Barry Kay, internationally acclaimed stage and costume designer, photographer, born 1932 Melbourne Australia, died 1985 London England

Barry Kay – Biography – 1976-1985



January 1 - 10
While in Sydney again, Barry Kay takes the last shots for the publication of the city's community of transvestites and transsexuals [henceforth: T&T]. There he also approaches the Australian Centre for Photography, proposing the idea of an exhibition to coincide with the Australian release of T&T later this year. The Centre shows a keen interest and takes steps in planning the event.

Winter - Spring - Summer
Upon his return to London, Kay continues producing the final photographic prints for the platemaking, prepares the layout and writes the preface to the forthcoming publication of T&T. After much consideration, he finally submits the title of his documentary – As a Woman. Following considerable debate between the British and the American publishers, it is decided to release the English language editions under two different titlesAs a Woman (American edition, St. Martin's Press, New York) and The Other Women (Anglo-Australian edition, Matthew Miller Dunbar, London). The German publisher is following suit by opting for the translation of The Other WomenDie anderen Frauen (German edition, Verlag Dieter Fricke, Frankfurt; Austrian distribution in autumn of this year, Swiss distribution in January 1977). [5.1]

The State Library of New South Wales / Mitchell Library, who last year purchased of a number of silver gelatin photographs of Kay's stage and costume designs [ibid], is acquiring a collection of 72 of his working drawings relating to the three-act version of Anastasia, created for Kenneth MacMillan and The Royal Ballet, 1971.

February 2 - 3
Kay meets Kenneth MacMillan in Stuttgart for discussions on designing and staging a new production of the original Berlin one-act version of Anastasia for The Stuttgart Ballet.

February 4 - March 3
In London Kay redesigns the maquette for Anastasia.

March 4 - 5
Brief trip to Stuttgart to deliver the maquette for Anastasia.

March 31 - April 14
Final visit to Stuttgart, supervising the making of set and costumes for Anastasia, with an intermediate stay in London to attend to the German translation of his preface to As a Woman.

April 14
Première of Anastasia; ballet; assignment scenery, costumes, properties and special effects; new staging of the original one-act version from Berlin; choreography Kenneth MacMillan; the Stuttgart Ballet; Württembergische Staatstheater, Staatstheater Stuttgart.

October 4 - 8
Launch of Die anderen Frauen, the German-language edition of The Other Women, at the 58th Frankfurt Book Fair.

October 18 - 31
Launch of the Anglo-Australian edition of The Other Women in conjunction with an exhibition, showing a selection of photographs contained in this volume; The Photographers' Gallery, Soho, London.

October 24 - November 22
On a return visit to Sydney Kay prepares and sets up an exhibition of photographs from The Other Women.

November 23
Launching of the Australian release of the The Other Women, distributed by Bookwise, Sydney.

November 23 - December 11
Exhibition of selected photographs of the The Other Women; its opening coincides with the Australian release of the publication; the exhibition is accompanied by a poster featuring two portraits on show; Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney.

November 24 - December 31
For the remainder of the year, and into January 1977, Kay stays in Australia and devotes himself to his next photographic enterprise – the Tea and Sugar Train [5.2], another socio-anthropological documentary, at the same time attending to the Ocker project.

December 2 - 16
At a promotional Christmas fair and sale, held in Kay's absence at The Photographers' Gallery in Soho under the auspices of twelve London publishers, including Matthew Miller Dunbar, he once more exhibits photographs of The Other Women.

Throughout the year
Periodically, Kay lectures at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, and continues with his engagement at the Croydon College of Design and Technology; subjects include "Constructivists and the Theatre" and The Other Women / As a Woman / The Other Women / Die anderen Frauen (photography).


Barry Kay's assistants were mostly students recruited from theatre and arts colleges or recommended by colleague stage designers. Some of them have become stage and costume designers in their own right. Among others they included:

Elroy Ashmore, Lez Brotherston, Liz Dalton, Peter Docherty, Charles Dunlop, Peter Farmer, Anne Gainsford, Ella Huhne, Martin Kamer, Stefanos Lazaridis, Alistair Livingstone, Bruce Macadie, Daro Montag, Bianca Nikolareizi, Glyn Powell, Francis Reid, Yolanda Sonnabend, Bill Weckesser, Pauline Whitehouse and Frank Wilson.

