chapter  22
9 Pages

Stage designs of a single gesture: the early work of Robert Edmond Jones: Arthur B. Feinsod

ByRobert Edmond Jones ARTHUR B. FEINSOD

During the first quarter of the 20th century, the “New Stagecraft” swept through Western theatre – first in Europe and then in the United States – challenging the deeply entrenched premises of Italianate and naturalist set design. No longer was the literal stage picture with its painted or three-dimensional illusionistic detail the only path a designer could take. The New Stagecraft introduced two contrasting ways to stylize – one by simplification, the other by ornamentation. In their theory and practice, Adolphe Appia, Edward Gordon Craig and Georg Fuchs showed how to abstract by stripping the stage to strikingly simple, essential images, while designers like Léon Bakst of the Ballets Russes, V. Egerov at the Moscow Art Theatre, and Alexandra Ekster at Tairov’s Kamerny Theatre abstracted by embellishing with colorful, detailed patterns and complex arrangements of shapes.