The second, Ajax Flagellifer, certainly was performed before King James at Oxford in 1605, in a Serlian theater built within Christ Church Hall, and equipped with changing scenery painted on revolving periaktoi
, a classicized theater which didn't bear much resemblance to the Athenian theater of Dionysus but was otherwise au courant, and in relation to the contemporary London stage distinctly spectacular.
And just as, in the classical drama, the function of the messenger could be supplemented with tableaux 'displayed on a wheeled platform' (25)--precursor of the Tudor 'discovery space'--so too Tudor scenic placards paralleled the Athenian periaktoi
, 'triangular prisms which could be rotated to indicate symbolically a change of scene by means of a painted tree, a column, or waves' (A Concise History of the Theatre, p.
Jones effectively used periaktoi
in the 1605 staging for the king, and it was so effective that Wake in Rex Platonicus (1607) recounts that "the appearance of the whole stage would suddenly become new, to the amazement of all, not only for the change for each show each day but also for the change of scene in one and the same play" (306).
26) Another fashionable supernatural element was also added as a second radical change to the dramatis personae; Wake tells us that one of Inigo Jones's three periaktoi
depicted the "furiarum domicilia" (dwellings of the Furies), a physical setting that we never see in Sophocles' play.
According to a contemporary observer, Ignazio Danti, Lanci used periaktoi
, rotating vertical triangular prisms with different scenes painted on each side, to make possible quick set changes.