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where he could not see Wittipol and Mrs. Fitzdottrell
unless the windows were situated well to the front of the
stage on one of the sides. Possibly this affords some clue to
the physical disposition of the Blackfriars stage, and shows
where it differed essentially from the arrangement in the
early public theatres. I base all this on the significant in-
struction " enter Pug behind ". Directions of this particular
phrasing are very common in old plays, and I was for
long puzzled to know what they conveyed, seeing that all
entries on the platform-stage were made behind. But after
an examination of a considerable number of directions of
the sort in connexion with the scenes where they occur, it
dawned on me that " enter behind " meant " enter on the
inner stage " and that wherever it cropped up a scene of
eavesdropping followed. Characters that entered behind
remained on the lower inner stage (seen of the audience but
unsuspected by the other characters) until the exigencies of
the action desired them to come forward and reveal their
presence. 1

The question here suggests itself, have we any clue to
the staging of the scene in the suggestion which Mrs.
Fitzdottrell obliquely conveys to her lover, in Act ii. i, by
using Pug as an intermediary ? She sends word asking him
to forbear what he has not yet done —

To forbear his acting to me,
At the gentleman's chamber-window in Lincoln's

inn there,
That opens to my gallery ; else I swear
To acquaint my husband with his folly.

Might it not be that the solution to the problem is pre-
sented in this reference to the gallery ? When the scene
opens Wittipol is in his friend Manly's chamber and Manly
sings. The rendering of the song half indicates that the
chamber was represented by the music room, which was

1 For other examples of the direction in Ben Jonson, see The Silent Woman, iii. i
and iv. i, and Volpone, Act iii. Massinger employs it in A New Way to Pay old Debts,
iii. 2 (twice), The Bondman, iii. 3, and The Fatal Dowry, iii. 1. I could cite at least fifty
other clear examples.



Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 45

fronted by curtains and opened on to the gallery. Even if
Mrs. Fitzdottrell was in the adjoining box, Wittipol may
have emerged on the gallery and proceeded to her "window".
It really looks as if some such course was adopted, other-
wise it is difficult to see how Wittipol could have struck
Fitzdottrell from the window at the close, according to the
text. The deduction from all this would be that the gallery
at the Blackfriars circulated round at least two sides of the
stage, that the music room there was not at the back and
that the whole scene was acted sideways and somewhat to
the front. In part this conclusion runs counter to my own
ideas, but in matters of Elizabethan research the truth has
an ugly habit of mocking at one's preconceptions.

Beyond this puzzling scene I know of only two other
instances on the Pre-Restoration stage 1 where two windows
of any kind were used conjunctively. One, in The Picture,
has already been referred to under "grated windows". The
other, which I shall not attempt to elucidate, occurs in The
Parson s Wedding, ii. 7, where a direction runs, " Enter (at
the windows) the Widow and Master Careless, Mistress
Pleasant and Master Wild, Captain, Master Sad, Constant,
Jolly, Secret, a table and knives ready for oysters."

(g) Upper Back Windows

Some reference to the possibility of a back window forming
part of the upper inner stage has already been made in
section (b). That important, long-obscured truths may
be accidentally stumbled upon is revealed by the cir-
cumstance that Dr. Albright, in seeking to establish an
erroneous conclusion with regard to one of the features
of the "Messallina" print, has vitally increased our know-
ledge of the architectural disposition of the tiring-house.
Unless we can concede this upper back window, certain
scenes and situations in a few old plays are utterly incom-
prehensible. One takes it that, like the casement, this back

1 For an early picture-stage example, see The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies
(First Series), p. 174.



46 Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage

window was really a window and not a make-believe. But
there all resemblance ends, for while the casement was
simply and solely provided for dramatic purposes, the upper
back window owed its origin to the pressing necessity for
light.

Not to rob Dr. Albright of any of his laurels, I shall first
cite the examples he gives in proof of what he somewhat
ambiguously styles cc the gallery window ". ! They are three
in number, but one of them (from The Picture^ iv. 2) I have
had to discard, because, as demonstrated in section (e), it is
irrelevant. The others occur in The Great Duke of Florence^
v. 1, and If You know not me y You know Nobody^ Act v, both
Cockpit plays. In the former, Sanazarro is seen imprisoned
in an upper chamber in Charamonte's house. Hearing the
clatter of horses, "he looks back" (i.e. out of the window)
and says :

A goodly troop ! this back part of my prison
Allows me liberty to see and know them.

