Edward Gordon Craig

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For other people with the same name, see Edward Craig (disambiguation). Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_0

Edward Gordon Craig_table_infobox_0

Edward Gordon Craig

CH OBEEdward Gordon Craig_header_cell_0_0_0

BornEdward Gordon Craig_header_cell_0_1_0 (1872-01-16)16 January 1872

Stevenage Hertfordshire, EnglandEdward Gordon Craig_cell_0_1_1

DiedEdward Gordon Craig_header_cell_0_2_0 29 July 1966(1966-07-29) (aged 94)

Vence, FranceEdward Gordon Craig_cell_0_2_1

OccupationEdward Gordon Craig_header_cell_0_3_0 Stage designer, theatre director, theatre theorist, actorEdward Gordon Craig_cell_0_3_1
NationalityEdward Gordon Craig_header_cell_0_4_0 EnglishEdward Gordon Craig_cell_0_4_1
PeriodEdward Gordon Craig_header_cell_0_5_0 ModernismEdward Gordon Craig_cell_0_5_1
Literary movementEdward Gordon Craig_header_cell_0_6_0 SymbolismEdward Gordon Craig_cell_0_6_1
Notable worksEdward Gordon Craig_header_cell_0_7_0 The Art of the Theatre (1905)

The Mask (1908-1929) MAT production of Hamlet (1911-1912)Edward Gordon Craig_cell_0_7_1

SpouseEdward Gordon Craig_header_cell_0_8_0 May GibsonEdward Gordon Craig_cell_0_8_1

Edward Henry Gordon Craig CH OBE (born Edward Godwin; 16 January 1872 – 29 July 1966), sometimes known as Gordon Craig, was an English modernist theatre practitioner; he worked as an actor, director and scenic designer, as well as developing an influential body of theoretical writings. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_1

Craig was the son of actress Dame Ellen Terry. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_2

The Gordon Craig Theatre, built in Stevenage (the town of his birth), was named in his honour in 1975. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_3

Life and family Edward Gordon Craig_section_0

The illegitimate son of the architect Edward Godwin and the actress Ellen Terry, Craig was born Edward Godwin on 16 January 1872 in Railway Street, Stevenage, in Hertfordshire, England, and baptised at age 16 as Edward Henry Gordon. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_4

He took the surname Craig by deed poll at age 21. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_5

Craig spent much of his childhood backstage at the Lyceum Theatre, where his mother was the leading lady to actor Sir Henry Irving. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_6

Craig later wrote a vivid, book-length tribute to Irving. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_7

Craig's sister was Edith Craig. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_8

In 1893 Craig married Helen Mary (May) Gibson, with whom he had five children: Philip Carlisle (born 1894), Rosemary Nell (born 1894), Henry Edward Robin (born 1895), John (born 1896) and Peter (born 1897). Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_9

He met Elena Meo, a violinist, daughter of artist Gaetano Meo, in 1900, and they had three children together: Ellen (1903–1904), Nell (1904–1975),and Edward (1905–1998). Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_10

Craig lived with Elena Meo and their two surviving children on and off, in England and Italy. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_11

May Craig would not consent to a divorce until 1932, after Craig and Elena Meo had permanently separated. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_12

Craig fathered other illegitimate children: a daughter with actress Jess Dorynne, Kitty; a daughter with dancer Isadora Duncan, Deirdre Beatrice (1906–1913), who drowned at the age of seven with another of Duncan's children, Patrick Augustus, and their nanny; a son, Davidino Lees (1916–2004), with poet Dorothy Nevile Lees, and a daughter with his secretary/translator Daphne Woodward. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_13

Craig lived in straitened circumstances in France for much of his life and was interned by German Occupation forces in 1942. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_14

He died at Vence, France, in 1966, aged 94. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_15

Career Edward Gordon Craig_section_1

Further information: Moscow Art Theatre production of Hamlet Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_16

Craig asserted that the director was "the true artist of the theatre" and, controversially, suggested viewing actors as no more important than marionettes. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_17

He designed and built elaborately symbolic sets; for instance, a set composed of his patented movable screens for the Moscow Art Theatre production of Hamlet. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_18

He was also the editor and chief writer for the first international theatre magazine, The Mask. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_19

He worked as an actor in the company of Sir Henry Irving, but became more interested in art, learning to carve wood under the tutelage of James Pryde and William Nicholson. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_20

His acting career ended in 1897, when he went into theatrical design. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_21

Craig's first productions, Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Handel's Acis and Galatea (both inspired and conducted by his lifelong friend Martin Shaw, who founded the Purcell Operatic Society with him to produce them), and Ibsen's The Vikings at Helgeland, were produced in London. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_22

The production of Dido and Aeneas was a considerable success and highly influential in reviving interest in the music of Purcell, then so little known that three copies of The Times review were delivered to the theatre: one addressed to Mr Shaw, one to Mr Craig, and one to Mr Purcell. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_23

Craig concentrated on keeping his designs simple, so as to set-off the movements of the actors and of light, and introduced the idea of a "unified stage picture" that covered all the elements of design. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_24

