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Friday, August 2, 2013

Scene Description And Set

My scene descriptions are meant to give everyone involved an idea of the realistic environment, but I never expect to see a copy of it on stage. If I wanted naturalism I would write movie scripts. Hans Schavernoch's sets in the Viennese productions of "Elisabeth" and "Mozart!" or those of the Japanese productions of my shows hardly ever tried to be realistic. In that respect I'm clearly influenced by my mentor who is responsible for my becoming a librettist, the great American director Hal Prince. He started all his productions with a mental image. "Fiddler Of The Roof" - Chagal's famous picture; "Cabaret" - a German joint he frequented when he was a soldier; "Evita" - a photo of a Chinese parade...etc. I always want the set designer to find an overall image that sets the atmosphere of the show and ideally is a symbol of its theme. Hal Prince's original production of Sweeney Todd in New York is a perfect example. Hal developed all scenes out of an old engraving of a British 19th century factory. The respective scenes grew out of this image just by movements of certain parts of the set and some additional pieces of props.

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