Additional to "Production Resources at the Whitefriars Playhouse, 1609-1612" (EMLS 2.3 [December, 1996]: 2.1-35)
Jean MacIntyre
University of Alberta

MacIntyre, Jean. "Additional to '
Production Resources at the Whitefriars Playhouse, 1609-1612' (EMLS 2.3 [December, 1996]: 2.1-35)." Early Modern Literary Studies 3.3 (January, 1998): 8.1-3 <URL: http://purl.oclc.org/emls/03-3/maciwhi2.html>.

  1. Further to my discussion of a "study" in an earlier volume of EMLS (13 ff.), the nature of a "study" is probably clearest in Donne's "Satyre 1." The first lines of the poem show the speaker trying to get a troublesome visitor to leave him in "this standing wooden chest/ Consorted with these few bookes," books whose subjects include divinity, philosophy, politics, chronicles, and poets. The "wooden chest" is not just a book press, for inside it is spacious enough for the reader to sit and read. This implies room enough for a desk, a stool or bench, and a place to set a candle.

  2. The construction seems likely to have resembled on a smaller scale the two prefabricated "tiring houses" that were repeatedly erected and taken down in Queen's College, Cambridge between at least 1546 and 1640, almost a hundred years (Nelson 16). These consisted of a frame with two levels above the stage floor that were mortised and pegged together, the top level an open railed balcony, the lower part having a door and otherwise closed in with temporary planking and/or canvas that at least sometimes was painted to suit the play (Nelson 24-25, 34). Such structures might even have been modeled the studies inside student rooms, like the one Donne's speaker occupied at the Inns of Court.

  3. Between the two Cambridge tiring houses was a three-level gallery which was designated seating for dignitaries and aristocratic guests (Nelson 18-21). In any hall theatre, including both Blackfriars and Whitefriars, such an ensemble at the rear of the stage would have been familiar to any of the carpenters who had built studies in London. In fact, the limited Whitefriars above may even have been balconies atop two separated "tiring houses" built against an existing hall screen, perhaps with a gallery before it like the temporary "screens gallery" at Queen's College. The actors could enter through the original screens openings, so that doors from the "tiring houses" or "studies" onto the stage may not have been necessary. The advantage of this kind of building (whose main timbers at Cambridge seem to have been mortised into holes in the masonry wall) was that it did not require major modifications to the hall in which it was erected, and, should the company have to leave its hall, it could even knock down its stage and take it elsewhere or put it up for sale.

Works Cited

Responses to this piece intended for the Readers' Forum may be sent to the Editor at EMLS@UAlberta.ca.

1998-, R.G. Siemens (Editor, EMLS).

(RGS, 7 January 1998)