Demystifying Adolphe Appia: Understanding the Influences on Modern Stage Design

By Pete Reader.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The 19th Century stage had many influences, not the least of which was Richard Wagner. Adolphe Appia sought to correct Wagner’s staging mistakes; but Appia’s understanding of stage technology was weak. He was not on the same level as those who worked, designed and produced in the theatre as a profession. Those individuals had to solve the problems and limitations of the 19th Century stage with the emerging technologies of lighting and stage construction. Appia is best known for his essays and accompanying stage renderings which sought only to revolutionize the Wagnerian stage. He only executed a few of his designs and only one was in a legitimate theatre. Theatre had become a middleclass activity in the 19th Century, but it’s aesthetic style drew from painters and artists. The artists who collaborated with theatre had more to do with changing the 19th Century stage than one individual. Edvard Munch set the emotional tone in his paintings for the early part of the 20th Century. He was friends with August Strindberg and was admired by Ibsen. Max Reinhardt used Munch’s set design for his production of Ibsen’s Ghosts at the Kammerspiele Theatre in 1906. What was the relationship between art and theatre in the early 20th Century and to what effect?

Keywords: Art and Craft of 19th Century Stage Design, Theatre & Performance

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp.279-288. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 624.700KB).

Pete Reader

Associate Professor, Department of Communication & The Arts, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ, USA

Pete Reader, MFA is an associate professor of Theatre at Seton Hall University. He is the Managing Director and Resident Designer for the Theatre program. Peter earned his degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has worked professionally in Theatre, Dance, & Opera. He has published on color theory in lighting for Rosco Labs. Although a designer by training, he has maintained an interest in the historical foundations of Theatre & Design.


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