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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: January 2021

14 - ‘The Stage Hand’s Lament’

Summary

Chapter 14: This chapter explores advances in stage technology from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that profoundly shaped and influenced both theatrical performance and playwriting, particularly in the domain of stage lighting. Opening with the mid-twentieth-century example of Josef Svoboda, the chapter then goes back to the invention of limelight and its behind-the-scenes manipulation, which leads into a consideration of other kinds of technologically oriented off-stage labor. The discussion then turns to theatrical patents of the late nineteenth century, building on recent scholarship on backstage labor with a view to considering how scientific, technological, and theatrical work merge and often share this status of invisibility. The conclusion proposes a model for approaching and teaching theatre history based on a greater recognition of the role of technology, especially in our understanding of ‘science on stage’.

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