Eynat-Confino goes beyond the usual consideration of Craig’s purported theories of the actor, scenery, and the scene painter to get at the heart of Craig’s idea of theater.
She draws not only on the research of contemporary Craig scholars but on material hitherto unavailable—his writings and daybooks and the writings of friends. She ties Craig’s encounter with Isadora Duncan to a decisive modification in his notion of movement. To have an instrument more controllable than the actor, he invented the über-marionette, a giant puppet. Craig also invented the “Scene,” a kinetic stage, the “screens” that brought him worldwide fame were simply an adaptation of this concept.
Eynat-Confino argues that a scenario Craig wrote in 1905, here published for the first time, reveals a theosophical system like that of Blake, a system that was the main force motivating Craig’s artistic quest. In her final chapter, she carefully examines the psychological, aesthetic, and circumstantial factors that kept Craig from completing his work to bring “friendliness—humor—love—ease—peace” to the world.
Darwin Reid Payne Southern Illinois University Press, 1994 Library of Congress PN2091.S8P349 1994 | Dewey Decimal 792.025
Darwin Reid Payne’s approach to theatrical design is that of a computer advocate and pioneer. With Computer Scenographics, he ushers in a new generation of scenery design by applying state-of-the-art technology to the traditional methods of scenography. Though not a how-to book, Computer Scenographics is a general introduction to, and an affirmation of, the value of computer graphics for both student and working scenographers.
Payne acknowledges that many scenographers would not want to use computers exclusively in the preparation of their designs. Today’s scenographers continue to value the manual skills of drawing and painting, learned and perfected over time, and would not consider abandoning these skills entirely. And it is unlikely that the most powerful computer or most sophisticated software could ever supplant that intimate interaction of hand and mind provided by traditional tools and materials. Nevertheless, Payne’s utilization of the Virtus Walk-Through computer program to facilitate set design expands the tools of the artist to new dimensions.
Aided by 129 illustrations, Payne addresses four major topics: (1) how computer studios are set up; (2) how computers serve as storage for visual ideas and as conceptual tools; (3) how technical information needed for producing a scenographer’s ideas onstage is created with computers; (4) and how modelmaking has been changed by computer-generated three-dimensional possibilities, especially by the introduction of "virtual reality" onto the computer platform.
Directors and Designers explores the practice of scenography—the creation of perspective in the design and painting of stage scenery—and offers new insight into the working relationships of the people responsible for these theatrical transformations. With contributions from leading practitioners and theorists, editor Christine White describes the way in which the roles of director and designer have developed over time. Featuring chapters on theater and site-specific performance, theatrical communication and aesthetics, and the cognitive reception of design by the audience, this volume provides a valuable resource on current approaches to scenography for professionals and students.
Drafting for the Theatre
Dennis Dorn and Mark Shanda Southern Illinois University Press, 2011 Library of Congress T357.D67 2011 | Dewey Decimal 792.025
In this newly revised second edition, veteran stage designers and technical directors Dennis Dorn and Mark Shanda introduce industry-standard drafting and designing practices with step-by-step discussions, illustrations, worksheets, and problems to help students develop and refine drafting and other related skills needed for entertainment set production work. By incorporating the foundational principles of both hand- and computer-drafting approaches throughout the entire book, the authors illustrate how to create clear and detailed drawings that advance the production process.
Early chapters focus on the basics of geometric constructions, orthographic techniques, soft-line sketching applications, lettering, and dimensioning. Later chapters discuss real-life applications of production drawing and ancillary skills such as time and material estimation and shop-drawing nomenclature. Two chapters detail a series of design and shop drawings required to mount a specific design project, providing a guided path through both phases of the design/construction process. Most chapters conclude with one or more worksheets or problems that provide readers with an opportunity to test their understanding of the material presented.
The authors' discussion of universal CAD principles throughout the manuscript provides a valuable foundation that can be used in any computer-based design, regardless of the software. Dorn and Shanda treat the computer as another drawing tool, like the pencil or T-square, but one that can help a knowledgeable drafter potentially increase personal productivity and accuracy when compared to traditional hand-drafting techniques.
