A look at theatre > Modern scenography

Frank Raven, décor design for Hamlet (William Shakespeare), Act Five, Scene I,  at the Publiekstheater in Amsterdam, water colour, sepia and silver paint, 1976

Modern décor and costume designs (scenography) illustrate the developments that took place within the Dutch theatrical world starting in 1900 and until the present day. The designs created by cutting-edge artists in the early 20th century demonstrate how the décors, and sometimes also the costumes, had evolved to become much more than the illustrative background of a play. Their form and colour were meant to underline the meaning of a play or opera.

After World War II, designers (scenographs) continued in the new tradition. Their designs influenced the interpretation of stage plays, ballets and operas. At one time, these designs gave directors and actors rehearsing the play something to go by for the stage setting and the way the various roles were to be rendered. Of course, they also served as a point of reference for the scenery people and the costume designers. Together with scale-models, costumes, videotape and photographs, these designs are now an important source for material that allows us to reconstruct past theatrical performances.

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