Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 28

death mask provide a precise visual state- The author conclud es this two chapter thesis
ment of th e biographical material.
by showing the development of ballet cosIn presenting the principles that Appia de- tume as it came under the influence of the
veloped and professed, Mr. Vol bach has rococo, the nineteenth century "antiquarian"
made a clear and uncluttered statement. force and finally the vanguard, Isadora DunThese principles are so widely misunder- can and Serge Diaghilev. The presentation
stood or only fragmentarily understood that of twentieth century theatre costume, in the
this book should do much to clarify them. concluding chapter, is disappointing. While
Perhaps then we shall see them put into most of the material in the book is rendered
in a concise style the information on twentipractice on more occasions.
eth century costuming receives, at best, a
A first study such as this can never be cursory treatment. Mr. Laver has adequately
definitive. Wisely, Mr. Vol bach has recog- reported the trends that occurred in theatrinized this and has called his study A PRO- cal costume during the first twenty years of
FILE. Definitive or not, th'is is not just this century, but the material used to access
ground-breaking but a study in depth and the decades following the 1920's can be
all future studies will have to acknowledge fairly described as a list. This Iist of names,
their debt to it. For myself, I am most places and dates is too infrequently undergrateful to Mr. Volbach for this enlightened scored with the incisive commentary seen
work and anticipate with pleasure the further elsewhere in the book.
works on Appia's writing which he has
For many readers the illustrations will be
promised us.
the major attribute of this work. AI most one
Henry J. Kurth half of the book is devoted to the one hunCase Western Reserve University dred and seventy-four excellent costume
plates used to illustrate the text. This sizeable selection of black and white reproductions include examples of aquatints, drawCostume in the Theatre, by James Laver.
ings, engravings and photographs and in
New York: Hill and Wang; 1964 pp. xi +
them there are many styles, designers and
212, IIlus. $6.50. (Paper-A Dramabook. periods represented. Well over three quar$1.95)
ters of the illustrations are from the vast reJames Laver, one of the more prolific writers sources of the Victoria and Albert museum's
on the subject of fashion, has contributed a print collection. Mr. Laver, once Keeper of
new work to a small group of books that Prints and Drawings, was instrumental in
trace the history of theatrical costume. This the creation of this ambitious collection of
compact, well-illustrated survey seems par- artifacts.
ticularly well suited to the general student Costume in the Theatre is certainly not a
of theatre, although it might also provide significant new appraisal of the history of
some scene designers, directors and that theatrical costume. However, it is a satisever growing community of academicians factory overview of the subject made parwith a better understanding of the historical ticularly successful by efficient handling of
development of theatre costume.
source materials. It makes use of carefully
The nine short chapters of Costume in the
Theatre deal with costume in a theatre history context. Several chapters are used to
isolate and more carefully develop specific
genres, in particular Shakespearean, ballet
and opera costume. In the main, however,
the book proceeds from the costumes of
the primitive ritualistic theatre event past the
normal milestones of theatre history into the
twentieth century. Especially interesting is
a well documented treatise on the oftentimes bizarre and certainly theatrical costumes and character that were part of the
multifaceted drama of the Middle Ages.
Further on Laver presents vivid accounts of
sixteenth and seventeenth century pageants
and glorious court masques that nurtured the
development of ballet and opera. This is
followed by an all too brief chapter on the
costume of the Commedia dell' Arte and a
lengthy discourse on Shakespearean costume from the contemporary costuming of
the bard's plays to Sir Barry Jackson's
1925, "modern dress," production of Hamlet. A fairly sizeable segment of the book is
devoted to the development of ballet costume from the late 1630's through the
nineteenth century. Here Laver does an excellent job of explaining of the transition
from the decorative flavor of such seventeenth century designers as the Berains and
Gissey to the quieter and infinitely lighter
designs of Boucher, Gillet and Bouquet.


selected illustrations and examples fused
with the findings of such familiar scholars
as M. Bieber, A. Nicoll, C. Beaumont
coupled with the experienced commentary,
opinion and interpretation of James Laver.
Leon I. Brauner
University of California at
Santa Barbara

The Mask of Reality: An Approach to Design for Theatre, by Irene Corey. Anchorage,
Kentucky: Anchorage Press, 1968; pp. 124,
illus. $20.
Every now and then an artist comes along
who renders life in a language of fresh
imagery. Such an artist is Irene Corey. Her
vision and craftsmanship ennoble the calling
of the dramatic designer. In her book, The
Mask of Reality, the reader glimpses a
stage world that is a combination of imagination and keen perception. I say "gl impse"
with aforethought, because I know her
world and I have witnessed the majority of
the productions which reflect this world in
The Mask of Reality. It is a world no book
can fully describe. I don't believe Irene
Corey herself is completely aware of the
scope of it.
The book is fact and theory, both in good
supply, and superbly illustrated. The facts
are bits and pieces of such classics as
Electra, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The
Taming of the Shrew, The Winter's Tale,
Murder in the Cathedral, The Miser, The
Crucible, th e Coreys' own Book of Job
and Romans by Saint Paul, and Reynard
the Fox and The Great Cross-Country Race,
for the children's corner. The theory by
which this designer works is the framework
upon which these fascinating excerpts are
There is plenty of philosophy for those with
a penchant for it. Most of it is good and
leads us to a better understanding of how
an artist organizes reality, or "separates th e
chaff from the grain," so to speak. The
part that is not so good deals with production protocol, that questionably respected
pile of sweepings from great artists of the
past over which academic ritual presides.
Fortunately the message of the book does
not depend on it. An artist of the brill iance
of Irene Corey surmounts it.
The real thrill comes from watching a master artist use period without historical fetish,
discover unlikely materials for precisely the
righ t visual statement, and create products
which in no way depend upon the physical
environment of a particular theatre. Haply,
the book could be retitled "A Visual Theatre
for Everyman" because there is no dramatic
situation in costume, make-up and scene
design which will not profit by its lessons.
Irene Corey belongs to no "school of
thought" because her work is entirely original. She is truly a designer for all the
seasons of our years.
James Hull Miller
Shreveport, Louisiana

The 1970 USITT Annual Conference will
be held April 15 through 18 in New York
City, at the Barbizon Plaza Hotel. A stimulating four-day session is being planned by


Conference Chairman David Thayer. For fur'
ther details in advance of the published
convention program, write: USITI Conference, 245 West 52nd Street, New York,
N.Y. 10019.




Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969

Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 1
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 2
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 3
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - Contents
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 5
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 6
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 7
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 8
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 9
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 10
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 11
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 12
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 13
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 14
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 15
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 16
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 17
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 18
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 19
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 20
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 21
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 22
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 23
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 24
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 25
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 26
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 27
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 28
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 29
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 30
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 31
Theatre Design & Technology - Dec 1969 - 32