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"Scaenes with four doors": real and virtual doors on early restoration stages.

Debate over the number of physical doors of entrance on English stages during the Restoration period (1660-1700) has been a staple of commentary since the late nineteenth century. The majority of commentators prefer four, with several suggesting two, and at least one proposing up to six. (1) To the non-specialist there is a whiff of inconsequentiality here: the Restoration equivalent, perhaps, of angels on pinheads. I contend, however, that this is not merely a peripheral issue, of interest only to a few historians. The number of forestage doors on a particular stage (often an a priori assumption) influences how one interprets stage directions and therefore influences one's views not only of period theatre practice, but also of the plays themselves. That Restoration drama seems to be susceptible to misinterpretation may be inferred from the history of its critical reception. The serious plays have been castigated for not being sufficiently "Shakespearean", and many of the comedies (in their original forms) were effectively banished from the stage in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries on moral grounds. It is no surprise, therefore, that admiration was partial when the plays were "rediscovered" critically at the turn of the century. (Brian Corman gives an overview of their critical reception.) In a classic example of a faulty theatrical model resulting in faulty interpretations, critics at the time, assuming that Restoration theatres simply housed cruder versions of the Victorian/Edwardian picture-stages with which they were familiar, found Restoration dramaturgy to be naive and cumbersome. Even the pioneering theatre historian W. J. Lawrence, on whose notebooks Richard Southern based his influential book Changeable Scenery, confessed to being puzzled and alarmed by the "crude stage subterfuges" and "primitive arrangements" of the plays (Southern Changeable Scenery, 139-41). These notions persist; for example, in her discussion of Aphra Behn's The Forc'd Marriage (Lincoln's Inn Fields, 1670), Janet Todd refers to Behn's "slight awareness of the new platform Restoration stage with its proscenium arch, jutting platform, back stage, and sets of shutters shutting off various spaces" (3). The confused terminology is unfortunate, as is the garbled transmission of Southern's dispersed shutter hypothesis, for which there is no evidence in early Restoration theatres, but what is most striking about Todd's comment is her depreciation of Behn herself. In my analysis of The Forc'd Marriage, I find evidence of a confident control over theatrical resources--surprising at this early stage in her career --and Dawn Lewcock sees her structuring groove and shutter operations to manipulate audience responses (Keenan "Early Restoration Staging", 335-7; Lewcock Sir William Davenant, 198-202). One can only conclude that Todd's misunderstanding of Restoration stages and stagecraft has coloured her response to the play.

The implications of such misinterpretation run more widely, however. If one subscribes to the four-door model, which is based on evidence from later theatres, particularly the first Drury Lane (1674), it is easy to imagine entrances, and hence stage action, on the forestage near the doors, and hard to find reasons why action should normally occur in the scenic area, upstage of the curtain line. With two forestage doors, by contrast, one is more inclined to infer regular entrances through side-shutter (wing) passageways, and consequently to propose more action in the scenic area. The consequences of an actor's onstage position are as much perceptual as dramaturgical. With action mainly occurring on a forestage it would be reasonable to propose that scenery would have been viewed merely as a pictorial backdrop supplying a passive signifier of place; whereas stage action in the scenic area raises the potential for scenery to have played a more active (and perceptually integrated) dramaturgical role in Restoration performance. This potential is suggested in my analysis below, though a full exploration of the interaction between Restoration audiences and a burgeoning scenic dramaturgy is outside the remit of this particular investigation.

My conceptual model of the Lincoln's Inn Fields (hereafter LIF) stage was developed from a study of the staging demands in all the extant new plays performed there in the period 1661-1674 (Keenan "Early Restoration Staging"). The model employs a pair of forestage doors and, as I have expounded in previous Theatre Notebook articles ("The Early Restoration Stage Re-Anatomised"; "Boyle's Guzman"), I follow Graham Barlow, John Orrell, and Dawn Lewcock in adopting a scenic arrangement similar to John Webb's design for the Hall theatre at Whitehall (Fig. 1). (Built for court performances in 1665, this is the only known theatre during the Restoration period for which architectural drawings survive.) To attempt to understand the dramaturgy of plays written for the first public scenic theatres in England, Sir William Davenant's LIF (1661) and Sir Thomas Killigrew's Bridges Street (1663-72) with a mental model of a four-door stage may lead to over complexity or muddle. By contrast, the application of a two-door model can clarify apparently obscure stage action. Invariably, as I will argue, the economy of a two-door forestage dictates coherent and eminently producible staging solutions.