With Sanazarro's recognition of three of the equestrians
Dr. Albright ends his summary of the scene, but the subse-
quent action requires to be noted. In order to communicate
with the Duchess, Sanazarro slips a diamond ring from his
finger, and taking a pane of glass (from the window?) writes
upon it. Curiously enough, he does not throw it out behind
as one would expect, and here, textually, we lose sight of
him. The "goodly troop" enter below on foot, as outside
the house, and then "the pane falls down" at Fiorinda's
feet. Evidently Sanazarro has thrown it from the gallery.
But she sees nothing of him, and only says, "What's
that ? a pane thrown from the window, no wind stirring."
Doubtless this clumsy expedient was adopted because the
falling and receipt of the glass missive could not be shown
behind. But the whole is infantile.

In If You know notme^ etc., we have the direction, "Enter
Elizabeth, Gage, and Clarentia above." In response to
Elizabeth's command, "Good Master Gage, loojie to the

1 The Sbakspcrian Stage y p. 66.



Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 47

pathway that doth come from the Court," Gage goes to the
window and tells of three horsemen that he sees riding
towards them at break-neck speed.

In both these cases the testimony as to the existence of
an actual back window — of a casement that could be opened
— is very slender. The sceptic who should pooh-pooh them
could not be answered, were it not for my discovery of
a much more potent example. This occurs in The Captain^
v. 2, a Blackfriars play of circa 16 13. Although the scene
is not directly indicated as taking place on the upper stage,
one can safely draw the inference that it was acted there.
Note that Fabricio says of Jacomo, "he walks below for
me, under the window." It is arranged to play a trick
upon the tarrier by emptying the contents of a chamber-
pot on his head. Then

Enter Wench.

Clor. Art thou there, wench ?
Wench. I.

Fab. Look out then if you canst see him.
Wench. Yes I see him, and by my troth he stands so fair I could
not hold were he my father; his hat's off too, and he's scratching
his head.

Fab. O wash that hand I prithee.

Wench. Send thee good luck, this the second time I have thrown
thee out to day : ha, ha, ha, just on's head.
Fran. Alas !

Fab. What does he now?

Wench. He gathers stones, God's light, he breaks all the street
windows.

Jacomo. 1 Whores, Bawds, your windows, your windows.
Wench. Now he is breaking all the low windows with his sword.
Excellent sport, now he's beating a fellow that laugh'd

at him.
Truly the man takes it patiently ; now he goes down

the street.
Gravely looking on each side, there's not one more
dare laugh.

1 He is not on the stage, and as no entry is marked, he doubtless calls out behind.



48 Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage

Seeing that it was impossible to visualize Jacomo's action
after his offensive baptism, 1 the whole of the scene must have
been positively suggested to the dramatist by the presence of
the upper back window.

In The Devil's Law Case (a Globe or Blackfriars play of
circa 1620), there is a situation that on superficial reading
promises proof of this upper back casement, but on minute
examination disappoints. In Act v. 5, Romelio induces
Leonora and the Capuchin to enter a closet on the lower
stage, and then locks them in. In the next scene the friar
and the lady appear at a turret window (spoken of as a case-
ment) which looks out to the sea. Both are very anxious
to escape. After threatening to "leap these battlements"
(in allusion probably to the balustraded gallery), Leonora
asks the Capuchin to "ope the other casement that looks
into the city." The Capuchin replies, "Madam, 1 shall,"
but no direction follows implying that he does so. Both
immediately exeunt, and shortly afterwards they appear
below. Are we to assume that escape was made in sight of
the audience through the back window ? Surely the lady's
farthingale would have rendered this acrobatic feat a matter
of some difficulty.

Exits of this order could only be conceded on the ground
that the inner casement was in a partition opening out on to
a corridor, and not in the outer wall. Although inferior in
usefulness to an outer window, a window of this kind would
have its utility in admitting reflected natural light to the
upper inner stage. But, apart from the question of case-
ments, some reasonable grounds for belief in this corridor-
hiding partition can be educed from a number of stage-
directions proving the existence of a door leading on to the
upper inner stage, a door so solid and illusive that it could,
when necessary, be locked. 2 One cannot well conceive any
other position for such a door except at the back.

