Emmanuel Briffa Revisited
Philip Dombowsky

The proposed thesis will examine the work of Emmanuel Briffa, a theatre decorator whose career in North America spanned a period of thirty years beginning in 1912. Devoted almost entirely to theatre decoration since immigrating to North America from Malta in 1912, Briffa spent several years working in the United States prior to moving to Canada during the early 1920's. After moving to this country, Briffa quickly established himself as one of the most sought after theatre decorators and by the end of his Canadian career had decorated approximately one hundred theatres stretching from Vancouver to Halifax.

This study constitutes the first major research project involving the career of Emmanuel Briffa. From the outset, two principal objectives have been pursued. First, to establish an inventory of Briffa's commissions and second, to place this activity within the broader context of theatre design in North America during the early decades of this century. The first objective was accomplished through extensive research of Canadian newspapers and visits to numerous theatres decorated by Briffa. The second objective was achieved through interviews and a close reading of secondary sources relating to theatre design during the period Briffa worked in North America.


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