The twin pairs of forestage doors implied in the widely reproduced sectional drawing of a theatre ascribed to Sir Christopher Wren (Fig. 2) have undoubtedly influenced assumptions about entrances on Restoration stages. Since its rediscovery among Wren's papers in 1913, this design has been promoted from having what was then termed a "tentative relation" to the Drury Lane theatre of 1674 to being widely accepted as both representing Drury Lane and providing a model for all Restoration theatres (Bell 367). Consequently, the conventional view (Holland 36-42, 256n59; Langhans "The Theatre" 8) is that on Restoration stages, entrances were usually made through the forestage doors and, if mentioned at all, entrances through wing passageways are considered rare or reserved for special effect. J. L. Styan overstates this case when he asserts, "All entrances onto the stage were made through the doors built into the proscenium arch, with access immediately onto the apron" (23). There is a danger of circular reasoning here--the more doors one proposes, the more one will assume their use--but more significantly, this view

discounts numerous stage directions in Restoration plays specifying entrances and exits in the scenic area. In the case of LIF, evidence from stage directions in all the plays known to have been premiered at this theatre, some of which is discussed here, points more to the use of two forestage doors than four (Keenan "Early Restoration Staging"). Indeed, arguments for a four-door stage at LIF turn out to be surprisingly slender. The "Wren" drawing is problematic. It bears the title "Play-house" but no other inscription. Aside from tradition, the only support for Wren as the architect of Drury Lane is Colley Cibber's autobiography of 1740, which refers to an event sixty-six years in the past when Cibber was three years old (338). Additionally, the scenic arrangement in the drawing is incomplete and a theatre built to such a design would be incapable of accommodating the stage directions in many Drury Lane plays. (2) In sum, it would not be safe to use this drawing to infer physical arrangements at the smaller and earlier theatre at Lincoln's Inn Fields, nor, in all probability, at Bridges Street.


Aside from this drawing, the case for four doors at LIF largely rests, as both Edward Langhans ("Conjectural Reconstructions", 21; "Staging Practices", 358) and Robert D. Hume ("Dorset Garden" 16n8) acknowledge, upon the interpretation of a single stage direction from George Etherege's She Wou'd If She Cou'd (16683): "Enter the Women, and after 'em Curtal at the lower Door, and Free[man] at the upper on the contrary side" (17). While the four-door argument looks initially attractive, with "upper" and "lower" doors on each side of the LIF forestage, this direction does not exclude the possibility of entrances through wing passageways, as both scholars concede ("Staging Practices" 269; "Dorset Garden" 5). Wing entrances must have been intended on John Webb's Hall stage, as the plan shows only a vestigial forestage and consequently no forestage doors. They were also standard practice on the pre-Civil War masque stage, Davenant used them in his pre-Restoration "opera" The Siege of Rhodes (1658-9 (4)), and there is evidence to suggest that post-Restoration operas may have followed suit. (5) The well-known print from Louis Grabu's opera Anadne, for instance, shows a modified Drury Lane stage with no forestage doors. (6) In She Wou'd If She Cou'd, the use of wing entrances, and hence a closer integration between fictional setting and staging, seems the more likely solution if we consider the context of the scene. The multiple exits and entrances of 2.1 are set among the walks and trees of Mulberry Garden, a then-fashionable London pleasure ground. The setting would have been easy to represent theatrically using moveable scenery typical at this time: two-dimensional tree wings and a landscape painting on the backshutters. These scenic resources displayed along the length of the scenic stage would combine with the forestage area to create a deep acting space. Actors on the forestage would be seen against this setting, but, equally, by moving onto the scenic stage, upstage of the curtain line, they would appear to be acting within the fictional environment. Such a perception is highly appropriate to the nature of the scene in which two young men pursue two spirited young women whose avowed purpose is to "run and ramble" among the walks in disguise (13). Moreover, confining stage action to the forestage, near the forestage doors would, as Barlow puts it, "reduce stage movement to almost impossible figures of eight on the apron" (110-11). Barlow's proposed two-door staging ends with the women being trapped mid-stage by the men in a pincer movement, Courtal entering on the forestage ("at the lower door"), and Freeman in the scenic area on the opposite side ("the upper on the contrary side"). Not only does this solution satisfy the stage directions, it is both visually interesting and comically effective.

