John Heartfield’s fascination with the theatre and film began in his youth and continued throughout his personal and professional life.
From the 1920s into his senior years, he was one of the most important and influential theatre production designers for playwright such as Hauptmann, Brecht, Piscator, and Holz.
Heartfield was thirty-years-old when he created this set design Villa Dreißiger for Gerhart Hauptmann’s Die Weber ( The Weavers ). In 1921, Heartfield was tirelessly creating groundbreaking book covers to advertise books sold by Malik-Verlag publishing. Yet, he found time to create stage sets and costumes for innovative Berlin theatre productions.
His goal for stage set design was to compliment the playwright’s vision as simply as possible. His backdrops, mechanics, scenery, props, and costumes were meant to blend with the actors and their movements on stage. Heartfield worked to make his theatre sets seamless part of the action on stage.
His early work in Berlin theatre predates his famous photo montages against fascism, Hitler, and The Third Reich. However, there was almost always a strong political element these plays. In his youth, John Heartfield was passionate about his love for film and the theatre as well as his hatred of ignorance and injustice.
Though John Heartfield is most famous for his montages, it is undeniable that he loved working with the playwrights, directors, and production professionals of Berlin theatre companies.