The Motley Theatre Design Course: documenting theatre design pedagogy

Harriet E Richmond

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaper


The paper will address the theme of ‘scenographic histories’ by posing the question: How have theatre design pedagogies shaped approaches to scenographic practice? The Motley Theatre Design Course, established in 1966 at Sadler’s Wells Theatre by Margaret ‘Percy’ Harris emerged from practices at the London Theatre Studio (LTS) (1936 − 1939) and the Old Vic Theatre Centre (1946-1951) (Saint-Denis, 1960, pp 44-45). Analysis of primary source material of interviews with Harris (British Library, 1992) provided the basis for an initial exploration of the pedagogic philosophy of the Motley course (Richmond, 2012). In this analysis, five key principles were identified and it was suggested that these emerged from a particular theatre-making environment and period, which emphasised a mutually dependent and inter-related approach to theatre production. However, in the interviews with Harris, reference to the teaching practices adopted on the course is limited and the learner’s account is absent. To address this gap, a focus group of Motley alumni was held in March 2014. The paper will highlight the use of an adapted narrative research technique in the focus group (Bell & Bell, 2012) that is concerned with the relationship of objects to biography and identity. Focus group participants were invited to bring objects to the focus group that they associated with the Motley course. The paper will identify why this method was selected (and adapted) and the perceived impact of the method on the type and nature of participant narratives. The paper will present the outcomes of the focus group, presenting a case study analysis of the teaching, learning and assessment culture implicitly and explicitly embedded in the Motley Course.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sept 2014
EventTheatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Conference 2014 - Royal Holloway, University of London, London
Duration: 4 Sept 2014 → …


ConferenceTheatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Conference 2014
Period4/09/14 → …
Internet address


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