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Saturday, August 09, 2021

grand design
An anonymous tipster clued me in on the origin of the above poster for Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of “Hamlet” paired with the hippie-musical “Hair”, which captivated me so much a couple of months ago.

Turns out it’s the work of Pentagram Design, specifically staffer Paula Scher. There’s extensive detail about the campaign on Pentagram’s blog, including lots of imagery from past poster work for Public Theater (Scher’s done their campaigns for 13 of the past 14 years). Great stuff.

The subtle visual combination of the two very different plays into a “calligraphic” mohawk skull is confirmed in the rundown. More attention is given to the typography developed, which I admit is pretty interesting:

For the updated identity, being produced in conjunction with a major renovation of The Public’s multi-theater complex on Lafayette Street, the letterforms have been redrawn using the Hoefler & Frere-Jones font Knockout. The new system is more refined as it retains the active nature of the original but provides more of a structure, while the change from a vertical to horizontal orientation has the effect of making the logo more architectural.

This new graphic system can be seen in this summer’s Shakespeare in the Park posters that utilize the strict 90° angles of a De Stijl-inspired grid. Retained is the bold Victorian wood block type but now, the space is organized by angled printers rules, a distinctive throwback that adds structure while it references wood block type. “The energy of the identity is as active as ever, but it is a little more structured, a little more refined,” says Scher. “After 14 years it’s clear that the original identity had a lot of power, and while the system cannot return to that original, we can return energy to the form. It’s a bit like New York—it needs to constantly be changing.”

As it happens, I might be going to see the “Hair” production next weekend. I’d rather have seen “Hamlet”, but too late for that. In any case, Pentagram’s visuals obviously have had an effect on me.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 08/09/2021 08:48:45 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative, New Yorkin'
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