* * * * *

Professionals with whom Kay liaised in the course of his work, some of them friends, and others who were part of his life:

Peter Ackroyd, Zika (Zigmund) Ascher, Lucette Aldous, Hardy Amies, Fredrick Ashton, Frith Banbury, Mikhail Barishnikov, Ray Barra, Cecil Beaton, Richard Rodney Bennett, Christian Bérard Bruce Beresford, Svetlana Beriosova, Philippe Binot; Michael Birkmeyer, Alexander Bland (Nigel Gosling), Wibke von Bonin, Jan Bouws, Arthur Boyd, Dorothy Braund, Benjamin Britten, Coral Brown, Richard Buckle, Antoni Clavé, John Copley, Richard Cragun, John Craxton, Quentin Crisp (it was none other than Barry Kay who suggested to Crisp, disheartened with living in London, to settle in New York, which eventually he did), Jonny Dankworth, Peter Darrell, Colin Davis, Judi Dench, Zoë Dominic, Violet Dulieu, Antony Dolan, Michael Donnellan (Michael of Carlos Place), Erté (Romain de Tirtoff), Margaret Fink, Margot Fonteyn, Gillian Freeman, Anne Gainsford, Nicholas Georgiadis, Renate Gerhardt, John Gielgud, Maina Gielgud, Walter Gore, Colin Graham, Derek Granger, Stéphane Grappelli, Germaine Greer, Roy Grounds, Peter Hall, Marion Countess of Harewood (née Stein; since 1973 Thorpe), Lord Harewood, Julie Harris, Margaret Harris, Marcia Haydée, Marina Henderson, Gerd Heinz, Marita Heinz, Hans Werner Henze, Rosella Hightower, Clifford Hocking, Harold Holt, Zara Holt (since 1969 Bate), Barry Humphries, June Jago, Annelie Juda, Nora Kaye (Ross), Cleo Lane, Patricia Lascelles Countess of Harewood (née Tuckwell; 1948-1957 Smith), Ashley Lawrence, Lotte Lenya, Jorge (Yuri) Lewinski, Maude Lloyd (Gosling), Mayotte Magnus-Lewinska, Monica Mason; Ruth McNicoll, Yehudi Menuhin, Helmut Newton, June Newton (Alice Springs), Lila de Nobile, Nancy van Norman Baer, Rudolf Nureyev, Hans van Maanen, Deborah MacMillan, Kenneth MacMillan, Princess Margaret, Annette Massie, Yehudi Menuhin, Johnathan Miller, Helen Ogilvie, Michael Oliver, Andrzej Panufnik, Camilla Panufnik, Georgina Parkinson, Peter Pears, Noel Pelly, Paco Peña, Roland Petit, Peggy van Praagh, Rosa von Praunheim (Holger Mischwitsky), Guelda Pyke, Lee Radziwill (Caroline Lee Bouvier) Marie Rambert, Gert Reinholm, Herbert Ross, Roy Round, Anja Sainsbury, John Schlesinger, Werner Schroeter, Lynn Seymour, Michael Shannon, Belle Shenkman, Jeffrey Smart, Yonty Solomon, Yolanda Sonnabend, Charles Spencer, Alice Springs, Roy Strong, Glen Tetley, John Tooley, Julia Trevelyan Oman, Ninette de Valois, David Vigo, Margaret Webster, Helene Weigel, Michael Werner, Elizabeth West, Robin Whitecross. David Williams, Joseph Wishy, Googie Withers, Anne Woolliams, Christopher Wright, Peter Wright and others.



January 1 - 9
Wrapping up the photographic exhibition in Sydney before returning to Europe.

January 27
Launching of the Swiss distribution of Die anderen Frauen, combined with book signing at a photographic exhibition of individuals featured in this publication; under the auspices of Fotostiftung Schweiz at Galerie Palme, Zürich.

Following the publication of The Other Women, Kay intends making a film based on the same subject. Investigating beyond the all-male reviews, namely a multi-layered society of female impersonators, transvestites and transsexuals, the film is to document in depth four or five subjects who are representative of each group to examine the difference in their life styles. Rather than a dramatized film, he envisages a full-length feature, principally for screening in Australia, and a shortened 50-minute documentary for release to European and American television networks, as well as university and video outlets. Kay prepares a written presentation of the project, yet, for reasons unbeknown to the Archive, it never materializes.

Spring - Summer - Autumn
Kenneth MacMillan invites Kay to design the scenery and costumes for the existing production of Solitaire, to be performed by the Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet in London in 1978. [5.3]

Kay substancially revises his set and costume designs of the 1966 production of Don Quixote for the revial at the Wiener Staatsopernballett (since 2010 Wiener Staatsballett), State Opera House, followed by frequent trips to Vienna to oversee the workshops and dressmaking department.

