domingo, 20 de abril de 2008

Moving to London

Jacky was still working for the Northcott Theatyre when I moved to London to find fortune and some work. Whilst I was at the Northcott I had become friendly with David Lawes and Terry Murphy ( a scene carpenter) both from London and both friends of Hayden from his time there under Percy Harris. I caught the train to London and stayed with Terry and his wife Judith, he had a very small house in Merton and I was allocated some space on the sitting room floor next to the telephone so that I would be first to answer the alarm call, however due to some friction in the marriage Judith left for a time and Terry asked me to leave so that he could get Judith to return. My memories of us trying to start the diesel van at something like three in the morning and then driving to collect other friends for us to start work at day break. We were always ahead of the bakers baking the bread. With the prospect of Jacky comming to London to be with me meant that Terry needed me to find alternative accomodation and this Jacky and i found at Reynors Park, near the tube station and the Wimbledon Tennis grounds. I very rarely took the tube but when I did it was a nightmare of a journey reminiscent of being in Tokyo, however Jacky had this pleasure every day of the week for she had procured a job with the ministry, strangely enough with the Naval side of it, creating spreadsheets and other low creative designs so not surprising she left after two years and worked for me. My inital work was with Terry and then David and I linked up as scene painters and hired the scene docks that Brunskill and Loveday had stopped using. I do not have any photos but the images I have posted here are of the area, it was a tall building facing the viaduct and railway arches of Vauxhall, in one of them the trade of barrel making still continued as did the making of horse drawn hearses in the coach builders to the side of us. The inside of the studios were custom made for scene painting, a slot in the floor near the wall and the middle of the room on each floor allowed the counter balanced canvas drop to be raised and lowered but it did mean that you only saw a 3 metre section of the cloth at any one time, so David and I mostly painted with the cloth stretched out on the floor. I still to this day think that David and I were the best scene painters at that time in London, moderising techniques and having a turnover of work that could not be rivalled, no one would wish to work the crazy hours that we worked and it is no small wonder that people in theatre work have difficulty in their relationships.
I have very fond memories of work and marriage from my time in London, the crazy life brought me into contact with so many people ( including work for the Pink Floyd making their inflatable pigs and Cat Stevens making his come back and the great experience of working with Sam Becket on four seperate occasions as well as us having a drink together with friends) it is impossible to imagine how anyone survives the work and here is an obituary to Terry, like so many of my past friends died recently. I had some contact with him whilst I was in edinburgh because I asked him to give my ex assitant a job and he did.


Terry Murphy

This article appeared in the Guardian on Tursday February 21 2008 on p37 of the Obituaries section.

Terry Murphy, a master carpenter and scene-builder, who has died of cancer in Italy aged 63, was a key figure at that home of new writing, the Royal Court Theatre, London, from 1965 until the early 1970s. In that period, starting with John Osborne's A Patriot for Me, he built the sets imagined by such prominent designers as Jocelyn Herbert, John Gunter, Hayden Griffin and John Napier and helped define the aesthetic environment for the plays of Edward Bond, David Storey, Christopher Hampton and countless others.

In 1973 he formed his own company, Terry Murphy Scenery, which built sets for the West End - most recently the revival of Evita and the fairytale musical Wicked - as well as for the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne and countless productions in Europe and the US.

A twinkling scouser from the school of hard knocks, Murphy was a classic enabler of other people's visions, but had a grit and determination that was all his own. For someone with little education, he was a born teacher and encouraged many young designers.

Murphy's father was a window cleaner in the Fairfields area of Liverpool, and he attended the St Sebastian school with his close friend and neighbour Jack Raby, whom he knew from the cradle. They were like Willy Russell's Blood Brothers, without divergent fortunes.

Both left school at the age of 15, both went to work as milkmen at the Co-operative dairy across the road from the school, and both took evening work as stagehands at the Liverpool Empire. When Murphy was appointed master carpenter at the Royal Court, he brought in Raby as his assistant. Raby developed into an electrician and lighting designer.

After a season at Butlins in Skegness, Murphy came to London to live in Soho and work as a stagehand at the Aldwych Theatre, alongside the late lighting designer Andy Phillips, who also graduated to a position of technical responsibility at the Royal Court. He married Judith, a dresser at the theatre, in 1967.

His scene-building company flourished from the moment it was launched, operating first out of an old warehouse in Docklands before moving to the Old Kent Road in 1989. Last June it moved across the road to St James Road.

Murphy, enthused by Raby, was lately a keen fisherman, but also indulged his love of horseriding for many years, playing polo at Ham in west London most Sundays and even training his own stable of six horses. He is survived by Judith, a son and two brothers.

Um comentário:

  1. He worked in butlins, skegness for a year? god that must have been awful, i worked in there for 6 months as a fair ground worker and the accommodation was horrendous. How did you find it?