Born in Dublin, Alan Farquharson studied at the National College of Art & Design and as a student worked part time as Design Assistant in the Abbey Theatre and in RTÉ. He joined the RTÉ Design Department in 1978.
During his career in RTÉ he designed for every aspect of television production: entertainment, features, current affairs and drama. As Senior Production Designer he was responsible for the design of the Eurovision Song Contest both in 1993 and again in 1995. Throughout his time in RTÉ he also regularly designed for the stage.
Alan left RTÉ in August 1996 to pursue a freelance career. His work continues to span the gamut of theatre, television and film both in Ireland and abroad. He has designed several productions for Rough Magic Theatre Company and the Abbey Theatre, television entertainment productions for N.R.K., Norway, Mind The Gap Films, and PBS, Detroit, and feature films and television dramas for Parallel Films, Littlebird, Subotica Films, and Element Pictures.
Since the early 1990s Alan has lectured regularly at IADT Dun Laoghaire and was a consultant on the development of the B.A. (Hons) Design for Stage and Screen Course there. He continues to lecture part-time in Production Design, Computer Aided Design and Digital Visualisation.
- Nominated (with John Comiskey) Best Set Design Irish Times Theatre Awards 2011 for "Peer Gynt" (Rough Magic Theatre Company)
As described, the set for The Titanic Boys features the near finished Olympic juxtaposed with the freshly lain keel of the Titanic. The Olympic subsequently opens to become the interior of the Titanic as its construction is completed and is to contain the variety of locations that the action requires thereafter. Apart from some misgivings regarding the credibility of the one ship’s exterior containing the interior of the other, the scale, both technical and spatial, that such staging implied seemed an impossible demand.
Budget and practical constraints are not only constant moderators of ambition but can be a major creative stimulus and instigators of the restraint that is often the essence of successful theatrical presentation. They demand the distillation of that essence. From re-reading the text, listening to the music and extensive research into Titanic’s construction, a design concept emerged.
This play is not about the Titanic, but about those who built it and in particular the “Guarantee Group” who sailed on its maiden voyage and perished alongside so many others. The characters on stage are their ghosts, returned to haunt the Arroll Gantry, that colossal structure that fostered the great engineering achievement they were so proud to be part of. They cannot leave and must re-enact their journey, both physical and emotional, in situ.
And so gantries are decks, construction ramps are gangplanks and the grand staircase, and a pylon becomes the first class lift shaft. Faded sepia projections of the ship under construction morph into images of its interior, its ports of call, the open sea and the star filled night of their destiny.