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Boris Aronson
Yiddish Theatre Cubist Costume Design 1924 Deco Color Field Modernism Broadway

1924

About the Item

Yiddish Theatre Cubist Costume Design 1924 Deco Color Field Modernism Broadway. Boris Aronson (1898 – 1980) "Day and Night," 17 ½ x 13 inches. Gouache and watercolor on paper, 1924. Exhibited: Royal Shakespeare Company, Label verso. Boris Aronson (October 15, 1898 - November 16, 1980) was an American scenic designer for Broadway and Yiddish theatre. He won the Tony Award for Scenic Design six times in his career. The son of a Rabbi, Aronson was born in Kiev, in the Russian Empire now Ukraine, and enrolled in art school during his youth. Aronson became an apprentice to the designer Aleksandra Ekster, who introduced him to the directors Vsevolod Meyerhold and Alexander Tairov, who influenced him. These three theatre and art veterans were advocates of the Constructivist school in Russia, as opposed to Stanislavski's form of Realism, and they convinced Aronson to embrace the Constructivist style. Aronson worked for some years in Moscow and Germany. In Berlin he exhibited at the seminal Van Diemen Gallery "First Exhibition of Russian Art", alongside the Constructivists El Lissitzky and Naum Gabo, which introduced Constructivism to the West. He wrote two books in Berlin, on Marc Chagall and Jewish graphic art, before he obtained an immigration visa for America in 1923. He moved to the Lower East Side in New York City and began designing sets and costumes for the more experimental of the city's Yiddish theatres, including the Unser Theater, the Schildkraut Theatre, and most notably Maurice Schwartz's Yiddish Art Theatre. He achieved fame in New York's Jewish community when he designed Schwartz's 1926 revival of Abraham Goldfaden's play The Tenth Commandment. Although he shunned politics, Aronson produced sets for the Communist affiliated ARTEF (Arbeiter Teater Farband, Workers' Theatre Union), such as Lag Boymer and Jim Kooperkop in 1930. However, he soon after left the Yiddish Theatre to prevent his work's "ghettoization", and debuted on Broadway, in 1932, with a revival of Vernon Duke and Yip Harburg's Walk a Little Faster. During the 1930s, he worked on productions by the Group Theatre, including works by Clifford Odets and Irwin Shaw. From 1934 to 1952, Aronson designed scenes, costumes, and lighting for thirty-four plays and three musicals on Broadway (including his design for what is considered to be the first "concept musical", Kurt Weill and Alan Jay Lerner's Love Life), but those successes were overshadowed by his work for the original 1953 production of The Crucible and the 1955 The Diary of Anne Frank (a play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett based on Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl). He continued work on Broadway into the 1960s and 1970s with musicals including Do Re Mi, Fiddler on the Roof (for which Aronson returned to his earlier experience with Jewish theatre), Cabaret, Zorba, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, and Pacific Overtures. He won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design three times. Aronson designed sets for the Metropolitan Opera and ballet companies, including the production of The Nutcracker choreographed by Mikhail Baryshnikov. He was also a non-theatrical artist, working as a painter and sculptor. At the time of his death in 1980, he was a member of New York's theatre and art community and one of its designers. Aronson's wife was Lisa Jalowetz, who worked on many of Aronson's shows as his assistant. DAY AND NIGHT1, Sholom Ansky (Yiddish: Tog un nakht) Here is the cast from the Unser Theatre production of Ansky's "Day and Night," when it opened at the Yiddish Art Theatre in New York City, on December 9, 1924: Avigdor (Victor) Pecker, Jacob Bleifer, Jacob Bergreen, Wolf Ayzenberg, Joseph Greenberg, I. Lowstein, Isaac Rotblum, Miriam Elias, Esther Mendel, Chaim Schneyer, Asher Polonovsky and Goldie Russler. So, here is the synopsis of Ansky's "Day and Night." The name of the actor or actress who portrayed a particular role is indicated in parentheses: SYNOPSIS ACT 1: The Rabbi (Chaim Schneyer) has done nothing to stop the children's epidemic raging in the town. In answer to Mendel (Jacob Bergreen), the matchbroker's queries, Hananiah (Avigdor Pecker) describes the Rabbi as a silent recluse, different from his father who died a martyr's death in a massacre. The beadle (Wolf Ayzenberg) comes to fetch the Rabbi to a wedding ceremony to be held in the cemetery as a means of checking the plague. Hananiah replies that the Rabbi will not come. A stranger (Joseph Greenberg) enters, contrary to Hananiah's orders, to implore the Rabbi's aid for his sick child. He is allowed to touch the Rabbi's door and mutely commune with him. The wedding party arrives from the cemetery, Hananiah goes into the Rabbi's room, but immediately returns, telling the party to proceed with the ceremonial dance. After the dance the party leaves. Deborah (Miriam Elias), the Rabbi's old mother, comes in and promises to consult her son about the match for Miriam (Esther Mandel). Hananiah and the others leave. Miriam, her grandchild, enters, terror-stricken at the plague. When told of the proposed match, she protests wildly and runs off. Rabbi Don, attracted by sounds of Miriam's weeping, enters. Deborah tells of Miriam's refusal and begs him to stay with her. She is kept alive by his prayers, but would rather die. He suspects a secret and demands to know it. She denies any secret and leaves, frightened by his angry face. Miriam enters. In the ensuing conversation they reveal a subconscious love and suppressed desire for each other. Hananiah brings the news that the Prince of Darkness with his suite celebrates nightly orgies in the ruins of an old mill and is surely the cause of the plague. The Rabbi bids him go there that night to see for himself. ACT 2: The ruins of the old mill--Devils tell of their achievements and are sure that Satan will be pleased. He enters and asks for reports. One reports of the carnage he has staged among animals. Another of the fear and hatred he has spread among men. Only the third messenger, sent to vanquish the Rabbi, is missing. Satan (Sidney Stavrov) and Lilith (Lisa Varon) grow impatient. Finally he appears, victorious in having stirred the blood of a Cossack in the Rabbi, aroused his sinful desire for his niece. The orgy starts, Rabbi Don appears and joins in it. Miriam follows. He embraces her. A cock crows; all disappear. ACT 3: Hananiah tells the Rabbi his experience. The Rabbi is shocked at his own part in the orgy. He calls Miriam and asks her about her dreams. She does not remember, but thinks she saw him. the Rabbi s sure that Hananiah has sold himself to the Devil. Deborah, entering upon this conversation, collapses. She becomes delirious and discloses the secret of her life. In the massacre in which her husband was murdered, she was raped, and the Rabbi is the son of the Cossack. This revelation kills the Rabbi.
  • Creator:
    Boris Aronson (1898 - 1980, American)
  • Creation Year:
    1924
  • Dimensions:
    Height: 31 in (78.74 cm)Width: 25 in (63.5 cm)Depth: 2 in (5.08 cm)
  • Medium:
  • Movement & Style:
  • Period:
  • Condition:
  • Gallery Location:
    New York, NY
  • Reference Number:
    1stDibs: LU1156210034572
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