After finding little financial success in Britain, Craig set out for Germany in 1904. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_25

While there, he wrote one of his most famous works, the essay The Art of the Theatre (later reprinted with the title On the Art of the Theatre). Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_26

In 1908, Isadora Duncan introduced Craig to Konstantin Stanislavski, the founder of the Moscow Art Theatre, who invited him to direct their famous production of Hamlet with the company, which opened in December 1911. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_27

After settling in Italy, Craig created a school of theatrical design with support from Lord Howard de Walden, the Arena Goldoni in Florence. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_28

During World War I, he wrote a cycle of puppet plays, the Drama for Fools and published a little theatre magazine, The Marionnette (1918). Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_29

Craig was considered extremely difficult to work with and ultimately refused to direct or design any project over which he did not have complete artistic control. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_30

This led to his withdrawal from practical theatre production. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_31

His later career is remarkable for how little he achieved after the age of forty, during a long period of over fifty years. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_32

He received an OBE and in 1958 was made a Companion of Honour. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_33

Pseudonyms Edward Gordon Craig_section_2

While often working under his own name, Craig also signed work with a large number of other names, including Oliver Bath, Julius Oliver, Giulio Pirro, Samuel Prim, and Stanislas Lodochowskowski. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_34

The Art Record noted in 1901 that Oliver Bath was “a gentleman who is believed to subsist on an exclusive diet of the famous Bath Oliver Biscuit”. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_35

Ideas Edward Gordon Craig_section_3

Craig's idea of using neutral, mobile, non-representational screens as a staging device is probably his most famous scenographic concept. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_36

In 1910 Craig filed a patent which described in considerable technical detail a system of hinged and fixed flats that could be quickly arranged to cater for both internal and external scenes. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_37

He presented a set to William Butler Yeats for use at the Abbey Theatre in Ireland, who shared his symbolist aesthetic. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_38

Craig’s second innovation was in stage lighting. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_39

Doing away with traditional footlights, Craig lit the stage from above, placing lights in the ceiling of the theatre. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_40

Colour and light also became central to Craig’s stage conceptualizations. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_41

The third remarkable aspect of Craig’s experiments in theatrical form were his attempts to integrate design elements with his work with actors. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_42

His mise en scène sought to articulate the relationships in space between movement, sound, line, and colour. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_43

Craig promoted a theatre focused on the craft of the director – a theatre where action, words, colour and rhythm combine in dynamic dramatic form. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_44

All of his life, Craig sought to capture "pure emotion" or "arrested development" in the plays on which he worked. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_45

Even during the years when he was not producing plays, Craig continued to make models, to conceive stage designs and to work on directorial plans that were never to reach performance. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_46

He believed that a director should approach a play with no preconceptions and he embraced this in his fading up from the minimum or blank canvas approach. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_47

As an engraver and a classical artist, Craig found inspiration in puppets and masks. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_48

In his 1910 article "A Note on Masks," Craig expounds the virtue of using masks as a mechanism for capturing the audience’s attention, imagination and soul. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_49

"There is only one actor – nay one man who has the soul of the dramatic poet, and who has ever served as the true and loyal interpreter of the poet," he proclaimed, and "this is the marionette." Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_50

On the Art of the Theatre (1911) is written as a dialogue between a Playgoer and a Stage Director, who examine the problems of the nature of stage directing. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_51

Craig argues that it was not dramatists, but rather performers who made the first works of drama, using action, words, line, colour and rhythm. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_52

Craig goes on to contend that only the director who seeks to interpret drama truly, and commits to training in all aspects of dramatic art, can restore the "Art of the Theatre." Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_53

Maintaining that the director should seek a faithful interpretation of the text, Craig argues that audiences go to the theatre to see, rather than to hear, plays. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_54

The design elements may transcend reality and function as symbols, he thought, thereby communicating a deeper meaning, rather than simply reflecting the real world. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_55

On 29 June 1908 the Polish theater director, playwright, and theoretician of drama Leon Schiller initiated a correspondence with Craig. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_56

Together with his letter Schiller sent Craig, in Florence, his essay, "Dwa teatry" ("Two Theaters"), translated into English by Madeline Meager. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_57

Craig responded immediately, accepting the essay for his magazine, The Mask. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_58

This was the beginning of a productive collaboration between the two prominent theater directors, who introduced each other's theoretical writings to foreign readers. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_59

Archive Edward Gordon Craig_section_4

One of the largest collections of Edward Gordon Craig's papers is held at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_60

The 32-box collection includes Craig's diaries, essays, reviews, notes, manuscripts, financial records, and correspondence. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_61

Over 130 personal photographs are present in the archive. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_62

The Ransom Center's art holdings including some of Craig's woodblocks from the Cranach Press Hamlet as well as proof prints made during production of the book. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_63

The center's library holds over 300 books from Craig's personal collection. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_64

In addition to the archive of Edward Gordon Craig, the Ransom Center holds important holdings relating to Craig's mother Ellen Terry, as well as the archive of his son Edward Carrick. Edward Gordon Craig_sentence_65


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward Gordon Craig.