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  • Object:

    Stage property design

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1979 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Barlow, Alan, born 1926 - died 2005 (designers)

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Stage property design by Alan Barlow , showing bodies on barbed wire for John Taverner's opera Thérèse, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 1979.

Alan Barlow (1927-2005) began designing for amateur dramatics in his home town of Coventry and in 1946 became Resident Designer at the Bristol Old Vic, working with director Hugh Hunt. When Hunt became director at the Old Vic in London, Barlow joined him, winning acclaim for his first London production, Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer, in 1949, designed after Rowlandson. Subsequent work for the Old Vic included the 1951 Festival of Britain production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Clandestine Marriage, and Murder in the Cathedral. For the Royal Opera House he designed A Masked Ball and Norma (both 1952).

Barlow had converted to Catholism in 1950 and in 1953 he abandoned his successful theatrical career and became a Benedictine monk at Prinknash Abbey in Gloucestershire, where he designed murals, pottery, tapestries and stained glass and painted portraits. Though his religious faith remained important, he decided that the monastic life was not for him and returned to theatre design in 1965, when he received a Fellowship in the Drama Department of Manchester University, and then became its Head of Design and lecturer in Greek Theatre. In 1969 he was appointed Head of design at the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal, a post which he held until 1971. Barlow continued to design for major theatre and opera companies around the world, notably for the Abbey Theatre, Dublin. In 1979 he designed John Taverner’s opera Thérèse for the Royal Opera House. This was Taverner’s only full length opera, based on the life of St Thérèse of Lisieux

In 1980 Barlow retired from the theatre to concentrate on painting, though he did return to the stage for a production of The Bacchae at Stratford Ontario in 1995.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1979 (made)


Barlow, Alan, born 1926 - died 2005 (designers)

Descriptive line

Stage property design by Alan Barlow for bodies on barbed wire by Alan Barlow, Thérèse, The Royal Opera, Covent Garden, 1979


Entertainment & Leisure; Designs; Opera


Theatre and Performance Collection

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