Scenographer Antonín Heythum and his work in the US: the case of King Lear

Název: Scenographer Antonín Heythum and his work in the US: the case of King Lear
Zdrojový dokument: Theatralia. 2018, roč. 21, č. 2, s. 38-63
  • ISSN
    1803-845X (print)
    2336-4548 (online)
Type: Článek
Licence: Neurčená licence

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The article focuses on the stage designs of Antonín Heythum. Heythum's work during the interwar period is relatively well known and has been (somewhat incorrectly) aligned with Constructivist scenography. There are a number of materials for his designs for the Liberated Theatre (Osvobozené divadlo) (e.g. Circus Dandin, Když ženy něco slaví [When Women Celebrate]) and other Czech theatres (Olomouc, Ostrava, and others). We, however, have only scarce information about his work in the US, where he lived after 1939. The article discusses Heythum's war and post-war life and work paying special attention to the production of King Lear, an extraordinary stage experiment directed by Erwin Piscator in New York. The article also examines Heythum's pedagogical activities in the United States.
[1] Actor Jaffers 'NOT IN' TO FILM OFFERS – Right Now He's Too Absorbed In 'King Lear' Experiment. Philadelphia PA. Record (November 17, 1940).

[2] ANDERSON, John. 1940. King Lear Staged by Studio Theatre: Sam Jaffe plays Title Role in Piscator's Production of Shakespeare Play, with Incidental Music. N.Y.C. Journal (December 16, 1940).

[3] Archives of American Art, Washington DC, Antonín Heythum's papers.

[4] BENSON, Inge. 1940. His Epic Plan, Workshop 'King Lear'. New York Herald Tribune (December 1, 1940).

[5] BROWN, John Mason. 1940. Piscator's King Lear with Sam Jaffe. New York City Post (December 16, 1940). Bulletin of the California Institute of Technology, 54: 4: 211.

[6] BURIAN, Jarka M. 1939. The Adventures of Voskovec and Werich in America, 1939. A manuscript essay, deposited in the archive of the Svět a divadlo journal. Published in Jakub Škorpil's translation at:

[7] BURR, Eugene. 1940. New School's Studio Theater Offers Piscator-Jaffe 'Lear'. Cincinnati Ohio Billboard (December 28, 1940).

[8] Carnaige Institute of Technology. Community calender [online]. Available online at:; p. 4

[9] Centre Pompidou. Paris, Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Collection Alexander Calder; letters written by the Heythums from Pasadena 1940–1944, and notes on Heythum's and Calder's collaboration in 1942 (pp. 4ff.). Available online at:

[10] COLLEMAN, Robert. 1940a. Sam Jaffe Has Title Role in Piscator's King Lear. New York City Mirror (October 30, 1940)

[11] COLLEMAN, Robert. 1940b. Newest 'Lear' Like Children Using Firecrackers. New York City Mirror (December 16, 1940).

[12] FREJKA, Jiří. 1925a. Rekvizita na jevišti a jevištní asociativní faktor [The Onstage Prop and the Onstage Associative Factor] Pásmo 2: 1 (October 1925): 10.

[13] FREJKA, Jiří. 1925b. O konstruktivní scénu u nás [Towards Our Constructivist Stage]. Host 5 (1925/26): 61–62.

[14] FREJKA, Jiří and HEYTHUM, Antonín. 1925. Spolupráce režiséra a architekta na divadle [The Director's and Architect's Collaboration in the Theatre]. Stavba 4 (1925): 5: 69–71.

[15] GORDON, Will. 1940. King Lear. N. Y. C. TELEGRAPH (November 29, 1940).

[16] GOSLAR, Lotte. 1998. What's So Funny?: Sketches from My Life. London: Routledge, 1998.

[17] HEYTHUM, Antonin. Industrial Design in Wartime. Architect and Engineer (September 1940): 24; and Architect and Engineer (October 1942).

[18] HEYTHUM, Antonin. Industrial Design Section of the California Institute of Technology. Report of Activities, 1941–42, Minireview of California Institute of Technology (June 1942): 4–10; Bulletin of the California Institute of Technology 54: 4: 211. Available online at:

[19] JAGENDORF, M. 1940. The Night in New York. Sentinel (December 28, 1940).

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[21] New York City Theatre Arts Monthly (February 1941); unidentified clipping; Archive of the New School.

[22] New School (New York, N.Y.). Curriculum The New School for Social Research 1941 Spring. circa 1940. New School course catalogs; Public Engagement course catalogs; General course catalogs. New School Archives and Special Collections Digital Archive [online]. [accessed on 23 Mar 2017]. Available online at:

[23] PISCATOR, Erwin. 1940. Piscator Gives Aims Of 'Studio Theatre' Project to Be Test Ground for New and Old Work. New York Times (Sunday, November 17, 1940).

[24] PULOS, Arthur J. 1990. The American Design Adventure, 1940–1975. Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press, 1990: 169.

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[27] Thompson Library, Special Collections, Collection of Jarka Burian, Heythum 84060 31; the felt pen margin reads: "Heythum, Lear".

[28] TEIGE, Karel. 1927–28. K teorii konstruktivismu. Stavba 6 (1927–28): 7–24.

[29] The Play, Piscator Stages a Production of King Lear with Sam Jaffe in the Title Part. New York Times (December 16, 1940).

[30] WATTS, Richard Jr. 1940. The Theaters. New York Herald Tribune (December 16, 1940).