University of Texas at Austin

Norman Bel Geddes (American, 1893-1958)
Sketch for the grave yard scene for Hamlet
Ca. 1929
Pen and ink on board

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Norman Bel Geddes Database

Job 162, Hamlet, 1929-1932

Summary: Bel Geddes's adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play echoed his theories about art and the theater: “Simplicity is basic; it is unity ... The greatest idea is the simplest.” As Jennifer Davis Roberts noted in the catalog of her 1979 exhibition on the theatrical and industrial designs of Geddes, in Hamlet “this simplicity is expressed in the geometric blocks of the stage which became, successively, royal halls, bedrooms, and graveyards through only the adjustment of costumes, lighting, and hand-carried props.” Geddes’s use of the stark building-block stage and simple contrasts of black and white in costumes and lighting represents techniques adapted from Adolphe Appia, a Swiss architect and theorist of stage lighting and décor who argued for three elements as fundamental to creating an effective theatrical presentation: dynamic movements by actors, perpendicular scenery, and utilizing depth and the horizontal dynamics of the performance space.

With music by Ruth White Warfield (Wertheim), Hamlet was produced in 1929 at the Lakewood Theatre in Skowhegan, Maine. A production staged by the New York Producers Association, Inc. opened at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia on 20 October 1931, and later at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York on 5 November 1931. The cast included Raymond Massey and Celia Johnson.

Please note: For some sound recordings, streaming audio is available and can be accessed in the audiovisual room in the Reading and Viewing Rooms. If an identification number does not appear in the left hand column (e.g., R 1422), streaming audio is not available. Please speak to a reference librarian for assistance.

Hunter Code: DR 15
Hunter Guide: page 48

(click image for description)