Drafting for the Theatre, second edition assembles in one book all the principal types of drawings, techniques, and conventional wisdom necessary for the production of scenic drafting, design, and shop drawings. It is richly illustrated with numerous production examples and is fully indexed to assist students and technicians in finding important information. It is structured to support a college-level course in drafting, but will also serve as a handy reference for the working theatre professional.
Location shooting has always been a vital counterpart to soundstage production, and at times, the primary form of Hollywood filmmaking. But until now, the industrial and artistic development of this production practice has been scattered across the margins of larger American film histories. Hollywood on Location is the first comprehensive history of location shooting in the American film industry, showing how this mode of filmmaking changed Hollywood business practices, production strategies, and visual style from the silent era to the present. The contributors explore how location filmmaking supplemented and later, supplanted production on the studio lots. Drawing on archival research and in-depth case studies, the seven contributors show how location shooting expanded the geography of American film production, from city streets and rural landscapes to far-flung territories overseas, invoking a new set of creative, financial, technical, and logistical challenges. Whereas studio filmmaking sought to recreate nature, location shooting sought to master it, finding new production values and production economies that reshaped Hollywood’s modus operandi.
Concerned as much with acting as it is with makeup, this work illuminates every actor’ s quest for character— starting with a search for clues concealed in the script. Yet few actors fully understand the bond between a character’ s psyche and physical appearance, and makeup classes seldom give the subject the attention it deserves.
Jenny Egan draws on her extensive experience to provide detailed instructions supported by clear illustrations for sculpting the face with paint, putty, and prostheses. She enlivens her instruction with personal anecdotes from her work on Broadway, television, and films with notables George C. Scott, Rip Torn, Maureen Stapleton, and Joseph Papp.
The French writer, editor, and drama critic Jacques Copeau (1879–1949) opened his Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier in Paris in 1913. Copeau was well on his way to exerting a major influence in the theater in the year that saw the end of the career of the dominant innovator of an earlier generation, André Antoine, whose Théâtre Libre (Free Stage) had featured an uncompromising realism.
In marked contrast to Antoine, Copeau returned the poetry and freshness to Shakespeare and Moliére. By May 1914, Paris and Europe had recognized his genius and his special gift to the theater. Yet like Antoine, Copeau wanted to sweep "staginess" from the stage, to banish overacting, overdressing, and flashy house trappings. To cleanse the stage of its artificiality, he created a fixed, architectural acting space where dramatic literature and theater technique could live in harmony and thrive in freedom of thought and movement. A major part of his program was teaching actors and actresses their craft.
Maurice Kurtz points out that the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier incarnates the "ideal of Copeau's stubborn struggle to remain strong in the face of indifference, independent in the face of success, proud in the face of defeat. It is the story of group spirit in its purest, most eloquent form, the spirit of personal sacrifice of all for the dignity of their art."
Kurtz here re-creates the vitality Copeau imbued in theater artists throughout the world. He conveys Copeau's enthusiasm, the crusading spirit that enabled Copeau and his Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier to transform experimentation into tradition, into the heritage of civilization. He has written a biography of a theater that was tremendously influential in Europe and America.
In Lighting the Shakespearean Stage, 1567–1642,R. B. Graves examines the lighting of early modern English drama from both historical and aesthetic perspectives. He traces the contrasting traditions of sunlit amphitheaters and candlelit hall playhouses, describes the different lighting techniques, and estimates the effect of these techniques both indoors and outdoors.
Graves discusses the importance of stage lighting in determining the dramatic effect, even in cases where the manipulation of light was not under the direct control of the theater artists. He devotes a chapter to the early modern lighting equipment available to English Renaissance actors and surveys theatrical lighting before the construction of permanent playhouses in London. Elizabethan stage lighting, he argues, drew on both classical and medieval precedents.
