Theatre Design at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (Stratford upon-Avon) (1963-1977) with Special Reference to the Work of Abd’Elkader Farrah

Al-Ghaith, Abdullah Hassan Ahmed. 2002. Theatre Design at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (Stratford upon-Avon) (1963-1977) with Special Reference to the Work of Abd’Elkader Farrah. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Theatre Design at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (Stratford-upon-Avon) (1963-1977) with Special Reference to the Work of Abd’Elkader Farrah)
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Abstract or Description

Adopting a qualitative mode of research this study aims to present the Theatre Designer, Abd' Elkader Farrah, as a phenomenon in British theatrical design. More specifically, the study aims to illustrate the role played by Farrah at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre; to present the way in which Farrah's role and contribution affected the production of Shakespearean plays by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), including the contribution made by Farrah's significant ideas and concepts in scenographic design to the RSC. The evaluation compares three theatre designers; Farrah, John Bury and Christopher Morley, all of whom differ in their approaches to theatrical design, through an analytical comparative study of their designs for five Shakespearean plays.

In accordance with the research framework adopted for this study, the aim has been to qualify the research phenomenon, not in terms of number crunching, but rather, with the aim of ascertaining how the informants view the research phenomenon under investigation.

The planning and implementation of the study has been made in three stages. The first stage aimed to discover information related to the context of the present study in the form of background literature, covering the period from 1939 to 1976. The second stage involved identifying the research design of the study on the basis of the relevant literature. It also involved the research sample and the fieldwork and data collection process including the contextual factors which affected this process. Stage three included analysis ofthe interviews and presenting the findings ofthis analysis.

These indicate that Farrah's theatrical designs have been a phenomenon in the British theatre scene in terms of his innovativeness, which is significantly represented in Shakespearean plays. Farrah's colleagues saw him, and also his work, as having an individual approach to scenography. His introduction of symbols and hieroglyphic script into his designs was unique, especially as they represent the influence of and also his reflection-upon his Middle Eastern cultural background.

Findings also made clear that Farrah's view of things, especially as regards ways to present Shakespeare, is unique, for example in his rejection of conventional symbols in costume. In this sense, the findings have highlighted the influence ofthe social and cultural contexts in which the designer was brought up and the culture which he absorbed on the approach adopted in the production.

The study illustrates how the designer has distinguished artistic characteristics as well as his relevance beyond the theatre. Farrah's many works were more orientated toward dependence on the arts through using and exploiting movements in the fine arts, such as surrealism and the avant-garde, to their ultimate scenographic designation.

Christopher Morley's designs are more scientifically based, and reflect an artistic doctrine based upon philosophical movements and their impact on the arts. In contrast, John Bury's designs are more floor level stage-based, i.e., launched from the stage floor itself, proceeding from design to execution to materialisation.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Theatre Design, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Abd’Elkader Farrah, Shakespeare

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)


February 2002

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

21 May 2020 08:33

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:26


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