Our first step in helping to save Motley is to show how essential the school is to British and international theatre. We’re writing to both those we’ve worked with who value us as designers, and our colleagues who have taught at Motley, to invite them to add a message of support. We really need these comments. If you’d like to help, please contact us for more information, or click here to add your own comment.
Here are some of the comments we had so far:
Motley always has been, and should continue to be, one of the foremost design schools in the world. Please support it any way you can.
Hanif Kureishi, Writer
“It is vital to the ongoing health of the arts community in the world, that Motley is able to continue its inspirational work. I know that my uncle Sir John Gielgud would be writing here to put the utmost pressure on all who can assist towards its preservation.”
Maina Gielgud (Choreographer & former Artistic Director of Australian National Ballet and Royal Danish Ballet)
I am writing as one of Jocelyn Herbert’s daughters to represent her voice as she is no longer alive. She always recognised the uniqueness of this intense one year training. It is unthinkable that it should no longer exist. We as her children adamantly support the continuation of Motley.
The Motley sisters had an important influence on our mother, Jocelyn Herbert who was trained by them at the London Theatre School run by Michael St Denis and George Devine. Jocelyn continued to support the Motley School throughout her life as it expressed much of the values to which she aspired in her work. These values were integrity to the text and sensitivity to the environment, that scene, lighting and costume created, that bore a powerful impact on that text. It is therefore vital that the Motley school continues.
Motley does what no other theatre design course, to my knowledge, does: in a single year it offers its students intensive exposure to working theatre practitioners, from all aspects of the business. Motley is led by designers at the peak of their game, and its success is evident in the consistent quality and expertise of its graduates. The complexities of bureaucracy and regulation must not let this invaluable resource disappear.
David Edwards, Opera Director
Over the years it has produced designers of real quality, who have a truly collaborative, highly imaginative and yet practical approach to theatre design. The fact that the course has consistently attracted as teachers and mentors successful and busy working designers is proof of the respect and high regard people working in the theatre have for the course.
Lady Deborah MacMillan
‘A small grove massacred to the last ash,
An oak with heart-rot, give away the show:
This great society is going smash,
They cannot fool us with how fast they go,
How much they cost each other and the gods.
A culture is no better than its woods.’
- W.H.Auden, ‘Bucolics’
Glyn Maxwell, Poet and Playwright
As someone from abroad who has observed and participated in the British theater for several decades I am shocked to hear of the possible demise of the Motley course. Please will some Authority Figure stand up and make themselves useful and help save this world-famous and unique design course.
Over the years Motley alumni have been at the very heart of British design and a creative beacon internationally. Dismantle this institution or let it fizzle out and something important and intrinsic will be lost and not easily replaced!
David Alden, Opera Director
The imagination and energy of the Motley School is unique. British theatre is dependent on that imagination and that energy and that combination of a proper working ethic and a rigorous high aesthetic. It cannot be underestimated how central the unique and particular conditions of the Motley way of work are to the creation of this aesthetic and ethic. Its closure would damage the metabolism of the immediate future of our theatre. – Simon Stephens, Playwright & Artistic Associate, Lyric Hammersmith
The Motley philosophy has permeated right through every aspect of Irish theatre for over thirty years. It is devastating to think that it might disappear. Frank Conway, alumnus & former Head of Design, Abbey Theatre
I have never been to Motley nor have I ever met the founders. It doesn’t matter as Irish theatre continues to benefit from the imagination and the rigour of the school. Generations of Motley-trained Irish designers have worked at the Abbey and brought with them the courage and clarity to serve the (any) play. This legacy reminds me of the importance of what we serve and how Motley should continue to empower us all in this collaborative artform.
Fiach Mac Conghail, Director of the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s National Theatre
I was completely taken with the passion, intelligence, and commitment of the Motley students. They were clearly imaginative, talented and devoted to learning their craft and pushing forward new ideas for theatre design in the future … I hope that somehow this rare and valuable resource can be preserved. It is unique in the field, and the theatre design community will be poorer for its absence. – Maggie Raywood, Associate Arts Professor and Costume Director, Tisch School of the Arts at NYU
The course and its students/alumni continue to have a defining influence on the theatre industry through its fierce independence and personal, rigorous approach to teaching and producing great theatre designers. The few weeks I spent working with the Motley designers whilst training as a director remain some of the most illuminating, inspiring and beneficial of my career so far. – Simon Pittman, Director & Birkbeck graduate
It is impossible to overestimate the value of Motley … The knowledge and work ethic that Motley brings is in a class of its own. I have worked with 5 Motley designers each time I have learnt about their depth of ability, their understanding of theatre and a wonderful sense of collaboration that is developed through the working practices, the fantastic quality of tutors and the across the range of top theatre practitioners that work with the Motley students. I have had the great fortune of leading the new play project, the enthusiasm of some of the top writers and directors to give their time and share their work is testament to Motley’s unique and unrivalled reputation. Motley is irreplaceable, I urge everyone who cares about the theatre to get involved in keeping Motley running. – Tim Stark, Director