Charles Dickens would have been 200 today. Among the bicentennial celebrations of the noted Victorian writer, the Museum of London has been hosting an elaborate Dickens and London exhibition including a Dickensian street scene designed and built by set designer Simon Costin for its City Gallery. The “fantastical wintry vision of 19th century London” made entirely of cardboard and lit with hundreds of LED lights includes quite an array of Victorian buildings and winding alleyways. According to Costin, “My intention is to create a fantasy vision of London as it would have been glimpsed by Dickens on his nocturnal wanderings through the city. His essays are extremely evocative and I am using the text as my starting point and things will grow and develop from there. He has said that he felt like a child in a dream, ‘staring at the marvellousness of everything’. It is that marvellousness that I want to recreate.” The window display closes this month, but if you’re in London, the MoL’s Dickens show keeps going through June. (Via Creative Review.)
But it turns out Dickens had his own eye for design as well. Hilary Macaskill recently wrote in the Guardian that the Victorian author had quite the penchant for interior design. She cites a 6,000 word article (you can become amazingly descriptive when paid by the word) he wrote about wallpaper and other decorations, where he remarks on the design of American wallcoverings from his recent visit in 1842 along with his own designs for wallpaper. Even in his home at 48 Doughty Street, Dickens enjoyed crafting the interior spaces down to the shade of pink trim and a set of decanters he picked up for “slight bargains.” Read the entire article here and check out a slideshow of his home here.
Aging is a universal theme. ANCHISES, a new performance premiering at the Abrons Arts Center in New York tonight, explores that amid a striking set from design firm Harrison Atelier (HAt), who are also billed as co-collaborators with choreographer Jonah Bokaer. Central to this latest version of the Greek myth is Anchises’ struggle to salvage memories from the burning city of Troy. This is reflected in the set design, where, according to HAt’s website, “the set creates an environment that scripts the dance.” Blocks, representing both the old and new city, are a central part of this multi-generational performance, and a recent New York Times review championed their use of medical tubing to subtly hint at the struggle of growing old.
David Rockwell’s star turn at the Oscars last year won the designer considerable plaudits, so he’s been asked to reprise his role, according to UPI. “We loved the look and feel that David created for the Oscar show last year,” one of the producers said. “David is so creative and has such a great big-picture approach to set design,” said another. The well-known interiors ace has done considerable amount of work on Broadway as well as the Kodak Theater where the Oscars are taped, so really, it’s like a homecoming.