Design for the Stage: First Steps

By Darwin Reid Payne | Go to book overview

are a sickly grayish, the green of the shutters faded. Two enormous elms are on each side of the house. They bend their trailing branches down over the roof. They appear to protect and at the same time subdue. There is a sinister maternity in their aspect, a crushing, jealous absorption. They have developed from their intimate contact with the life of man in the house an appalling humaneness. They brood oppressively over the house. They are like exhausted women resting their sagging breasts and hands and hair on its roof, and when it rains their tears trickle down monotonously and rot on the shingles.

This leaves something for the designer to do; the playwright is saying, "Here is the way I feel about this place. These are things I think are important for you to consider when you begin to design an actual structure where the characters of my play must live. And I don't feel I am encroaching on your art if I tell you about it. But, it is up to you to find a way of putting these thoughts and suggestions on the stage; at the same time it allows room for you to exercise your own art too."


§4 The Designer and the Director

In Creativity in the Theater, Philip Weissman writes,

no performance of a written work of art can be more than a single interpretation. The greatness of a director depends on his capacities to identify with the creator and to create in performance an optimal and original communication which enhances the author's creation without distorting it.

A director identifies with the contents of the created work and interests himself in communicating its contents. He is more identified with the dramatist or composer than with the audience. He re-creates the originator's creative expression.

In an article by Harold Clurman called "In a Different Language", a director says this of his profession:

That action speaks louder than words is the first principle of the stage; the director, I repeat, is the "author" of the stage action. Gestures and movement, which are the visible manifes-

-31-

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