24 July 2020
Fleming, Alison C. “Presenting the Spectators as the Show: The Piazza Degli Uffizi as Theater and Stage.” The Sixteenth Century Journal, vol. 37, no. 3, 2006, pp. 701–720.
This article examines the architecture of Florence’s Piazza degli Uffizi (Giorgio Vasari, mid to late 1500s) as a public performance space through the lens of scenographic theory despite the fact that it is not a theater in the traditional sense. The “performance” in this article is the public performance of urban life within the Italian Renaissance or, as the author puts it, “man on the stage of life.” For intellectual context, the article refers to writings on theater and set design by Plato, Vitruvius, Alberti and, particularly, Serlio. Also, it discusses Anthony Vidler’s ideas about the “street scene” vis a vis the three Renaissance scene types. The article provides a formal analysis of the piazza, and discusses how it relates architecturally to Florence and the Arno river.
How does this relate to scenography?
One interesting and unusual aspect of this essay is that it uses writing on theater and set design to analyze public architecture. This helps understand how thinking about theater and theatrical space is relevant in a contemporary urban experience. (I believe writings by Anthony Vidler and Aaron Betsky fit in well here, too.) Other relevant themes here are public space and the theater of daily life.
In a more literal sense, theater design students who are involved in site-specific productions, or any production presented outside of a traditional theater will find this article relevant in similar ways.
Direction mention is made of the scenography of the Italian Renaissance, including theatrical work by Vasari.
Note: the Uffizi’s peristyle central semi-courtyard with central arch appears to be one piece of a puzzle related to Italian Renaissance theater development. Other related architectural elements mentioned in this article are the scaenae frons, loggia, triumphal arch, street and proscenium arch.