What is the purpose of a stage direction? These italicized lines written in between the lines of spoken dialogue tell us a great deal of information about a play's genre, mood, tone, visual setting, cast of characters, and more. Yet generations of actors have been taught to cross these words out as records of previous performances or signs of overly controlling playwrights, while scholars have either treated them as problems to be solved or as silent lines of dialogue. Stage directions can be all of these things, and yet there are examples from over one-hundred years of American playwriting that show that stage directions can also be so much more. The Lines Between the Lines focuses on how playwrights have written stage directions that engage readers, production team members, and scholars in a process of embodied creation in order to determine meaning. Author Bess Rowen calls the products of this method “affective stage directions” because they reach out from the page and affect the bodies of those who encounter them. Affective stage directions do not tell a reader or production team what a given moment looks like, but rather how a moment feels. In this way, these stage directions provide playgrounds for individual readers or production teams to make sense of a given moment in a play based on their own individual cultural experience, geographic location, and identity-markers. Affective stage directions enable us to check our assumptions about what kinds of bodies are represented on stage, allowing for a greater multitude of voices and kinds of embodied identity to make their own interpretations of a play while still following the text exactly. The tools provided in this book are as useful for the theater scholar as they are for the theater audience member, casting director, and actor. Each chapter covers a different function of stage directions (spoken, affective, choreographic, multivalent, impossible) and looks at it through a different practical lens (focusing on actors, directors, designers, dramaturgs, and readers). Every embodied person will have a slightly different understanding of affective stage directions, and it is precisely this diversity that makes these stage directions crucial to understanding theater in our time.
Theater is, first and foremost, a visual art; Looking Into the Abyss examines the ways in which the visual theater affects our understanding of the dramatic event. Arnold Aronson, an internationally prominent historian and theorist of theater set design, opens with an overview of scenographic concepts, including postmodern design and the use of new media in the theater, and continues with analyses of the work of specific designers (including Richard Foreman and David Rockwell) and scenographic responses to playwrights like Chekhov and Tony Kushner. These essays serve to open a dialogue that will bring the physical aspect of theater back into its proper place: an element as integral to the performance as the spoken word, and they will inspire theater-goers to become more aware of their role as seers of the theater.
Arnold Aronson is Professor of Theater, Columbia University. He is author of American Avant-Garde Theatre: A History; Architect of Dreams: The Theatrical Vision of Joseph Urban; American Set Design; and The History and Theory of Environmental Scenography.
Featuring period drawings and prints of swordplay, this book examines and compares three Elizabethan fencing manuals written in English before 1600: Giacomo Di Grassi’s His True Arte of Defense (1594), Vincentio Saviolo’s His Practice in Two Bookes (1595), and George Silver’s Paradoxes of Defence and Bref Instructions upon My Paradoxes of Defence (1599).
More than a technical manual on swordplay, this book explores the influence of a new form of violence introduced into Elizabethan culture by the invention of the rapier. The authors examine the rapier’s influence on the various social classes, the clash between the traditional English fencing masters and those embracing the new style, the growing concern with unregulated dueling, and the frequent references to rapier play in the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.
As producer Joseph Papp notes in his foreword, this is a book that "makes a difference in performance."
Author Rich Dionne reframes theatre production as a project and provides essential tools for understanding and managing it efficiently, whether it be a stage play, an opera, a dance piece, or other performance that requires the collaboration of the artists and artisans creating the visual and aural landscape for it.
Project Planning for the Stage is organized into four sections corresponding to the life cycle of a theatre production: defining the goals and scope of the production and assembling the crew; planning, estimating, and scheduling; executing and managing; and closing and strike. Each section focuses on relevant concepts and skills and outlines the application of effective project-planning procedures and techniques—including critical path analysis and Gantt charts.
This book will be a valuable addition to the libraries of technical managers in live entertainment. Technical directors, costume shop managers, master electricians, properties masters, and video supervisors—anyone managing even part of a production—need to understand project-planning concepts such as the boundaries of authority and responsibility, parametric and bottom-up estimates, and precedence diagrams. The incredibly useful and powerful tools outlined in this book allow any technical manager to deliver the best possible outcome for a production.
