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What Are You Gonna Do About Practitioners?

An Unconventional Lifestyle, Art & Theatre Blog


In The Past

in the past

This section presents Practitioners which had an impact on theatre and its development. I put those names down, because I was interested in their lives and thoughts and want to make the reader aware of their work. I see some of them as inspirations and role models of nowadays design’s. It will include playwrights, designers, directors and producers of different times. You will find my sources for this research in the bibliography section of my blog.  



Rodney Ackland (1908-1991)

  • english playwright, actor, theatre director, screenwriter

  • collaborated with Hitchcock

  • collaborated with Rattigan

  • his play “the Pink Room” received a demolishing critic, which lead to him rewriting it and a nearly 40 year break of playwriting at all.


Leonid Andrejew (1871-1919)

  • russian writer

  • “The Life of Man” was the first symbolist drama in Russia.

  • featured nameless characters

  • In “Someone in Grey”, the scenery was made out of ropes and staged in a black box. The costumes covered the performers in black velvet and only their silhouette was emphasized. Recorded sound was played to their movements.


Adolphe Francois Appia (1862-1928)

  • swiss stage and lighting designer

  • famous for idea of unity between elements on stage

  • saw potential on electric stage lighting and as an expressive tool rather than just illumination

  • Appia was inspired by Wagner and saw music as the condition for any other art. On stage the two dimensional scenery bothered him and the lighting from the sides. Appia invented a system, where the lights come from above and therefore throw more realistic shadows. His book “Aesthetic Principles of the Modern Designer” had a huge impact on Europe and US theatres. Appia combines all arts on stage: Space, Actor, Costume, Setting and Light. He even started considering projecting scenery on movable slides.


Achim von Arnim (1781-1831)

  • german poet

  • tried to start a german revolution against Napoleon

  • part of the literary movement of romanticism


Antonin Artaud (1896-1948)

  • french actor, director and poet

  • surrealist

  • his radical ideas for the theatre inspired and influenced generations of theatre-makers

  • strong influence on avant-garde movement

  • created Theatre of Cruelty

  • theatre was seen as soul therapy and should prevent audience from practice violence in future

  • wanted to touch the unconsciousness

  • inspired by Freud

  • speeches did not need to be meaningful; the intonation was important




Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962)

  • french professor of philosophy

  • literary criticism

  • explored creativity of imagination


Roland Barthes (1915-1980)

  • french philosopher, literary critic

  • influenced many theoretic tendencies


Pina Bausch (1940-2009)

  • german ballet dancer, teacher and choreographer

  • contemporary style


Lilian Baylis (1874-1937)

  • english theatre producer, manager

  • worked at the “Old Vic”

  • when her interest in Shakespeare grew, she decided to mainly produce Shakespeare plays

  • intensive promotion of Shakespeare's work to make it unforgettable for future generations


Binkie Beaumont (1908-1973)

  • british theatre manager and producer

  • one of the most successful West End managers/producers of the 20th century

  • 1936 foundation of his own production company, after he was unsatisfied with the productions at the West End

  • He brought huge productions, famous casts to the West End and calculated what would appeal to the West End audience. He staged nw plays, revivals and classics. He also worked with Gielgud and Coward.  


Simone de Beauvoir (1908- 1986)

  • french writer, feminist and philosopher

  • influence on existentialism and feminist movement

  • open relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre


Julian Beck (1925-1985) and Judith Malina (1926-2015)

  • american director, poet, writer

  • american writer, actress

  • founded “The Living Theatre”

  • influenced by Artaud


Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)

  • irish playwright, novelist, theatre director, poet

  • his work offers an dark outlook on human existence

  • famous for: “Waiting for Godot”

  • counted into Theatre of the Absurd


Brendan Francis Aidan Behan (1923-1964)

  • irish playwright, poet, novelist

  • seen as one of Ireland’s greatest writers

  • “The Quare Fellow” was his breakthrough


Aphra Behn (1640-1689)

  • writer, playwright, poet, dramatist

  • first professional female writer in UK

  • pioneer of female voice


Walter Benjamin (1892-1940)

  • german philosopher, essayist

  • friend of Bertolt Brecht

  • 2oth century thinkers and modern aesthetics


Herbert Blau (1926- 2013)

  • american director, critic and writer on topics regarding life performances and theatre

  • co-founder of Actor’s Workshop in San Francisco

  • directed first production of Mother Courage from Brecht

  • wrote "The Audience"


Alexander Alexandrowitsch Blok (1880-1921)

  • russian poet

  • 2nd generation of symbolists

  • use of romanticism as tool to show a world of illusion and to step into a “higher reality”


Augusto Boal (1931-2009)

  • brazilian theatre director

  • theatre can make social impact

  • theatre should help audience to solve real issues, situations


Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956)

  • german poet, playwright, theatre director

  • developed the Epic Theatre

  • collaborated with Caspar Neher

  • mainly influenced by Büchner and Wedekind

  • developed brass-buying theory

  • founded Arnold Bronnen/ Bertolt Brecht company

  • created “Verfremdungseffekt” to turn audience into participants rather than passive voyeurs


André Breton (1896-1966)

