May 27, 2009

Theatrical Study (54 of 150)

Theatrical Study (54 of 150)

Date unknown

Part of a set. See all set records

William Sommer

(American, 1867–1949)

Watercolor and gouache with graphite

Norman O. Stone and Ella A. Stone Memorial Fund 1954.153.54



These watercolor sketches may have been inspired by early performances at the Cleveland Play House. Rather than a conventional theater, the Play House was founded in 1915 as a workshop for experimental art, music, poetry, and dance. Embracing the slogan “democracy in art,” the organization did not use professional actors in its avant-garde performances. Sommer was a guiding force in the organization, designing sets and costumes and participating in the performances. A reviewer described his costumes for one performance as “symbolic rather than historical” and his curved sets as a “cyclorama” illuminated by “ultra-modern lighting.”

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