Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Norman Bel Geddes (American, 1893-1958)
Preliminary sketches for Divine Comedy Theatre
Ca. 1929
Charcoal on paper

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Norman Bel Geddes Database

Job 147, Divine Comedy Theatre, 1929-1930

Summary: Designed specifically to seat 5,000 for Bel Geddes's never-realized production of Divine Comedy (job 69), this conceptualized theater had no proscenium or curtain, balconies, or galleries. Instead a steep ramp enabled all spectators an unimpeded view of the performance. All scene changes were done with lighting effects alone.

Dressing rooms, costume and prop rooms, and sound resonators were beneath the stage. Offices, public lounges, and, inexplicably, a hospital occupied the space under the auditorium.

Geddes proposed building this theater and mounting his production of Divine Comedy for the 1933-1934 Century of Progress International Exposition in Chicago, but the project fell victim to the stock market crash of October 1929 and the onset of the Depression.

Hunter Code: TH 15
Hunter Guide: page 176


(click image for description)

Box/Location Folder Description
theater box 157 e 1 Preliminary Sketches --- 48 Plans, elevations, interiors.
flat file e 2 Preliminary Sketches --- Drawing 005 - Pencil sketch of side elevation.
flat file e 3 Preliminary Sketches --- Drawing 006 - Pencil sketch of revision of ground plan.
oversize flat files, drawer 2 e 4 Preliminary Sketches --- Drawing 008 - Pencil sketch of second level (encapsulated, 33 3/4 x 60 inches).
oversize flat files, drawer 2 e 5 Preliminary Sketches --- Drawing 009 - Pencil study sketch of third level (encapsulated, 33 x 61 inches).
oversize flat files, drawer 2 e 6 Preliminary Sketches --- Drawing 0010 - Pencil study sketch of second level (encapsulated, 33 x 58 1/2 inches).
oversize flat files, drawer 2 e 7 Preliminary Sketches --- Drawing 0011 - Pencil study sketch of lower basement (encapsulated, 33 3/4 x 60 inches).
oversize flat files, drawer 2 e 8 Preliminary Sketches --- Drawing 0012 - Pencil study sketch of lower basement (encapsulated, 33 1/4 x 58 inches).
oversize flat files, drawer 2 e 9 Preliminary Sketches --- Drawing 0013 - Pencil study sketch of interior plans (encapsulated, 33 1/2 x 68 inches).
flat file f 1-9 Drawings --- 9 Plans and elevations.
theater box 157 h 1 Photographs --- Front, back, and side views of model (5 images), with page 2 of document stamped "Publicity Writing."
theater box 157 h 2 Photographs --- Duplicates of h 1 (Goldberg #17).
negative box 39 h 3 Photographs --- 5 Negatives.
flat file h 4-5 Photographs --- Side views of theater model.
flat file h 6 Photographs --- Back view of theater model.
theater box 157 i 1-2 Publicity --- Clippings.
theater box 157 j 1 Meeting Minutes 21Jan1930.
theater box 157 n 1 Blueprint --- Section.
flat file n 2-5 Photostats --- Plans, section and elevations.
theater box 157 p 1 Specifications --- Drawings schedule. Building description.
flat file w 1 Drawings --- Duplicates and void drawings.
theater box 157 x 1 Exhibition Material --- Three presentation plaques used in exhibition.
flat file x 2 Exhibition Material --- Exhibit mounting of ground floor plan (drawing #001).
flat file x 3 Exhibition Material --- Exhibit mounting of auditorium plan (drawing #002).
flat file x 4 Exhibition Material --- Exhibit mounting of longitudinal section (drawing #003).

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