  • french poet

  • one of the most important surrealists

  • wrote manifesto

  • surrealistic art should show the inner landscape to the audience

  • inspired by Freud’s


Peter Brook (1925-2015)

  • english director

  • most famous show: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 1970

  • always tried to create meaningful theatre

  • founded “Centre International de Recherche Théâtrale”


Wilhelm Busch (1832-1908)

  • german artist

  • inventor of illustrated stories

  • exaggerated characters

  • pessimistic point of view;  


Georg Büchner (1813-1837)

  • german writer

  • most important dramatist of his epoch

  • politically active and supported revolutionary tendencies

  • famous for “Woyzeck”; “Leonce and Lena”; “Lenz”

  • through absurd elements he denounced social and political issues;

  • nihilistic main characters



Albert Camus (1913-1960)

  • french writer and philosopher

  • won nobel prize for literature

  • worked with absurdity

  • famous for “The Plague” and “The Myth of Sisyphus”

  • sometimes announced as existentialist

Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

  • russian playwright, writer

  • use of grotesque names, extraordinary stylistic devices

  • his writings reflects his consciousness about political problems and social concerns

  • created special kind of mood

  • impressed by Tolstoi’s idea

  • 1887-1890 he focused on writing plays

  • tried vaudevilles and four-act-plays


Paul Claudel (1868-1955)

  • french writer and poet

  • wrote religious plays with little action and loads of poetry

  • symbolic style and featured rituals

  • Lugné-Poe, who staged Claudel’s plays, introduced music as the element, which touched off the poetic speech. Later: spoken lines to music were used to create “inner thrill”.


Matthias Claudius (1740-1815)

  • german poet

  • belongs to the time period of sentimentalism


Jean Cocteau (1899-1963)

  • french writer, director, painter

  • created striking and unique visual images

  • collaborated with Picasso and Apollinaire on “Parade”

  • worked with Erik Satie’s music

Jacque Copeau (1879-1949)

  • french actor, manager, dramatist

  • opened left bank theatre

  • reinvented classical plays

  • worked in New York and tried thrust stage

  • set should be simple and functional suggestions rather than a complete picture

  • founded school


Noel Coward (1899-1973)

  • playwright, composer, director, actor, singer

  • known for his wit

  • published more than 50 plays


Edward Gordon Craig (1872-1966)

  • english actor, director, designer, producer, theorist

  • major influence on theatre of the 20th century

  • denounced realism and in “The Art of Theatre”, he showed how a release and a transformation into poetic drama is possible

  • the director’s concept should combine all elements of a performance. incapacitated actors as “Über-marionettes”;

  • actors = embody the Director’s ideas and not create or enhance the play with their personality

  • scenes for Craig depicted more an atmosphere then a location

  • prefered simplicity and the use of vertical lines in the set design, let the actors appear rather small

  • his new principles of design, inspired many practitioners.



Émile Jaques Dalcroze (1865-1950)

  • swiss composer

  • figured out that music and not speech contains expression

  • background from rhythmic gymnastics

  • to enhance the importance of the performer, Dalcroze only needed a bare hall and overhead-lighting to showcase his productions

  • Critics and the audience disliked this. They still prefered the richly decorated sets.

  • Dalcroze laid a milestone with his ideas about rhythm; he defined it as the physical expression of the abstract time and space


Shelagh Delaney (1938-2011)

  • english dramatist and playwright

  • “A Taste of Honey” was her debut and it was staged by Littlewood

  • She was said to be the “answer” to the Angry Young Man.


George Alexander Cassady Devine (1910-1966)

  • english theatre manager, director, teacher, actor

  • worked for the Motley Design Group as business manager

  • 1932 invited Gielgud to direct a performance of Romeo and Juliet

  • opened the Old Vic Theatre School

  • formed a plan for a radical new theatre company

  • wanted to get writers back into the theatre

  • founded in 1955 the English Stage Company




T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

  • american lyricist

  • revived verse drama

  • aim: create successful poetic drama for 20th century audience

Lajos Egri (1888-1967)

  • hungarian journalist and writer

  • founded “Egri School of Writing” in the US

  • famous for book “The Art of Dramatic Writing”

  • instructions are still used and taught to create scripts, novels and plays




Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

  • french academic, philosopher

  • looked into the relationship between knowledge and power

  • researched the topics insanity and madness

Max Frisch (1911-1991)

  • swiss novelist, journalist, playwright

  • search and construction of identity are his main topics

  • famous for “Andorra” and “Homo faber”




John Gielgud (1904-2000)

  • english actor and director

  • dominated english stages with Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier

  • joined “Old Vic” in 1929 with Lilian Baylis

  • famous for “Richard 2.” production


Jean Giraudoux (1882-1994)

  • french dramatist

  • leading dramatist in France between the wars

  • famous for “Electra”

  • made parallel between greek saga and modern topics


Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832)

  • german poet, writer, thinker

  • influenced by Herder

  • started in the period of Storm and Stress; influenced through Enlightenment and started the literary movement of classicism

  • famous for “The Sorrows of Young Werther” and “Faust”

  • realist


Nikolai Wassiljewitsch Gogol (1809-1852)

  • russian poet and writer

  • inspired by human emotions

  • difficult to classify him; could be realism, symbolism, romanticism, classicism

