Grand Illusion: The Art of Theatrical Design in the 20th Century

Exploring visual elements that deepens our comprehension of another world across the footlights and under the proscenium. Introduction Transporting an audience from their time and place to an entirely different world—tucked under and behind the proscenium arch—is the task of the theatrical designer. The designer must invoke the magnificent and the intimate with scenery, costumes,[…]

Stagestruck!: Performing Arts Caricatures in the Early 20th Century

Celebrities of song, stage, and screen were transformed into popular icons of American culture. Introduction During the early twentieth century, performing arts caricature came of age as an art form in the United States as celebrities of song, stage, and screen were transformed into popular icons of American culture. Caricatures played a prominent role in[…]

Edmund Kean and New Theatrical Forms in the Early Nineteenth Century

Kean’s acting style reframed the relation between the British theatrical tradition, the actor’s stage performance, and audience reception. In a conventional sense, Edmund Kean’s London debut at Drury Lane theater on 26 January 1814 matters because it marked the arrival to the metropole of the man who would become the early nineteenth century’s most important actor. In[…]

Paper Theaters: The Home Entertainment of Yesteryear

In the nineteenth century, enterprising toy makers developed a novel way to bring theater into the home. In the Regency era (early 1800s), live theater was so popular that it regularly inspired riots. In 1809, when the Covent Garden Theater tried to raise ticket prices, audiences were so incensed that they revolted. For more than two months[…]

Plato’s Euthyphro: Piety, Pretension, and a Playwright’s Skill

In reading Plato as Plato-the-Philosopher, one misses the nuances of Plato-the-Artist. Introduction The Dialogues of the Greek philosopher Plato (l. 428/427-348-347 BCE) have exerted such an extraordinary influence over western thought and culture for the past 2,000 years that readers in the modern day frequently approach his works as philosophical icons. The Republic is routinely taught in college classes as the blueprint for[…]

Euripides’ ‘Bacchae’ in Its Historical Context

The Peloponnesian war had been dragging on for 25 years, and the military situation was getting progressively worse for the Athenians. Euripides in Macedonia The Bacchae,[1] as we know it, was first produced in Athens under the direction of Euripides’ son, also called Euripides, in perhaps 405 BC,[2] a year or two after his father’s[…]