The Globe Playhouse: Its Design and Equipment

By John Cranford Adams | Go to book overview

Chapter VII
THE TIRING-HOUSE: STAIRS

MULTIPLE stage on five levels requires stairs. The questions: How many stairways were there in the Globe? and Where were they placed? can be answered only by a systematic study of the plays of the period, for all other records disregard the topic.

As to the number of stairways leading from the ground level to the second level of the tiring-house, it is surely significant that no situation in any play written between 1560 and 1660 requires more than one flight.1

See also Necromantes, fol. 171, where Galanthis and Melanthis ascend to "either end of the stage [the taras] from within." The last two words of this stage. direction dispose of the implication of two stairways. Even in those scenes where a row of two-story houses is represented by the multiple stage -- scenes in which two sets of stairs

____________________
1
Dialogue in The Lover's Melancholy (acted in 1628), III. ii, and in The Walks of Islington (acted in 1641), I. i, seems to imply a back, as well as a front, stairway; but action in neither scene requires two stairways. Compare The Wits, IV:

Elder Palatine. Is he coming hi'ther? Engine. He's at the door! . . . El. Pal. Then I'll be gone. Eng. No, sir; he needs must meet you in Your passage down.

Again, from Love's Cruelty, III. iv. Bellamente learns that his wife's lover is with her in the bedroom above. He orders his servant:

Come draw, take my sword, I will be double arm'd, I charge thee by thy duty, or thy life If that be more, stay you at the bottome of The staires, while I ascend their sinful chamber And if my Pistoll misse his treacherous heart He has no way to passe but on thy sword.

-229-

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