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Making the Scene: A History of Stage Design and Technology in Europe and the United States

Introduction

The book Making the Scene provides a historical account of the development of the theatre starting from the ancient Greek and Romans to 21st century theatre. The book accounts for these developments by providing perfect illustrations with photos and images of such theatrical developments. The authors provide the links between the history, the technology, and analysis of the audience. This paper is a summary of the first three chapters of the book Making the Scene.

Ancient Greek and Roman Theatre

Little is known concerning the traditional scene painting from the Greek and Roman artists. In the first chapter, the authors provide insights of the Greek and Roman Paintings as the precursor to the Renaissance Period. The book begins by tracing the history of theatre to the ancient Greeks and Romans. The authors acknowledge that theatrical culture became prominent in the ancient Greeks and Roman as it became a significant cultural and political instrument (Brockett, Mitchell, & Hardberger, 2010). The first chapter of the books entails the staging techniques and trends in theatre and theatre going. According to the book, theatre became institutionalized in the ancient Greek and Roman culture to the extend they influenced their neighbors and colonies. In big festivals, the Greeks and the Romans would hold theatrical arts to glorify such events. Therefore, theatre became part of the Greek and the Romans cultural identify in the early ages. According to this book, theatre became dominant in the ancient Greeks and Romans due to their belief that spoken work helps to advance the written word. In this regard, the Greeks and the Romans would wear masks to dramatize their plays and give it more meaning and to convince the audience. In this chapter, the author provides visual evidence of the Roman theatres that were built in several places. The images of these theatres illustrate that they were so big and could accommodate large numbers of people. Just like the current theatre, the Roman and Greek theatre was composed of the audience, the stage, and the backstage. The theatre was not just for anybody in the traditional Greek and the Romans as there were prominent personalities that were trusted with such performances. According to this book, theatre became so advanced in Greek that they even introduced theatrical competition and awards to promote their love for theatre. Also in the same chapter, the authors attempt to bring the brainchild of Robert Tobin through the context of design and technology. Chapter one of this book introduces the Tobin collection of theatre arts that covers several materials from the 6th century to 21st century. Therefore, the first chapter of the book contains the proper definition of the history of the theatre to give the reader the historical overview of where and when the theatre came from. In the same chapter, the authors explain the experiences of Mitchell as a scenic designer who left a huge impact in the design industry.

Medieval Scenic Designs

This is the second chapter in this book. In this chapter, the authors uses several short essays to cover several aspects of the theatre. It is evident that the book engages social understanding of the visual and the physical aspects of the theatre and the theatre savvy personalities. The chapter begins with the assurance of a lifetime collection of theatre arts and designs for a period of ten years. Here, the book attempts to explain an art that depends on the static remnants through the ties linked to the social forces. The author provides the distinction of the understanding of theatre and theatre going. These texts are methodologically based in visual anthropology of the theatre prehistory. This chapter also explains the changing tastes and preferences of the audiences with respect to the varying design choices. Such is done with visual and social anthropological arguments in a beautiful presentation of the historical arguments.

The chapter illustrates various surveys done to collect the peoples experiences in response to archeology. Through the surveys, the authors create visual evidence and texts that are used to convince the readers about the history and nature of theatre design. In this regard, the authors balance different era of theatre design without being biased on one era. The book traces the continued popularity of dues ex machina among the theatre lovers and the shift that occurred later after such popularity. This book also explores the early modern English theoretical structures and explains their place in the traditional artistic society.

The Italian Renaissance

In this chapter, the author refrains from mentioning of special effects or the social understanding of theatre. This period mainly covers the years between 1640 to the early 18th century. In this chapter, the author uses several beautiful illustrations in different colors. Everything is explained in proper narrative to give it a precise meaning. This era is represented as a move forward era due to several unique advances in the theatre arts. This era is also presented as an advanced era due to tangible evidence from the surviving diagrams, documents and some few physical theatres. In addition, this chapter is full of descriptions that would help any unfamiliar reader to have a full understanding of the Italian Renaissance. In discussing the Italian Renaissance, the authors examine the influence of the European and the American theatre. However, the authors tend to downplay the influence of these theatre on the Italian Renaissance. This chapter also provides a brief mention of the influence of the European chapter on the Africal cultures. The Italian Renaissance also provides a brief mention on the conception of technology to the theatre. According to the book, technology has provided a great boost to the development of the theatre. In this era, the authors mention the invention of light technology and theory as some of the advancements in the theatre during the Renaissance period. To be precise, the book mentions how the gas light influenced backing was used in the theatre during the Renaissance era. According to the book, these lights were used to open the dark recess of the stage to give the audience a better and a clear stage view. In addition, the book also mentions that the gas-light also exposed the flaws in the painted scenery and influenced the development of dimensional ornament. The authors argue that the artificial lights and computer boards used in the current theatre are part of the developments that began during the Renaissance era. Throughout this period, the social change is deemed to be very impressive in advancing the work of theatre. In this chapter, the authors gives more prominence to the dominant social understanding with increased complexity in the stage design.

Conclusion

The book Making the Scene provides a good historical account of the development of the theatre from the Ancient Greeks and Romans. The first three chapters of the book help to set the background of the theatre from the social and cultural links to the adoption of technology during the Italian Renaissance. These chapters provide the links between the history, the technology, and analysis of the audience

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Reference

Brockett, O., Mitchell, M., & Hardberger, L. (2010). Making the Scene: A History of State Design and Technology in Europe and the United States. Tobin Theatre Arts Fund.

 

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