November 12
First night of the revival (Wiederaufnahme) of the 1966 production of Don Quixote; ballet; assignment revised scenerey, costumes and properties; choreography Rudolf Nureyev (after Marius Petipa); Wiener Staatsopernballett; State Opera House, Vienna.

End of 1977
The British Journal of Photography Annual 1978 publishes a photograph, or a selection of photographs, of socio-anthropological contents created by Barry Kay; 118th edition; Geoffrey Crawley (ed.), Henry Greenwood & Co, London, 1977; ISBN: 090041412X.



February 28 - March 25
Exhibition of selected photographs from The Other Women; PPS Galerie FC Gundlach [5.4], Hamburg, Germany.

March 18 - 21
Attending Amsterdam Tattoo Convention for projected photographic documentary of Body and Façade, later renamed by Kay to Changing Bodies.

April 28
Première of Solitaire; ballet; assignment scenery and costumes; choreography Kenneth MacMillan; Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet, The Royal Ballet's second company; Sadler's Wells Theatre, London.

July 6 - September 30
Exhibition of stage and costume designs for various productions; Decor Gallery, Knightsbridge, London. At this exhibition the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) / Theatre Collections acquires the maquettes for the three-act version of Anastasia, Act I, and for Solitaire.

Barry Kay records in his diary: «Kenneth [MacMillan], who attended the exhibition's opening party, walked straight up to me saying: "You're designing Isadora – it's for 1980, in two acts, and you know who's going to be Isadora." Not a minute later Lynn Seymour came through door...» – Eventually, the ballet is scheduled for spring 1981, however, with Merle Park in the leading role.

July 19
First Night of the revival of Anastasia, three-act version; ballet; The Royal Ballet; Royal Opera House London.

November 1
Revival of Don Quixote; ballet; assignment revised scenery, costumes and properties of 1966 production; choreography Rudolf Nureyev (after Marius Petipa); Wiener Staatsopernballett (today Wiener Staatsballett); State Opera House, Vienna.

November 23
Gala Premières of The Four Seasons / Les Quatre Saisons and Métaboles, presented as parts of a triple bill; genre ballet; assignment scenery, costumes, properties and special effects; choreography Kenneth MacMillan; occasion "Soirée de MacMillan"; Ballet de l'Opéra National de Paris; Théâtre National Opéra de Paris, also known as Palais Garnier.

Throughout the year
Lecturing periodically at the Croydon College of Design and Technology; subjects include "Design and Music" and "The Beggar's Opera".

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February 27 - March 2
In France Kay sets up an exhibition of set and costume designs for The Four Seasons / Les Quatre Saisons and Métaboles; Proscenium Gallery, Paris.

March 9 - 18
Informative trip to Morocco together with Kenneth MacMillan and his wife Deborah.

March 20
Kay publishes a mezzotint cum lithograph, a limited edition of fifty prints, depicting his set design for Kenneth MacMillan's ballet Métaboles; Ballet de l'Opéra Paris; Théâtre National Opéra de Paris, premièred in 1978. [ibid]

March 20 - April 17
Participating in an exhibition of "Four MacMillan Designers"; Decor Gallery, Knightsbridge, London.

April 9 - 16
Kay returns to Morocco for further studies.

Official invitation by Kenneth MacMillan to design the sets and costumes for his new ballet Isadora, scheduled for 1981, Kay begins extensive research on the life of Isadora Duncan.

July 17 - August 29
In Hollywood Barry Kay explores the possibility of holographic imagery for the drowning scene in the last act of Isadora. [5.5]

On this occasion, at the world's first female bodybuilding contest, Kay is capturing his initial series of photographs for his projected socio-anthropological documentary entitled Changing Bodies. The subject encompasses the most diversified aspects of human body modification and beautification. In his pursuit of images depicting tattooing and piercing he meets Alan Oversby, who introduces him to Richard Simonton, aka Doug Malloy. Simonton paves the way to Jim Ward, Cliff Raven and Jack Preston – all icons in their respective fields. [5.6]

Under the aegis of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, the parent organization of Berlin state museums, the Galerie Jebenstraße acquires Barry Kay's spectacular model for The Sleeping Beauty, designed for the ballet of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, 1967. [5.7]

Kay is chosen by Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), Cologne, for a television documentary, a professional portrait about his work and engagements. At a meeting in London with WDR's Executive Director of Arts, Wibke von Bonin, he is introduced to the cinematographers and producers Eila Hershon and Roberto Guerra who, for the next couple of years, are following him around at home and abroad to film the sequences.

