Robert Edmond Jones

Robert Edmond Jones

Robert Edmund Jones (12 December 1887-26 November 1954) was an American scenic designer. Jones is credited with incorporating the new stagecraft into the American drama. Jones’s designs sought to integrate the scenic elements into the storytelling instead of having them stand separate and indifferent from the play’s action. His visual style, often referred to as simplified realism, combined bold vivid use of color and simple, yet dramatic, lighting.

Born in Milton, New Hampshire, Jones attended Harvard University and graduated in 1910. Jones eventually moved to New York (1912) where, with friends made at Harvard, he began to do small design jobs. In 1913 Jones and several friends sailed to Europe to study the new stagecraft with Edward Gordon Craig in Florence. The school in Florence would not accept Jones so he went to Berlin instead, spending a year in informal study with Max Reinhardt’s Deutsches Theater.

For a 1915 production of the play "The Man Who Married a Dumb Wife" directed by British director Harley Granville-Barker, Jones designed a fairly simple set that complimented the action and the other design elements of the production rather than overwhelming it.

Jones also brought his expressionistic style to many productions put on by The Theatre Guild, Inc., with innovative designs for "The Philadelphia Story" (1937), "Othello" (1943), and "The Iceman Cometh" (1946). Jones’s biggest commercial success was with "The Green Pastures" (1930), which, including its revival in 1951, played for a total of 1,642 performances. Due to illness this revival would be Jones’s last production

One of the early members of the Provincetown Players, Jones worked closely with his friend Eugene O'Neill on many of his productions including "Anna Christie", "The Great God Brown", and "Desire Under the Elms".

Jones published many articles on theatre design throughout his career; his books include: "Drawings for the Theatre" (1925), "The Dramatic Imagination" (1941), and, with Kenneth Macgowan, "Continental Stagecraft" (1922).

He died in the home he was born in on Thanksgiving Day, 1954.

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