World-renowned theatre designer's collection comes to Stratford - The Leamington Observer

World-renowned theatre designer's collection comes to Stratford

A WORLD-renowned theatre designer’s collection is going on display in Stratford.

The family of Abd’elkader Farrah, who worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company, has deposited their father’s personal collection of costume and set designs in the archive of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust so it can be preserved and accessed for generations to come.

Born in Algeria in 1926, Abd’Elkader Farrah began his theatrical career in a touring company with his brothers until they were forced to shut down in 1950 due to continued political turmoil in the country.

Farrah left Algeria and moved to Paris, where he began work as a theatre designer and quickly gained recognition. He was soon invited to teach scenography at the École d’Art Dramatique in Strasbourg by renowned actor and theatre director Michel Saint Denis and was later made head of the course at the National Theatre School.

Farrah is perhaps best known for the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he collaborated with some of the greatest directors from the company’s inception in the 1960s through to 1991, including Peter Brook and Terry Hands. A noted academic in the field, Farrah continued to teach theatre design as a visiting lecturer at London’s Saint Martin’s and Wimbledon School of Art.

Farrah’s daughter Leila said: “Born into an eminent Algerian family at the time of French colonial rule, Farrah’s self-taught virtuosity was to launch him into the heady worlds of classical drama, ballet and opera in 1950s mainland France, then on to decades of pioneering design work for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the international stage.

“His extraordinary life experience always strengthened the impact of his vision, enriching his later roles as a teacher, mentor and author. How very fitting that his archive is housed safely with SBT as a source of guidance and inspiration for all aspiring students of stage design.”

His son Safi added: “I’m pleased that the Farrah Collection will now be available for public viewing, and that the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will be disseminating its availability internationally.”

The collection comprises records relating to his work at the RSC and design work for other theatre companies and opera houses around the world. It includes an array of design drawings, working scripts, notes, prop models, masks and photographs.

It will be an invaluable resource to academics and students of theatre and Shakespeare studies, and to those fascinated with design for generations to come.

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