The artist that was a direct influence for Allen Moyer’s scene design of Coward’s classic comedy isn’t one that would immediately come to mind. Nor is the school of art to which he belonged. French painter Raoul Dufy was a part of the post-Impressionistic movement called Fauvism; an aesthetic in which artists used broad brush strokes and vibrant color palettes to portray the world around them. “Dufy’s so fresh,” Moyer says. “And it’s exactly the right time period.”
Dufy’s work, along with other Fauvists like Henri Matisse, was at its peak in the early 20th century and was interested in presenting the world and the people in it unrealistically. Dufy said himself, “My eyes were made to erase all that is ugly.” Yet the correlation between the time period and its glamorous representation resonates in more than just art history, but also with this particular play.
One could easily gravitate toward the harrowing art and media of the WWI or the interwar period during this time, but Dufy chose to paint the vibrancy and life of France in his paintings of the Eiffel Tower and many seascapes and portraits. Coward similarly chose to write about high society, using wit and a sharpness about the human condition that wasn’t reliant on the hostility of Europe in a time of war. “To me, a painting of his is like the play—effortless, like someone just threw it off.
Moyer uses Dufy’s The Harbor at Deauville (ca.1928) in the design for the top of the show as a sight for what the two sets of honeymooners might be looking out at from their hotel room terraces, along with how these characters might see the world.
Garrett Anderson is STC’s 2013-2014 Artistic Fellow. He has interned with Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago and Bret Adams Talent Agency in New York. Garrett holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts from The University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.