There is always a danger of imposing modern conceptions of what might be considered "visually interesting" upon historical texts, but significant action in the scenic area and a period concern for visual composition in early Restoration plays should not be seen as unusual. Many LIF plays have clear indication of such action, and several, particularly Behn's The Forc'd Marriage (1670), and Roger Boyle's The History of Henry the Fifth (1664), have explicit stage directions setting up carefully composed stage pictures in the scenic area. (7) Samuel Pepys's description of a tableau in a performance he saw at LIF in March 1664 underlines the point: "at the drawing up of the curtaine, there was the finest scene of the Emperor and his people about him, standing in their fixed and different postures in their Roman habitts, above all that ever I yet saw at any of the theatres" (Latham 79).

In support of a four-door forestage at LIF, Lewcock cites another stage direction involving doors (Sir William Davenant 171). It appears in Robert Staplyton's The Slighted Maid (1663): "At the end of the first Dance Jack leads them out, and once or twice they thread the doors after him" (50). This direction is part of a masque within the play in which Jack (a will-o'-the-wisp) is leading a chorus line of male and female rustics. Lewcock suggests the dancers loop in and out of two forestage doors on the same side of the stage. However, the reference to "threading" and the number of dancers involved is perhaps more suggestive of cross-stage movements on and off stage through wing passageways. This impression firms when (again) the context of the scene is considered. The direction reads in full:
 Jack leads in the Reapers, the Men in their Half-Shirts and Linnen
 Drawers, the Maids in Straw-Hats, they stumble, and their Sickles
 fall into the Scene.
 They Dance in Figures.
 At the end of the first Dance Jack leads them out, and once or
 twice they thread the doors after him, then they take hands,
 compass in Jack, Dance a Round, and Sing. (49-50)

It is easier to imagine the reapers' sickles falling "into the Scene"--the scenic area--if the dancers are already there, that is, if we imagine the dance taking place upstage of the curtain line, rather than on the forestage. Moreover, this masque sequence begins with characters forming an onstage audience commenting on the entrance of an actor representing Evening who is, according to the dialogue, "suddenly brought in by two winds", while, as a stage direction records, "Flajolets play a far off" (48). The sudden appearance of Evening and the repeated entrances and exits of the rustics led by Jack could be realised using forestage doors, but the staging would be more comprehensible and more easily managed, in the appropriate masque style, if the actors made their entrances and exits through the wings. The offstage music would then be more closely integrated with the masque, leaving the whole area of the forestage to accommodate the onstage spectators.

A possible objection to my interpretation of these stage directions is their use of the word "doors". The association with physical doors would seem to be unavoidable, but the term may have had a more general meaning in Restoration theatrical usage. This possibility is suggested by a reexamination of Richard Flecknoe's oft-cited prefatory remarks setting out staging requirements for his play The Damoiselles a la Mode (pub. 1667): "the Scaenes & Cloathes being the least Considerable in it, any Italian Scaenes with four Doors serving for the one, and for the other any French Cloathes A La Mode" (sig. A7r). (8) As we know from this preface and other writings, the testy Flecknoe had difficulty getting his plays performed. (9) Indeed, the purpose of this section of his preface is to point out to his readers the modesty of his theatrical demands--any appropriate scenery and costumes will suffice--and hence the unjustness of his treatment by theatre managers. Taking the comment at face value what is interesting is that for Flecknoe doors come with scenes, they are inseparable. The obvious way in which we may think of doors and scenes as inseparable is if "doors" here simply refers to the gaps between the wings, that is, if Flecknoe's "doors" are synonymous with "entrances". In this new interpretation, Flecknoe would simply be requesting a scenic stage with sufficient wing positions to provide four entrances through wing passageways. (10) Indeed, if he is referring to forestage doors at all, his request is strangely constructed. Restoration uses of the word "scene" or "scenes", in the sense of a physical area of a stage, always refer to a space upstage of the curtain line, that is to those parts of the stage in physical proximity to the "Italian scenes". This could be either the mid-stage area which housed the wings, or the space upstage of the backshutter line in which discoveries or scenes of relieve were set. (11) According to the Literature Online database over thirty plays first performed between 1660 and 1700 have stage directions in which the word "scenes" appears. Almost all of these directions refer clearly to action in the scenic area and none suggests use of the forestage. For example, in 3.3 of Elkanah Settle's Cambyses (LIF, 1671) we find the direction "Exit Phedima, within the Scenes, to over-hear them" (33); while John Crown's The History of Charles the Eighth of France (Dorset Garden, 1671) supplies several examples including "They go out betwixt the Scenes, as into the Garden" (48). A reference to "scene" for the relieve or discovery area is provided by Behn in The Forc'd Mariage:
 The Curtain must be let down; and soft Musick must play: the
 Curtain being drawn up, discovers a Scene of a Temple: The King
 sitting on a Throne ... This within the Scene.
 Without on the Stage, Phillander with his sword half-drawn, held by
 Gallatea, who looks ever on Alcippus . all remaining without
 motion, whilst the Musick softly plays; this continues a while till
 the Curtain falls; and then the Musick plays aloud till the Act
 begins. (18)

