'It Opens!' The Victorian Wood Stage and its Magic Box Aesthetic

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The modern performance space often rejects the fly-tower and removes the under-stage machinery and since the early 1900s the proscenium arch has become increasingly unfashionable. What it has not abandoned, despite the "new" intermedial turn, is the versatility of the wood-stage system certainly in its philosophy of spirit: the ability to stage action imaginatively in as many different ways as possible in a single space. The psycho-plasticity of the modern performance space owes its inheritance to the wood-stage of the Victorians. This lecture draws upon his research and theories and examines the traps and devices collectively known as the Victorian wood-stage. It asks if there was more to those machines than just cabinetry and pulleys and how does the aesthetic of a nineteenth century spectacle hold the key to understanding modern theatre technology?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSociety for Theatre Research
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2012


  • theatre history
  • theatre aesthetics
  • theatre technology

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