  • tried to explore Russia’s future path through his art

  • used loads of alliterations, metaphors and created a special rhythm through an unordinary arrangement of his words


Martha Graham (1894-1991)

  • modern dancer, choreographer

  • first who performed in the White House

  • her style is still taught worldwide

  • 1958 debut of “Clytemnestra” which became a huge success


Harley Granville-Barker (1877-1946)

  • edwardian era

  • english actor, playwright, manager, critic, theorist

  • co-operated with George Bernhard Shaw

Lady Augusta Gregory (1852-1932)

  • irish dramatist, theatre manager

  • co-founder of the Irish Literary Theatre, Abbey Theatre

  • through political struggles, she converted to cultural nationalism in her written work

Jacob Grimm (1785-1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786-1859)

  • german librarians

  • part of “Göttinger Sieben”, which protested against the abolition of the constitution

  • famous for collection of legends and myths

  • unified german language through writing the first german dictionary


Jerzy Grotowski (1933-1999)

  • polish theatre director, performer

  • founded the Laboratory Theatre, which focussed on researching the actor- audience relationship




Peter Hall (1930-2017)

  • british director

  • founded Royal Shakespeare Company and later Peter Hall Company

  • 1955 directed successfully “Waiting for Godot” and this production kickstarted his career

  • Through his dedication for theatre, he supported its development and productions of contemporary and classical text in a recognizable style were established.

Oscar Hammerstein (1895-1960)

  • american librettist, theatre producer and director

  • won 8 Tony Awards

  • His most successful and sustained collaboration began with Richard Rodgers.


Gerhart Hauptmann (1862-1946)

  • german writer

  • won nobel prize for literature

  • was considered as political poet

  • famous for “The Weaver”

  • started including social criticism in naturalistic set plays. These kind of “reports” were highly objective and the author aimed at showing his point of view.

  • visionary scenes were written in lyrical verse.


Friedrich Hebbel (1813-1863)

  • german dramatist

  • featured female main characters


Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)

  • german writer, lyricist

  • politically engaged and commented europe’s and germany’s situation in his writings

  • most of his writing was censored or prohibited

  • his writing has a specific rhythm


Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803)

  • german thinker, philosoph

  • student of Kant

  • developed philosophy of history


Hermann Hesse (1877-1962)

  • german writer

  • won nobel prize of literature

  • rebellion of the individual, psychological creation of identity, oppression were his main topics

  • became pacifist and wrote letters to young germans to influence them

  • balance of spirit and soul and askese became his later topics

Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann (1776-1822)

  • german writer, painter, musician, componist

  • famous for “The Sandman”

  • highly interested in the shadow sides of society


Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929)

  • austrian poet, dramatist

  • co-founder of the “Salzburger Festspiele”

  • collaborated with Richard Strauss on different opera libretti

  • combined lyrical poetry and symbolism to give the stage and the character's life a dreamlike quality. With the poetry he tried to evoke “state of soul”. He desired characters striped bare from their personality and therefore, reconciled art, dream and reality.

  • followed Maeterlinck's ideas and borrowed from greek myths.

Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843)

  • german writer

  • used antique verse metre

  • his anti-classicism inspired Nietzsche

  • created theory which combined philosophy, religion and science and reflected human behaviour in poetry




Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)

  • norwegian playwright, theatre director, poet

  • in earlier play: included controversial elements about trusting the individuals and not the mass

  • later: explores psychological elements, as well

  • naturalists and the symbolists acknowledge Ibsen as master

  • encountered as father of the realism

  • In European Theatres strict morals have been modelled and Ibsen was one of the first, who expanded the realism behind the facades.

  • provided the important foundation for the modern theatre.

  • Ibsen used symbolic characters and covered them in a too realistic world.

  • his plays became huge metaphors


Eugène Ionesco (1912-1994)

  • french-romanian writer

  • counted to “Theatre of the Absurd”

  • tried to express the absence of meaning of life

  • famous for “Améde”, “Rhinoceros”


Wolfgang Iser (1926-2007)

  • german literary scholar

  • theory of “Reader’s Response” had a huge impact on literary critics

  • involved in founding the school of reception aesthetics



Alfred Jarry (1873-1907)

  • french writer

  • the first who broke with naturalism and symbolism

  • lived in poverty around Montmartre

  • he gave explicit stage directions for his plays

  • created Ubu roi

  • the stage was a mirror, which distorted the characters in their proportions and masks distorted the characters faces in itself. There was only a minimum of decoration on stage

  • founded the science of imaginary solutions, called “Pataphysics”

  • his collège of Pataphysics was an institution which refused to serve any purpose

Gertrude E. Jennings (1877-1959)

  • playwright

  • notable one-act plays

  • pioneer of women writing




Franz Kafka (1883-1924)

  • german speaking writer

  • most of his work was published by Max Brod after his death

  • immense use of parables

  • famous for “Metamorphosis” and “The Judgement”

  • his novels are nowadays often turned into plays


Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

  • german philosoph

  • defined borders of rational thinking

  • shaping character in the movement of enlightenment

  • created the categoric imperative

  • he understood enlightenment as a constant challenge for each human being


Tadeusz Kantor (1915-1990)

  • polish artist, theatre director, writer and designer

  • admirer of Edward Gordon Craig

  • avantgardist

  • founded Cricot 2 to explore non-realistic movements in theatre


Jerome Kern (1885-1945)

  • american composer of musical theatre and popular music

  • created a lot of Broadway musicals

  • He innovated the 4/4 dance rhythm, syncopation and jazz progression for musicals.