It is easy to misinterpret this complex direction by thinking Behn's use of "the stage" must refer to the forestage. However, as all the actors named in this tableau are discovered behind the front curtain, "the Scene" must refer to an area upstage of "the Stage"; in other words the temple is a relieve scene and the king is sitting within the relieve area upstage of the backshutters, while the other named characters are positioned in the mid-stage scenic area.

Boyle's Guzman (LIF, 1669) furnishes further examples of the spatial use of "scene", but more significantly, the play includes promptbook annotation (in the right-hand margin, reproduced approximately below) that provides support for a wider theatrical definition of the word "door". In Act 2.4 the text records:
 [Flashes of Fire ready.

 The Scene opens, and Francisco appears in a Magical Habit
 (with his Closet painted about with Mathematical
 Instruments and Grotesque Figures) with a Laurel on his
 Head, and a White-Wan in his Hand, Knocks with his Foot,
 and four Boys appear within the Scene.
 Fran. My Spirits appear: You four, when I strike with my
 Foot, must enter like Hob-goblins, making terrible Noises
 and Hums; and all offering to Seise upon the Man that I
 shall set in that Chair, yet touch him not, but in the Way I
 have directed; and use all other Arts, which formerly you
 have practis'd in the like Occasion.

 [Bell Rings here.
 [One runs and opens
 the Door invisibly to
 Guzman, shuts it
 after him, and then
 they all four go out.

 O, one of you run, and open the Door, and bring the Person
 in. (13)

"The scene opens" here refers to the appearance of Francisco in the discovery space--as the backshutters from the previous scene draw offstage, Franciso is revealed, hence "appears". The point of this sequence is to practice the gulling of Guzman. Later when the frightened dupe enters through a practical door on the forestage--as the prompter's note above indicates--a stage direction records, "Fran[cisco] drags him till he puts him in his own Chair, then mak[es] a Circle about him" (14). Franciso then conjures his "Hob-goblins" to further terrify Guzman. At this point the prompter notes, "Stamps with his Foot, the Boys appear at several Doors in hideous Dresses, making great Noises and Hums, dancing about Guzman, and offering to lay Hands on him" (14). The context suggests that Guzman's chair should be placed mid-stage, either in the scenic area or on the forestage. As, logically, the boys should enter from the same position that they practised earlier, wing entrances for the boys would appear to be indicated both by the first stage direction, and by the prompter's note, thereby rendering compatible otherwise incompatible statements. If my interpretation of these directions is correct, there must be an equivalence between entrances made through "Doors" and those "within the scene". The likelihood of such an equivalence becomes greater when we examine another of Boyle's plays, Herod the Great (1672, pub. 1694), which was written for the King's Company at Bridges Street. (12) In this play we find, "Herod with Asdrubal, and some of the Guards, comes from within the Scene on the Theatre, at the same time Sohemus, by another of the Theatre Doors, enters on it" (24). However we interpret this direction, it demonstrates a clear equivalence in Restoration theatre usage between an entrance somewhere "within the Scene" and one through "another of the Theatre Doors". (13)

Period theatre practice clearly involved entrances and exits through forestage doors and wing passageways. Indeed, the practice was so common that the word "door" in theatrical usage may refer to an entrance point anywhere onstage. In seeking to determine the number of forestage doors at LIF, we need to distinguish between entrances and exits through real doors and the virtual doors supplied by wing passageways. As we have seen in the prompter's note above, practical doors are sometimes indicated in the play texts. This is usually in stage directions that refer to a door being visibly shut, locked, bolted, forced, or held open, etc. The key question for the two-door hypothesis is whether there is any indication in any LIF play of more than two practical doors (or their associated balconies) being demanded simultaneously. Clearly if this were the case, two forestage doors would be impossible. As it happens, practical doors are frequently required in Restoration plays and LIF plays are no exception: specific demand features in twenty-four of the forty-three plays surveyed. Despite this well-established requirement (over half the plays), no LIF play has simultaneous demand for more than two practical doors or balconies; hence, the two-door hypothesis passes the key test.

The model, however, must pass two further tests: it must be able to stage scenes where (i) multiple forestage exits and entrances are indicated, and (ii) scenes where a forestage door is stated to be locked. (In such scenes, pressure will be placed on the remaining door to cope with subsequent stage action.) Table 1 indicates LIF plays with potentially testing stage directions for a two-door model.

