Convention Versus Illusion

  • Peter D. Arnott


Theatrical fashions change almost as quickly as fashions in dress. Plays are ephemeral things, dying each night at curtain-fall to be re-created by the actors the following evening, and all connected with them is subject to constant change and experiment. Styles of setting, acting and production vary from year to year, and from generation to generation. What may at first be stimulating and provocative soon becomes commonplace, and eventually outmoded and ludicrous. Consider the changes in the presentation of Shakespeare, even within the short compass of the last sixty years. The great Victorian actor-managers thought in terms of magnificence. No effort was spared to produce spectacular effects. Scenic artists went for their settings to the exact locations Shakespeare had prescribed, and tried to reproduce them in every detail. The Merchant of Venice inspired painstaking representations of the Bridge of Sighs and the Doge’s Palace.


Direct Appeal Spectacular Effect Great Play Scenic Effect Scenic Artist 
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© Peter D. Arnott 1959

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  • Peter D. Arnott

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