Nothing To Be Sniffed At

aromaramaNow and again you come across something very different in the world of theatre and today I would like to share an article from the Clyde Fitch Report, by dramaturg and biological anthropologist Dillon Slagle.

In it,  Slagle interviews David Bernstein, who is a Scent Designer, an emerging field in theatre. Now this isn’t necessarily a new, 21st century thing. Indeed, American playwright and producer David Belasco toyed with the idea back in the early 1900s but it never really took hold.

Can You Smell That Smell? It’s Theatrical Scent Design

Theatre has begun to embrace a new type of designer. Their work is invisible, but, if done correctly, it can have a palpable impact on the performance. I interviewed David Bernstein about his work in the burgeoning field of scent design.


Dillon Slagle: On a basic level, what is scent design?

David Bernstein: I split up scent design into two categories. One is an ambient smell or scent, which is scenting the theatre or the performance space as the audience is walking in. It’s part of the initial impression. It’s more like an installation, so it serves to transport the setting, or to make it “other.” The second is more like scent cues. Rather than scenting the space when you walk in, it’s the introduction of aromas to coincide with the action on stage.

You can read the rest of the Q & A here and another interview with Bernstein here. It’s an interesting concept, and I guess with immersive theatre all the rage at the moment, it will have a place. Me, I think I’ll just stick with smelling the grease paint.