ADVANTAGES

New means of scene shifting were needed for the new types of settings. The French architect Trelat proposed hydraulic lifts for scene shifting in a book published in 1860. We have already noted that elevators and equipment for flying scenery were used at the Edwin Booth Theater. By the close of the century, the elevator stage and the revolving stage were perfected. An elevator stage allows sections of a stage floor, or even the entire floor, to be raised or lowered. A revolving stage is a large turntable on which scenery is placed; as it moves, one set is brought into view as another turns out of sight.

One innovative theater technologist was Steele Mackaye (1842-1894). (Mackaye was a noted playwright whose melodramas focused on more realistic circumstances. He was also interested in the teaching of acting, and particularly in Delsarte's methods; and he founded the American Academy of Dramatic Art, which is still functioning today.) In 1880, at the Madison Square Theater in New York, Mackaye used two stages; one above the other, which could be raised and lowered; while one stage was in view of the audience, the scenery on the other, which was either in the basement or in the fly area, could, be changed.|

Nineteenth-century technology revolutionized stage lighting, which until then had been primitive. The introduction of gas fighting was the fast step. In 1816, Philadelphia's Chestnut Street Theater was the earliest gas-lit playhouse in the world. By the middle of the century, the gas table – the equivalent of a modern dimmer board – allowed a single stagehand to alter the intensity of lighting throughout a theater. This new control of lighting allowed for significant changes in architecture and staging. In the 1860s, two Parisian theaters were built without obtrusive chandeliers hanging over the audience; gas lighting also allowed Richard Wagner to extinguish the lights in the auditorium of the Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

Testimonials

Satisfied customers are saying