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[…]

Acoustics of Ancient Greek Theaters

The sound quality in ancient times was likely much better than it is today. By Brigit Katz It is often said that the acoustics of ancient Greek theaters were so sophisticated that spectators in the back row could hear the actors with perfect clarity, long before microphones came into the picture. In modern times, tour guides will[…]