Rhodes provides striking support for a central opening/alcove on the Rose stage: ‘In Look about You, a “Hermit’s cell” or “cave” is located between flanking doors. Gloster enters from the cell at the beginning of the scene and Slink enters at another door fleeing from John and Faukenbridge. Slink sees Gloster near the cell and therefore cannot take refuge in that place; so he must exit through a third door because it would not be logical for him to turn back in the direction from which he is fleeing.’339

Several other plays thought to have been written for the post-1591/2 Rose playhouse stage request that a discovery space, enclosed by curtains, be used to reveal objects or people:340

In Old Fortunatus, a curtain is drawn to discover the casket in which a wishing hat is kept; later an episode is played in and before a discovery space: ‘Musicke sounding still: A curtaine being drawne, where Andelocia lies sleeping in Agripine’s lap….’ 341

In George Chapman’s A Humorous Day’s Mirth (1599 [1597]), action suggests a discovery space and balcony are used.342

In The Downfall of Robert Earl of Huntington, a direction for a dumb show gives: ‘they infold each other, and sit downe within the curteines, Warman with Prior, sir Hugh Lacy, Lord Sentloe & sir Gilbert Broghton folde hands, and drawing the curteins, all (but the Prior) enter and are kindely received by Robin Hoode. The curteins are againe shut’; later, ‘Curtaines open, Robin Hoode sleeps on a greene banke, and Marian is strewing flowers on him.’343

In the first scene of The Death of Robert Earl of Huntington, the Friar says: ‘Draw but that veil, / And there king John sits sleeping in his chaire. Drawe the curten, the king sits sleeping, his sworde by his side.’ 344

In more examples from plays believed to be written for or staged at the post-1591 Rose, stage directions include:

  • Alphonsus, King of Aragon has a brazen head ‘Set in the middle of the place behind the Stage, out of the which, cast flames of fire, drums rumble within.’
  • In The Battle of Alcazar three furies are discovered behind the curtains in a grizzly dumb-show.
  • In David and Bethsabe a curtain is drawn to reveal two characters bathing.
  • In Doctor Faustus ‘Hell is discovered.’
  • A Looking Glass for London gives ‘The Queen’s Tent opens’ and ‘drawes the Curtaines and findes her stroken with thunder, blacke.’
  • In The Jew of Malta there is ‘A Caldron discovered.’
  • The Spanish Tragedy gives ‘Enter Hieronimo, he Knocks up [i.e., arranges] the curtaine.’
  • In Tamburlaine the Great, Part II, ‘The Arras is drawne and Zenocrate lies in her bed of state.’

In the Phase II model, the opening is flanked by pillars which are decorative rather than structural (no pillar bases were found in the excavation of the Phase II surface under the stage), which allows for curtains to run behind them forming a discovery space that is in part projected into the stage space, which sits under a cantilevered second-level balcony. The curtains are black, as if to signal a tragedy is to be performed (see 4.11.1). Black curtains would have been befitting for the tragedy of Doctor Faustus, performed at the Rose in 1594, when the Chorus pulls back the curtains to reveal Faustus in his study .345

[339] Rhodes, Henslowe’s Rose, 249. Anon., Look About You, Sig. H1v.

[340] Gurr, ‘The Rose repertory, 119–34; McMillin, The Elizabethan Theatre, 115ff; Rhodes, Henslowe’s Rose, 241–50.

[341] Dekker, The Pleasant Comedie of Old Fortunatus, Sig. D2r; G2v.

[342] Rhodes, Henslowe’s Rose, 247. George Chapman, An Humerous Dayes Myrth (London: Valentine Syms, 1599), STC 2nd 4987. Henslowe records performances of ‘the comody of vmers [humors]’ in May–July 1597, performed by the Admiral’s Men at the Rose (Foakes, Henslowe’s Diary, 58–60). A performance of the play is described in a contemporary letter to Dudley Carleton from John Chamberlain (M. Lee, ed., Dudley Carleton to John Chamberlain, 1603–1624: Jacobean Letters (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1972)). Gurr is certain this is a text written for the post-1592 Rose (Gurr, ‘The Rose repertory,’ 123).

[343] Munday and Chettle, The Downfall of Robert Earl of Huntington, Sig. A2v; F3v.

[344] Munday and Chettle, The Death of Robert Earl of Huntington, Sig. D3r-D3v.

[345] Marlowe, Doctor Faustus, Sig. A2r-v; Prologue. Ichikawa conjectures that Marlowe’s play may have utilised black curtains for masking the discovery space (Ichikawa, ‘The stage is hung with blacke,’ 173–74).