Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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Jones, Robert Edmond

b Milton, NH, 12 Dec 1887; d Milton, 26 Nov 1954). American designer. He graduated from Harvard University (1910), where he remained for two years as an instructor. On a trip to Europe (1913–14), he was much influenced by Max Reinhardt in Berlin, Jacques Coupeau in Paris, and by the work of Adolph Appia and Jaques-Dalcroze at Hellarau. He returned to Europe in 1922 with Kenneth Macgowan; they recorded their impressions in Continental Stagecraft (New York, 1923). With Lee Simonson (1888–1967) and Norman Bel Geddes, Jones was responsible for introducing a ‘new stagecraft’ to America: the fusion of acting, lighting and setting into a dramatic whole. His output over 25 years was prodigious and wide-ranging. His designs for The Man who Married a Dumb Wife (1915) for Harley Granville-Barker are said to be the first important, indigenous expression of the new stagecraft and his Macbeth (1921) for Arthur Hopkins created a sensation for its use of expressionism.

Jones designed the first American productions of Schoenberg’s Die glückliche Hand (1930), Berg’s Wozzeck (1931) and Stravinsky’s Oedipus rex (1931), all in Philadelphia, and the première of Douglas Moore’s The Devil and Daniel Webster (1938, New York). Designs for his last production, Der fliegende Holländer (1950; see illustration), were realized by Charles Elson at the Metropolitan on the occasion of Hans Hotter’s début as the Dutchman. Jones’s unity of craft elements with a unique style was never a formula but a constant endeavour to realize the rhythm of each production. A simplified realism and poetic use of light were his trademarks. ‘When I go to the theatre, I want to get an eyeful,’ he wrote.

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