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Making the Scene

Making the Scene
A History of Stage Design and Technology in Europe and the United States

A lively, beautifully illustrated history of theatrical stage design from ancient Greek times to the present, coauthored by the world's leading authority, Oscar G. Brockett.

Tobin Theatre Arts Fund
January 2010
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377 pages | 9.75 x 12 | 300 color and 50 b&w illustrations |

Theatrical scene design is one of the most beautiful, varied, and lively art forms. Yet there are relatively few books on the subject, and almost none for a general audience that combine expansive scholarship with lavish design. Making the Scene offers an unprecedented survey of the evolving context, theory, and practice of scene design from ancient Greek times to the present, coauthored by the world's best-known authority on the subject and enhanced by three hundred full-color illustrations.

Individual chapters of the book focus on Greece, Rome, Medieval Europe (including liturgical drama, street pageants, festival outdoor drama, Spanish religious drama, and royal entries), the Italian Renaissance, eighteenth-century Europe, Classicism to Romanticism, Realism and Naturalism, Modernism, and contemporary scene design. Making the Scene's authors review everything from the effects of social status on theatre design to the sea changes between Classicism, Romanticism, and Naturalism and the influence of perspective-based thought. Particularly intriguing is their rediscovery of lost tricks and techniques, from the classical deus ex machina and special effects in coliseums to medieval roving stage wagons and the floating ships of the Renaissance to the computerized practices of today's theatres. Such ingenious techniques, interwoven with the sweeping beauty of scene design through the ages, combine with the keen scholarship of Oscar Brockett and Margaret Mitchell to create a book as involving as the art it showcases.


2010 Golden Pen Book Award
United States Institute for Theatre Technology Inc.

PROSE Award in Music and the Performing Arts
The Association of American Publishers
PROSE Award in Music and the Performing Arts
Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers


Oscar Brockett is the author of History of the Theatre, which has been the standard work in its field for three decades, as well as World Drama, Perspectives on Contemporary Theatre, A Century of Innovation, and The Essential Theatre. He lives in Austin, Texas.

Margaret Mitchell is Professor of Theatre Arts at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, and a practicing scenic and costume designer.

Linda Hardberger is the founding curator of the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts at the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas.