Respondent or information from other source: Elizabeth Wright, organiser
Aims, policies, purpose/impetus for project:
To create oral history life story interviews with theatre designers based in Britain to add to six existing recordings in the British Library's collection and to create a body of research material for my PhD thesis.
The project began in October 2005 and will be complete by October 2009.
Key individuals and roles involved:
Two different interviewers (Cathy Courtney and Lydia O'Ryan) created the six existing recordings; I, Liz Wright, have been the sole interviewer for the current phase of 23 further interviews.
The research has been supervised by: Cathy Courtney (Project Officer, National Life Stories); Dr Robert Perks (Curator of Oral History, British Library; Director of National Life Stories); Hilary Baxter (Course Leader in Costume Design and Costume Interpretation, Wimbledon College of Art); Prof Rod Bugg (former Principal, Wimbledon College of Art).
Paid or voluntary, training in oral history:
I received oral history training and ongoing support from Cathy Courtney and Dr Robert Perks at National Life Stories.
Project funded by:
I received funding for my PhD from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, as part of its collaborative doctoral awards scheme, which supports working partnerships between higher education institutions and outside organisations - in this case, Wimbledon College of Art and National Life Stories, the oral history fieldwork charity at the British Library Sound Archive.
Management of project:
The management of the project is split between National Life Stories at the British Library Sound Archive and Wimbledon College of Art.
Format of interviews:
The audio interviews are made on a Marantz PMD660 solid state recorder with lapel microphones. The master WAV files (at 48kHz 16 bit) are stored in the BL's Digital Library System in perpetuity. MP3 copies (at 64kbps) will be used in the BL Reading Rooms for public access to open material.
How interviewees are selected and located:
An approximately equal number of male and female interviewees were contacted in writing, with the aim of representing a range of experiences across the theatre design profession.
Interview running time:
Most of them are between 8-12 hours (although there are a number of longer ones at up to 18 hours).
Copyright in interviews. Assignment rights?:
The British Library holds copyright and a consent form is used to assign rights as well as to record any other access stipulations determined by interviewees.
Location of interview copies. Accessibility to public/format:
Recordings without access restrictions will be made available to the public via the British Library Listening and Viewing Service:
The six recordings made prior to my project are held at the British Library: three of them are open for listening (Margaret ‘Percy' Harris, Ralph Koltai and Jocelyn Herbert). However the other three are closed for access at present for a period of time stipulated by interviewees.
Although most of the 23 further recordings will be available later this year, access to some of them may also be restricted - specific details will be available on the British Library Sound Archive Catalogue (accessible online - see link below).
The initial six recordings are on cassette tape format and can be accessed through an appointment with the British Library Listening and Viewing Service. The more recent recordings I have recorded are digital and will be made available through SoundServer at the British Library (details available on the Listening and Viewing Service web page).
Collection contact details/website:
Interview transcripts/lists of topics or other content indexes:
Most of the recordings are not transcribed, however a summary of interview content is produced including digital time codes to help navigate around the recordings.
They are entered on the British Library Sound Archive CatalogueBritish Library Sound Archive catalogue (which is separate to the main integrated catalogue).
Future plans for project/interviews?:
No plans at present apart from public availability at the British Library and use within my PhD thesis.
Materials used for publications, exhibitions, conferences, radio/TV programmes or performances etc or future plans for this?:
They form a body of research material for my PhD thesis and extracts have been used as part of several conference presentations, as well as in a sound installation and accompanying CD as part of the Society of British Theatre Designers Collaborators: UK Design for Performance exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum Nov 2007 - Aug 2008.
The British Library 'help for researchers' web pages contain information about oral history at the British Library: Oral History
National Life Stories web pages detailing its wide range of interview projects: National Life Stories
Specific information about: An Oral History of British Theatre Design
List on a joint (possibly STR) website: Yes
Join listserv/emailing list/forum:
Yes. Please could you also add my personal e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Most of the recordings have been carried out at interviewees' homes or studios. A small number have been held at the British Library Sound Archive, university premises or theatres where interviewees have been working. Because recordings are created over a period of time, individual sessions within a recording have sometimes occurred in different locations.
List of interviewees provided: Yes
Existing Recordings – tape
New Recordings - digital
Margaret 'Percy' Harris
Tanya Moiseiwitsch (closed)
Timothy O'Brien (closed)
Philip Prowse (closed)
Belinda Ackermann (closed)
Sally Jacobs (closed)
New Recordings - digital
Oral History Survey Pages
Index of Projects
British Library: Help for Researchers
Email: Elizabeth Wright
11th May 2009