The inexorable sway of logic compels me, in despite of

1 The mere drenching could have been, and, as a matter of fact, had been shown.
See The Tivo Italian Gentlemen, iv. 6.

2 Cf. The Guardian (Blackfriars), iii. 6 ; Ovid's Tragedy, iii. 5 ; The Second
Maiden s Tragedy, iv. 3.



Windows on the Pre- Res to rati on Stage 49

certain obstinate preconceptions, to admit the feasibility
of exits, on occasion, by this back window. I feel assured
that the reader will have vivid personal experience of the
astonishment that accompanied my discovery of the fact
that a well-known scene in Romeo and Ju lie t goes far towards
demonstrating this feasibility. In Act iii. 5, of the arche-
typal love-tragedy, we must begin by asking ourselves
where, theatrically speaking, did the scene open ? At first it
would appear that "Juliet and her Romeo'' are communing
at an upper window, but maturer reflection reveals the
"if" in the matter. While the surreptitious quarto of
1 597 clearly says, " enter Romeo and Juliet at the window,"
Smethwick's undated quarto, on the other hand, merely has
"enter Romeo and Juliet aloft." If we could assume that
"aloft" really meant "the upper inner stage", a textual
difficulty that arises a little later could readily be explained
away. Juliet's line, " then window let day in and let life out,"
evidently implies the simultaneous opening of a casement,
but that casement could not have been in the tiring-house
facade, for the window at which the lovers stood, or the
aperture which did duty for a window, was already open.
The only logical conclusion is that Juliet suited the action
to the word by opening the back casement. But here another
difficulty crops up. After the line " Farewell, my love, one
kisse and I'll descend," is to be found in Quarto 1 (but not
elsewhere), the indication "he goeth downe"; and the rest
of the scene is given with Romeo on the lower stage. How,
then, did he go down ? If, illusively, by a rope-ladder he
must have descended at the front of the tiring-house. But
it is to be noted that it is nowhere clearly stated that he so
descends. Assuming that Juliet, at the line quoted, opened
the back casement, Romeo could have gone through it, as
if on to a rope-ladder, and, running downstairs, quickly
emerged through one of the entering doors on to the lower
stage. Vainly one asks oneself what was the justification for
this clumsy arrangement. The necessity is not apparent.
But clumsy as it is, it has its analogue in the scene already
cited from The Great Duke of Florence.



5<d Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage

Unless we can press into evidence the scene from Romeo
and Juliet^ proof is lacking to show that the upper back
window was a characteristic of the public theatre. All the
other examples cited are from private-theatre plays. But it
seems to me that the presence of the window having been
satisfactorily demonstrated in the one type of house, may be
rationally inferred in the other. The necessity which called
it into being was equally pressing in both.

(h) Lower-Stage Windows

Very few old plays exist in which reference can be found
to the presence of windows below, and even in these it is
matter for speculation whether the references can always be
taken literally. The ample provision of casements, grates
and curtained rooms on the upper stage answered most
purposes and precluded the necessity for placing windows
in the lower part of the tiring-house facade. Indeed I
know of only two plays which indicate the presence of
windows on the lower outer stage. l In the last scene of
Field's Amends for Ladies (a Blackfriars play of circa 1 6 1 5),
four characters are standing outside a bedroom, evidently
represented by the lower inner stage with closed traverses.
Suddenly they all say, "How now ?" in unison, the accom-
panying direction being " looking in at the window ". 2 Lord
Feesimple describes what is going on in the bedroom, and
subsequently "a curtain is drawn and a bed discovered".
Here the action must certainly have taken place on the lower
stage, not only because it was usual to act bedroom scenes
there, but for the reason that plays never ended with all the
characters above. Seemingly, then, the play is evidence for
a window on lower stage level close by the traverses. It
may be that some corroboration of this is afforded in Sir
Clyomon and Sir Clamydes, a public-theatre play of circa

1 The practicable stall window in Ardcn of Faversbam, ii. 2 (which the Prentice
lets down, thus breaking Black Will's head), was, of course, a temporary wooden con-
trivance, and to be reckoned among properties.