December 2
'The Sunday Times' publishes Kay's photographic feature of Women Bodybuilders. The feature is syndicated and appears in the German magazine 'Bunte' (issue: week 1, 1980), in the French magazine 'Photo' (issue: February 1980), and in the South African press.

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Barry Kay in Athens, 1980, mounting an exhibition together with ballet author Charles Spencer at Contemporary Graphics Gallery. Kay, a highly talented, internationally acclaimed stage and costume designer, later in his career also distinguished photographer, designed for ballet, drama, opera and film. International ballet companies and opera houses, theatres.

Barry Kay at his Kensington Notting Hill studio in London, 1983. Kay, a highly talented, internationally acclaimed stage and costume designer, later in his career also distinguished photographer, designed for ballet, drama, opera and film. International ballet companies and opera houses, theatres.

Barry Kay at his Kensington Notting Hill studio in London, 1981, in front of a working model for MacMillan's ballet 'Isadora'. Kay, a highly talented, internationally acclaimed stage and costume designer, later in his career also distinguished photographer, designed for ballet, drama, opera and film. International ballet companies and opera houses, theatres.


Barry Kay, Athens 1980 – mounting an exhibition with Charles Spencer (right) at the Contemporary Graphics Gallery   photo Roberto Guerra

London 1983
photo Daro Montag

London 1981 – at his Kensington studio in front of a working model for the ballet Isadora



January 23 - March 5
To get inspired by the genius loci of what was once part of Isadora Duncan's world, Kay returns to Hollywood where he is setting up a temporary studio to explore initial ideas for the various scenes and settings of Isadora.

May 1 - 11
In Athens Kay is mounting two exhibitions, one of his theatrical works, the other of his photographic creations.

May 5 - 23
Concurrently running exhibitions – selection of stage and costume designs for productions since 1967; Contemporary Graphics Gallery, Athens – selection of photographs from The Other Women and Women Bodybuilders; the British Council Gallery, Athens.

June 5 - 15
Revisiting the Deutsche Oper Berlin in Germany with the cinematographers Eila Hershon and Roberto Guerra, who are shooting sequences for the documentary on Kay; interview with ballet director Gert Reinholm about the making and staging of The Sleeping Beauty in 1967.

August 7 - 13
For further research on Isadora Duncan Kay returns to California. There, Nancy van Norman Baer, Curator of Theater and Dance at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, arranges with the de Young Museum (M.H. de Young Memorial Museum) a private viewing for Kay: he is provided access to Loïe Fuller's original, 15m long costume she wore for the Butterfly Dance at the Folies Bergère, Paris, in 1896. Kay intends replicating the costume for Laura Connor in the role of Loïe Fuller in Kenneth MacMillan's Isadora. The occasion gets documented by cinematographers Eila Hershon and Robert Guerra.

August 13 - 25
In Los Angeles Kay continues shooting images for his photographic documentary Changing Bodies.

September 12 - 22
In Paris, on behalf of the Royal Opera House, Kay personally selects and purchases the fabrics for some of the costumes for the ballet Isadora.

November - December
Participation in an exhibition entitled "Christmas Entertainments" at the Decor Gallery, Knightsbridge, London; the show includes, among others, costume designs for the ballets The Sleeping Beauty (Ballett der Deutschen Oper Berlin, 1967) and Solitaire (Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet, London 1978).

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January 1
Publication of "Designing for the Dancer"; a unique collaboration between three expert ballet historians – Roy Strong, Ivor Guest, Richard Buckle – and two leading stage designers – Barry Kay and Liz Da Costa; foreword by Alicia Markova; Kay contributes the essay "On Designing for Ballet Today"; paperback, ilustrated, 116 pages; publisher Elron Press, London, 1981.
ISBN-10: 0904499111, ISBN-13: 9780904499117.

March 1
At The Royal Ballet School in London Kay is taking his own series of still photographs of dancers wearing the costumes he designed for Isadora. The photographs will appear in a feature about the making of this ballet, written by Charles Spencer, and to be published in 'The Sunday Times Magazine' to coincide with its forthcoming première.

March 30
For their permanent collection the V&A / Theatre Collections acquires Kay's costume design for Isadora in a red scarf.

April 7 - July 26
The V&A / Theatre Collections invites Kay to participate in their exhibition of "50 Years of The Royal Ballet". On display are a selection of set designs, including set models, costume drawings he created for The Royal Ballet, and an actual stage costume for the three-act version of Anastasia.

