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Jean Rosenthal

By lizzieg44 Apr 19, 2015 460 Words
Lizzie Geocaris
Iain Court & Sevim Abaza
Concepts in Lighting
10 February 2015
Eugenia “Jean” Rosenthal
Jean Rosenthal is considered to be one of the pioneers of theatrical lighting design. She not only mastered the technical side of lighting, but the poetic aspect as well. She did this by using light’s form, color, and movement to express the intention of a piece. She was inspired by the paintings of Rembrandt and Monet. One of Jean’s major contributions was her elimination of shadows. She did this by using floods of upstage lighting and controlling angles and mass illumination to create contrasts without shadows. Jean Rosenthal, born Eugenia Rosenthal to parents Pauline and Maurice Rosenthal, was an influential lighting designer during the 20th century. She was born on March 16, 1912 in New York City. From her childhood to her young adult life, Rosenthal attended the Manumit School in Pawling, New York and the Friends Seminary in Manhattan. While studying acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse, she met and shortly there after became a technical assistant to Martha Graham. That was the beginning of a life long career for Rosenthal. Jean studied at Yale University for three years from 1930-1933 under the direction of George Pierce Baker (theatre history), Donald Oenslager (scene design), Frank Bevin (costume design), and Stanley McCandless (lighting design). After leaving Yale and moving back to New York City in 1935 she became the technical assistant of the Federal Theatre Project. The Federal Theatre Project was a new Deal project that funded theatre and other live artistic performances in the United States during the Great Depression. In 1936 Jean Rosenthal was asked by John Houseman to be the second assistant stage manager in charge of lighting cues for Leslie Howards production of Hamlet. When the guy in charge of installing the light system became ill, Rosenthal stepped up to the plate and became the electrical technical director. In 1958 Jean created Jean Rosenthal Associates, which was a theatrical consulting firm, which to this day became involved in many projects across the United States. During her career as a lighting designer, Rosenthal designed lighting for over three hundred productions. Her Broadway credits include West Side Story (1957), The Sound of Music (1959), Hello Dolly! (1964), Cabaret (1966), and Fiddler on the Roof (1969). To some, her most accomplished works were created for the New York City Ballet (1948-1957), the Martha Graham Dance Company (1934-1969), the American Ballet Theatre (1960-1968), the New York City Opera (1950-1954), the Dallas Civic Opera (1957-1969), and the American Shakespeare Festival (1955-1959). The latter forms of art gave her more time for innovation than was possible on Broadway. Jean Rosenthal passed away on May 1, 1969 at the age of 57.

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