“A Fine Romance” Presentation on Broadway Scenic Designer Boris Aronson

Urbana, Ohio (November 15, 2011) - The next presentation in the lecture series accompanying the national traveling exhibit "A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs, 1910 - 1965" will be presented on Monday, November 21 at 4 p.m. in the Swedenborg Memorial Library at Urbana University, 579 College Way.  Sylvia Wirsing-Bryant's, Ph.D., presentation "Life in the Village: Boris Aronson's Scenic Designs for Fiddler on the Roof" is free and open to the public.


Dr. Bryant will discuss the work of the Jewish-American scenic designer Boris Aronson. The focus will be on Aronson's designs for multiple Yiddish Art Theatre productions and his numerous original sets for famous Broadway dramas. Aronson had a great admiration for the Cubist painter Marc Chagall, which finds evidence in Aronson's set designs for the 1964 Broadway production of "Fiddler on the Roof."

 

Chagall was born in Russia but spent much of his life in France.  He spent nine years in America and had a profound impact on Aronson. Chagall was a painter, book illustrator, stained glass designer and set and costume designer for both theatre and ballet.  While in the US, Chagall's works were displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Art Institute in Chicago.  Chagall's Jewish heritage and the Russian folklore of his youth are the subject matter in many of his paintings.

 

Aronson was a Russian born Jewish artist whose fame was solidified with his scenic design for the 1964 Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof.   Aronson studied art and set design in Russia and Germany before moving to New York in 1923.  He became a set designer for the Unser Theatre in the Bronx, the Yiddish Art Theatre, and the Civic Repertory Theatre.  By the 1930's, Aronson started working in commercial theatre and created sets for shows such as Walk a Little Faster, Awake and Sing, Bus Stop, The Diary of Anne Frank, and A Little Night Music.  He designed realistic settings when called for by the plays on which he worked but he was also known for his symbolic settings.

Dr. Bryant, who has been on the Urbana University faculty since 1991, is Professor of Communication Arts at Urbana University, where she teaches communication, art history; and German.  Her doctorate is from the University of Vienna.  Her areas of expertise include art and theatre history; German language and culture and media literacy and theory.

The "A Fine Romance" exhibit can be viewed in the Swedenborg Memorial Library, located on the Urbana University campus, 579 College Way, Urbana, during the month of November:  Monday - Thursday 8am - 10 pm; Friday 8am - 4:30 pm; Saturday 12 noon - 4pm and Sunday evenings 7 pm - 10 pm.  The exhibit will be closed from Wednesday, November 23 - Sunday, November 27 for Thanksgiving.  In December, the exhibit will be open for viewing Monday - Friday 8am - 4:30 pm until December 14.  The exhibit is free and open to the public. A series of programs will be held throughout November looking at the role of Jewish Americans in American culture.  For additional information, please contact library@urbana.edu or 484-1409.

"A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs, 1910-1965" was developed by Nextbook, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting Jewish literature, culture, and ideas, and the American Library Association Public Programs Office. The national tour of the exhibit has been made possible by grants from the Charles H. Revson Foundation, the Righteous Persons Foundation, the David Berg Foundation, and an anonymous donor, with additional support from Tablet Magazine: A New Read on Jewish Life.

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