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Theatre Architecture and Theatre Machinery

This collection is part of Portfolio of Prints and Drawings Referring to Baroque Theatre, Stage and Festival Culture in the Deutsches Theatermuseum (German Theatre Museum).

The graphic portfolio of the Deutsches Theatermuseum (German Theatre Museum) documents important designs for theatre buildings that remained at the planning stage as well as epochal European edifices that were executed and thereby it supplies visual access to diverse development phases in the history of theatre architecture. After the ancient theatre had been rediscovered during the Renaissance, baroque theatre expressed in its respective buildings an increasing institutionalisation. Intimate, temporary and provisional theatrical space thus turned into larger, autonomous, representative and technically sophisticated architecture, which frequently became the model for later development of theatre architecture.

The theatre with dress circles and boxes was born. The arrangement in accordance with axial symmetry and the specific design of the auditorium with a central princely box underpins the kind, hierarchical composition and behaviour of the audience. Apart from the stage, the audience received a public space and frame in the lavishly decorated auditorium that served for self-representation and encounters. In this space not only the ruler but also his court see and be seen in a hierarchically ordered manner.

Perspectival possibilities were not only interesting for the design of stage sets. The ideal view of the absolutist stage decoration held in central perspective and made up of pained screens and teasers, was reserved solely for the privileged for whom the play – not least thanks to a more sophisticated stage technique – revealed itself in its full illusionistic effect.

Apart from stage decorators and architects, talented engineers developed flying machinery, hoists and slots. These functioned on the basis of ingenious and interconnected, hidden systems of ropes and pulleys in the upper and lower parts of the stage house and had a surprising illusionistic effect on stage for the audience.

Departments in the collection of "The Portfolio of Prints and Drawings Referring to Baroque Theatre, Stage and Festival Culture" of the Deutsches Theatermuseum