2 I have not been able to see the original quarto and can only quote the play as
given in Dodsley's collection.





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Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 5 1

1 592. Scene 9 opens in the Forest of Marvels. Subtle Shift
enters on his way to Sir Clamydes in prison, talking as he
performs his journey. When he reaches his destination, he
hears the knight lamenting, and asks him cc to look out of
the window ". The door of the prison is subsequently
opened, and Clamydes " enters out ". 1

No argument could be advanced for the presence of a
back window on the upper inner stage that would not apply
equally as well to a back window on the corresponding
inner stage below. In each there was a pressing necessity for
light. The difficulty could be met in night scenes by the
bringing in of candles, but there were many other scenes in
which this could not be done. Admit the provision of the
lower back window as a requisite architectural feature and
its ultimate employment by the dramatist may be inferred.

Four scenes may be cited as tending to establish the
existence of this lower back window. In Marlowe's The
Massacre at Paris, Scene 9, Talaeus enters to Ramus in his
study 2 and tells him the Guisians are hard at his door. He
is in a state of panic and offers to leap out of the window but
is stayed by Ramus.

In The Merry Wives of Windsor (an early Globe play),
the fourth scene of Act 1 in the distinctive folio version
passes in a room in Dr. Caius's house. The scene opens
with Mrs. Quickly calling, " What, John Rugby, I pray
thee goe to the casement, and see if you can see my Master,
Master Docter Caius comming." Rugby replies, " I'll goe
watch." Immediately afterwards Mrs. Quickly talks about
him to the others, and most modern editors of the play,
assuming his departure, insert "exit Rugby" in the middle
of the Dame's second speech. I take this to be as widely
astray as is the interpolated note of his entry when he ex-
claims, "Out alas; here comes my Master." Clearly Rugby

1 Not all early textual allusions can be taken literally. I doubt if any inference
can be drawn from the Horse Courser's threat in Doctor Faustus, Scene n, "I will
speak with him now, or I'll break his glass windows about his ears."

2 In Pre-Restoration stage-directions the term "study" generally connotes the
lower inner stage. Cf. Histriomastix, Act i 5 The Dinj'tVs Charter, i. 4 and iv. 1 ; The
Novella, Act 1 ; Satiromastix, i. 2 5 The Woman Hater, v. 1 ; 'TisPity She's a Whore, ii.
1 and iii. 6.



52 IVindows on the Pre-Restoration Stage

has never left the sight of the audience. He has simply
been watching at the back casement on the lower inner
stage.

In The Alchemist (a Globe and Blackfriars play of circa
1608), the fourth scene of Act iv is laid in a room in
Lovewit's house. Dol comes in hurriedly with the intelli-
gence that the master has suddenly returned. To convince
Subtle and Face, she bids them cc look out and see ". Forty
of the neighbours, she says, are standing around him, talk-
ing. Face evidently looks out of the back window, for he
recognizes Lovewit, who is not seen till the opening of the
following act.

In Middleton and Rowley's The Spanish Gypsie (a Cockpit
and Salisbury Court play), Act i. 3 opens with a discovery
on the lower inner stage. The scene is a darkened bedroom
in Fernando's house. Left alone after the rape, Clara looks
about her in hopes of being able to identify the place.
" Help me ", she says —

Help me my quicken'd senses ! tis a garden

To which this window guides the covetous prospect,

A large and fair one ; in the midst

A curious alablaster fountain stands.

All this she is supposed to see by aid of the moonlight
streaming through the window. As in the case of the upper
back casement, this window must have been situated in a
back partition, and not in the outer wall of the theatre. At
the beginning of the scene Roderigo departs through a door
which he locks after him, and this door must certainly have
been situated at the back of the stage. It formed the third
mode of entrance to which reference is occasionally made in
old stage-directions. *

Elsewhere I have shown how, at the Restoration period,
the prime characteristics of the obsolescent platform-stage
were amalgamated with the essentials of the new picture-

1 Cf. The Maydcs Metamorphosis, ii. 2 and iii. 2 ; The Fairy Pastoral! (i 600), "They
cntrd at severall doores Lcarchus at the Midde doore." For probable position of door,
see Mr. Walter II. Godfrey's conjectural designs of the interior of the Fortune Theatre,
now reproduced. Its use is indicated in Volpone, or the Fox, iii. 5.