April 26
Publication of Isadora Dances Again; photographs by Barry Kay; author Charles Spencer; 'The Sunday Times Magazine', London (issue: April 26, 1981).

April 29 - May 16
Exhibition of set and costume designs for Isadora; Exhibition Hall, Liberty's, Regent Street, London.

April 30
Première of Isadora; ballet; assignment scenery, costumes, properties and special effects; projections, movie animation; choreography Kenneth MacMillan; The Royal Ballet; The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London.

June 22 - 30
Kay supervises the staging of sets and costumes for Isadora at The Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, New York.

June 28
First night of Isadora; ballet; assignment scenery, costumes, properties and special effects; projections, movie animation; choreography Kenneth MacMillan; The Royal Ballet on tour; Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, New York.

Summer - Autumn
For next year's Holland Festival, entitled "Muziektheater", Kay begins creating a set and costumes for the Nederlandse Opera. The set is used to serve two operas – Mirrors of the Truth and The Tell-Tale Heart – for double-billed performances. The work continues into the following year.

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February - March
Attending to costumes and sets of the 1969 production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg for the revival at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
Concurrently lecturing at the Croydon College of Design and Technology.

February 22
First night of the revival of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg; opera; assignment scenery, costumes and properties; production Rudolf Hartmann; The Royal Opera; The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London.

February 23
Grenada TV, UK, is airing the entire production of Isadora.

April - June
Repeatedly, Kay travels to Amsterdam to oversee the making of the set and costumes for Mirrors of the Truth and The Tell-Tale Heart. During final rehearsals he takes his own photographs of Performers and stage settings, some of them are published in the Netherlands daily press.

June 12
World premières of Mirrors of the Truth and The Tell-Tale Heart; operas; assignment scenery, costumes and properties; direction Jan Bouws; De Nederlandse Opera Stichting (now: De Nederlandse Opera), Amsterdam; 'Muziektheater', Holland Festival; première venue HOT Theater, Den Haag; first night venue Festival Stage, Tent, Frankendael Park, Amsterdam, on June 17.

June 26
Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR – TV-3) televises the documentary made about Kay and his professional life under the title "Barry Kay – Begegnung mit einem Bühnenbildner" / "Barry Kay – Portrait of a Stage Designer"; executive editor Manfred Gräter; producers Eila Hershon and Roberto Guerra.

August 7 - September 11
"In recognition of his important and influential work as a designer for the theatre" Kay is approached by the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, with the intention of acquiring a selection of his stage and costume designs. For further consultations and discussions he flies out to Australia. It emerges that the Gallery is interested in quite a substantial collection of his works, leaving their choice to him.

August 15
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC-TV): Barry Kay is interviewed live about his work by host Robert Page for the weekly arts series 'Sunday Spectrum'; the interview is aired in conjunction with the documentary "Barry Kay – Begegnung mit einem Bühnenbildner" / "Barry Kay – Portrait of a Stage Designer", as well as sequences of the filming of Don Quixote.

September 12 - December 7
Upon his return from Australia, Kay begins compiling a well-considered selection of his designs for presentation to the National Gallery of Australia, encompassing the entire spectrum of his versatile artistic talent.

December 8
A delegation of the National Gallery of Australia visits Kay at his London studio to view the selected stage and costume designs. The Gallery acquires preparatory sketches and final drawings, 150 in all, for its collection of Theatre Art. They represents a cross selection of Kay's work, spanning his entire career.

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Barry Kay at the Eaton Square Residence of cinematographers Eila Hershon and Roberto Guerra, London 1981. who are shooting a documentary on his professional life as a highly talented, internationally acclaimed stage and costume designer, later in his career also distinguished photographer, designing for ballet, drama, opera and film. International ballet companies and opera houses, theatres.

Barry Kay at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London 1981, with the Butterfly costume he replicated for Loie Fuller in MacMillan's ballet 'Isadora'. Kay, a highly talented, internationally acclaimed stage and costume designer, later in his career also distinguished photographer, designed for ballet, drama, opera and film. International ballet companies and opera houses and theatres.

Barry Kay at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London 1981, at a dress fitting with Merle Park in the role of Isadora in MacMillan's ballet 'Isadora'. Kay, a highly talented, internationally acclaimed stage and costume designer, later in his career also distinguished photographer, designed for ballet, drama, opera and film. International ballet companies and opera houses and theatres.