  • Edna Ferber’s “Show Boat” impressed him and he collaborated with Hammerstein for the production.


Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724-1803)

  • german poet

  • belongs to time period of sentimentalism

  • influenced the lyric in the 18th century

  • developed utopia of a science and literature based society



Rudolf Laban (1878-1958)

  • hungarian dancer, choreograph and dance theoretiker

  • famous for Labanotation, which were used by Joan Littlewood’s theatre workshop

  • studied movement and energy used to change positions

  • developed notation to make it possible to write down positions

  • pioneered modern dance in Europe


David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930)

  • english novelist, poet, playwright, literary critic, painter

  • wrote “Woman in Love”

  • In his art he pointed out the dehumanizing effects of the industrialisation and modernisation.


Jacques Lecoq (1921-1999)

  • french actor, instructor

  • opened school “L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq”

  • aim: produce a generation of young theatre-makers

  • trained actors in physical theatre

  • used masks

  • body movement were more important than the facial expression

  • notable students

Henri Lefebvre (1901-1991)

  • french philosopher

  • influence on human geography and urban planning


Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1780)

  • german writer and critic

  • believed value of a human being lies in his efforts to find the truth and not in the “truth” itself

  • wrote “tolerant dramas”

  • transformed into a play: “Nathan the Wise”


Maudie Joan Littlewood (1914-2002)

  • theatre director

  • best known for the development of the Theatre Workshop

  • her production of “Oh, what a lovely war!” was one of the most influential pieces

  • received a Tony Award

  • She is said to be the ”Mother of Modern Theatre”


Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936)

  • spanish poet, painter, musician

  • surrealist

  • created trilogy of poetic folk-tragedies




Thomas Mann (1875-1955)

  • german writer

  • won the nobel prize for literature

  • representative of german literature; even if he believed in cosmopolitanism

  • famous for his family saga of the “Buddenbrooks”; nowadays turned into a film


Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949)

  • belgian writer

  • placed his plays in mystical spheres and draw inspiration from medieval subjects and used the old-fashioned allegorical writing as a style

  • style of the actors was too realistic for the poetic drama

  • poetry tried to reveal the invisible mystery of life; Maeterlinck was afraid, that if we remain realistic, we remain ignorant towards the external world.

  • His drama only had psychological action and no movement. His characters appeared therefore allusive and the dialogue was interrupted by long pauses.


Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1874-1944)

  • italian writer

  • founded the italian futurism and the music hall became the model for the new drama

  • comical distortions became en vogué


Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961)

  • french philosopher

  • challenged separations of mind and body

  • related to existentialism


Vsevolod Meyerhold (1874-1940)

  • russian director, producer, writer and actor

  • challenged naturalism

  • avantgardist

  • symbolism

  • transformed theatre- aesthetics after the revolution

  • developed “biomechanics”

  • theoretical concepts can be found in his book “On Stage” (1913)

  • emotional state of actor had to be linked to his physical state/ use of method acting

Agnes George de Mille (1905-1993)

  • american dancer and choreographer

  • 1939 first significant work for Aaron Copland's Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo

  • included her ballet repertory into musicals like “Oklahoma!” to show the troubled emotional insight of the heroine

  • success in Broadway did not continue in Hollywood

  • later worked with the same core of dancers regularly

  • She revolutionized musical theatre by creating choreographies which enhanced the plot. The dance began to reflect the fears and thoughts of the character and it supported the acting.

  • 1973 foundation of the Agnes de Mille Dancing Theatre, which was later revived as Heritage Dance Theatre


Arthur Miller (1915-2005)

  • playwright, essayist

  • left his first wife for Marilyn Monroe

  • won Pulitzer Prize for Drama



Caspar Neher (1897-1962)

  • set designer of most of Brecht’s plays

  • helped creating distinctive look for epic theatre

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

  • german philosopher

  • sceptical culture theory

  • developed theory of the opposites from Apollo and Dionysus

  • believed in the senselessness of the world

  • criticized Metaphysics and Religion as tools used by the power-hungry

  • his theories inspired many sceptical thinkers and writer

Novalis (1772-1801)

  • german poet, writer

  • poetry equaled for him the conquest of death

  • wrote an utopian novel, where he combined science and art



Laurence Olivier (1907-1989)

  • actor

  • performed successfully in Gielgud’s “Richard 2.” production

Clifford Odets (1906-1963)

  • american playwright, screenwriter, director

  • wrote socially relevant dramas

  • inspired several playwright like Arthur Miller

  • His style is distinguished by a poetic, metaphoric loaded street talk.

  • Characters were more important to him then the actual plot.


Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953)

  • american playwright

  • won Nobel prize of Literature

  • introduced drama techniques to realism

  • his characters are on the edge of society and struggle to maintain their hopes

  • includes tragedy and personal pessimism

  • He was one of the first who included speeches in american vernacular.

