Continuities and innovations in staging

Mariko Ichikawa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Taking into account what we know in general terms about contemporary performance practice, this chapter considers how the physical features of the Blackfriars theatre might have influenced the plays acted there. It will involve a concentration in particular on its stage and auditorium. I will deal mainly with plays written by Shakespeare, Fletcher and their fellow dramatists for the King’s Men after the company’s acquisition of the Blackfriars in 1608, though I will refer also to earlier plays written for the Theatre or the Globe. Although we do not know the precise size and design of either the Globe or the Blackfriars stage, we can work back from such information as we do have. The Fortune playhouse had a stage 43 feet (13.1 metres) wide and 27 feet 6 inches (8.4 metres) deep, if the generally accepted interpretation of the Fortune contract is correct; the Globe stage, on which it was modelled, would probably have been about the same size. In a legal deposition of 1609, the Blackfriars theatre is said to have measured 66 feet (20.1 metres) by 46 feet (14 metres). This space would probably have contained a tiring-house and a stage, flanked with boxes, at one end, as well as galleries and seats in front. Given these various requirements, Richard Hosley proposes a possible stage size of 29 feet (8.8 metres) across and 18 feet 6 inches (5.6 metres) deep, while Keith Sturgess suggests a stage 30 feet (9.1 metres) by 23 feet (7 metres). These suggestions would imply that the Blackfriars stage was about half the size of the Globe stage. There were, nevertheless, certain similarities. Although the Blackfriars stage had no roof supported by posts, the other stage facilities were broadly the same; the requirements of plays performed at the Blackfriars suggest that its stage had two doors in the façade, a discovery space between them, a balcony above, a trapdoor to the space below and a descent machine.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMoving Shakespeare Indoors
Subtitle of host publicationPerformance and Repertoire in the Jacobean Playhouse
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages79-94
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781139629195
ISBN (Print)9781107040632
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jan 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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