Stage Managing Chaos

A Diary of the Old Vic Production of Fernando Arrabal’s The Architect and the Emperor of Assyria


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About the Book

In the early 1970s London’s National Theatre, led by Sir Laurence Olivier, launched an infamous avant garde production of The Architect and the Emperor of Assyria. Concerned that his classical approach would clash with the “enfant terrible” director, Victor Garcia, Olivier enlisted stage manager Jackie Harvey to keep a diary of the often ludicrous, occasionally creative, always challenging rehearsals.
Anthony Hopkins and Jim Dale costarred in the surreal two-man piece. Led by the eccentric Garcia, the play quickly descended into a chaotic farce. Missed deadlines, technical hitches, unauthorized nudity and backstage feuds culminated in an unforgettable production, leaving the company debating: Was he a misunderstood genius or a brilliant con-artist?
Accompanied by recollections from Hopkins, Dale and others, along with photographs and documents that bring the key players to life, this unique diary provides a snapshot of a crucial period in the history of the National Theatre.

About the Author(s)

Jackie Harvey trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and was a stage manager in provincial repertory and BBC television before joining the National Theatre Company in 1969, in the historic Old Vic Theatre.
Tim Kelleher is a freelance editor and researcher based in London, with experience working on academic texts, medical publications, and personal memoirs.

Bibliographic Details

Jackie Harvey with Tim Kelleher
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 204
Bibliographic Info: 36 photos, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6664-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2644-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Original Program for the 1971 Production at London’s

Old Vic Theatre ix

Preface by Jackie Harvey 1

Introduction by Tim Kelleher 5

Stage Manager’s Diary 13

First Meetings 14

Week One: “From the moment I chose you I closed my eyes” 17

Week Two: “Lost in a labyrinth” 24

Week Three: “Psychology in the theatre” 34

Week Four: “My problem, not theirs” 42

Week Five: “A definite, clear, positive vision” 56

Week Six: “Intellectual masturbation” 67

Week Seven: “It is better without underpants” 84

Week Eight: “Live baby crocodiles” 100

Week Nine: “We had completely forgotten about him” 119

Press Clippings 133

Recollections 137

Anthony Hopkins (the Emperor) 138

Jim Dale (the Architect) 145

Jackie Harvey (Stage Manager) 150

Jean-Norman Benedetti (Translator) 152

Douglas Cornelissen (General Stage Manager) 154

Marc Wilkinson (Music and Sound) 156

Amanda Ducket (Assistant Stage Manager) 157

Antony Horder (Sound Technician) 159

Report on Rehearsals by the Centre National de

la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) (1975) 161

A Scenography of Light, by Brian Arnott

(The Drama Review, 1973) 181

Index 191

Book Reviews & Awards

Winner, STR Theatre Book Prize—The Society for Theatre Research