The Globe Playhouse: Its Design and Equipment

By John Cranford Adams | Go to book overview
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Chapter IX
THE TIRING-HOUSE: THIRD LEVEL

I. THE MUSIC GALLERY

EARLY in the chapter on the Globe tiring-house I spoke of the music gallery in the third level directly over the upper curtained stage. I turn now to the evidence relating to this part of the multiple stage.

No one denies the existence of a third story in the tiring-house, but considerable disagreement arises with regard to its function.1 The question turns on the location of the stage superstructure. (The superstructure, technically known as the 'heavens," consisted of a "hut," the under side of which was provided with trapdoors used for lowering and raising gods between Heaven and Earth, and a forward extension, the "stage-cover.") Now if the under side of the superstructure was on a plane with the ceiling of the second-level stage and of the middle spectator- gallery, then the scenic wall was only two stories high (23 feet from the platform to the floor of the hut) and the third level of the tiring-house lay outside the sphere of dramatic activity. Basing their contention in part upon the extant views of Elizabethan and Carolinian playhouse interiors, the majority of scholars regard this position of the superstructure and this disposition of the third level of the tiring-house as probably correct.

If, on the other hand, the under side of the superstructure was on a plane with the ceiling of the third level of the tiring-house and of the top spectator-gallery, then the scenic wall was three stories high (32 feet), and the third

____________________
1
Cf. Lawrence, Physical Conditions, p. 94: "The disposition and offices of [this] story of the tiring-house form, I fear, an unsolvable mystery."

-298-

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