Ralph Koltai has been actively involved in theatre design and theatre for most of his adult life. And an extraordinary life it has been too! Koltai was born in Germany and as a Jew escaped Hitler’s germany in 1939 whilst in his teens. During World War 2 Koltai worked as a labourer on a Scottish farm and later with the Royal Army Service Corps. After the war Koltai spent a year working at the Nuremberg Trials.
When Koltai left the armed services he took up a career in theatre by the suggestion of his girlfriend at the time, a ballerina. He trained at The Central School of Art and Design and in 1950 designed his first professional Opera (whilst still a student)
After working in Opera and Ballet, Koltai eventually made the move to theatre after working with the director John Barton, where he also met Bill Gaskill. Koltai has since been an associate designer for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Koltai describes some of his best works as “accidents”, and indeed he is passionate about “found objects” and designs such as his spectacular Metropolis, which came about after he found a car gearbox and dropped it in his model-box!