Central and Flexible Staging: A New Theater in the Making

Central and Flexible Staging: A New Theater in the Making

Central and Flexible Staging: A New Theater in the Making

Central and Flexible Staging: A New Theater in the Making

Excerpt

This book by Walden Boyle carries me back to another one, Continental Stagecraft, in which I shared the authorship with Robert Edmond Jones. I'm afraid we never put the case against the peepshow stage, the fourth-wall theater, as well as Brooks Atkinson did at the time when Margo Jones's polemic Theatre- in-the-Round appeared: "How did we ever get saddled in New York [he might have said in the whole Occidental world] with the rigid proscenium stage which assumes that everyone is going to write like Ibsen and Pinero, and that Romeo and Juliet cannot be staged without $60,000 worth of scenery and twenty-four sweating stagehands?" Oppressed, perhaps, by a feeling that we were dangerous radicals, we came out with no such blast as Atkinson's with its description .of Broadway stages as "merely holes in the wall of an auditorium.''

Of what we saw in Europe and in our mind's eye, Jones and I liked best the curtainless stage of Copeau and the arena playhouse that, in our imagination, we made out of the one-ring Cirque Medrano, also in Paris. In that same year of 1922, T. Earl Pardoe, according to Margo Jones, created a theater-in-the- round at Brigham Young University, and she traces the idea further back to a production by Azubah Latham in a gymnasium of Teachers College, New York, in 1914. Norman Bel Geddes drafted the plans for an arena theater in 1930, and Glenn Hughes brought one into active being for the University of Washington two years later. By the time Miss Jones had created her own version at Dallas in 1947, central staging had become a reality in perhaps fifty or sixty cities.

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