stage design

stagecraft

[steyj-kraft, -krahft]

Technical aspects of a theatrical production, which include lighting, scenery, costumes, and sound. While elements such as painted screens and wheeled platforms were used in the Greek theatre as early as the 5th century BCE, most innovations in stagecraft were developed in the Italian Renaissance theatre, where painted backdrops, perspective architectural settings, and numerous changes of scenery were common. Italian staging was introduced in England in 1605 by Inigo Jones for court masques. In the late 19th century, staging was influenced by the new naturalism, which called for historically accurate sets. In the 20th century, simplified scenic design focused attention on the actor. Staging techniques and the design of theatres have been greatly affected by advances in lighting, from the use of candles in the Renaissance to oil lamps in the 18th century and gas and electric lights in the 19th century. Modern stage lighting, which employs computerized control boards to achieve complex effects, can unify all the visual elements of a stage production. Seealso stage machinery.

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The Studio and Forum of Stage Design was started by Lester Polakov in Greenwich Village, NYC (circa mid 1960's). He was a scenic designer who, through his years of working in theatre, gathered together a group of like-minded designers to create a teaching environment that was second to none.

Through this school (and the corresponding work done by union members of United Scenic Artists l.u. 829 (now a part of the I.A.T.S.E) they created and promoted the idea of conceptual based designing.

All the teachers in the school were working professionals, usually Broadway based designer. Their names read like a "Who's Who" of American theatre designers. The list included: Lester Polakov, John Gleason, Tom Skelton and Arden Fingerhut.

The school had courses that included scenic design, scenic painting, still life sketching, costume design and lighting design.

Today, none of the original creators of this school survive.

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