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Design for Performance

Design for Performance: Diaghilev to the Pet Shop Boys
Edited by Peter Docherty and Tim White
Lund Humphries, London, 1996
ISBN: 0 85331 720 8

Design is a crucial feature of stage performance, and it is only this century that it has been taken seriously as an art form in its own right. This book examines the history of performance design in Britain this century through the work of one of the most important designers and impresarios since Diaghilev, Peter Williams (1914–95). Williams taught at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and as he was inspiring student designers, the renowned film-maker Derek Jarman among them, so he was also influencing the course of contemporary dance in Britain, serving on committees representing and promoting dance from the 1960s until the early 1990s.

Williams's achievements are considered here alongside parallel developments in performance design this century, from Diaghilev's powerful influence, to the designs of artists working today, such as David Hockney. 140 examples of stage and costume design are illustrated in full colour. Extracts from Williams's own writings are included as well as essays by leading performance design experts, and by the general editor, Peter Docherty, a colleague and personal friend of Williams, and himself a designer for the stage.