I was fortunate to move to Cambridge just before the Second World War began Because of the need for war-time touring and the limited use of London theatres, the city quickly became a paradise for someone eager to experience the arts. It was available and it was cheap. On my 10th birthday, I heard Sadler's Wells Opera perform Mozart's Requiem in King's College Chapel. The following night I heard The Marriage of Figaro for the first time. A couple of years later, I stood at the back of the Arts Theatre for sixpence and saw Hamlet for the first time. He was played by John Gielgud. The BBC Symphony Orchestra played regularly in the Guildhall. I was poor, but able to afford it all. Those war years formed my tastes and my ambitions.
Artistic Director RSC
In the long vacations, I would regularly hitchhike with a friend - both of us wanted to become theatre directors - and we used to do a triangle; from Bristol, where we were at university, to Edinburgh and on the way back, we would stay at Stratford-upon-Avon. In 1970 we hitchhiked back, and I was fortunate enough to preview Peter Brook's Midsummer Night's Dream, and witnessed this extraordinary event. It was like hearing it for the first time; it had an improvisatory quality about it. It was as if they were making up the words, and the moves. One reads about it a lot subsequently and you can understand why - it was put together late in the day - but it caused a quite spontaneous elation in the audience. I remember it very, very clearly
Earlier that year, I saw Ariane Mnouchkine's production at the Round House, 1789, which was an extraordinary piece of theatre for not dissimilar reasons. It was inspired by events in Paris in 1967, and it showed a way forward whereby one could create something both in the moment and spontaneous, but also with a very, very sharp political edge. Those productions gave me a sense of direction because they were totally unlike anything I had seen before. They were using music, movement, dance, language; they all used the full array - in those days I think it was called 'total theatre'. It created the necessary spark that combusted my own ambition.Reuse content