Theatrical scene design is one of the most beautiful, varied, and lively art forms. Yet there are relatively few books on the subject, and almost none for a general audience that combine expansive scholarship with lavish design. Making the Scene offers an unprecedented survey of the evolving context, theory, and practice of scene design from ancient Greek times to the present, coauthored by the world's best-known authority on the subject and enhanced by three hundred full-color illustrations. Individual chapters of the book focus on Greece, Rome, Medieval Europe (including liturgical drama, street pageants, festival outdoor drama, Spanish religious drama, and royal entries), the Italian Renaissance, eighteenth-century Europe, Classicism to Romanticism, Realism and Naturalism, Modernism, and contemporary scene design. Making the Scene's authors review everything from the effects of social status on theatre design to the sea changes between Classicism, Romanticism, and Naturalism and the influence of perspective-based thought. Particularly intriguing is their rediscovery of lost tricks and techniques, from the classical deus ex machina and special effects in coliseums to medieval roving stage wagons and the floating ships of the Renaissance to the computerized practices of today's theatres. Such ingenious techniques, interwoven with the sweeping beauty of scene design through the ages, combine with the keen scholarship of Oscar Brockett and Margaret Mitchell to create a book as involving as the art it showcases.
A symposium in Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg during June 2008 was the birthplace of these 10 essays on the intersection between visual and poetic elements in English drama from the early modern to the Romantic. Scholars from Europe and the US explore such topics as Shakespeare's stage and the bear garden, visual meaning and its absence in Hamlet, mist and fog on the Elizabethan and Jacobean stage, dramatic illusion and sympathetic curiosity in Romantic drama, and the study and application of animal characteristics as part of an actor's preparation for a role.
Crisafulli and Elam, both in English literature at the University of Bologna present an overview of women involved in the theater in the Romantic period. Playwrights such as Joanna Baillie, Mary Russell Mitford, Elizabeth Inchbald, Hannah Crowley, Hannah More and others are treated, along with actress/managers Sarah Siddons and Elizabeth Vestris. Joanna Baillie was clearly the most respected playwright in her lifetime and figures in a number of the articles. The study is focused on gender issues in the content of the plays as well as the peculiar difficulties women faced in having their work taken seriously. They received support from other women and many men but also were criticized by both sexes for being "unwomanly". The introduction makes the important point that after 1820 female playwrights largely vanished as a conservative wave took hold of European society in the wake of the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars. Despite proving their ability, women were taken out of positions of authority in theatrical society.
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