at the National Theatre Archive, and the Tony Harrison archive held in the Special Collections in Leeds University’s Brotherton Library, keen to make a connection through the objects. Like Harrison, I myself am Leeds born and bred, and Harrison’s passion for the north, particularly the Northern dialect is often integral to his work. In his play The Oresteia, Harrison firmly believed the vowels of the Northern accent transcended the vocal barrier of Herbert’s masks with a ‘consonantal, alliterative energy’36, compared with the traditionally ‘lengthened vowels of [the] rather self-regarding style of acting’37 conventionally used in theatres previously. When exploring Tony Harrison’s archive at the Brotherton Library, amongst various correspondences I came across a selection of drafts of words written by Harrison regarding Jocelyn Herbert for her memorial at the Royal Court Theatre on 12
October 2003. The text is both bold and moving; wholly evident of the uttermost respect and fondness Harrison holds for Herbert both professionally, and personally. Included in the passage, is a touching poem by Harrison titled Under the Clock; the clock being the Dyson Clock in Leeds, and the meeting point of Harrison’s parents during their courtship. The clock was installed by jeweller John Dyson to the front of his shop as a gift to his wife in 191038, , and has personally intrigued me since I was a child. In the passage, the poem is framed by the anecdote of Harrison reciting the poem to Jocelyn and Sian whilst sitting under a May tree in Delphi; illustrating the poignancy of Time: ‘ ‘Oh that’s beautiful’ Jocelyn said. ‘Beautiful.’ ‘ “Under the Clock”,’ she repeated the title. ‘And here we are,’ she said. ‘Under the May.’ Then she said, ‘The May is all the more beautiful when you’re also aware of Father Time.’ ‘ 39 In Jocelyn Herbert’s archive at the National Theatre, are drafts of text titled Working with Tony Harrison on ‘The Oresteia’ and ‘The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus’; writing I believe for Neil Astley’s book Bloodaxe Critical Anthologies 1: Tony Harrison. Of course these words are written for an entirely different purpose than that of Harrison’s memorial, however the respect and admiration seen in his text, is echoed fully here by Herbert. This mutuality, mirrored by words presents a sentimental and personal insight into the great friendship and collaboration between Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison.
JH/2/24 - Jocelyn Herbert Working with Tony Harrison on ‘The Oresteia’ and ‘The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus’, JH/3/10 - Jocelyn Herbert Notebook, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
JH/2/24 - Jocelyn Herbert Working with Tony Harrison on ‘The Oresteia’ and ‘The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus’, (detail) JH/3/10 - Jocelyn Herbert Notebook, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
The Imaginative Collaboration
For Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison exhibition I selected five photographs: two portraits of Herbert while she was working for the stage preparation for The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus in 1988; one portrait of Harrison at work on Square Rounds in 1992; one photo of the Satyrs during the performance at the Ancient Stadium of Delphi in 1988; one photo of the empty set for Square Rounds (1992) (which is not exhibited to avoid repetition in the display). For the publication three photographs have been included. I selected them to illustrate who Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison were as people. Tony Harrison is a poet and theatre director who has always written his work in rhymes for either page, stage, or screen. In his portrait the photographer Nobby Clark perfectly immortalised the life-long relationship with words that chacacterises Harrison’s life. On the other hand, Herbert’s portraits show us who she was and how she worked. She started her career in theatre as a scene painter in 1956 and, in 1957, she designed her first play. Herbert was very practical and imaginative, with a background in fine art and painting. In particular, the portrait of Jocelyn shows her bent over, concentrated on painting. In her white Reebok trainers, holding a brush and paint,
the photograph transmits her creative spirit. The two stage shots are the iconic representation of Herbert and Harrison lasting work relationship. They immortalise the passion of Tony Harrison for classics and Herbert’s mastery in designing minimalist stages, able to give the maximum importance to the play’s text. These are shown respectively in the two photographs of the sets for The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus stage and in Square Rounds.
JH/9/2/4 - The empty set for Square Rounds, photo, 1992, black and white photograph, 15 x 23 cm. The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London. Photograph © Nobby Clark.
JH/9/7 - Jocelyn Herbert painting the Satyrs’ boxes at Salts’s Mill, Saltaire, Yorkshire, 1988, black and white photograph, 23 x 15.5 cm. The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London. Photograph © Nobby Clark.