It might seem that the most testing demand is where two entrance points or balconies are specified simultaneously. In practice, however, very few of the forty plays with such demand actually challenge the model. Most of the demand in the first column is simply a result of entrances or exits that specify actors using more than one point of stage access, not necessarily forestage doors, for example directions in the "at the other door", or the highly frequent "enter/exit severally" formats used by thirty-two LIF plays. This specification is not surprising on a symmetrical stage with oppositional entrances and it serves usually to facilitate exits or entrances, often to avoid congestion where several actors are involved. Of the plays with entries in this column, only Samuel Tuke's The Adventures of Five Hours (1663), George Digby's Elvira (1664), and Thomas Shadwell's The Sullen Lovers (1668) present any challenges to the model. As I have analysed The Adventures of Five Hours elsewhere (mostly in regard to its scenic staging), I will focus on the other two plays here.

The difficulties in Elvira are very similar to those in Tuke's play, which is not surprising as both are "Spanish plot" intrigue dramas that seem to demand a physical reflection on stage of the twists and turns of their respective plots. Unlike The Adventures, however, the stage directions and scenic headings in Elvira are widely thought to exceed the limitations of early Restoration scenic practice. Digby's text demands more scenic settings per act than is generally thought practicable. All commentators agree that some scenic simplification would have been necessary, though opinions vary as to the amount. The point that should be made, however, is that although Digby exceeds quantitatively, he does not demand anything qualitatively different from standard early Restoration practice. This can be seen in the most challenging section of the play, the extraordinary "laboratory" scene in Act 4. This scene involves several of the main characters passing separately and secretly through a house to converge on a laboratory or perfuming room. Actors are directed to enter, "pass over" the forestage, and re-enter in the laboratory. An extract from the stage directions on a single page of the published play indicates the situation:
 Enter Don Fernando hastily over the Stage ... Exit and re-enters at
 another door ... Donna Blanca and Francisca passing over the Stage
 ... Exeunt Donna Blanca and Francisca, and re-enter as at another
 door of the Perfuming Room ... Chichon stealing over the Stage ...
 Exit Chichon, and re-enters at the further end of the Laberatory
 and stands close. (61)

The apparent difficulties of staging this sequence are seemingly exacerbated by an extraordinarily detailed scene description of the laboratory/perfuming room, creating a scene change that Peter Holland believes would have been impossible (46).
 Scene changes to the Laboratory
 Here is to open a curious Scene of a Laboratory in perspective,
 with a Fountain in it, some Stills, many Shelves with Pots of
 Porcelain, and Glasses, with Pictures above them, the Room paved
 with black and white Marble with a Prospect through Pillars, at the
 end discovering the full Moon, and by its light a perspective of
 Orange Trees, and towards that further end Silvia appears at a
 Table shifting Flowers, her back turned. (60)

The application of a two-door stage model and some unpicking of Digby's scenic information, however, reveal that the scene could be staged more or less as published. As indicated by the direction "Here is to open", the laboratory is a relieve scene set behind the backshutters. Fictionally, it is located in Don Julio's house, which is represented on stage by a chamber setting painted on the wings. Although the scene before the laboratory discovery is stated to be Donna [sic] Blanca's chamber (which is in Julio's house), I have argued previously that scenic specificity was likely to have been confined to backshutter settings and that wing settings would consequently tend to the generic: chamber, garden, palace, etc. (Keenan "Boyles's Guzman" 90-1). This is mostly for reasons of cost and convenience. As we know from litigation involving the painter Isaac Fuller in 1670, scene painting was expensive, and the total wing area on any scenic stage is significantly greater than that of a single pair of backshutters. (14) On Webb's Hall plan, for example, the area for the four pairs of wings is more than twice the backshutter area. For Elvira a generic chamber setting would suffice to represent the private rooms of Blanca and Julio, as well as Don Zancho's house, thereby reducing necessary wing changes as well as saving cost. This would be an important consideration in the staging of any play, never mind one as scenically exuberant as Elvira.