Barry Kay at a friend's residence in Melbourne, 1982. Kay, a highly talented, internationally acclaimed stage and costume designer, later in his career also distinguished photographer, designed for ballet, drama, opera and film. International ballet companies and opera houses and theatres.

Barry Kay during a visit to Melbourne, 1983, accepting a commission by The State Theatre of Victoria, Melbourne, to design four tapestries as a permanent fixture in one of the theatre's foyers.


Barry Kay, London 1981
photo Roberto Guerra

Covent Garden 1981
with costume for Loïe Fuller in Isadora

Covent Garden 1981
at a dress fitting for Isadora

Melbourne 1982

Melbourne 1983



January - February
Intermittently, Kay lectures on theatre-related subjects at the Croydon College of Design and Technology.

February [?]
The desings Kay collated for the National Gallery of Australia are shipped to Canberra. He donates the set model of The Four Seasons / Les Quatre Saisions, designed for the Ballet de l'Opéra National de Paris (1978), to the Gallery.

February 14 - 19
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) invites Kay to serve on the panel of jurors censoring six films for their quality of design.

February 24 - March 30
The Victorian Arts Centre [in 2003 renamed the Arts Centre], Melbourne, engages Kay to design four tapestries intended as permanent installations in one of the foyers of the newly built State Theatre, which is to open sometime in 1984. For briefing, discussions and advising on design suggestions he flies to Australia. The work involves extensive research throughout the rest of the year.

April - July
Designing costumes for The Dance of Death, Kenneth MacMillan's first-ever drama direction.

September 10 - October 29
Kay participates in an exhibition of "Theatre Designs", representing contemporary British talents; Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, England.

September 15
Première of The Dance of Death; drama; assignment costumes; scenery Laurie Dennett; direction Kenneth MacMillan; selected cast; Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.

Autumn - Winter
Kay starts designing the scenery for Benjamin Britten's opera Peter Grimes for the Victoria State Opera Company, Melbourne.

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February 3
For the coccasion of the forhcoming Melbourne exhibition "The Creation of a Ballet" later this month, Kay publishes his edition of coloured, three-tone lithographs depicting Rudolf Nureyev in the costume of Basilio in Act I of the movie version of Don Quixote.

February 9 - March 19
Back in Melbourne Kay completes and presents his designs of the four commissioned tapestries to the Victorian Arts Centre. The committee's evident lack of direction and artistic confidence result in repeatedly requested modifications to his designs. Apparently, having lost sight of their objective, the committee is unable to reach a unanimous decision to proceed further. Inconclusively, Kay returns to Europe. [5.8]

During this visit to Melbourne, The Australian Ballet Foundation, the legal entity of The Australian Ballet, assigns Barry Kay to provide new set designs for Don Quixote. Due to their excessive use, the currently staged sets, built for the 1970 Adelaide stage version, are more or less in tatters, can hardly be repaired and need to be replaced. To this end, discussions are taking place between Kay and The Australian Ballet, represented by Maina Gielgud, Artistic Director (1983-1997), and Noel Pelly, Administrative Director (1983-1991). The revival of the production is planned for 1986.

February 20 - April 29
Exhibition entitled "The Creation of a Ballet", displaying Kay's set and costume designs for the stage and movie versions of Don Quixote with the The Australian Ballet; included in the exhibition are designs on loan from the National Gallery of Australia which acquired them from Kay in 1982/83 , and some of the life-size costumes worn during performances; venue Performing Arts Museum, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne (now Arts Centre Melbourne). Coinciding with the occasion, the Museum publishes six of Kay's costume drawings in postcard format. He donates a mezzotint-cum-lithograph of his set design for Métaboles to the Museum and the model of the movie version of Don Quixote to the The Australian Ballet Society.

March 17 - contract date
Peter Grimes; opera; assignment scenery, costumes, properties and special effects; to be directed by John Copley; intended for the Victoria State Opera Company; to be performed at the State Theatre and under the auspices of the Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne. – The first performance is to be given during the week beginning July 22, 1985. Later in 1984 or early 1985 the Victoria State Opera abandons the production. Kay gets as far as designing what appears to be a permanent set serving all acts. [5.9]

April 14
For the Australian Ballet's revival of Don Quixote, to be staged in 1986, Kay submits seven vibrantly coloured sketches – one for each act and scene, respectively. In an accompanying letter, addressed to Gielgud, he writes: "I feel it would work well and make a good surround – formal enough to suit the existing costumes." However, due to the Company's "financial strictures" Kay's new scenery is not to be realized. [5.10]

April 18 - 19
Kay meets Kenneth MacMillan in Berlin for discussion with the board of management of the Deutsche Oper Berlin to revive the 1967 production of The Sleeping Beauty.