JH/9/7 - The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus Rehearsals, 1988, Film Photograph, 20 x 25cm. The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London. Photograph © Sandra Lousada
Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison Contemplating the Storm-Blown Set of The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus
The photograph taken of Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison is a visual example of their working relationship, captured by Sandra Lousada in 1988. The image depicts Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison, taken after the set of The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus had been destroyed by a storm in Delphi, Greece. The Stadium in Delphi was divided into three acting areas, separated by screens painted to look like papyrus fragments. They were twenty feet high and stretched across the center of the stadium, hung from wires and tied to trees on each side. Jocelyn and Tony are center frame, standing in front of the set material, their backs are turned, standing side by side indicating a close working relationship. The image is an insight into the stage design of The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus and the location in Delphi. Jocelyn and Tony are surrounded by the original Stadium. Tony Harrison wrote the play to be performed in the Stadium at Delphi for the International Theater Festival. The stadium is seven hundred feet long; Tony Harrison wrote the play to include as much of the original stadium as possible and wanted to echo the crowds at an ancient Pythain games. The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus was directed by Tony Harrison and premiered on the 12th of July 1988 at
the Ancient Stadium of Delphi. The performance was later recreated at The Olivier, National Theatre. The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus is based on the remnants of a Satyr play by Sophocles which were found at Oxyrhynchus. The play had four principles and a chorus of twelve, who were first satyrs and then football hooligans. The contact sheet, also by Lousada, contains the photograph of Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison. It also displays images taken in 1988 in Delphi, such as: close up shots of Tony Harrison, the set of The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus, images of the rehearsal for the play and Tony Harrison in conversation with Jocelyn, reinforcing their close working relationship. The top half of the contact sheet focuses on the rehearsals for the opening scene for The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus. The two archeologists in the play had large wooden crates, into which they put their findings, when the archeologists finally discovered the Sophocles text the Satyr play started. The first scene was illuminated and the four sides of the crates were split open to reveal a satyr in each one. The images provide an insight into the decisions made by Tony and Jocelyn, that were then brought to life, demonstrating their close creative collaboration.
JH/9/2/5 (B9) - Contact Sheet, 1988, Photographs, 16x24cm, (left), JH 9/2/1-7 (5) a - Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison contemplating the storm-blown set of The Tracker of Oxyrhynchus,1988, Photograph, 20.2x25.2cm, (right) The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London. Photograph ÂŠ Sandra Lousada.
JH 9/2/1-7 (5) a - Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison contemplating the storm-blown set of The Tracker of Oxyrhynchus,1988, Photograph, 20.2x25.2cm, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London. Photograph ÂŠ Sandra Lousada.
Note with Image from Tony Harrison to Jocelyn Herbert Regarding The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus
Tony Harrison and Jocelyn Herbert were creative partners and friends for twenty years having first worked together on The Oresteia in 1981. This page of a fragmented image and handwritten, partially smudged, text is concerned with the play The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus, which was shown only once at the ancient Stadium of Delphi on 12th July 1988 - this was only seven years into their life long relationship. Tony’s short, scribbled note to Jocelyn reads: Joc! Maybe the bikers should have football scarves with leopard spots and claws? What do you think? I’m still reeling* from Delphi. I can’t wait for us to go again. I know you love Greece as much as I do. Pity about the house in Itea. Teresa said buy it! Much love T. As was usually the case, Jocelyn was designing the costumes as well as the set for the play. Based on an ancient papyrus found at Oxyrhynchus, the characters created by Harrison include two British
archaeologists and a chorus of satyrs. By the end of the play, the satyrs have transformed into hooligans who destroy the stage backdrop and are depicted playing football with the ancient papyrus as the ball. In this letter from Tony, we understand much about their style of professional collaboration and also their personal relationship. Written and directed by Tony, The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus is under his authority, but we can see in his rough note to Jocelyn Herbert that he naturally wants to, and does, share his decision making with his close friend and professional partner. The informal exchange seen in this note is as intimate as a quick text message sent to a loved one - totally trusting, understanding, and caring.
JH/1/96 - Black and white image with handwriting, A3, The Jocelyn Herbert Archive, at The National Theatre, London.
