Scenographic Philosophy

It may not have been apparent to many designers in Europe that scenography might be considered a design philosophy, were it not for our American colleagues. Indeed were it not for the Internet and working on co-productions with American Theatre companies the suggestion may have never been known to me. Essentially the quality of work is no different either in terms of presentation or artistic merit – to suggest that the “Scenography Model” is in some way superior would suggest that American theatre itself is inferior – which it certainly is not.


To my mind Scenography is as much a philosophy of design as it is a practice, and one that of course has a pedigree deep-rooted in European theatre. Debates concerning the birth of “Scenography” are exciting enough for academics, though most will agree that Josef Svoboda was the first celebrated pioneer of a holistic approach to design in contemporary theatre.

Holistic Approach

So what is the philosophy of Scenography? In the UK some might argue that the development of a holistic approach is a driven by financial and logistical concerns, in part due to the nature in which our theatre is funded, evolved (with help of scenographic thinking from continental European) into a practice of design for performance and theatre that unites the visual, auditory image and environment into one single artistic form of communication. Naturalism for the most has been left behind in favour of symbolic and supportive aesthetics; costumes are no longer simply descriptive or historically accurate – they also serve to enrich or support the design, as does lighting, sound and venue.



One thought on “Scenographic Philosophy

  1. I have experienced scenography as an environment, an atmosphere created with and within a space, and in the context of a complex relationship between various disciplines of the Arts and sciences. In such a discipline that is devoted to mimic and re-arrange life’s events and happenings on a particular space, scenography requires a sensational awareness of the role of the disciplines to¬wards each other, to the final product and to time.
    I perceived scenography as a deliberate transformation of a space into a comprehensible, emotional, spiritual and visual experience, and vise verse as it transforms a visual experience into a spiritual, emotional and comprehensible space. With such a mega toolbox of possibilities and probabilities, creating a visual flow of thoughts is possible and applicable within a specific time frame and a set of rules.

    Posted by Gassim Abdelkader | August 3, 2010, 6:16 pm

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