difficult areas for the designer to master; it is certainly of more importance to his fellow collaborators--the director and the actor--than the creation of pictorial backgrounds. It is also the one significant aspect of theater practice that separates scene design from all other arts.
It is now time, perhaps, to begin a closer and more detailed study of the designer as he performs his multipurposed profession. In the following pages we must examine him not only in relation to the various physical demands and limitations he will encounter in his job, but also, and probably more importantly, as he relates to the other creative personalities with whom he must collaborate. One thing the student of design must never forget: no matter how significant his contribution to a production, he is always a "community artist," an artist whose success depends almost entirely on the service he gives to the other members of his community--the actor, the playwright, and the director.
The scene designer is an artist unlike almost every other creative artist. While he is an individual, he is also a member of a team; his work, no matter how unique, is not complete without the work of the other members of that team. It is something of a paradox that the greater the cooperation between these individual contributors to the production is, the more singular becomes the artistic rewards for each. Conversely, when there is a disparity in the various elements of the production, when it is obvious that those who are responsible for the final product have not meshed their skills and efforts into a unified whole, no one emerges with successful results.
But just how does the designer work with other members of the production staff? Just what is the organizational plan for the putting together of a stage production? These questions cannot be answered completely or finally for every production or for every producing organization; there are, however, certain common features in the planning of most productions and these can be listed and discussed.
First of all, let us examine a diagram which shows the progress of a production from the beginning of a project until performance. (This diagram [fig. 14] assumes that the designer is responsible for the entire production design and that his work cannot really be separated from that of the director working with him.)
George Abbott once said of plays being produced for the first time