My object is to write (or arrange) a book about stage forms and stage settings which will afford the reader a bird's-eye view of this element of theatre art throughout the ages, with a somewhat closer view of the revolutionary changes in thought upon the subject, and in practice, during the last thirty years.
I am therefore setting out to treat stage decoration in two ways: first in a very brief résumé of its chronological development, from the beginnings of Western drama in Athens to the perfected nineteenth-century picture-frame theatre, and then more thoroughly through twentieth-century accomplishment in the field of a simplified realism, and forward to the most recent essays toward a space stage or a formal architectural stage; and into this record I plan to imbed an estimate of visual decorativeness as an integral and contributive part of theatre art.
My definition of stage decoration is broad enough to include not only what we used to call "the scenery," but the entire physical aspect of the stage-half of the theatre building, with whatever may have been set up there by way of ornamentation or background, if any, and as lighted and peopled by actors -- and I try to think always of this complete physical "stage form" in relation to an audience seated in the auditorium half of the building.
Up to this time no one has attempted to write a book on the subject in so comprehensive a way. In gathering the material I have become sensible that what is really needed is a three-volume work: the first volume to cover the history of stage forms and setting from the beginnings through the era of the painted perspective scene in the proscenium-frame theatre; the second volume to treat of contempo . . .