May 20 - 23
Further discussions with the Deutsche Oper Berlin regarding the revival of the 1967 production of The Sleeping Beauty.

September - October
As the Deutsche Oper Berlin is not forthcoming, Kenneth MacMillan is planning a completely new production of The Sleeping Beauty for American Ballet Theatre (ABT). He is asking Kay to provide affordably executable designs to ascertain ABT's co-operation. In search of solutions in meeting such criterion Kay reinvestigates stage designs by Adolphe Appia, Cordon Craig and Léon Bakst.

October - December
Required to remain both cost-conscious and cost-effective, Kay devises a working model, or white model, for The Sleeping Beauty for ABT in the Secessionist style, accentuating clarity through simplicity.

November 29 - December 4
En route to New York, by way of Australia, Kay briefly stops over in Melbourne to attend family matters, as well as to submit to The Australian Ballet his proposed set designs for a revised stage production of Don Quixote. On this occasion he also makes an appearance at an exhibition showcasing some of his designs, and due to open near Melbourne tomorrow.

November 30 - January 31, 1985
Some of Barry Kay's designs for the theatre are featuring at "Art and the Theatre in Victoria, 1844-1984", a touring exhibition of public regional galleries of Victoria, Australia, showing works from their holdings of theatre art – a contribution to Victoria's 150th Anniversary Celebrations; organized by Mornington Peninsula Arts Centre and Horsham Art Gallery; venue Mornington Peninsula Arts Centre. The exhibition is to tour other Victorian regional galleries throughout next year. [ibid]

December 5 - 16
In New York, for the purpose of discussing and planning Kenneth MacMillan's staging of the one-act version of Anastasia with ABT, Kay submits a recreated model for this ballet. In an effort of saving exorbitant production costs ABT strikes a deal with the Deutsche Oper Berlin to buy their set and costumes. The US première is scheduled for the spring of next year.

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January 13 - 20
In New York, Kay liaises with American Ballet Theatre's workshops, adjusting set and costumes for Anastasia, one-act version, bought from the Deutsche Oper Berlin.

March 2 - 19
Kay joins American Ballet Theatre in Los Angeles to supervise dress fittings and the setting up of the scenery of Anastasia, one-act version.

March 12
Première of Anastasia, one-act version; ballet; assignment scenery, costumes, properties and special effects; period newsreel projections; choreography Kenneth MacMillan; American Ballet Theatre; Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles.

April 16
Barry Kay unexpectedly dies in London. The founder-to-be of the Barry Kay Archive, Michael Werner, notifies Kenneth MacMillan and American Ballet Theatre of his death. Being familiar with the staging of Anastasia, Werner offers to continue Kay's supervision of its mounting for the première scheduled to take place at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, at the end of the month.

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onward to Posthumous Events – 1985 et seq



Initially, Kay did not find it easy striking upon a title suitably describing the nature of this kind of documentary. The Archive's founder-to-be, who initiated the first contact with a transvestite, suggested listening to the tape recordings of conversations Kay had with each person – in the hope that they would provide a clue for an apt title. Conscious of being biologically male, it soon became apparent how individuals saw and experienced themselves in their transgender role. The tapes revealed that most of them invariably started a sentence with "As a woman I would...", followed by their aspirations. Thus the title As a Woman was born. – Although, both the British and American publishers adopted this title unanimously at first, Matthew Miller Dunbar (London), however, changed their mind later on, preferring Kay's second choice – The Other Women; hence the two different titles for the English language editions. >> back to text


The Tea and Sugar Train is an unpublished photographic documentary of an eight-day journey on a goods and supply train (Trans-Australian Railway), running across Australia's barren Nullarbor Plain from Port Augusta in Southern Australia to Kalgoorli in Western Australia. Here Kay captured the life of the so-called Fettlers, whose only physical contact to the outside world consist of, among others, the bank, the post office, the butcher and the hairdresser being brought to them by train to their dessert outposts. >> back to text


For the set of Solitaire Kay created a huge transparent tree, spanning across the entire stage. To reflect this idea in the model, he visited traditional glassworks in Exeter, where individual bulbous segments of the tree were specially mouth-blown in clear glass. In the model he assembled them around a trunk and branches made of Lucite. The actual stage setting consisted of inflatable PVC. His costumes for this production echoed this concept. >> back to text


