Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Constructing and Painting an Edward Gorey Theater Set, Part 1


Designing and Drawing for the Theatre by Lynn Pecktal (McGraw-Hill, 1995) is a textbook on the practical application of professional set design and construction, focusing on the New York theater scene. The book is an worthwhile read for anyone with an interest in how theatrical sets are conceived and executed. The book is also a time capsule of the time period and includes in depth interviews with several award winning stage designers.

The 1976 Broadway production of Dracula is featured with several double page spreads and additional spot illustrations showing the technical aspects involved in creating the sets for the production. Pecktal was scenery supervisor for the show. Unfortunately, Edward Gorey was not interviewed, but the photographs of the set being constructed offer a backstage view of the production. 

Viewing the information in this book got me ruminating on the process of transferring Mr. Gorey's scale drawings into functioning three dimensional theater sets. This began an informal search to collect stories from individuals who were directly involved in Gorey-designed stage productions. Forthcoming posts will explore how Edward Gorey's set designs were transferred from page to stage.

I would like to acknowledge fellow Gorey collector and enthusiast Todd Camp for bringing Designing and Drawing for the Theatre to my attention through one of his informative Instagram posts on Gorey ephemera.


Friday, June 10, 2022

Gorey Original Artworks

There have been a couple interesting pieces of original art by Edward Gorey to come onto the market recently. The June 9th Illustration Art Auction at Swann Auction Galleries in New York City featured an unusual piece titled A Song and A Poem for A. The artwork was created as a cover illustration in 1973 for a limited edition, staple bound book of poetry by Richard Elliott. 

The image is a variation on a children's cut and paste toy where a box can be created by cutting out and pasting it together using the indicated flaps. Throughout his career, Edward Gorey created drawings with missing figures. This piece takes the concept a step further by providing the figures and objects to cut and paste into position on the box. While it is hard to imagine anyone actually cutting up the cover of the booklet, the viewer is engaged by visualizing the process, just as one is engaged with the writer by reading and reflecting on their poems.

During a virtual bookfair in April, The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust released an early piece of artwork. Promoted on their social media platforms, this piece was sold to benefit the mission statement of the Trust. A most unusual piece, the art is a blend of modern art and traditional New England imagery. Life, death, mourning and the afterlife are represented poetically in this image.