To return to the laboratory scene, if we exclude the table, the flowers, and of course the actor, all the other objects in the description could have been painted: the laboratory and its associated objects on side wings within the relieve area, the floor on a floor cloth, and everything else on a backcloth. Any doubts that so many elements could be painted coherently in a single backcloth should be dispelled by examination of a pair of scenic drawings in the Devonshire Collection, Chatsworth, probably by Webb, that show similar prospects. One is reproduced here as Fig. 3, but in both we see a view of spacious garden grounds through pillars with a fountain at the centre, all that is lacking is the moon. By proposing the laboratory as a relieve setting, with entrance points on the whole scenic stage available for use, the staging difficulties occasioned by the multiple entrances and exits in the scene are resolved. The actors enter onto the forestage through one of the doors, "pass over" to exit through the opposite forestage door and re-enter at various points on the scenic stage. This action is clarified by having only two forestage doors. An audience need not concern itself with the fictional, spatial assignations of four doors; it merely witnesses characters moving through the house to congregate in the perfuming room. In these scenes the forestage becomes a neutral, unlocalised part of the house, a "transpicuous hall" to use Southern's term ("Theatres and Scenery" 93).

While the number of scenic demands in Elvira might be thought a product of its author's amateur status, Shadwell's carefully plotted The Sullen Lovers provides a copybook example of the flexibility and theatrical capability of a two-door stage. The play exhibits a clearly considered pattern of exits and entrances. This is necessary in a play where doors play a significant part in the action: "door" or "doors" occurring twenty-three times in stage directions and dialogue. Yet the fictional world of the play never requires more than two entrance points. Oppositional staging, which one would particularly expect in a two-door arrangement, features clearly in such directions as, "Emil[ia] and Stanf[ord] run out at several doors, the Impertinents divided follow 'em", and "Enter Emilia and her Maid at one Door, Ninny and Woodcock at t'other" (31 & 47). In terms of the two-door model, however, there is one line of dialogue spoken by Emilia in Act 4 that makes this play a key test: "Heaven knows this door's lock'd, and there's no escaping at the other" (73). This is not a Spanish intrigue play in which we may expect to find secret doors and a maze of interior rooms. The topical satire of the play may be fantastical, but the setting is deliberately rooted in the here and now, which Shadwell clearly points out in the published text: "The place of the SCENE LONDON. The Time, In the Moneth of March, 1667/8". (15)


Shadwell makes great play of locking up characters in The Sullen Lovers. Cognates of the word "lock" occur seven times in relation to an onstage door in Acts 2-5. It is Act 4, however, that provides the acid test. The whole act is set in a single room in Emilia's lodgings and for a third of the act one forestage door is locked. The test is not so much this fact as the surrounding stage action. The act is mainly concerned with the baiting of the over-serious, or "sullen", pair Emilia and Stanford, by the normative couple, Lovell and Carolina. This baiting reaches a climax when the sullen couple find themselves trapped by the bragging Sir Positive At-all and his gang of "impertinents". It is at this point that Emilia, searching for a means of escape, discovers that the nearest door to the couple is locked and they are forced to make a dash across the stage to the door opposite, as the stage direction "They run" indicates (74). The act is a maelstrom of stage activity; the text records that fourteen of the play's seventeen named characters troop through the room in forty-two entrances and exits. Nevertheless, the whole pattern of movement in the act can be accommodated on a two-door forestage; indeed, it only makes sense because the diegesis has established that Emilia's room has only two doors. The fact that these multiple entrances and exits can be staged by the model when for a third of the time one forestage door is out of action confirms that even under these restricted circumstances two doors are sufficient to cope with a complex plot and bustling stage action.

Interestingly, there is one early Restoration play that incorporates stage action in which two practical doors are locked. Like The Adventures of Five Hours and Elvira, Thomas Duffet's The Spanish Rogue (1673) is a complicated "Spanish plot" play that features convoluted stage action involving doors. In this play, it is clear that Duffet is attempting to squeeze even more from a sub-genre whose devices were by now becoming well worn. Twice in the play, characters are directed to escape through a secret--indeed, invisible--door. On a two-door forestage, a wing passageway is the ideal means of providing such a hidden exit, whereas it is difficult to see how the necessary dramatic tension could be generated on a stage with four highly visible, practical doors.

The diegesis of The Spanish Rogue, and many other LIF plays, may permit or anticipate entrances and exits in the scenic area, but action in the The Sullen Lovers is predicated on the perception by an audience that there are only two entrance/exit points. In this, the play appears to be designed deliberately to exploit the dramatic potential of a two-door forestage. This is a common theme. Rather than trying to fit the plays to a preconceived two-door model, their own staging demands suggest such an arrangement. Stage action in She Wou'd If She Cou'd is more comprehensible and satisfying if we imagine the actors moving among the fictional foliage of Mulberry Gardens as represented by painted wings. Similarly, the logic of the masque-within the-play in The Slighted Maid is more readily appreciated if we imagine Stapylton deliberately constructing a realistic stage picture of onstage observers viewing a wedding masque set within the scenic area of the stage. In Elvira, actors passing sequentially over an unlocalised forestage from one forestage door to exit at the other, and reappear peeping from behind wing flats, simplifies stage action and cleverly builds up tension for the set-piece laboratory scene.

I would like to end with staging demand from two plays that are, it seems to me, only really explicable on a two-door forestage. The first is a pair of stage directions from John Caryll's The English Princess (1667): "Enter Catesby, and Ratcliffe at one of the Doors before the Curtain", and four lines later, "Enter Lovel at the other Door before the Curtain" (47). Not only is a staging solution dramatically obvious on a two-door forestage--oppositional staging with Catesby and Ratcliffe on one side of the stage and Lovel on the other--but the otherwise awkward implication of doors "after" (upstage of) the curtain may also be explained by the equivalence in meaning between "door" and "entrance/exit point" suggested above. The second example is from Boyle's The History of Henry the Fifth (1664): "Two Heraulds appear opposite to each other in the Balconies near the Stage" (49). As all commentators agree that balconies were positioned above forestage doors, this direction raises questions for four-door proponents about balconies that were not "near the Stage". On a two-door forestage, by contrast, the balconies above the doors are self evidently near the stage--other balconies are those in the auditorium, what we now call boxes and what Pepys referred to as balcony-boxes. (16) Boyle's concern in this direction is obviously to construct an oppositional stage picture. Intriguingly, in the corresponding direction in five rarely discussed manuscript versions of the play, the stage picture is embryonic, but Boyle is very clear about number: "A French and an English herald appear in one of the balconies without the stage or in both of them" (Smith 848n480, emphasis added).

Works Cited

Barlow, Graham. "From tennis court to opera house". PhD thesis. Glasgow U, 1983.

Behn, Aphra. The Forc'd Marriage, London, 1671.

Bell, Hamilton. "Three Plans by Sir Christopher Wren." Architectural Record 33 (1913): 359-68.

Boyle, Roger. The History of Henry the Fifth. London, 1668.

--. Guzman. London, 1693.

--. Herod the Great. London, 1694

Caryll, John. The English Princess. London, 1667.

Cibber, Colley. An Apology For The Life Of Mr. Colley Cibber, Comedian. London: John Watts, 1740.

Corman, Brian. "Restoration Drama after the Restoration: The critics, the Repertory and the Canon." A Companion To Restoration Drama. Ed. Susan J Owen. Oxford: Blackwell, 2001. 177-92.

Crown, John The History of Charles the Eighth of France. London, 1672.

Digby, George. Elvira. London, 1667.

Etherege, George. She Wou'd If She Cou'd. London, 1668.

Flecknoe, Richard. The Damoiselles a la Mode. London, 1667.

Holland, Peter. The Ornament of Action. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1979.

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(1) Robert W. Lowe proposed four doors and W.J. Lawrence countered with a two-door argument. Allardyce Nicoll felt the rediscovery of the 'Playhouse' drawing attributed to Wren (see below) had settled the matter at four, while Montague Summers proposed six forestage doors at the Bridges Street theatre of 1663. Since then most commentators argue for, or assume, four.

(2) Stage directions in Drury Lane plays indicate that the theatre was capable of staging successive discovery scenes, which demand two backshutter positions (Lewcock "Computer Analysis", 144).

(3) All dates after play titles refer to the first performance at LIF, unless otherwise stated.

(4) First performed at Davenant's own house and then revived, probably at the Cockpit, Drury Lane (Orrell 68-77).

(5) No forestage doors are shown on Webb's plan for The Siege of Rhodes (Orrell 69).

(6) The drawing suggests the use of a false frontispiece (proscenium arch) erected downstage of the usual curtain line. Such a frontispiece is known to have been used for at least two other operas in the period (both at Dorset Garden): Thomas Shadwell's revision of Dryden and Davenant's The Tempest; or, The Enchanted Island (1674), and in 1685, John Dryden's Albion and Albanius (see Southern Changeable Scenery, 185).

(7) The example in Boyle's play directs the front curtain to be dropped midway through Act 5 so a striking tableau may be arranged on stage: "The Curtain being lifted up, there appears the King, Princess Katherine, Queen Mother, Princess Anne, Chareloys, and all the English, and the French Nobility and Officers of State; and others according to their places" (50). The Forc'd Marriage is discussed below.

(8) 'Italian scenes' is an historically accurate reference to changeable scenery.

