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Growth of community theatres and stagecraft

Photo caption: A modernized version of “Giving the Movies a Voice” was presented at the IA convention in Cleveland in 1938. The lecturer, by this time, could afford a dress suit.

There were nearly 2,000 community theatres. As theatre became more accessible, a renewed interest in drama and stagecraft was born. Colleges and universities began to offer courses in theatre, playwriting and acting.

At the same time, a new trend was occurring in North American theatres. The “new stagecraft,” as it was called, reflected European trends in set design. The new stagecraft was more impressionistic and less realistic. It was more visual and suggestive, rather than explicit. Set designers began to use all sorts of methods to create their desired effects.

On stage, platforms were raised and lowered in a fashion never seen before. Steps, ledges and backdrops were used more freely, as were scenery and props. Lighting became more imaginative, often becoming an integral part of the show. The influence of this trend is clearly seen today in such shows as Phantom of the Opera, Cats, The Secret Garden, Les Miserables, and Miss Saigon.

A new sophistication was infused into productions, and this trend would eventually save legitimate stage.