The Staging of The Spanish Tragedy
“Hieronimo, Hieronimo; Oh let me see Hieronimo acted.” Scholars have not been quick to echo William Prynne’s account of a “late English Gentlewoman of good ranke; who daily bestowing the expense of her best houres upon the stage,” closed her dying eyes crying for one more glimpse of the Knight Marshall of Spain going about his deadly business.1 I doubt if it has been the force of Prynne’s impassioned exhortation which has dissuaded them from wasting their “best houres” on the study of the Elizabethan stage and Elizabethan staging; rather, I suspect it has been the uncertain and dubious nature of our understanding of what Greg once characterized as “a misty mid region of Weir.” It is only within the last decade that our knowledge of the physical structure of the Elizabethan theatre has become solid enough to serve as a foundation for anything but the most adventitious essays in reconstruction of actual stage presentations. Even yet the problems presented by certain plays are capable of only the most speculative solutions, and The Spanish Tragedy is such a play. Unlike Hieronimo, who uses his little play as a stalking horse for bigger game, I must content myself with using this great but puzzling play to start only a few small hares.
KeywordsBack Wall Dead Body Stage Direction Permanent Stage Spanish Court
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- 1.William Prynne, Histriomastix (1633), fol. 556b.Google Scholar
- 2.Jean Fuzier, “Carrière et Popularité de la Tragédie Espagnole en Angleterre,” Dramaturgie et Société, ed. Jean Jacquot (1968), II, 589–606.Google Scholar
- 4.Arthur Freeman, Thomas Kyd: Facts and Problems (Oxford, 1967), p. 125.Google Scholar
- 6.James L. Smith, “They hang him in the arbor,” English Studies, 47 (1966), 372–373.Google Scholar
- 8.For example, Philip Edwards for “The Revels Plays” in 1959 (reprinted 1965),Google Scholar
- Andrew S. Caimcross for “The Regents Renaissance Drama Series” in 1967.Google Scholar