Rediscovering Mordecai Gorelik explores the life and work of the pioneering scene designer whose career spanned decades in American theatre. Anne Fletcher’ s insightful volume draws intriguing parallels and contrasts between Gorelik’ s productions and the theatrical movements of the twentieth century, exposing the indelible mark he left on the stage. Through in-depth analysis of his letters, diaries, designs, and theoretical works, Fletcher examines the ways in which Gorelik’ s productions can be used as a mirror to reflect the shifting dramatic landscapes of his times.
Fletcher places Gorelik against the colorful historical backdrops that surrounded him— including the avant-garde movement of the 1920s, World War II, the Cold War, and absurdism— using the designer’ s career as a window into the theatre during these eras. Within these cultural contexts, Gorelik sought to blaze his own unconventional path through the realms of theatre and theory. Fletcher traces Gorelik’ s tenures with such companies as the Provincetown Players, the Theatre Guild, and the Theatre Union, as well as his relationships with icons such as Bertolt Brecht, revealing how his interactions with others influenced his progressive designs and thus set the stage for major dramatic innovations. In particular, Fletcher explores Gorelik’ s use of scenic metaphor: the employment of stage design techniques to subtly enhance the tone or mood of a production. Fletcher also details the designer’ s written contributions to criticism and theory, including the influential volume New Theatres for Old, as well as other articles and publications.
In addition to thorough examinations of several of Gorelik’ s most famous projects, Rediscovering Mordecai Gorelik contains explications of productions by such legends as John Howard Lawson, Clifford Odets, and Arthur Miller. Also included are numerous full-color and black-and-white illustrations of Gorelik’ s work, most of which have never been available to the public until now. More than simply a portrait of one man, this indispensable volume is a cultural history of American theatre as seen through the career of a visionary designer and theoretician.
In this enlarged and thoroughly revised third edition of his widely used text, Darwin Reid Payne explores the principles and philosophies that shape the visual elements of theatre.
Payne sets out to discover who scenographers are and to define their responsibilities. He sees scenographers as not merely craftspersons but artists with "a special vision that spans all the arts." Such artists are in a position to "extend and amplify underlying meanings of the production." The proper goal of beginning scenographers, according to Payne, is one day to be able to approach the job as artists in full command of their craft.
Payne seeks to instill in beginning scenographers a basic core of knowledge: an understanding of theatre history and the development of drama; a knowledge of art history and an understanding of periods and styles of architecture, painting, sculpture, furnishings, and costume; and a familiarity with the principles, techniques, and materials of pictorial and three-dimensional design. This new edition contains 248 illustrations, 38 more than the second edition. Payne’s goal, certainly, is to teach students what to do and how to do it; equally important, however, is Payne’s view that scenographers must know why.
To Payne, "Scenography is an art whose scope is nothing less than the whole world outside the theatre." Scenographers must read not only in their own field but in others as well. Payne has incorporated into his text many suggestions for outside readings, quoting passages and even entire chapters from important works. Stressing research, Payne argues that without knowledge of the literature of their own and related arts, scenographers cannot grow. And that is the emphasis of this book: to present aspiring scenographers with an approach and a set of concepts that will enable them to grow. Toward that end, Payne establishes five priorities, the first of which is to develop in students what he calls "time vision," or the ability to "see" the historical past as a living place with living inhabitants. The second priority is to bring about an awareness that allows students to "see" beneath the surface of objects and events. Third, students must be helped to recognize and appreciate the difference between the "concept of space as it exists outside the theatre and the concept of space as it is used within the theatre." The fourth priority is to ingrain in students an understanding of the importance of imagery to the scenographer, and the final priority is to teach those technical skills necessary to carry out the concepts of the scenographer.
W. Oren Parker Southern Illinois University Press, 1987 Library of Congress PN2091.S8P34 1987 | Dewey Decimal 792.025
The first book to bring together the drafting techniques, descriptive geometry, engineering drawing, and graphics of perspective needed to plan and execute a setting for the theatre.
Parker presents these elements in a logical three-part format. “ The Language of Lines” offers a study of drafting techniques, conventions, and symbols peculiar to the theatre; “ Graphic Solutions” deals with the graphic problem-solving often needed to draw and make the frequent irregular forms of present-day scene design; and “ Perspective in the Theatre” treats the two-dimensional perspective of the designer’ s sketch and the three-dimensional perspective required for an illusion or stylistic concept.
