Martin Morley

A Life in Theatre & Television Design

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Where possible I have given photo credits. For those I have over looked I hope I have not given offence. Most of the rehearsal photos are my own taken with a simple point and shoot camera.

    Liverpool Playhouse 1969-73

I found my feet at the Liverpool Playhouse. I went there at the end of 1969 first as assistant designer to John Page and then as Head of Design after John left at the beginning of 1970. It was a three weekly rep mounting about 15 productions a year. The design department consisted of myself, an assistant designer, a scenic artist, and two carpenters. The repertoire was very broad, ranging from Shakespeare to Bond and a smattering of West End hits. Antony (Dick) Tuckey was the Artistic Director and Barry Kyle his associate, followed by Andrew Dallmeyer. Between them we did a number of productions which I look back on with great affection. Outstanding in my memory were ‘The Days of the Commune’, ‘The National Health’,O! What a Lovely War’,The Merchant of Venice’ and ‘The Crucible’

Like most designers at the time I got this job by responding to an advert in ‘The Stage’. The interview was in London with Antony (Dick) Tuckey, and John Page. The upshot was that I was offered a years contract renewable in July if I was satisfactory and was asked to design the opening show of the season: Bill Naughtons ‘Spring and Port Wine’. That was risky on their part because all they had seen of my work was what was in my portfolio. Resident design posts were not a rarity then and it was a time of expansion in the arts This did not mean good salaries but there were many opportunities to work for first rate companies over a period of time. There was also a large amount of upgrading of the theatre infrastructure going on as historic ‘reps’ were trying to match the standard that was commonplace in continental Europe. The Liverpool Playhouse was no exception. About a year before the stage had been modernised with a complete counterweight system and an adjacent workshop that replicated the stage in area. Included was a large stage truck on which a complete set could be pre built. In theory a get in could consist of lifting the dividing doors and winching the set on stage. In practice it was rarely that simple.








‘The Crucible’

Acts 1 & 2


‘The Days of the Commune’

‘The Lancashire Twins’

‘The National Health’

‘Barefoot in the Park

In the design office: 1972

With ‘Merchant of Venice’

Model.

A selection of playhouse productions

’Black Spot on the Mersey’