Professor FC Gundlach, one of Germany's most renowned photographers, is the founder of the country's first and top-ranking gallery for photography – the PPS Gallerie FC Gundlach. >> back to text


For the drowning scene of Isadora Duncan's children in the last act Kay ambitiously envisioned the use of holographic movie images to be projected into space above the stage action and partially extending into the auditorium. In Hollywood he met with experts in the movie industry to discuss the feasibility of his objective. Following a number of failed 3-D experiments, however, it soon became clear that holography could not as yet be used as intended. Resignedly, Kay settled for conventional movie projections instead. >> back to text


For the record: In August 1979, Richard Simonton introduced Barry Kay and Jack Preston to each other at the 'Hotel Cavalier', Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood Village, Los Angeles, where Kay was staying. Simonton had arranged for Kay to take photographs of Preston. The Archive's founder-to-be, who kept a log, attended their introduction, then left the three gentlemen for the duration of the photographic session. Upon his return, he encountered Kay racing to the hotel's reception desks to call for the paramedics and Preston at the hotel room keeping guard over Simonton who, while the session was in progress, all of a sudden collapsed – fatally. >> back to text


The model for The Sleeping Beauty was sold via the Decor Gallery, Knightsbridge, London, and payment submitted to Barry Kay on October 17, 1979, confirming the acquisition to have taken place sometime prior to this date. At a later stage, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Museum Dahlem, became the model's repository. Today, following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the merger and reorganizing of the arts collections of both East and West Berlin, the model was transferred to the Kunstbibliothek / Lipperheidesche Kostümbibliothek, Berlin. >> back to text


In designing the tapestries Kay was given total freedom in choosing a subject. He created a set of tableaux consisting of fascinating collages based on illustrations of the performing arts throughout the centuries. The tapestries were to be woven by experts in Belgium (or Belgian experts in Perth, Australia [?]).

Regrettably, his designs were never executed. The reason, according to Kay, had been the persisting in-house interference, rooted in intrigues involving the designer John Truscott, at the Victorian Arts Centre (since 2003 known as the Arts Centre), Melbourne – an opposition he found increasingly and considerably disturbing during the creative process in the first place. The originals were never returned, and exactly where along the line they 'disappeared' remains a mystery to this day. >> back to text


So far, the Archive has not been able to establish whether John Copley, opera director, or Ken Mackenzie-Forbes, general administrator of the Victoria State Opera (now defunct, collapsed in 1996 due to financial difficulties), commissioned Kay to design Peter Grimes. Customarily, Kay started designing sets first, before any costume drawings were produced. Accordingly, there exist a small so-called white model, or working model, at a scale of 1:50, and a complete final set model at a scale of 1:25. It will appear that Kay provided a basic permanent set construction allowing for any act or scene changes. For as yet unknown reason the production was cancelled and the actual stage set never built. It is hard to dismiss the assumption that the same in-house interference that took place over the tapestries also played a part in it. >> back to text


The Australian Ballet performed Don Quixote with Barry Kay's designs nationally and internationally so many times since its inaugural performance in 1970 that both sets and costumes suffered from unavoidable wear and tear. While the stage costumes kept being refurbished until Kay decided to have them eventually replaced with almost identical ones he designed for the 1973 film version, the sets were ultimately worn out beyond repair. For the production's 1986 revival, the Company therefore commissioned Kay to provide new scenery which – nota bene – he devised in such a way as to ascertain the coherent unity of sets and costumes.

Following Kay's death in April 1985, The Australian Ballet proposed to Michael Werner, founder-to-be of the Barry Kay Archive, to create the maquette(s) for Don Quixote based on Kay's drawings and to supervise the construction of the new scenery in Melbourne. Later that year, however, it was announced that, "due to financial strictures, the Company is unable to proceed as envisaged". As a result, Kay's existing stage sets continued to be used in conjunction with the film's costumes.

Yet in 1992, the Company decided to engage a local designer, Anne Fraser, to furnish new sets for the said revival, without however obtaining permission to do so from the copyright owner to Kay's designs. The production was ultimately staged in 1993 while retaining Kay's costumes. The result was and is incongruous in that Kay's overall design concept had been ruined, whereby sets and costumes are totally dissociated from each other – a mismarriage that is regrettably performed to this day. In her review in The Sydney Morning Herald of April 9, 2007, Jill Sykes wrote: "Barry Kay's costumes shone against Anne Fraser's stolid set." >> back to text


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