This comprehensive biography of the actress film critic Rex Reed called “a national treasure” draws on Robert A. Schanke’s interviews and correspondence not only with Eva Le Gallienne but also with more than one hundred of her colleagues and friends, including Glenda Jackson, Burgess Meredith, Eli Wallach, Peter Falk, Ellen Burstyn, Anne Jackson, Farley Granger, Jane Alexander, Uta Hagen, and Rosemary Harris. Forty-two illustrations offer highlights of Le Gallienne’s many notable performances in such plays as Hedda Gabler, Liliom, The Cherry Orchard, Peter Pan, Camille, Mary Stuart, The Royal Family,and The Dream Watcher.
Behind her public role as a famous actress and as the founding and maintaining force of the first civic repertory theatre in the United States, Eva Le Gallienne led a private life complicated by her identity as a lesbian. Schanke considers Le Gallienne’s sexuality and how it played a role in the struggles, defeats, and triumphs that combined to inspire her greatness. Shattered Applause, a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Nonfiction, tells a fascinating story that also serves as a barometer of the changing values, tastes, and attitudes of American society.
Speaking in Shakespeare's Voice: A Guide for American Actors is a book for undergraduate and graduate students of acting as well as for the professional who would like to perform Shakespeare with the skill of a classical actor. It is also valuable for European actors interested in performing Shakespeare in American English and British actors who would like to explore Shakespeare from an American perspective.
This guide focuses on the technical elements of voice and speech, including breathing, resonance, and diction, as well as providing an introduction to verse speaking and scansion and to Shakespeare’s rhetorical devices, such as antithesis, alliteration, onomatopoeia, irony, metaphor, and wordplay. These topics are annotated with examples from Shakespeare’s plays to demonstrate how an actor can apply the lessons to actual performance. The book also explores the history of Shakespearean performance in the United States and provides guidance on current editions of Shakespeare’s text from the Folio to online Open Source Shakespeare. A helpful appendix offers examples of two-person scenes and contextualized monologues.
Succinct and jargon free, Stage Rigging Handbook remains the only book in any language that covers the design, operation, and maintenance of stage-rigging equipment. It is written in an at-a-glance outline form, yet contains in-depth information available nowhere else. This fully indexed third edition includes three new parts: the first, an explanation of inspection procedures for rigging systems; the second, a discussion of training in the operation of rigging systems; and the third, essential information about the operation of fire curtains. The remaining six parts, as well as the glossary and bibliography, have been updated. This edition also contains a new preface, many new illustrations, and expanded information on Nicopress terminations.
Glerum explains that four main principles make up the core of this book: know the rigging system; keep it in safe working order; know how to use it; and keep your concentration. Glerum applies these principles to all of the major types of stage rigging systems, including block and tackle, hemp, counterweight, and motorized. He describes each type of rigging, then thoroughly reviews the operating procedures and methods of inspecting existing systems.
Stagecraft for Nonprofessionals
F. A. Buerki; Revised by Susan J. Christensen University of Wisconsin Press, 1983 Library of Congress PN2091.S8B74 1983 | Dewey Decimal 792.025
As the nonprofessional theatre continues to grow in popularity, its technology expands at a dizzying rate, presenting exciting new opportunities and challenges for all nonprofessional theatre craftsmen. This new edition of a stage manager’s old friend takes into account many aspects of the new theatre technology, insuring the book’s lasting place in college, high school, and community theatres everywhere. It is a book more likely to be found backstage on a stepladder than on a library shelf, and this is exactly what the author has intended. The emphasis is on simplicity, economy, and practicability. It is a book that can help now to put any play into production.
Fringe Benefits, an award-winning theatre company, collaborates with schools and communities to create plays that promote constructive dialogue about diversity and discrimination issues. Staging Social Justice is a groundbreaking collection of essays about Fringe Benefits’ script-devising methodology and their collaborations in the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. The anthology also vividly describes the transformative impact of these creative initiatives on participants and audiences. By reflecting on their experiences working on these projects, the contributing writers—artists, activists and scholars—provide the readerwith tools and inspiration to create their own theatre for social change.
