> > > >

1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 15 (3)

1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition
1947-48 Theatre Catalog
1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 15
Page 15

1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 15


It would be possible to continue, and

make a dozen more suggestions, but no .

more apparent would be the main point: There is no reason for the dream theatre to remain a dream. After all, the requirements are known, and we have the skilled technicians to call on for guidance in fulfilling them. All that is needed now to make the dream real is enough economic insight on the part of our builders to realize that informed theatre planning means not only good art but good business.

However, when this dream theatre comes into being, provision should be written into the whole scheme of things to eliminate a complaint which has beset all creative director-designer teams for years and which has grown progressively worse during the past quarter of a century.

Like all healthy complaints, it is aimed as much at myself as it is against what we call ttCOnditions in the Theatrefi Brieiiy my complaint is this: Insuliicient time generally is allowed for the prerehearsal creative planning in the theatre.

IMPLIED SCENEBY is further emphasized in Scene 10 of Robert E. Shershown here with Raymond Massey in the title role. Left out of the original design here, too, were the doors and windows, and the unneeded pictures, furniture. and trimmings. Although


wood's "Abe Lincoln in Illinois.


Although unavoidable war conditions intensified the mad tempo of production planning, this frantic speedeup has been a growing habit in the theatre since I first became a Broadway designer in 1923. When I say creative planning, I refer to all* the really formulative thinking and planning contributed by the author, the director, and the designer prior to the actual rehearsals. I firmly believe that there is no clear line of demarcation between the planning phase of the directors work and the creative plan of a good designerls job. Good designing is essentially clear, concise, directorial choreography. The ideal would be a director with the facilities to do his own designingvand enough time.

A Typical Schedule

It is no great exaggeration to say that the following episode, though brief, is fairly typical of what actually goes on in the theatre today. Producer X, after months of work, decides that manuscript 711'is to be produced. After winning the uphill battle of casting and financing, the day has come. A calendar in front of him, the harassed producer is

at his desk, surrounded by business manager, booking negotiators, yes-men, and no-men. In his right hand he grasps a telephone. The great moment is at hand. Thirty-six days, four hours, and twenty minutes from this second, a theatre will be available. The money is in the bageunder the producers feet. The agents have assured him of the stars availability. Producer X lifts up the receiver, dials the number of one of his creative team; it might be the director, it might even be me. As the com nection is made, he screams, HWe open five weeks from tonight at 8:40."

There are only seven days on the artists schedule before building contractors, scenic studios, and electrical contractors must be called in to bid on Mr. Xis production. If the designer is strong and healthy, he does not have to sleep or eat that first 24 hours, particularly if his family loves the theatre, too, and is willing to give him up a1< together. So he reads the manuscript. Sometimes, under extraordinary conditions, 'he will have enough time to glance at the play a second time.

In the following six days, all the designer has to do is to get his ideas and

the amount of detail was greatly reduced, what is left is still realistic. and still in period. Such Mielzinersdesigned scenes as these can aid the theatre to regain lost patronage through a more economical staging of more, better productions.

(Photograph courtesy of Playwrights' Company.)
1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 15