Design for the Stage: First Steps

By Darwin Reid Payne | Go to book overview

PART 2 Creative Research

Like architecture, the theater is receptive to all the other arts, indeed it could hardly exist without recourse to several among them, but it does not consist of any of them in particular.

Etienne Gilson

The greatest natural genius cannot subsist on its own stock; he who resolves never to ransack any mind but his own will soon be reduced from mere barrenness to the poorest of all imitations. It is vain to invent without materials on which the mind may work and from which invention must originate. Nothing can come of nothing.

Sir Joshua Reynolds


§9 The Nature of Research

No matter how creative the individual designer may be, the art of scene design cannot be pursued without frequent recourse to research. In the producing theater the importance of this multifaceted, manyleveled activity should not be minimized; it is as important that the designer be adept in finding appropriate source materials that will aid him, as well as to know what and how much to take from those sources, as it is that he be able to paint set sketches or draft working plans. Yet there is a vast difference between mere research, that is, finding something that relates to the design requirements in a vague way, and creative research which seeks to find exactly the right thing. The first type of activity is satisfied with a superficial representation of period detail

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