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Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 53

stage. 1 To this amalgamation were due the differential
qualities which distinguished the English picture-stage of
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries from the picture-
stages of the rest of Europe. Thanks to it the window-
scene conventionalities of the non-scenic epoch were per-
petuated for at least another fifty years. In placing the two
normal entering doors of the old tiring-house facade in the
proscenium arch at the front of the stage, the Restoration
theatre-builders topped them with practicable windows
surrounded by balconies. Whether this arrangement was
strictly after the old system or a mere fusion of its manifold
characteristics I cannot say, but at least it had the advan-
tage of permitting a ready realization of many old stage
effects. One calls it an advantage for the reason that for
some years after the advent of the picture-stage the Eliza-
bethan plays constituted the staple repertory of the players.
Not only that, but new pieces were written now and again
to some slight extent on old principles. Thus a recurrence
of the popular wall-storming effect of the Elizabethan period
is to be noted in the opening scene of DUrfey's tragedy, The
Siege of Memphis, as acted at the Theatre Royal in 1676.
At that late date this effect would not have been procured
without the use of the proscenium balconies. New window
scenes on the old principles were also conceived by the
Restoration dramatist. We have a notable example of this
in the anonymous comedy of The Mock Duellist ; or the
French Valet, as produced at the Theatre Royal, Bridges
Street, in 1675. In Act ii. 3, the exterior of the school-
house, Kitty Noble appears at a window above, probably a
casement, as she closes it at the end of the scene. In Act
v. t, scene Covent Garden, Kitty lowers a rope ladder and
Airy climbs up to the window. Years pass, the great century
wanes and dies, and still we find the old effects being steadily
repeated. In Shadwell's comedy of The Scowrers, as pro-
duced at Drury Lane in 1691, excellent use was made of
the proscenium balconies in the last act, at a juncture where

1 See the paper on " Proscenium Doors j an Elizabethan Heritage," in the First
Series of these Studies.



54 Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage

the action takes place at opposite windows. Later examples,
from the The Lying Lovers of Sir Richard Steele and other
plays of the Augustan era, could readily be cited. But
sufficient has been set forward to show how far-reaching
was the influence of at least one or two of the Elizabethan
conventionalities.



The Origin of the Theatre Programme



The Origin of the Theatre Programme

In the popular misuse of a term one often gains a clue to
the ramifications of its history. Up to a period within living
memory the word playbill was commonly employed in the
vernacular in the sense of programme, although, strictly
considered, it signifies nothing more than a theatrical adver-
tisement. In this perversion, reaching back a couple of
hundred years, we have clear indication that the theatre
programme was a belated offshoot of the archetypal playbill,
or poster, just as the poster itself was a development of the
oral announcement. In matters dealing with the history of
words one generally turns to the New English Dictionary as
the final arbiter, but in this particular case the great authority
is to be found wanting. It ignores the longevous corruption
of the term, despite notable examples of its use in the Essays
of ' Elia y and fails deplorably in the attempted definition of
it in its original sense. We are told that a playbill is "a bill
or placard announcing a play and giving the names of the
actors to whom the various parts are assigned." Here we
have a distinct begging of the question, seeing that no proof
has ever been advanced that the poster in the first century of
its history bore the names of the players. For a thoroughly
scientific definition of the term we have to turn to the
Century Dictionary , where the difficulty is surmounted by the
qualifying clause, "with or without cast and alternatively
a programme."

In the earliest days of the English drama the necessity for
advertisement was as vital as it is to-day. About the year
1483, when a company of actors went about the country
giving performances of a moral play called The Castle of
Perseverance^ they employed two advance agents, called
Vexillators, whose duty it was to go a week beforehand to
the places to be visited, and after much blowing of trumpets
to announce the coming performance and its characteristics



58 The Origin of the Theatre Programme

in a well-conned, rhymed address. ! A similar course was
followed in connexion with the Ludus Coventrize. Probably
the Vexillators were not unknown in fifteenth-century
London, but on that score evidence is lacking. What we do
know is that, in slightly altered form, the custom introduced
by them obtained in many country towns until the middle


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Online LibraryWilliam John LawrenceThe Elizabethan playhouse and other studies → online text (page 5 of 22)