Workbook #2 - Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison
Reference List 1. Thomas, S. (2015), The Jocelyn Herbert Lecture: Sian Thomas - Lions and Nightingales, National Theatre, 11th December 2015, introduced by Eileen Hogan. https://soundcloud.com/nationaltheatre/the-jocelyn-herbert-lecture-sian-thomas 2. Courtney, C., (1993), Jocelyn Herbert: A Theatre Workbook. Art Books International, London, p.123-126. 3. Courtney, C., (1993), Jocelyn Herbert: A Theatre Workbook. Art Books International, London, p.126 4. Courtney, C., (1993), Jocelyn Herbert: A Theatre Workbook. Art Books International, London, p.120 5. Marshall, RH., (2007), Tony Harrison and Jocelyn Herbert: A Theatrical Love Affair, Arion. 15.2, p.117 6. Marshall, RH., (2007), Tony Harrison and Jocelyn Herbert: A Theatrical Love Affair. Arion, 15.2, p119. 7. Courtney, C., (1993), Jocelyn Herbert: A Theatre Workbook. Art Books International, London, p.230. 8. Courtney, C., (1993), Jocelyn Herbert: A Theatre Workbook. Art Books International, London, p.120 9. Courtney, C., (1993), Jocelyn Herbert: A Theatre Workbook. Art Books International, London, p.123 10. Courtney, C., (1993), Jocelyn Herbert: A Theatre Workbook. Art Books International, London, p.123 & 126. 11. National Theatre., (2016) Peter Hall. Available at: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/discover-more/platforms/platform-papers/peter-hall (Accessed on 14th March 2016). 12. National Theatre., (2016) Peter Hall. Available at: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/discover-more/platforms/platform-papers/peter-hall 13. Courtney, C., (1993), Jocelyn Herbert: A Theatre Workbook. Art Books International, London, p.119-126. 14. Hall. E., (2002), ‘Tony Harrison’s Prometheus, A View from the Left’, Arion: A Journal of Humanities & the Classics,10, pp. 129-140. 15. Marshall, H. R.. (2007). Tony Harrison and Jocelyn Herbert: A Theatrical Love Affair. Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics, 15(2), p.110. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/29737347 16. Courtney, C., (1993), Jocelyn Herbert: A Theatre Workbook. Art Books International, London, p.229. 17. Thomas, S. (2015), The Jocelyn Herbert Lecture: Sian Thomas - Lions and Nightingales, National Theatre, 11th December 2015, introduced by Eileen Hogan. https://soundcloud.com/nationaltheatre/the-jocelyn-herbert-lecture-sian-thomas 18. Clark, N. (2016) ‘Interview with Nobby Clark on Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison’. Interview by Eloise Showering at Chelsea College of Arts, London, 17th March 2016. 19. Clark, N. (2016) ‘Interview with Nobby Clark on Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison’. Interview by Eloise Showering at Chelsea College of Arts, London, 17th March 2016. 20. Clark, N. (2016) ‘Interview with Nobby Clark on Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison’. Interview by Eloise Showering at Chelsea College of Arts, London, 17th March 2016. 21. Thomas, S. (2015) The Jocelyn Herbert Lecture: Sian Thomas -–Lions and Nightingales. 11th December. 22. The Guardian (2000) Man of mysteries. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2000/apr/01/poetry.theatre (Accessed: 10th March 2016) 23. Courtney, C., (1993), Jocelyn Herbert: A Theatre Workbook. Art Books International, London, p.135. 24. Ibid 25. Wroe, N. (2000) Man of mysteries. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2000/apr/01/poetry.theatre (Accessed: 09/03/2016). 26. Jays, D. (2002) Alan Tagg. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/news/2002/nov/12/guardianobituaries.artsobituaries1 (Accessed: 09/03/2016). 27. Smurthwaite, N. (2015) The Archive: Jocelyn Herbert - design’s quiet revolutionary. Available at: https://www.thestage. co.uk/features/2015/the-archive-jocelyn-herbert-designs-quiet-revolutionary/(Accessed: 09/03/2016). 28. Wardle, I., ‘Satyric revenge of the dispossessed’, Sunday Independent 1 April 1990 29. Coveney, M., The Observer 1 April 1990 30. Author unknown. Time Out 4 April 1990 31. Wearing, C., What’s On 4 April 1990 32. Osborne, C., ‘Greek fantasy for the rubbish heap?’ Daily Telegraph 29 March 1990 33. Hutchinson, C., Yorkshire Evening Press 19 April 1990 34. Davies, P., ‘The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus - National (Olivier)’ The Good Times 15 March 1991 35. Jocelyn Herbert Working with Tony Harrison on ‘The Oresteia’ and ‘The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus’ at the National Theatre Archive; JH/2/24 ‘Letters’. 36. Tony Harrison in Courtney, C., (1993), Jocelyn Herbert: A Theatre Workbook. Art Books International, London, p.230 37. Ibid 38. Discovering Leeds: Briggate at www.leodis.net 39. Harrison, T., (2004), Tony Harrison: Plays Five, London: Faber and Faber, p.177.
