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The growing use of technology and multimedia not only in performing arts but also in media and documentary television—which have been considered for a long time as faithful and reliable attempts at rendering reality “as it is”—has enforced the role of visuality in daily life. A further development has lately been the growing awareness of the use of make-believe by so called reality television and documentary pictures, be they on the big screen, the small screen, or photographs circulated by the media or exhibited in various shrines of art, the museums.

While make-believe has been traditionally approached as the privilege and trademark of art—especially by theatre—in its various manifestations, it has now become part of each process of communication. Today, the facility of creating and viewing virtual reality blurs the hitherto more or less well-defined borders between the real and the make-believe, as between theatre or performing arts and everyday life.

This cultural phenomenon has therefore rendered the investigation of the role of visuality in creating, conveying, and determining meaning more than imperative. The in-depth study of scenography in performing arts will, no doubt, illuminate its workings not only in performance but also in everyday life as in the media in general.

Theatre Arts Journal: Studies in Scenography and Performance, or TAJ, is proud to offer a venue for such investigation. We thank Tel-Aviv University for providing us the funds necessary for the founding of our journal and the Morris E. Curiel Institute for European Studies at Tel-Aviv University for providing the journal with a home. We are indebted to the scholars who have founded the Gordon Craig Society for Theatre (R.A.) for their belief in the importance of the TAJ project, for it is their joint efforts that have made the project possible. We also thank the distinguished Members of the Board of Editors for their valuable support of our endeavor.

The first issue of TAJ comprises three sections. The first discusses theoretical foundations and issues pertaining to scenography research. The essay that inaugurates the journal and the first section is James Fisher’s “An Idealist”: The Legacy of Edward Gordon Craig’s Formative Productions, 1900-1903,” which brings out the lasting import of Craig’s first productions and its impact on contemporary productions, which we only too often tend to ignore. To this section belongs also Harry Feiner’s essay “Ideational Conflict and Resolution in the Design Process,” which examines theoretical issues embedded in the designer’s creative process.

The second section is devoted to the study of various aspects of scenography in the past.  To this section belongs David Kornhaber’s article “Regarding the Eidophusikon: Spectacle, Scenography, and Culture in Eighteenth Century England,” which throws a new light on a little remembered but highly influential scenographic device. Thomas Hecht, in his article “The Phallic Swan Lake: Symbolism and Semiotics in Contemporary Productions of Romantic Story Ballets” brings out the unexpected but determining significance of apparently small parts of costume, their interaction with performance, and their role in the construction of meaning.

The third part launches the debate about the interaction between the director and scenography or between the director and the environment within which the director designs (initiates/molds/integrates) the performer’s movement.  The article that opens this section belongs to the well-known scenographer and director Pamela Howard, who started as a designer and now also directs the productions that she designs for. In her article “Old Country – New World: Note for Martinů’s The Marriage,” she points to issues encountered by the director who has to adapt his work to a certain environment.

The second article in this section belongs to a dear departed scholar, August Staub, and we wish to dedicate this issue to his memory. An eminent educator, scholar, and practitioner, Staub brought to the exploration of scenographic issues the incisive approach of an experienced director and underlined the direct impact of space on the actor’s performance, as his article “Scenography and Theatrical Energy” so aptly shows.  The article was initially delivered as a talk at one of the meetings of the Scenography Working Group of the International Federation for Theatre Research. Unfortunately, he did not have the time to develop it into an article, but it stands as it is and will, no doubt, inspire its readers.

The article that closes the third section provides an insight into the problems encountered by a contemporary director when designing the production of ancient drama. This is Judith Maitland’s article “Controversy and Clues: Recovering and Recreating Graeco-Roman Scenography,” which suggests various solutions to apparently insolvable issues while leaving the ancient text (almost) intact.

The future issues of TAJ will also include a section devoted to performance reviews and one to book reviews.

We hope that our readers— scholars, practitioners, and all those who love and have an interest in theatre and performing arts—will contribute to the important debate about the role of scenography in modern society.