chapter  8
15 Pages

SCENES AND COSTUMES

The intellect could only marvel at the scena ductilis, the painted wings and shutters of the changeable scene. The Italian theatre, with its false depth produced by perspective painting and its defeat of gravity by engineering, appeared to conjure a reality out of the counterfeiting of nature.1 The mounting of virtual perspectives within the actual space of the stage baffled the willing mind with artifice. When technical capacity was seconded by extravagance, as in the court of le Roi soleil, then the victory of the eye over judgement was a particularly blatant one. Prodigality distorted performance and risked overwhelming acting in its generalized display.