John Osborne (1929-1994)

  • english playwright, screenwriter, actor

  • known for his prose and intense critical points of view regarding social and political standards



Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936)

  • italian writer

  • famous for: “Six Characters in Search for an Author”

  • won nobel prize for literature

  • revival of dramatic and scenic art through writing


Plato (c.427-347 BC)

  • greek philosopher

  • student of Sokrates

  • greatest influences on western culture


Alexander Sergejewitsch Puschkin (1799-1837)

  • russian poet, writer

  • formalist




Marie Rambert (1888-1982)

  • polish dancer

  • great influence on british ballet as dancer and teacher

  • choreographed “Rodeo” for touring european troupe “Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo”


Terence Rattigan (1911-1977)

  • english playwright and famous dramatist

  • plays are normally set in an upper-middle class background

  • his success as a playwright came early in 1937

  • He saw writing still as craftsmanship and this was classed as “old-fashioned” after the war.

Richard Rodgers (1902-1979)

  • american composer for songs, musicals, films and television

  • won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony and Pulitzer Prize for his work

  • known for collaborations with Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein




Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980)

  • french philosopher, dramatist

  • existentialist

  • man is a lonely creature, driving by anxiety and despair and exists in a meaningless world

  • person needs to adopt some social casualties to find identity and purpose


Erik Satie (1866-1925)

  • french composer and pianist

  • movements include: avant-garde, dadaism, surrealism, minimalism, theatre of the absurd, repetitive music

  • Acosta Danza (Mermaid)


Herbert Scherreiks (1930-2016)

  • american-german production designer

  • made castle “Zwergapfelkern”

  • used three dimensional elements to present costumes and set designs

  • saw inspirational exhibition at the Buchheim Museum about his work


Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805)

  • german writer, poet, thinker

  • started in period of storm and stress

  • started the weimar classicism with Goethe

  • famous for “the Robber”

  • idealist

  • shaped idea of aesthetic education through theatre


Oskar Schlemmer (1888-1943)

  • german painter, sculptor, theatre designer

  • associated with Bauhaus School

  • famous for triadic ballet


George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

  • irish playwright, critic

  • won Nobel Prize in Literature

  • Granville-Barker and Vedrenne staged 14 of his play

  • He introduced a new-realism into english language drama and established a more provocative modern drama.


Lee Simonson (1888-1967)

  • american stage designer

  • New American Stagecraft Movement

  • abstract designs

Laurence Sterne (1713-1768)

  • english- irish writer

  • writer of Tristram Shandy

  • one of the first novels which features non-linear elements in storytelling

August Strindberg (1849-1912)

  • swedish artist and writer

  • searched for the expansion of naturalistic of drama to reveal reality beneath surface

  • inspired by the symbolism movement

  • created the “Dream Play”. Those plays appear like phantasies and evoke hypnotic emotions.

  • combined rhythm with symbolic language.


Josef Svoboda (1920-2002)

  • czech artist, scenic designer

  • father of modern theatre design

  • co-founder of Laterna Magika Theatre

  • innovative use of lighting

John Millington Synge (1871-1909)

  • irish playwright, poet

  • poems: fin-de-siècle style

  • temperate nationalist

  • wrote “The Playboy of the Western World”

  • He is a key figure for the revival of the Irish Literature and was involved in the foundation of the Abbey Theatre.




Josephine Tey/ Gordon Daviot (1896-1952)

  • scottish author and playwright

  • pseudonym used by Elizabeth MacKintosh

  • wrote famous mystery novels

Lew Nikolajewitsch Tolstoi (1828-1910)

  • russian writer

  • describes things like he would see them for the first time

  • his writings features simples phases and detailed descriptions

  • stylistic use of parallelism

  • tried to find the answer how mankind should live; formulated rules which are inspired by christianity; only his fame kept him safe from the anger of the authority

Tristan Tzara (1896-1963)

  • rumanian writer

  • co-founded and promoted Dadaism

  • aim: abolishment of all order, manners

  • featured senseless art and shocked audience



Richard Wagner (1813-83)

  • founder and supporter of  music drama

  • changed the movement away from the 19th century realism; his drama is based on archetypes and myth

  • key figure in the development of drama. He changed the movement away from the 19th century of realism and his drama is based on archetypes and myth.

  • discovered that the audience oral perception can be enhanced, if the orchestra is placed below the stage level.

Christoph Martin Wieland (1733-1813)

  • german translator, writer and publisher

  • introduced authorial narrator in Germany

  • wrote educational books

  • translated Shakespeare, Horaz and Cicero into prose;


Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

  • irish playwright, novelist, poet

  • following movement of aestheticism

  • He irritated the Victorian Society and challenged it through his comedies of society

  • literatur = perfect expression of life and evoking emotions the highest goal, art could achieve.

  • before “Salomé” was staged, the Lord of Chamberlain triggered law, which forbids staging biblical characters. Lugné-Poe saw his advantage and staged the play in France, while Wilde was in Prison and never saw his play.


Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)

  • playwright of many staged classics

  • got many ideas from his dysfunctional family

  • famous for “A Streetcar named Desire”



William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

  • irish poet

  • won the Nobel Prize in Literature

  • involved in foundation of Abbey Theatre

  • symbolism had to alter literature

  • rejected realism

  • in dramas are the simplifications of characters and actions in the foreground

  • Craig designed for him

  • speech should get most of the attention

  • wrote slow paced, lyrical poets and is counted into the symbolist movement

  • He was the driving force behind the revival of Irish Literature and had an important impact on 20th century literature.




This section features Practitioner’s on either shows I have seen or shows I would like to see. To help you understand, who those people are, I added their professional direction, the name of the show which made me aware of them and I try to explain, what I liked or disliked about their designs. In case, you are interested in their work: just follow the link!


Marina Abramovic (1946)

  • serbian performer and artist

  • investigated the social responsibility of art

  • In the Tate Museum of Modern Art was a section displaying the objects she used for “Rhythm 0”;

  • her bravery is impressive; she seemed to trust the audience enough to explore the boundaries of the actor-audience relationship even if uncontrollable risks arose for her



Carlos Acosta (1973)

  • cuban dancer and choreographer for classical and contemporary dances

  • trained at the National Ballet School of Cuba

  • performed worldwide for leading companies

  • Acosta Danza (21.10.2017 at the Hippodrome in Birmingham)

  • The choreographies of his company moved me deeply and evoke an emotionally responds on a level, where language cannot reach any human’s mind. To experience that the loss of language can be an advantage and worked in a compelling performance, is astonishing,  



Laurie Anderson (1947)

  • american artist

  • rejects realism

  • pioneered multi-media performances

  • challenges her audience by playing with space, audio, objects, scale etc.

  • learned about her through reading: The Routledge companion to theatre and performance



Ron Athey (1961)

  • american artist

  • want to bring audience out of their comfort zone and challenge their opinion on topics like sexuality, desire, disease

  • tests moral and physical boundaries

  • learned about him through: The Routledge companion to theatre and performance





Eugenio Barba (1936)

  • italian director

  • analysed performing process

  • assisted Jerzy Grotowski

  • looked at the energy level (“Bios”) the performer had, before entering the stage

  • founded Odin Teatret

  • learned about him through: The Routledge companion to theatre and performance



Howard Barker (1946)

  • english dramatist, playwright and poet

  • wrote over 30 plays

  • he mystically appeared on this list and I cannot remember my initial thought when I wrote down his name; I assume the amount and diversity of work he created impressed me



Rustom Bharucha (1946)

  • indian theatre director

  • impacted future theatre-makers through his intercultural theories and practices

  • combining cultural elements enrich performances

  • learned about him through: The Routledge companion to theatre and performance



Christiane Bouger (1977)

  • theatre director, critic

  • from her various work her play “Ode to Persephone” interested me most;

  • to include the creation of sculptures in a plays is truly interesting

  • it would be interesting to find out the thought process behind this decision


Judith Butler (1956)



Hussein Chalayan (1970)

  • designer

  • fashion/ costume

  • Acosta Danza (Mermaid)

  • The Mermaid’s dress cleverly caress the dancer and was giving her enough space to move through asian inspired cut in the sidelines of the dress. Even though the bright red would not have been my first choice for the fabric. Personally, I would have prefered a dark green or blue to showcase her connection to the ocean.  



Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (1976)

  • choreographer

  • contemporary dance, theatre, ballet, opera, musical

  • Acosta Danza (Mermaid)

  • He choreographed my favourite part of Acosta Danza at the Hippodrome. This piece was called “The Mermaid.”


Alison Chitty (1948)

Bunny Christie (1962)

  • design

  • theatre

  • award- winning

  • worked for the National Theatre

  • designed “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time”

  • I have read Mark Haddon’s book and I would have loved seeing it on a stage. (So far, I have only seen pictures of the stage.) It was probably quite challenging to translate the well- depicted thoughts of the autistic main character into a play.


Frances Collier

  • design

  • production

  • The Tempest (Stafford Shakespeare Festival 2017)

  • The set combined three different location in one by immersing the ship (which will wreck in the tempest), Prospero’s hut (whose owner caused the tempest) and the beach of the island (where the shipwrecked and the few islanders’ will meet and plot against each other). “The Tempest” was based here in the 1934s and included italian colonialism and periodical costumes. The costumes were carefully orchestrated to the relationships between the characters and the magical island.



Ruth Collins

  • design

  • set

  • “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” The Crescent 2017

  • the set worked quite well and she combined the important locations within the set

  • the wardrobe was attached to the lift-able drop, which made it easier to let it appear and disappear again

Paule Constable

  • design

  • lighting

  • created the specific look for “War Horse”

  • I have not seen “War Horse” yet, but I watched the short videos on the website, which give an insight into the production process. It was really interesting to understand the reasons behind the tone of light and how Constable managed to create successfully the matching atmosphere for the production.

