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By C. J. Gossip (auth.)

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Unlike the Marais, the Hotel de Bourgogne was purpose-built, but on the same model. 6 metres. 75 metres. 7 metres net. Thus the usable space on stage, the effective playing area, was virtually a square,just under 32 feet across and 29 feet deep at most. This may seem small in comparison with some modern panoramic stages, such as that of the former Theatre National Populaire at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, but in fact it corresponds closely to the area commonly available on present-day British provincial and even London theatre stages.

Before we leave the stage itself and pass to the remaining problems raised by staging, mention must be made of a practice which may strike modern readers as distinctly quaint. In the seventeenth century and indeed on in to the second half of the eigh teen th, it was common for certain members of the audience, usually from the nobility, to be seated on the stage itself. The custom was not restricted to France. In Shakespearian England, the dramatist Thomas Dekker tells us in his Gull's Hornbook of 1609, 'on the very rushes where the comedy is to dance ...

Dramatists and managers made a virtue out of necessity and wrote or staged plays which relied on a single, all-purpose location. Of course, the best playwrights turned this apparent restriction to their own and our advantage. 28 An Introduction to French Classical Tragedy As we shall see, costume in tragedy corresponded broadly to this fairly lax stage setting. But it would be wrong to suppose that contemporary audiences would necessarily have benefited, had the sets (multiple or single) been more faithfully reproduced.

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