Set Model thumbnail 1
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Not currently on display at the V&A

Set Model

1967 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Ralph Koltai (1924-2018) trained at the Central School of Art and Design. In 1965 he became Head of its Theatre Design Department, a post which he held until 1972. Koltai designed sets and costumes for over 250 productions in theatres and opera houses around the world. He began his career designing for the London Opera Club in 1950 and worked for all the major British theatre, opera and ballet companies. Koltai believed in the importance of finding a theatrical concept and his settings became a metaphor for the work being staged. That did not mean that his designs were always abstract: his 1978 Love's Labour's Lost for the Royal Shakespeare Company took place in a realistic autumnal parkland which captured the elegiac mood of the production. However Koltai was best known for creating settings which had a strong sculptural quality and used contemporary materials. Metals, plastics and reflective surfaces featured strongly in his work.

Koltai dated his interest in reflective material to his designs for the National Theatre's all-male As You Like It in 1967. He interpreted the play as a romantic dream and created a setting which implied the location instead of creating it realistically. The trees in Koltai's white Forest of Arden were made of clear perspex rods with hanging cut-out panels suggesting leafy branches. When lit from above the 'tree trunks' reflected the light and the panels threw dappled patterns on the white stage floor.


Object details
Category
Object type
Materials and techniques
Perspex, acetate, paint, plastic, and wood
Brief description
Set model by Ralph Koltai for William Shakespeare's play As You Like It, National Theatre Company at the Old Vic, 1967
Physical description
Set model by Ralph Koltai for William Shakespeare's play As You Like It, National Theatre Company at the Old Vic, 1967. Within a grey wooden framework a white raked stage floor and a black proscenium arch and sidepieces, with, behind the arch, three groups of suspended perspex rods and abstract pierced panels to suggest trees.
Dimensions
  • Height: 73cm
  • Width: 58cm
  • Depth: 72cm
Gallery label
Set model for As You Like It 1967 A theatrical reality can be created with symbols and abstract forms. ‘Does the Forest of Arden of As You Like It have to be a forest at all?’, asked Ralph Koltai. He used clear perspex trees which were lit from above and reflected the light. The cut-out panels that suggested leafy branches threw dappled patterns on the stage floor. Play by William Shakespeare, 1599 National Theatre Company at the Old Vic, London Perspex, acetate, paint, plastic and wood Designed by Ralph Koltai (1924-2018) Given by the Arts Council of Great Britain Museum no. S.474–1980 (March 2009 - February 2012)
Credit line
Given by the Arts Council of Great Britain
Object history
Set model for William Shakespeare's play As You Like It, National Theatre Company at the Old Vic, 1967. The production, directed by Clifford Williams, was famous for its all-male cast.
Literary referenceAs you like it, William Shakespeare
Summary
Ralph Koltai (1924-2018) trained at the Central School of Art and Design. In 1965 he became Head of its Theatre Design Department, a post which he held until 1972. Koltai designed sets and costumes for over 250 productions in theatres and opera houses around the world. He began his career designing for the London Opera Club in 1950 and worked for all the major British theatre, opera and ballet companies. Koltai believed in the importance of finding a theatrical concept and his settings became a metaphor for the work being staged. That did not mean that his designs were always abstract: his 1978 Love's Labour's Lost for the Royal Shakespeare Company took place in a realistic autumnal parkland which captured the elegiac mood of the production. However Koltai was best known for creating settings which had a strong sculptural quality and used contemporary materials. Metals, plastics and reflective surfaces featured strongly in his work.



Koltai dated his interest in reflective material to his designs for the National Theatre's all-male As You Like It in 1967. He interpreted the play as a romantic dream and created a setting which implied the location instead of creating it realistically. The trees in Koltai's white Forest of Arden were made of clear perspex rods with hanging cut-out panels suggesting leafy branches. When lit from above the 'tree trunks' reflected the light and the panels threw dappled patterns on the white stage floor.
Collection
Accession number
S.474-1980

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Record createdMay 20, 2008
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