La bohème

Designer Stephen Brimson Lewis shares his inspiration for La bohème.


La bohème

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William S. Osborn, 1901.

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Miss Vesta Tilley.

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Sarah Bernhardt by Félix Nadar.

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Photo (1900).

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Dana and the Apple, Edward Stichen (1922). An image that seemed to sum up 'Mimi' as both muse and lover - a bridge between painting and photography - a startling contemporary young woman and yet captured 90 years ago. Its these connections that I search for when first staring out to design a new production.

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Augustus John. Photograph.

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Newsies at Skeeter Branch, St. Louis, Missouri. Photograph by Lewis Hine.

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La bohème.

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Photograph by Perry Ogden. Francis Bacon's Studio - exquisitely squalid. I needed an image of a real painters studio, not cliched operatic imaginings - but a room where paint reigns. Every surface covered with the history of a thousand marks of testing, working out, frustration, elation. A single window but this one without a view other than perhaps a small piece of sky.

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Francis Bacon Studio. Photograph by Perry Ogden.

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Le Moulin Rouge, Paris, Photograph: (1899). This became a spring board for Act two - I would have loved to include the Elephant but Baz Luhrmann got there before me.

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Paris Rooftops, Photograph.

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Paris Rooftops, Photograph: (1987).

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Hot Chestnut Seller. Photo: (1910).

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Interior of miner's tenement Photograph: E. Smith (1954). A similar space to Bacons studio but this time a home - again a real place.

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Berwick Street Market, Photograph: (1929).

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Berwick Street Market, Photograph: (1933). A city space and a city I have known all my life - Its often surprising how much a designer draws on his sub conscious memories - its often more reliable than the conscious, cluttered mind- even though its Paris I am trying to conjure in the audience's minds its inevitable that theres some bleed through from all those tiny details of ones own sense of place.

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Julia Jackson, Photo by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1867.

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