The Mordecai Gorelik Theater Collection consists of scene designs, costume renderings and illustrations by Broadway designer Mordecai Gorelik. They are part of larger collection of papers and images donated by Gorelik to the Special Collections Research Center, Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The Gorelik digital collection was made possible by through a grant from the United States Institute for Theatre Technology.
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Mordecai (Max) Gorelik (1899-1990)
Known best for his scene designs for the Group Theatre in the 1930s and his seminal theatre history text New Theatres for Old (1940), Mordecai Gorelik's career spanned three quarters of the twentieth century. He studied or worked with the most famous designers of the1920s and 1930s-Robert Edmund Jones, Norman Bel Geddes, Cleon Throckmorton, Lee Simonson- and designed for the most prestigious companies of the day- the Provincetown Players, the Theatre Guild, the Group Theatre. The lesser venues in which he worked were the most political and/or avant garde of their day-the New Playwrights, the Theatre Collective, the Theatre of Action, the Theatre Union.
Gorelik rendered in a wide variety of media and styles as evidenced by the images represented here. His first encounter with Bertolt Brecht in 1935 deeply influenced both his theories and designs. Gorelik pioneered the deliberate employment of metaphor in design, exhibited in his unpublished manuscript The Scenic Imagination. His Broadway career began with John Howard Lawson's vaudevillian critique of Americana, Processional, and ended in 1960 with A Distant Bell. His film designs include L'Ennemi Publique No.1 and None But the Lonely Heart.
Mordecai Gorelik taught at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale from 1960-1972. Upon his retirement he continued to teach, design, direct, and focused primarily on his playwriting.
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