Workbook #2 - Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison
Index Brachetti, Arturo 31, 32 Carnuntum, Austria 23, 24, 25, 26 Characters: Aegisthus 15, 16 Characters: Agamemnon 3, 4, 15, 16 Characters: Cassandra 3, 4, 15, 16 Characters: Chorus 3, 4, 11, 12 Characters: Clytemnestra 3, 4 Characters: Kyllene 33, 34 Characters: Old Man with the Knitted Beard 3, 4 Characters: The Furies 1, 2, 7, 8, 13, 14 Characters: The Old Men of Argos 1, 2 Characters: The Satyrs 33, 34, 35, 36, 39, 40 Clark, Nobby 29, 30, 35, 36, 39, 40, 41, 42 Collaboration ii, 3, 4, 9, 10, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 39, 40 Correspondences 11, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20 23, 24, 27, 28, 37, 38, 43, 44 Correspondences: Postcards 13, 14, 19, 20, 27, 28 Costume Design 1, 2, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 31, 32, 43, 44 Courtney, Cathy 31, 32, 37, 38 Dexter, John 9, 10 Film Four 17, 18 Films: Prometheus ii, 17, 18 Friendship ii, 37, 38, 43, 44 Greece ii, 13, 14, 21, 22, 25, 26, 33, 34, 35, 36, 39, 40, 43, 44 Greece: Delphi ii, 21, 22, 25, 26, 33, 34, 35, 36, 39, 40, 43, 44 Greece: Epidaurus 1, 2, 13, 14, Hall, Edith 17, 18 Hall, Peter 1, 2, 11, 12, 13, 14 Hogan, Eileen 37 Influence: Roman 23, 24, 25, 26 Influences: African 1, 2 Influences: Chinese 9, 10, 31, 32 Influences: Greek ii, 1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 25, 26 Jenkinson, Sue 5, 6 Leeds ii, 37, 38 Lousada, Sandra 33, 34 Mask Moulds 5, 6, 13, 14 Masks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 21, 22 Northern Accent 35, 36, 37, 38 Notebooks 15, 16, 37, 38 Photographs 13, 14, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 33, 34, 35, 36, 39, 40, 41, 42 Plays: Square Rounds 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 39, 40 Plays: The Kaisers of Carnuntum 23, 24, 25, 26 Plays: The Labourers of Herakles 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26 Plays: The Oresteia ii, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 37, 38 Plays: The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44 Poetry 27, 28, 37, 38 Politics 19, 20, 23, 24, 31, 32, 35, 36 Press Clippings 35, 36, 27, 28 Production Ephemera: Posters 17 Reccies 25, 26 Reviews 35, 36 Saltaire 35, 36 Set Design 19, 20, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 39, 40, 41, 42 Sketches 1, 2, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 31, 32 Sophocles 33, 34, 39, 40 Stevenson, Juliet 33, 34 Storyboards 17, 18
Workbook #2 - Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison
Index Textile Samples 15, 16, 31, 32 The National Theatre 1, 2, 13, 14, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40 The National Theatre Costume Store 1, 2 The Tony Harrison Archive, Leeds University 37, 38 Thomas, Sian ii, 23, 24, 29, 30, 37, 38 Watercolours 9, 10, 21, 22 West, Jenny 5, 6 Wiegold, Peter 11, 12
DISCLAIMER: All parties were contacted for permission to use their images or words in this publication. Workbook #2 published to coincide with the Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison: From the Jocelyn Herbert Archive at the National Theatre. Exhibition at The Cookhouse, Chelsea College of Arts, 16 John Islip St, London, SW1P 4JU, 11 April 2016.
This publication was made to coincide with the exhibition 'Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison: From the Jocelyn Herbert Archive at the Nation...
Published on Apr 20, 2016
This publication was made to coincide with the exhibition 'Jocelyn Herbert and Tony Harrison: From the Jocelyn Herbert Archive at the Nation...