The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1140 Friday, 2 June 2000.
Date: Thursday, 1 Jun 2000 09:45:27 -0400
Subject: Motley's Passing
In recent correspondence with Dr. Michael Mullin, I learned that along
with Sir John Gielgud, we have lost another true theatrical treasure, a
woman well worth celebrating.
Margaret Harris, better known to her friends as 'Percy,' was the
surviving member of the design team Motley, who got their start in the
early 1930's with Gielgud. Motley pioneered an avant-garde approach to
set and costume design, and insisted on elements-unit sets, idealization
through color and line, and above all integration of all visual
elements-that we take for granted today. Motley also worked with
Gielgud to prove, in the years before WW II, that innovative productions
of classic plays could succeed in the commercial theatre.
Ms. Harris, like her good friend Sir John, remained sharp as a tack to
the end, and continued to run a school of design on Drury Lane until the
onset of her last illness. Her legacy, like Gielgud's, can be found in
the work of her many prot