“Contributors to this big-hearted collection share Fringe Benefits’ play devising process, and a compelling array of methods for measuring impact, approaches to aesthetics (with humor high on the list), coalition and community building, reflections on safe space, and acknowledgement of the diverse roles needed to apply theatre to social justice goals. The book beautifully bears witness to both how generative Fringe Benefits’ collaborations have been for participants and to the potential of engaged art in multidisciplinary ecosystems more broadly.”—Jan Cohen-Cruz, editor of Public: A Journal of Imagining America
Stage costumes reveal character. They tell audiences who the character is or how a character functions within the world of the play, among other things. Theatrical costuming, however, along with other forms of theatre design, has often been considered merely a craft, rather than part of the deeply systemic creation of meaning onstage. In what ways do our clothes shape and reveal our habits of behavior? How do stage costumes work to reveal one kind of habit via the manipulation of another? How might theatre practitioners learn to most effectively exploit this dynamic? Theatre Symposium, Volume 26 analyzes the ways in which meaning is conveyed through costuming for the stage and explores the underlying assumptions embedded in theatrical practice and costume production.
THEATRE SYMPOSIUM, VOLUME 26
MICHELE MAJER Plus que Reine: The Napoleonic Revival in Belle Epoque Theatre and Fashion
Creating a Realistic Rendering Pedagogy: The Fashion Illustration Problem
ALY RENEE AMIDEI
Where'd I Put My Character?: The Costume Character Body and Essential Costuming for the Ensemble Actor
Embracing the Chaos: Creating Costumes for Devised Work
DAVID S. THOMPSON
Dressing the Image: Costumes in Printed Theatrical Advertising
Costuming the Audience: Gentility, Consumption, and the Lady’s Theatre Hat in Gilded Age America
The RuPaul Effect: The Exploration of the Costuming Rituals of Drag Culture in Social Media and the Theatrical Performativity of the Male Body in the Ambit of the Everyday
GREGORY S. CARR
A Brand New Day on Broadway: The Genius of Geoffrey Holder’s Artistry and His Intentional Evocation of the African Diaspora
On the [Historical] Sublime: J. R. Planché’s King John and the Romantic Ideal of the Past
Theatrical Scene Painting: A Lesson Guide, second edition, is a practical guide to scene painting for students and novices, as well as a reference for intermediate scene painters who wish to refresh or supplement their basic skills. Drawing on his extensive teaching and scene-painting experience, William H. Pinnell clarifies and expands on the lessons of the first edition, providing a detailed overview of the fundamentals of traditional scene painting.
The guide not only covers the basic tools of the trade and various methods of creating texture on scenery but also includes more advanced techniques for scene making, beginning with stonework, woodwork, and wallpaper before moving on to the more intricate techniques of moldings, paneling, drapery, foliage, shiny metal, perspective illusions, scale transfers, scenic drops, and scrims. Pinnell also includes refinements and embellishments that can lead to the development of personal style without sacrificing the goal of realism and more advanced work. Alternative methods to achieve different effects are also featured.
Theatrical Scene Painting: A Lesson Guide was the first book of its kind to provide clear step-by-step instructions in how to paint a wide variety of basic and advanced effects commonly needed for the theater. This new edition clarifies the origins of painting techniques and is supplemented with clearer step-by-step descriptions, new instructional photographs, and drawings that illustrate each major step. This edition also includes additional painting projects and their possible variations, a gallery of nineteen examples of professional scenic works, and an expanded glossary to eliminate confusion in terms.
Useful to both self-taught artists and students, each lesson in the guide can be a stand-alone topic or can form the foundation for a student to build skills for increasingly complex techniques.
The second edition of Theatrical Scene Painting provides many new essential scene painting projects in a clearer format, broadens the scope of the painting examples, and includes updated methods as well as new lessons. This clear and easily accessible guide gives students the ability to put together recognizable illusions.
