Beds on the Early Modern Stage

Leslie Thomson


Bed scenes remind us how little we know about staging practices in early modern London playhouses. Stage directions often say that a bed was ‘discovered’ but not where or how. And if it had curtains, were they on the bed or over an opening in the tiring house wall? Was the bed a four-poster, even though such a structure would have blocked sightlines and been cumbersome? Given the extra staging demands bed scenes entailed, why did playwrights include them? This study focuses on these and related matters with reference to all bed scenes in plays written between 1580 and 1642.

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