Set design


Hurry, Leslie

S.26-2004 T&P

Set design for the second section of Act IV in 'John Gabriel Borkman', Duchess Theatre, London, 1963.

Centre stage, against a black, storm-like background, a rocky structure, highlighted in white as dripping icicles.

The painter Edvard Munch called Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman 'the most powerful winter landscape in Scandinavian art'. Leslie Hurry, who was one of Britain's finest painters as well as a brilliant theatre designer, captures this feeling in his set for the final scene of what is one of Ibsen's bleakest plays. It reflects not just the bleak physical environment of winter Norway, but the equally bleak emotional states of the characters, caught in a claustrophobic world which can only be broken by extreme violence. A designer may produce many variations on an idea before he resolves the problems to his and the director's satisfaction, and there are two versions of this design in the Theatre Museum collections (see also S.25-2004). Although theatre designs are often considered works of art and are sought after by museums and private collectors, their artistic worth or decorative qualities are secondary to whether they 'work' on stage. The success of a set design cannot be judged until it is translated into three dimensions by the set painters or builders. Some designers build their own set models, others are realised by specialist model makers or set builders.

Set design for the second section of Act IV in Henrik Ibsen's play 'John Gabriel Borkman' performed at the Duchess Theatre, London, December 4th 1963.

Given by Dr Ray Ingram

Location: In Storage

View this object on the V&A website