  • collaborated with Rae Smith


Laura Cordery

  • design

  • set and costume

  • she creates atmospheric adjustments of the real world, where the performers have space to settle in and play




Es Devlin (1971)

  • design

  • set

  • award- winning

  • started working for smaller productions; with the expansion of her portfolio, her collaborations became bigger

  • combines various elements, like film and light, to include in her sets

  • has a reliable team by her side to make her work possible

  • designed the world tour of “Batman Live”





Gianluca Falaschi   

  • design

  • costume

  • Perela at the Staatstheater Mainz

  • astonishing costumes, where Falaschi’s eye for the detail pays off

  • worked with Arturo Cirillo and many other prestigious theatre and opera directors


Richard Foreman (1937)

  • american writer, director, designer, avant-gardist

  • founded Ontological- Hysteric theatre

  • wrote and staged 50 of his own plays

  • combines various elements (like literature, philosophy etc) of 20th century cultural and artistic thoughts to create an unique and universal understanding within his audience



William Forsythe (1949)

  • american choreographer

  • reinvented the ballet through exploring interdisciplinary methods

  • self-study is in the limelight of his teaching

  • learned about him through: The Routledge companion to theatre and performance




Jimmy Grimes

  • designer and director

  • puppetry

  • “The Hundred And One Dalmatians”

  • the animal came to live through their movement; therefore the dogs had the most necessary parts to be seen as real animals

  • back legs were missing, but the head was quite detailed



Jamie Harrison

Michael Harrison


David Hersey (1939)

  • designer

  • lighting

  • Miss Saigon, Cats

  • award winning

  • collaborated with Trevor Nunn and John Napier on Les Misérables

  • past chairman of the Association of Lighting Designers

  • a very successful lighting designer who worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre and several West End productions


Susan Hilferty (1953)

  • designer

  • scenery/ costume

  • Wicked (musical)

  • She designed the Costumes for Wicked and her design enabled the audience to immerse with the magical world of Oz, through the diverse and extravagant costumes for the citizens. Especially the costumes for the flying monkeys were cleverly thought through and when Elphaba lifts off in “Defying Gravity”, her costume let her visually grow aside her personality.  



Kenny Holmes

  • design

  • lighting

  • “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” The Crescent 2017

  • the lighting created the atmosphere in the play and it worked very well together

Pamela Howard

  • scenographer, teacher

  • author: “What is Scenography?”

  • visual detective

  • she was mentioned in “The Cambridge Introduction to Scenography”


Max Humphries

  • designer/theatre maker

  • puppetry

  • Alice Underground Adventures

  • To create even more magical characters, les enfants terrible brought a puppetry designer to the table, who could bring the jabberwocky, a speaking frog and Absolem to life.

  • Better be prepared, if you risk having a look at his work: you will be astonished!




David Ian (1961)

  • producer

Robert Icke

  • writer and theatre director

  • Associate Director of Almeida Theatre in London

  • own adaption of Uncle Vanya and Mary Stuart

  • read about him in The Stage



Debbie Isitt

  • playwright/composer

  • adapted “The Hundred And One Dalmatians” for the stage

  • wrote Nativity! 1+2+3


Matthias Koch

  • design

  • set and costumes

  • created the world for my favourite opera “The Barber of Sevilla” (Staatstheater Mainz)

  • the production started at the Staatstheater Oldenburg

  • Koch staged Rossini’s opera in a magical, mystical underwater-world;


Ralph Koltai (1924)

  • design

  • set

  • his abstract set designs resemble symbolistic 3D- “painting” for me

  • here it can be seen how he probably combined his understanding of himself as a 3D- artist into his career as a designer  

  • his sets have undeniable recall value and they transport the audience into completely different worlds


David Korins


Ursula Kudrna

  • design

  • costumes

  • “Saul” Mainzer Staatstheater 2017

  • very extravang and matching to the characters; supported the story very well and explained the characters further



Chloe Lamford


Eugene Lee (1939)

Robert Lepage (1957)

  • canadian theatre director, playwright, filmmaker, artist

  • founded “Ex Machina” (multidisciplinary company)

  • multidisciplinary projects

  • worked with Cirque du Soleil

  • won award for “Circulations” in 1984




Jennet Marshall

  • design

  • costume

  • “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” The Crescent 2017

  • definitive not easy to get along with only the resources

  • Aslan worked, but it would have been nice, if he even had a bigger mane


Joseph Bisat Marshall

  • design

  • graphic and stage

  • collaboration with Ken Garland

  • worked for the Broadway and West End

  • interesting cross over from graphic design to set design; combines his knowledge of print/typography in his designs



Elaine J. McCarthy (1966)

  • designer

  • projection

  • Wicked (musical)

  • She designed the projection for Wicked, which supported the atmosphere of the world of Oz and made it even more magical.


Katie Mitchell (1964)




John Napier (1944)

  • designer

  • for example: Miss Saigon, Cats, Les Misérables

  • used specific technology to move the set for Les Misérables

  • collaborated with Trevor Nunn and David Hersey

  • extra-ordinary designs on a large scale with characteristic features



Trevor Nunn (1940)

  • theatre director

  • was artistic director of Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal National theatre

  • still: Theatre Royal, Haymarket

  • Tony Award for Cats and Les Misérables

  • collaborated with John Napier and David Hersey



Douglas O’Connell

  • design

  • video and projection

  • Sunset Boulevard (Birmingham Hippodrome 2017)

  • The video’s made Norma’s memories visible for the audience and made us feel with her. Personally, the projections made me understand Norma and I started seeing her miserable situation and I was not just judging her for disregarding her aging. For Sunset Boulevard the projection also brought to life the busy world of the filming industry and foreshadowed the ending in a very “gentle” way.  



