For those who don't know already, a periaktos - the plural is periaktoi
- originated as an ancient Greek invention, using a wooden triangular "prism" with a different painting on each face, so it could be turned quickly to create a scene change.
In addition, the backstage area (and the stage hands) would have been revealed as the periaktoi turned.
French Father Jean Dubreuil included a description of a changeable background using multiple periaktoi in his La Perspective pratique (Dubreuil 1642-1649, 102).
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).
In another nod to theatre history, periaktoi
above home plate rotate to transform images on a billboard, displaying Stars and Stripes as a backdrop for the Statue of Liberty during the National Anthem.
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.
Graff's and Lynch's refusal to let their troupe get Fosse'd up is a major contributor to show's appeal, as is David Gallo's colorful set, with sliding panels and rotating periaktoi
that instantly evoke the hallways and cafeteria that encompass the kids' world.
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.