The Designer as Entrepreneur

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History book series (PSTPH)


Boston, rather than New York, was the geographical center of the burgeoning New Stagecraft movement in 1911. That year the experimental Toy Theatre featured modern designs by Livingston Platt, recently returned from study in Europe. Across the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts, George Pierce Baker’s English 47 class at Harvard experimented with new scenic and lighting production techniques as part of their exploration of dramatic texts; the same students could attend a Harvard lecture by William Butler Yeats in which he discussed the dramaturgical influences of Craig’s design theories on his writing.1The Boston Opera Company hired Viennese artist Joseph Urban to direct and design their 1911 season, based on his renown as an architect and opera designer specializing in Art Nouveau styles. Each of these occurrences brought Continental influences to Boston audiences, but the last, arguably, had the most significant impact on the American theatre industry’s adoption of New Stagecraft practices and the public’s perception of modern design.


General Motor Department Store Visual Motif Modern Design Modern Artist 
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© Christin Essin 2012

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