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1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 232 (208)

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition
1945 Theatre Catalog
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 232
Page 232

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 232

Place of Glamour in Theatre Decoration

Correct Use of Scale, Color, and Comfort Forms the Basis of the Decorator's Credo


Do you remember the old proverb about the shoemakerls children who had no shoes-because their father was so busy selling shoes to the neighbors?

Well, it seems to me that this is too often the case with the theatre. It lives by selling glamour to the public. But, aside from what is on stage, all too many theatres are themselves totally lacking in the thrill and glamour they dispense.

Architectural details are conventional and uninspiring. Drab or neutral colors are the rule for walls, ceilings, and doors. Fabrics seem to have been chosen because they would not show dust. And lighting suggests the era of the surrey with the fringe on top. Occasionally, of course, one sees a theatre which has gone to the other extreme. But screaming colors, shoddy materials, and forms, which aim to astonish rather than to please, are no improvement on the old formula. One comes to the conclusion that the audience is intended to enter blindfolded and keep its eyes shut till the show starts.

That is why I was so glad to be given the job of rejuvenating New Yorkis Forty-Sixth Street Theatre, where, 24 years ago, tiGood News" opened to a glittering crowd of first-nighters. Later, to mention only a few outstanding successes, came "Follow Through," uDuBarry Was a Lady," "Hellzapoppini," and "She Loves Me Not." Here, truly, was a glamorous past, auguring well for an equally succassful future, to which I might contribute by repackaging the

DETAIL OF ONE OF THE DOORS designed and executed by Dorothy Draper, Inc., for Chicago's famous Camilla House of the Drake Hotel, recognized as a most beautiful and outstanding entertainment spot.

By DOROTHY DRAPER President. Dorothy Draper, Inc.

building itself to accord with its glamourous contents. And this laboratory example would, I hoped, do a great deal to start a new mode in theatre decoration.


Right here, perhaps, is the place to give you my credo, covering all public decoration, whether for theatres, hotels, restaurants or night clubs. The same basic ideas have been exemplified in New Yorkis Hampshire House, Chicagols Camellia House, Brazilis Hotel Quintandinha. The variety that can be produced from their application is infinite, but the underlying principles are the same in everything I do. All that was necessary for the Forty-Sixth Street Theatre was to give them an extra lillip to accord with the extra glamour one expects from a place devoted to sheer entertainment and nothing else.

(1) I believe in scale as a primary requisite, an A-l attention arrester. Architectural detail, furniture, lighting fixtures and fabric patterns which might do very well for a private house just will not do for the theatre, where everything, including emotion, must be itlarger than life." But scale does not necessarily mean mere width and height, note-to convey the soaring sense of excitement that ought to be inseparable from any theatreeshould it ever suggest massiveneSS or heaviness. Out-size proportions must be as cleverly worked out as though though one were designing a miniature.

(2) Color, too, is all-important-e Fresh, clear, vibrant color lifts the heart, helps to create an rout of this worldli mood for the hours to come. And lighting, of course, is part and parcel of color. Never before have we had access to such wonders as are ours today, when electricity has come of age, in art as well as in science. Dramatic lighting of every space in the theatre is as important as on the stage itself.

(3) But just as essential-perhaps more so-is comfort-Comfort, luxurious comfort, necessary in a hotel or a night club, where one moves around, is even more desirable in a theatre, where one must sit still%r long for an intermission. And comfort, too, should join with gayety in lounges, refreshment spaces, andein the case of the legitimate theatre or the moving-picture house with a stage showein dressing rooms, too. (Probably never before has any backstage space been as glamorously planned as in the Forty-Sixth Street Theatre THEATRE

including accommodations for the chorus, as well as those for the stars. Fulllength mirrors, as well as thOSe of conventional dressing-table height, stripped into a streamlined and modernly lighted wall, are the first thing one notices about chorus quarters. Comfortable, gaylyupholstered chairs take the eye. Clothes racks, giddy as a merry-go-iround, suggest a smart beach rather than a prosaic job. StarsJ dressing rooms are equipped with showers, ice boxes, a whole snackbar set-up. And draw curtains separate working quarters from what might be called the entertainment part of the suite, luxurious as one' would find in a first-class hotel.)


Scale, color, lighting, seating-all as modern as tomorrow. Lounges and refreshment spaces-dressing rooms, too, if they exist-outstanding examples of the best to be had anywhere. These things ought to be the rule in every theatre, I firmly believe. And will they pay out? They will!

Keep the crowd happy and thrilled from the moment it enters. Keep it at ease when seated. Make the feminine portion of your attendance eager to come back to see that lounge color scheme again, to examine the fabric on that luxo urious sofa, to covet the pictures on your walls. In short, pack every moment with its own share of glamour. Then who will have the towns most popular gathering place? There is only one answer!

THIS PLASTER LIGHTING FIXTURE, designed by Dorothy Draper, Inc., was installed in the dome of the gambling casino in the Quintandinha, the lavish sponsored :ity-within-a-city at Petropolis, Brazil.

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 232