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Design note

Design note on Paul Klee

One lunchtime during the initial ‘research and development’ week for ‘Bliss’ I bought a book on the Bauhaus movement, a picture book full of wonderful chairs, lamps, staircases and a few paintings. I cannot remember what I was looking for but what I found was a picture entitled ‘Wall Painting from The Temple of Longing Thither’.  The artist, who taught at The Bauhaus from 1921 until 1931 was Paul Klee and the painting dates from 1922, just after he had joined The Bauhaus.  I had never seen it before but loved everything about it.  It relates closely to the ideals of the group he had just joined and concerns human thoughts and aspirations, about ‘longing thither’, yet tragically remaining rooted to the ground and ‘fixed’ by laws.  Arrows point upward yet shadows with diverse perspectives point downward and it looks like a jumbled community, a commune under the sun, in a desert region, blasted and fixed by that sun.  The moon, however, also hangs aloft and provides calm.  In the same book is another overview of a small jumbled commune-village, again under a yellow moon.  ‘View of G’ (1927) shows a seemingly closed off, isolated settlement of flat roofed buildings above which flags seem strangely still.

Something about these images chimed exactly with things we had been discussing that morning and, so, when my director asked what design ideas I was toying with my reply was immediate.  The pictures were passed around the room and Paul Klee has remained with us ever since.  Due to some physical considerations, gravity for example and the need to house three actors and a musician we have had to chop and re-arrange some images -  but the essence remains.  Copies of paintings have been ‘scaled up’ to fit our performance space and, somehow, this has always been a rather neat fit.  Every time we sought a solution to some scenic problem Klee seemed to be there.  There were three possible shapes for the forestage and, again, the key was in another Klee painting (see ‘Highway and Byways 1929).  He seems to have entered our subconscious.  We were discussing an opening image for ‘Bliss’ and we liked the idea of the girl on the deckchair covered by a parasol.  Half an hour later I found the Klee sketch ‘Young Woman In A Deck Chair’  (1909), sure enough, covered by a parasol.  I’d like to think he is with us.  I hope he likes it and we humbly dedicate it to the man. I’d like to think he has been with us and is happy with what we have done with his paintings.
Simon Plumridge, Set Designer




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