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The interval and indoor playmaking

Hutchings, M. (2013) The interval and indoor playmaking. Studies in Theatre and Performance, 33 (3). pp. 263-279. ISSN 2040-0616

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1386/stap.33.3.263_1

Abstract/Summary

Although early modern acting companies were adept at using different kinds of venue, performing indoors imposed a significant change in practice. Since indoor theatres required artificial lighting to augment the natural light admitted via windows, candles were employed; but the technology was such that candles could not last untended throughout an entire performance. Performing indoors thus introduced a new component into stage practice: the interval. This article explores what extant evidence (such as it is) might tell us about the introduction of act breaks, how they may have worked, and the implications for actors, audiences and dramatists. Ben Jonson's scripting of the interval in two late plays, The Staple of News and The Magnetic Lady, is examined for what it may suggest about actual practice, and the ways in which the interval may have been considered integral to composition and performance is explored through a reading of Middleton and Rowley's The Changeling. The interval offered playwrights a form of structural punctuation, drawing attention to how acts ended and began; actors could use the space to bring on props for use in the next act; spectators might use the pause between acts to reflect on what had happened and, perhaps, anticipate what was to come; and stage-sitters, the evidence indicates, often took advantage of the hiatus in the play to assert their presence in the space to which all eyes naturally were drawn.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Early Modern Research Centre (EMRC)
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
ID Code:32720
Uncontrolled Keywords:indoor theatre practice, interval, candles, Jonson, Middleton and Rowley, The Changeling
Publisher:Intellect

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