Box/Location Folder Description
flat file b 1 Scene Renderings --- 4 Designs, 6 production photos.
theater box 46 c 1 Costume Renderings --- Costume design charts.
theater box 46 c 2 Costume Renderings?-- 30 Photostats and invoices Eaves Costume Co.
theater box 46 c 3-20 Costume Renderings --- 98 Tracings, photostats with fabric swatches.
flat file c 21-24 Costume Renderings--- Costume patterns.
flat file c 25 Costume Renderings--- Four costume designs mounted with four photographs.
flat file d 1-3 Drawings --- 16 Details of props, patterns, sets.
theater box 46 e 1 Preliminary Sketches --- 24 Scenes, action charts.
flat file e 2 Preliminary Sketches --- 33 Scenes, stage construction.
flat file f 1-4 Drawings --- Lakewood Theatre: 4 Plans and elevations.
flat file f 5-11 Drawings --- New York 1931: 7 Plans and elevations.
theater box 47 g 1 Production Record Books --- Script with ms. cues and directions by NBG.
theater box 47 g 2 Production Record Books --- 1929 script revised for New York production.
theater box 47 g 3 Production Record Books --- 1931 script with scene synopses, plans, charts.
theater box 48 g 4-5 Production Record Books --- 1931 script with scene synopses, plans, charts (cont.).
theater box 48 g 6 Production Record Books --- Rehearsal notes and schedule, specifications.
theater box 49 g 7 Production Record Books --- Photographs of rehearsal and production, programs, reviews.
theater box 49 h 1a-b Photographs --- Record Copy Photos with captions.
flat file h 2 Photographs --- 'Burial Procession'
flat file h 3-4 Photographs --- 'Queen', 'Duel'.
theater box 49 h 5a-b Photographs --- Production stills (includes h 26-29).
flat file h 6-7 Photographs --- Production stills.
negative box 37 h 8a-c Photographs --- Goldberg negatives.
flat file h 9 Photographs --- Costume.
flat file h 10 Photographs --- Model.
oversize box 19 h 11 Photographs --- Production stills.
flat file h 12-21 Photographs --- Production stills.
flat file h 22 Photographs --- Model.
flat file h 23 Photographs --- Hamlet and Horatio.
flat file h 24 Photographs --- Three photographs of model mounted with six production photographs.
theater box 50 h 25 Photographs --- Stage Lakewood Theatre.
theater box 50 h 26-29 Photographs --- Prints in folder h 5a-b.
theater box 50 h 30-31 Photographs --- Cast publicity prints.
theater box 50 i 1-3 Publicity --- New York reviews 1931.
theater box 50 i 2, 4 Publicity --- Philadelphia reviews 1931.
theater box 50 i 5 Publicity --- Maine reviews 1929.
theater box 50 i 6 Publicity --- Magazine reviews 1931-1932.
theater box 50 i 7 Publicity --- NBG reply to Brooks Atkinson's NY Times review.
theater box 50 i 8 Publicity --- Duplicates.
oversize box 19 i 9-11 Publicity --- Reviews featuring Raymond Massey; sound system.
oversize box 19 j 1 Correspondence --- Letters rec. from Howard Lindsay, Dorothy Lockhart, Winthrop Ames et al. 1929.
oversize box 19 j 2a-b Correspondence --- Letters rec. from Raymond Massey, John Daly Murphy et al. 1930-1931.
oversize box 19 j 2c Correspondence --- Congratulatory 1931-1932 .
oversize box 19 k 1-2 Script --- Pages, final copy 1931.
oversize box 19 l 1 Action charts.
oversize box 19 m 1-3 Programs --- Lakewood Theatre, Walnut St. Theatre, Broadhurst Theatre.
oversize box 19 m 4 Programs --- Photostat of Mendelssohn Theatre, Ann Arbor, Mi. playbill (NBG costumes) 1936.
oversize box 19 n 1 Photostats --- Sketches of scene designs.
flat file n 2-5 Photostats ---- Scene drawings for publicity.
theater box 51 n 6 Photostats ---- Prints of scenes for publicity.
theater box 51 o 1 Contract --- Financial statements of New York Producing Corporation Dec1930.
theater box 51 o 2 Contract --- Agreements New York Producing Association, Inc. (Eleanor N. Cosden) - NBG Feb-Jun1931.
theater box 51 o 3 Contract --- Lakewood Theatre, Inc. 1929.
damaged box 10 o 4 Cost estimate and expense schedule 1931.
theater box 51 p 1 Production schedules, cast list, host list.
theater box 51 r 1 Drawings --- Properties list.
flat file r 2-12 Drawings ---- Properties.
Sound Recordings
D 0110 Oversize
s 1.1 Sound Recordings --- 78 rpm records (16 inch transcription discs), disc #1.
Sound Recordings
D 0104 Oversize
s 1.2 Continued, disc #2.
Sound Recordings
D 0105 Oversize
s 1.3 Continued, disc #3.
Sound Recordings
D 0106 Oversize
s 1.4 Continued, disc #4.
Sound Recordings
D 0107 Oversize
s 1.5 Continued, disc #5.
Sound Recordings
D 0111 Oversize
s 1.6 Continued, disc #6.
Sound Recordings
D 0108 Oversize
s 1.7 Continued, disc #7.
Sound Recordings
D 0109 Oversize
s 1.8 Continued, disc #8.
Sound Recordings
R 1422
s 2 Sound Recordings --- Tape recording of sound effects on s 1.
theater box 51 t 1 Score --- Incidental music Ams. and photostat by Ruth White Wertheim.
Sound Recordings
D 0086
t 2.1 Recorded incidental music by Ruth White Wertheim, Album #16, Nos. I and II.
Sound Recordings
D 0087
t 2.2 Continued, Album #16, Nos. III and IV.
Sound Recordings
D 0088
t 2.3 Continued, Album #16, Nos. V and VI.
Sound Recordings
R 1423
t 3 Sound --- Tape recording of recorded incidental music by Ruth White Wertheim in Album #16 (t 2.1-2.3).
flat file u 1 Drawing --- 10 Lighting plans.
theater box 52 v 1 Photographs --- 35mm Contact prints, negatives of cork model by Frances Waite.
flat file x 1 Exhibit --- Script page, action diagram, 3 photos of model, stage, scene 2.9.
theater box 52 y 1 NBG's talk to cast Sep1931.
theater box 52 z 1 Film --- Shooting schedule filming rehearsal and production.