This handbook explains the techniques of traditional scene painting. A “how to” book for the novice, it shows the methods used in creating the illusion of three dimensions where only two exist. It provides a step-by-step explanation of each aspect of scene painting, using both color and black-and-white photographs for illustration.
Among the many illusions made possible through the magic of paint are stonework, wallpaper, woodwork, as well as mouldings, draperies, and foliage. To teach the beginner how to re-create reality through painted illusion, Pinnell emphasizes traditional scene painting, including basic tools, primary painting techniques, and methods for creating texture on scenery. He also illustrates refinements and embellishments that lead to more advanced work.
Through diagrams, sketches, and models, along with explications of the essential tools and materials required, Payne defines and delineates the precise step-by-step procedures of scenographic modelmaking: the basic preparations of construction, the process of making the model, and the experimental aspects of modelmaking. This new edition with 50 additional illustrations and other new information offers teachers, students, and beginning professionals alike a complete and comprehensive approach to creating and constructing the scenographic model.
Vasari on Theatre
Thomas A. Pallen Southern Illinois University Press, 1999 Library of Congress PN2096.A1V37213 1999 | Dewey Decimal 792.025092245
In the process of creating the massive work that eventually became Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, painter and scholar Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574) spent much of the mid-sixteenth century traveling throughout Italy, meeting Renaissance artists and writing about their lives and works.
From this imposing source, Thomas A. Pallen has created a compendium of theatrical references augmented by related modern Italian scholarship. Vasari's Lives—daunting because of its sheer magnitude—has remained relatively obscure to English-speaking theatre historians. To introduce the numerous scenographic references of this great work to the English-speaking audience, Pallen provides new translations of all relevant passages, as well as a table of cross-references to the principal editions of Vasari in both English and Italian. And because Vasari often omitted important information, Pallen annotates the text, providing important names, places, and historical background.
Essentially, Pallen divides Vasari's work into four categories: triumphs and pageantry, ingegni for mystery plays and festivals, theatrical scenery, and miscellanea and lacunae. Although triumphs and pageantry were not directly theatrical, they were executed by many of the same artists who worked on theatrical productions and either used or introduced many Renaissance Italian theatrical techniques. The works described here range from tableaux vivants and other forms of street decoration to fireworks displays.
While Vasari did not personally know the work of either Filippo Brunelleschi or Francesco d'Angelo (called Cecca), he discusses their inventions for staging mystery plays and street festivals; indeed, Pallen shows how the work of these two artists paved the way for all later Renaissance scenography.
Pallen then deals with Vasari's references to and descriptions of the theatrical scenery and lighting effects of his time and the artists who created them. In accordance with the schema developed by Elena Povoledo, Pallen leads the reader through the evolution of scenographic thought and practice from the elementary work of Girolamo Genga to the advanced settings created by Vasari himself.
Working Backstage illuminates the work of New York City’s theater technicians, shining a light on the essential contributions of unionized stagehands, carpenters, electricians, sound engineers, properties artisans, wardrobe crews, makeup artists, and child guardians. Too-often dismissed or misunderstood as mere functionaries, these technicians are deeply engaged in creative problem-solving and perform collaborative, intricate choreographed work that parallels the performances of actors, singers, and dancers onstage. Although their contributions have fueled the Broadway machine, their contributions have been left out of most theater histories.
Theater historian Christin Essin offers clear and evocative descriptions of this invaluable labor, based on her archival research and interviews with more than 100 backstage technicians, members of the New York local of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. A former theater technician herself, Essin provides readers with an insider’s view of the Broadway stage, from the suspended lighting bridge of electricians operating followspots for A Chorus Line; the automation deck where carpenters move the massive scenic towers for Newsies; the makeup process in the dressing room for The Lion King; the offstage wings of Matilda the Musical, where guardians guide child actors to entrances and exits. Working Backstage makes an significant contribution to theater studies and also to labor studies, exploring the politics of the unions that serve backstage professionals, protecting their rights and insuring safe working conditions. Illuminating the history of this typically hidden workforce, the book provides uncommon insights into the business of Broadway and its backstage working relationships among cast and crew members.