The Six Days’ Adventure (staging)

By Edward Howard (March 1671; pub. 1671)

As with The Women’s Conquest, Howard provides little information about scenery or settings in this play. There are three vague scene headings (to 4.1, 4.2, & 5.1). The first two specify a staging feature – two pillars in one, a bed in the other – and the last is cryptic: “The Scene resembles a Tribunal of Love”.[1] From the dialogue it is clear that the pillars appear in a street. The 4.1 heading reads, “The Scene opens with two Pillars with decrees on them on both sides the Stage”, and in reference to the pillars one character says, “’Tis a Decree fix’d here, and in most Streets”.[2] A street would also best fit the preceding scene, 3.1. This is a busy scene in which most of the cast make an appearance. The freedom with which characters exit and enter and the lack of any dialogic clues to the contrary suggest an exterior setting. A street, which stays onstage for 4.1, is the logical choice. Most likely, the pillars, which are not practical, would have been represented by a special pair of wings in the first position (nearest the audience). These could be loaded into the wing frames during the musical interval at the end of Act 3.

The heading for the next scene specifies a relieve setting: “The Scene opens and discovers a Bed”. Although not stated, it would make sense if the street wings (and pillars) were replaced at this point by those representing a chamber. The wings for Meredith’s lodgings used in Act 1 would suffice, though a separate setting would be perfectly possible.[3] The bed is obviously set in the relieve area. This is a bed-trick scene. Sir Solymour has been led to believe he is to enjoy a liaison with the fashionable gentlewoman, Celinda. Instead, the bed’s occupant is, “A Blackamoor Boy disguiz’d like a Woman”.[4] From the text it is clear that Sir Solymour and the boy act in the relieve area while various other characters gather on the forestage to surprise and humiliate him.

The last heading is particularly vague. There are no clues as to how “A Tribunal of Love” might have been represented, but an interior setting is likely. Howard’s lack of interest in scenery might suggest the same interior used for Meridith’s lodgings; however, I think the same diffidence might also suggest that when a heading is provided it is significant. I believe this heading calls for a different setting and one more public than previous scenes set in private houses. The scenery plot, therefore, specifies a stateroom of the kind seen in previous LIF plays. Thus, the play can be served by three shutter scenes – lodgings, street, stateroom – a relieve to represent Celinda’s lodgings, and wing settings to match the three shutters (with additional pillars). Alternatively, a separate set of wings could be used for Celinda’s lodgings, requiring the wings for Meredith’s to be replaced at the end of Act 2 or 3.

Up to nine chairs are needed in Act 1 for a council meeting. As Howard directs stools to be brought on in Act 2, the chairs are also likely to have been brought on by servants from the wings and set either in the scenic area or on the forestage. There are subsequent forestage entrances, so the scenic area is probably the best position for the chairs. The stool scene in Act 2 – a women’s meeting – is a parody of the Act 1 council meeting. Howard’s direction reads, “Enter a man with Stools and Table”.[5] Six women are to be seated, the fact that one man is directed to bring on all the furniture – note stools, not chairs as for the men– suggests a comic effect may have been intended.

[1] London: Thomas Dring, 1671, p. 68.

[2] Ibid. p. 47, 49.

[3] That Act 1 is set in Meredith’s house is clear when a page boy reports to Meredith, “Some of the Chief Magistrates of Utopia, Desire admittance” (p.9). There are no such clues for Act 2, but an interior is indicated and there is no compelling reason why the Act 1 setting should be replaced.

[4] Ibid. front matter (Dramatis Personae).

[5] Ibid. p. 27.

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One thought on “The Six Days’ Adventure (staging)

  1. Pingback: The Six Days’ Adventure (scenery) | Restoration Theatre

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