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Posts Tagged ‘Abd’Elkader Farrah’

I was not able to return to Stratford until 1963,but I kept in touch with the RSC by reading reviews and articles in THE STAGE plus THEATRE WORLD. Two years after my initial thrill of coming to Stratford and the RST for the first time, the thrill was experienced once more when I twice made the theatrical pilgrimage from  Cardiff. But what to see when funds dictate that this sixth former could only manage two visits ?

I HAD planned to see the first part of the now celebrated WARS OF THE ROSES cycle which was simply entitled HENRY VI, but the illness of Peter Hall meant that the production was postponed  and a performance of JULIUS CAESAR was substituted for the performance I had booked for. This CAESAR (perhaps because it was the first professional production I had seen of the play ) is still a vivid memory. Director John Blatchley gave a fast moving and almost at times cinematic interpretation, whilst eclectic costumes suggested a modern political thriller. In a programme note, John Blatchley challenged the audience to rethink that this is a play about noble  Romans by posing the question -“How many actions in the play are noble ? ” If we go back to the text, the answer is very little. This production  was therefore a milestone in my theatrical journey of discovering new interpretations of a play and also helped me to look at the play afresh, especially as it reflected world politics in 1963.

The sparse but effective set was (along with the costumes ) designed by John Bury, then an Associate Designer and the music (most martial and quite stirring )was by someone who became a well known name in the RSC and Stratford  generally -Guy Woolfenden. 

The second production I saw that season was THE TEMPEST, directed by Clifford Williams in collaboration with PETER BROOK. It reminded the audience that Shakespeare used practically all his themes in this “last play” and it was also very funny  (brilliant clowning in the Caliban/Trinculo/Stephano scenes ) and most magical with splendid sets and costumes by the then other Associate designer, Abd’Elkader Farrah. It was quite a coincidence that at the Builders’ night on the 26th November last, I met up with his son and daughter. We had a very enjoyable time recalling this production and their father’s special contribution. Very much a case of the early days of the RSC being recalled in our transformed building.

Other memories of 1963 include long term ensemble actors plus the new programmes which the company introduced that year. Such memories must await the next blog and in case you may be wondering, I have not forgotten those word of advice from former ensemble member Russell Hunter. They WILL also be included very soon!

Tony Boyd-Williams

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