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The History of Set Design

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The Vet Timelord

on 7 November 2013

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Transcript of The History of Set Design

The History of Set Design
20th-21st Century Scenic Design

What is now modern set design was started in the early 20th century. At the time, electric lights weren't used very much, but that was about to change. Actors tried to be as fancy as possible, and Sound editing tech didn't really exist yet.

But stage construction, and non-electrical lighting for the stage were used a lot during the times of 1900 to 1970, which was a highly innovative time for many scene designers. Influenced by the Bauhaus Movement, Stage design made a name for itself, and became an important part of performances.
Theater set design is a very interesting topic, including a long history stretching its roots to the greek empires.
We are going to look deeper upon a number of
interesting stages from different cultures, and we
hope you will join us as we explore and learn about ancient set designs and how they influenced our sets today.
The Greek Influence on set Design


The Renaissance to the Seventeenth Century. HighBeam Research, 25 June 2005. Google. Web. 4 Nov. 2013. <http://www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/entertainment/scene-design-stage-lighting-the-renaissance-to-seventeenth-century.html>.

An example of greek influence is The Delphi theater (left). Even though the actors didn't have the lights and the sound systems we have today, architects made complex cone type stages that made sound reach the whole entire audience! that

way, even people on the top row could hear, provided everyone else wasn't to loud.
Irwin, Janet. "Scenic Design: A History of Change and Innovation." Imagined Spaces. N.p., 2010. Web. 31 Oct. 2013. <http://www.artsalive.ca/collections/imaginedspaces/index.php/en/learn-about/historyandinnovation>.
20th Century
after centuries of using the most similar types of stages, people started to hate same old sets. This also caused people like the german architect Walter Gropius (in 1927) to build something similar to a theater in the round (a theater where people view the stage from three different sides) which hadn't been done since medieval times. In 1939 the University of Washington in Seattle built the Penthouse Theater, which proved to be a more practical model for the numerous theaters-in-the-round that followed. At almost the same time, a number of theaters designed to imitate Elizabethan theaters like the indoor Madder market Theater, (in Norwich, Eng) and the open-air Old Globe Theater (in San Diego, California) were built around the world, and more being built in later years. including the Swan Theater in England, the Globe Tokyo, and Shakespeare’s Globe in London. this lead to the building of thrust stages all around the world. In the third quarter of the 20th century, theater designers focused their efforts on the creation of spaces that could easily be changed into two different forms. at the beginning of the 21st century people focused more on performing-arts complexes in which several different styles of theater were incorporated.
"theatre design". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 03 Nov. 2013
20-21st century cont.
That is pretty much a brief summery of all the information in my articles, so if you want to learn more, there are links in the next slide.
The staging challenges of the works produced under the influence of Romanticism(a time of inspiration in all art forms during the 1800's) caused people to not use painted sets as much. Painted scenery was replaced by three-dimensional scenery with which the actors could interact. This led to the creation of the wooden stage, which, through a combination of traps, slots, and elevators in the stage floor, was able to provide better effects that gradually drove perspective scenery from the stage. People also began to use gas in 1803—and, electricity made it possible to control lighting as never before. It also reduced the need for the actors to work on the apron part of the stage in front or barly in the proscenium. When, in the last quarter of the 19th century, the lights began to be turned off regularly in the house during the performance, the experience of going to the theater was made to seem less like a social event and more like an experience in observation.
19th Century
Here's an example of a modern day Theater in the round.
here's a nice video about it too!
18th century

With the Enlightenment in the mid-18th cent. there was a revival of classicism (ancient Greek principles in art and literature, associated with harmony and restraint) and the unity of place was strictly observed by designers. They experimented with strong darks and lights and tried for the first time to infuse their designs with atmosphere. Toward the end of the century the curtain was first lowered to change the scene, and the scrim (gauze drop that becomes transparent when lit from behind) came into use.

Lighting became a problem only when the theaters were entirely enclosed. At that time Firelights and reflectors were mainly used on the stage, and footlights came into use. Later chandeliers became fashionable. also they used colored lights using glass and shining it through, to make colored waterand shadows were painted on the flats. The house was not darkened for the performance.

The renaissance of scene design began in Italy. Sebastiano Serlio, in his Architettura (some type of book), interpreted what he thought were classic ideas on perspective and published the first designs on the definitive types of sets to be used for tragedy, palaces, comedy, and street scenes. The first permanent theater in Italy, the Teatro Olimpico , was an attempt to recreate the Roman type of stage with five permanent perspectives.

Vincenzo Scamozzi employed a "solid drop" background and enlarged the central stage arch to make one perspective. In the early 17th cent., Giovanni Battista was the first to use flats (painted canvas stretched over wooden frames) with decorative props painted on them, and in 1618 he introduced the proscenium arch. Later in the century the mechanical innovations of Giacomo Torelli facilitated the simultaneous rapid shift of all the flats.

Nicolo Sabbattini wrote on the use of lighting in the 16th century and in addition, they developed footlights and techniques for colored lights and for the dimming of lights. From the Renaissance period until the triumph of gas lighting in the mid-19th century, great use was made of lamps and candles. Although they caused smell, smoke and work to implement , ingenious effects were produced.

A revolution in scene design occurred in the late 17th century, with the use of multiple perspectives by Ferdinando Galli Bibiena. He used either two points of perspective or only one placed indiscriminately. The great scene designers of the period were also the great architects and artists. Their designs, baroque and heavy with movement and detail, became increasingly fussy; the set, in conflict with the actor, became the main attraction.

In France the first permanent theater had been the Hôtel de Bourgogne, and in England, the Theater, later known as the Globe). The early English designer Inigo Jones was influenced by the Italians, although in his time scenery was reserved for court spectacles. Shakespeare's plays were given on a bare stage. The Restoration period saw the development of a "popular" theater, although it was still mostly for the upper classes.

The 17th century
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