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1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 17 (5)

1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition
1947-48 Theatre Catalog
1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 17
Page 17

1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 17

rate, there used to be a certain division of interest, whereas todayls audience reaction to the scene is far quicker and heartier as a result of eliminating a non-essential.

The final scene, in which Lincoln speaks his farewell to Illinois, has now been set with only one so-called tipiece of sceneryiiethe rear platform of the I train-wand only a few feet of that.

Note that although the amount of detail has been very much reduced, what is left is still realistic, still in period. Had I designed a stylized or impressionistic train platform, it would not have been appropriate to Sherwoods script. In fact, it would have been an impertinent intrusion of a point of vire foreign to the play.

New Role for Light

With the elimination of a good deal of the physical scenery, a correspondingly greater amount must be achieved in other ways, for example, by light.

In the third scene, when Lincoln tells of the death of Ann Rutledge, the setting called for him to shuffle despond REDUCING SETTING TO CONCENTRATED REALISM is shown in this photograph ot a Mielziner-desiqned scene from Robert E. Sherwood's "Abe

Lincoln in Illinois." with Richard Gaines in

designer has used only such essentials as character-revealing lighting, a


ently up a dight of stairs to bed at the curtain. It was one of the most effective moments in the play, and it presented a real problem in simplification, since, of course, there were no stairs. The scene was restaged, so that instead of Lincoln making the exit, it is Bowling and Nancy Green who go out, carrying the light and dimming the light on the stage. Lincoln sinks exhausted on his couch, and after his friends have gone he raises his head. A blue light has been so placed that, as his face is lifted, his head and shoulders are outlined by a thin blue line against the blackness for a moment. Then he bows forward again and merges with the darkness as the curtain descends.

I believeeand in fact I have been toldethis effect is no less moving than the original curtain.

Theatre in the Scenery?

This type of designing and lighting has not in the past and will not today start any revolution in the theatre; yet it bears important implications. Essentialization of stage settings Spells hope not only for a popular dollar-top theatre

title role. Here the mid-Victorial homes.

but for more productions of all sorts of plays. We, the backstage craftsmen, stagehands, builders, and painters, will gain rather than lose from such an experiment as this new production of uAbe Lincoln in Illinois? We shall gain because the theatre's one chance of regain: ing its health is to encourage more producing of plays and to welcome back hundreds of thousands of potential theatregoers who have been locked out by that extra $2.20 in the price of orchestra seats.

The pertinent question for this vast new public to ask, therefore, is not "Is there any scenery in this play?"efor the moment you have actors on an elevated platform, frames in a proscenium, with telling lights focused upon them, you have the essentials of a setting. What they really Want to know is whether the setting is dramatically effective and evocative of the plays main theme. Any producer who can give the right answer to the query tils there theatre in the scenery?" will find the public responsive to the limit of its purse.

period 501a and two chairs (tor actual sitting purposes), and a storytelling mantel-shelf and stove. to set the mood and character of the particular family at the particular period. Gone is the fussy elegance of (Photograph courtesy the Playwrights' Company.)
1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 17