(9) For example, Flecknoe lampoons Killigrew in a pamphlet entitled The Life of Tomaso the Wanderer, London, 1667.

(10) A minimal requirement, which could be supplied by two wing pairs plus backshutters.

(11) A discovery was effected by withdrawing the backshutters to reveal--literally discover--a farther part of the stage complete with its own scenic backing. Scenes of relieve usually comprised separate scenic planes forming a composite picture. Relieve scenes were always set up and changed behind the backshutters, never in view of the audience, as was usually the case with wings and backshutters.

(12) The Bridges Street theatre burned down before it could be staged.

(13) A likely interpretation is that Herod and his guards enter through wing passageways while Sohemus uses a forestage door.

(14) Fuller claimed he was cheated of his fee for painting "a new Scene of Elysium" for Dryden's play Tyrannick Love (Bridges Street, 1669). He won his suit and was awarded 335 [pounds sterling] 10s for his work (see Milhous and Hume 1:115).

(15) The play was first performed two months later.

(16) See Diary entry for 5 May 1668 (also 7 November 1667).

Tim Keenan is a Lecturer in Drama at the University of Queensland. His research centres on seventeenth-century English staging and he is currently developing an online database of Restoration stage directions.
Table 1: LIF plays 1662-1674, Entrance and practical door demand

 Two Door
Play Two door balcony locked
 demand demand /bolted

The Villain *
A Witty Combat *
Adventures of Five Hours ** *
The Slighted Maid
The Playhouse to be Let *
The Step-mother *
Love's Kingdom *
Love in a Tub *
Henry V * *
The Rivals *
Elvira ** *
Mustapha *
The English Princess *
The Marriage Night *
The Humerous Lovers *
Martin Mar-all *
Tarugo's Wiles *
The Tempest *
She Would if She Could *
The Sullen Lovers ** *
Tryphon *
The Royal Shepherdess *
Guzman *
Mr. Anthony *
The Women's Conquest *
Sir Salomon *
The Forced Marriage * *
The Amorous Widow * *
The Humorists * (2) [*]
The Amorous Prince * *
The Six Days Adventure *
The Town Shifts *
Juliana *
Henry III *
Amboyna *
The Assignation *
The Spanish Rogue * *
The Empress of Morocco *
The Mall * *
The Amorous Old Woman *
The Mistaken Husband *
Totals 38 2 8

 Door Door Knocks
Play forced opened on
 /pushed /shut door

The Villain
A Witty Combat
Adventures of Five Hours * *
The Slighted Maid *
The Playhouse to be Let *
The Step-mother
Love's Kingdom
Love in a Tub
Henry V
The Rivals
Elvira * * *
The English Princess
The Marriage Night
The Humerous Lovers *
Martin Mar-all
Tarugo's Wiles *
The Tempest
She Would if She Could *
The Sullen Lovers
Tryphon *
The Royal Shepherdess
Guzman * *
Mr. Anthony *
The Women's Conquest
Sir Salomon * *
The Forced Marriage * *
The Amorous Widow *
The Humorists
The Amorous Prince * *
The Six Days Adventure
The Town Shifts
Henry III
The Assignation
The Spanish Rogue * *
The Empress of Morocco
The Mall
The Amorous Old Woman
The Mistaken Husband * *
Totals 4 10 11

Play behind Actor Actor
 door or by/ at/ off/ under
 peeps in door balcony

The Villain
A Witty Combat
Adventures of Five Hours * *
The Slighted Maid
The Playhouse to be Let
The Step-mother
Love's Kingdom
Love in a Tub
Henry V
The Rivals
Elvira * * *
The English Princess *
The Marriage Night
The Humerous Lovers *
Martin Mar-all *
Tarugo's Wiles
The Tempest *
She Would if She Could *
The Sullen Lovers
The Royal Shepherdess
Guzman *
Mr. Anthony * * *
The Women's Conquest
Sir Salomon * *
The Forced Marriage * *
The Amorous Widow
The Humorists *
The Amorous Prince * * *
The Six Days Adventure
The Town Shifts
Juliana *
Henry III
The Assignation
The Spanish Rogue * *
The Empress of Morocco
The Mall *
The Amorous Old Woman
The Mistaken Husband
Totals 13 10 3

Key: ** Particularly challenging demand (see article text).

[*] Stated in dialogue but not exploited in action.

(1) Characters peeping from a forestage door implied in the dialogue.

(2) In the original manuscript but not in the published edition.
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Author:Keenan, Tim
Publication:Theatre Notebook
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Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 1, 2011
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