Christopher Oram


Woojae Park

  • composer

  • contemporary

  • developed his own plectrum, plays a Korean harp, developed stroke styles that use the plectrum and bow

  • graduated from Korea National University of Arts

  • Acosta Danza (Mermaid)



Fabiani Piccioli

  • designer

  • lighting

  • Acosta Danza (Mermaid)

  • The lighting supported the dancers in the best way possible and put the struggles of the Mermaid and her humble steps on land in the limelight.


Diego Pitarch

  • designer/ architect

  • theatre

  • Crazy For You (UK Tour 2017)

  • He designed the set and the costumes for the musical “Crazy for You”. The standing set changed smoothly from the streets of New York, to a tiny theatre in the middle of nowhere. I really liked the framing and how easily the setting could changed. I only disliked that the curtain for the backdrop (showing the desert) was not wide enough and therefore some backstage constructions were visible.

The costumes matched the characters and the time period very well and made it easy for the audience to “read” their types.



Colin Richmond

  • design

  • set and costume

  • Sunset Boulevard (Birmingham Hippodrome 2017)

  • The stage could change very fast (through moving parts) from a filming studio to Norma’s house or to the bar. The backdrop and the sides were decorated with squares and even so it added tension, I am not sure, if this was a good decision. Personally, I found it really hard on the eye. I think I understand, why this decision was made, but I do think that there could have been a better solution. On one hand, the squares added to the story, because they constantly reminded the audience of a swimming pool and therefore presented a link to the ending. They created an extreme contrast of lines, which suggested how trapped Joe is and were part of the (golden) cage, Norma created for Joe. One the other side, they have been distracting and made it difficult to process the visuals. I would prefer, if they would have used bigger squares. This would have eased the audiences’ eyes.    

While the costumes for the main cast suited them very well, I have to admit, that I was not too keen on the presentation of the two bullies. In their suits they looked too “nice” and were hard to recognize as the “bad” guys.



Richard Schechner (1934)

Tom Scutt (1983)


Katharina Schlipf

  • design

  • set

  • “Saul” Mainzer Staatstheater 2017

  • the set changed a lot during the play and in the end it worked, but taking away the columns were a bit distracting and the entire storage room on the side of the stage was visible before the break

  • collaboration with director Lydia Steier


Chiharu Shiota (1972)


Rae Smith

  • design

  • production

  • famous for: “war horse”

  • method acting for design

  • works worldwide

  • very vivid drawings

  • her imaginative stages invite the audience to an unique visual journey



Lydia Steier

  • director

  • “Saul” Mainzer Staatstheater 2017

  • new spin on an old story and the “good” David is not as good as his text let him appear

  • her production sent a cold shiver down my back and created an unwell feeling in the end, when David triumphed and the new era, which is probably worse than the old one, began  

  • many collaborations with Katharina Schlipf


Stelarc (1946)

  • cypriot performance artist

  • his body is his art

  • embraces technology and uses it to enhance his body

  • very radical starting points to explore your own limits





  • designer

  • set & costume

  • Hairspray (UK Tour 2017)

  • The colourful costumes revived the 60s (or for the elderly generation the 50s) in a fresh and eccentric way and emphasized the character’s traits to make even more obvious, who is who.



Efter Tunç

  • design

  • set

  • award-winning

  • very difficult to find a lot of information about her

  • really like her play with lines and proportions in “Elixir of Love”




Jamie Vartan

  • design

  • set and costumes

  • “The Hundred And One Dalmatians”

  • lovely set and very good idea to have a little landscape in the background to show, where we are

  • the costumes were not that obvious, except the glamourous Cruella



Jan Versweyveld (1958)



Rosie Whitney-Fish

Frank Wildhorn (1959)

  • composer

  • musicals/ popular songs

  • Wonderland (UK Tour 2017)

  • started working on this musical in 1990s

  • Through his songs the story about Alice (in Wonderland) became a completely new spin and introduced strong-minded characters (at least Alice and her daughter) which have to face and accept their truest selves to defeat the evil queen.



Robert Wilson (1941)

  • american theatre-director, visual artist

  • combined elements of fine art, opera, dance and theatre

  • interdisciplinary productions puts visuals in the foreground

  • visually effective use of light

  • abstract, meaningful designs

  • famous for “Einstein on the Beach”



Paul Wills

  • design

  • theatre

  • designed recent “King Lear” with Ian McKellen (Chichester Festival 2017)

  • assisted Christopher Oram

  • read about him in The Stage



Robyn Wilton

  • design

  • Production and artistic filmmaker

  • created “All the busy ings” a short film I watched at the “Playback” exhibition at mac

  • graduated from Leeds 2016


David Woodhead

Alexander Wolfe (1981)

  • songwriter, singer

  • Alice Underground Adventures (Mock Turtle Song)

  • The Mock Turtle Song was my favourite attraction in Alice’s world.



Samuel Wyer

  • designer/puppet maker/illustrator

  • theatre

  • Alice Underground Adventures

  • The entire world from Alice just came to live through his design and especially the huge amount of details, made it an unforgettable experience.




Kenton Yeager

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