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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: July ::
Thunder
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1461  Wednesday, 21 July 2004

[1]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Jul 2004 07:29:46 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1457 Thunder

[2]     From:   Duncan Salkeld <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Jul 2004 14:18:35 +0100 (BST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1457 Thunder

[3]     From:   Stuart Manger <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Jul 2004 16:06:16 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1457 Thunder

[4]     From:   Tom Rutter <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Jul 2004 18:40:29 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1457 Thunder

[5]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Jul 2004 19:38:49 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 15.1457 Thunder

[6]     From:   W.L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Jul 2004 16:01:03 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1457 Thunder


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Jul 2004 07:29:46 -0500
Subject: 15.1457 Thunder
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1457 Thunder

 >Does anyone on the list know where I could find information about how
 >thunder was created as a sound effect on the early modern stage? I'm
 >familiar with Leslie Thomson's valuable article on 'The Meaning of
 >Thunder and Lightning' but he doesn't (so far as I recall) give much
 >information on the mechanisms used, other than that they involved drums.
 >
 >Many thanks,
 >Seb Perry

I don't know a particular book, but it was Inigo Jones's thunder that
was stolen.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Duncan Salkeld <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Jul 2004 14:18:35 +0100 (BST)
Subject: 15.1457 Thunder
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1457 Thunder

A variety of sources can assist but Andrew Gurr writes in the Norton
Shakespeare (in a section entitled 'The Shakespearean Stage'): 'For
centuries, lead balls rolling down a tin trough were a standard way of
making thunder noises in English theatres' (p. 3301).

Admittedly a little off the point, on the same page, Gurr ends his
article by drawing attention to a 'peculiarly distinctive' stage
direction in The Tempest, 'Enter Mariners, wet'.  That direction also
occurs in Pericles (Scene v), and - more remarkably perhaps - in
Greene's A Looking-Glass For London and England (SR 1594), performed by
'Strange's' at the Rose on 8 March 1592, a play in which thunder also
occurs as 'a brave arbour' rises from the ground.  That arbour was quite
possibly the same property used for Kyd's Spanish Tragedy (see
frontispiece to 1615 edition), given that Kyd's play was performed less
than a week later at the same playhouse (14 March 1592).  Intriguingly,
the Usurer in Greene's play enters, like Hieronimo, 'with a halter in
one hand, a dagger in the other' and similarly rejects suicide.  I am
inclined to think that Greene was drawing upon Kyd.

Duncan Salkeld

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Manger <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Jul 2004 16:06:16 +0100
Subject: 15.1457 Thunder
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1457 Thunder

Rolling of large shot along wooden grooved channels high up in the
theatre?  Barrels in the cellarage?

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Rutter <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Jul 2004 18:40:29 +0100
Subject: 15.1457 Thunder
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1457 Thunder

You probably know this already, but in the prologue to the Folio version
of 'Every Man in his Humour', Jonson writes that in this play no

. . . nimble squib is seen, to make afeard
The gentlewomen; nor rolled bullet heard
To say it thunders; nor tempestuous drum
Rumbles, to tell you when the storm doth come . . . .

This would suggest that these were usual methods of creating thunder and
lightning in early modern drama.

Tom Rutter

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Jul 2004 19:38:49 +0100
Subject: Thunder
Comment:        SHK 15.1457 Thunder

"Does anyone on the list know where I could find information about how
thunder was created as a sound effect on the early modern stage?" asks
Sebastian Perry.

In the prologue to Every Man in His Humour (Curtain 1598), Ben Jonson
called for a dramatic language "Where neither Chorus wafts you ore the
seas; / ... nor roul'd bullet heard / To say, it thunders; nor
tempestuous drumme / Rumbles, to tell you when the storme doth come":
Ben Jonson III, p.303

m

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W.L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Jul 2004 16:01:03 -0400
Subject: 15.1457 Thunder
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1457 Thunder

As I recall, Alfred Harbage called the thunder machine "the thunder
roll."  Basically it was a cannon ball rolled down specially built
stairs located in the area above the stage (sometimes called "the
heavens"). Boom, boom, boom.

Also you may want to look at Dessen and Thompson's Dictionary of Stage
Directions.

Bill Godshalk

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