By Evelyn B. Tribble (auth.)
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Additional resources for Cognition in the Globe: Attention and Memory in Shakespeare’s Theatre
The nature and function of these entrances have been studied exhaustively and contentiously and for good reason: It would be difficult to overestimate their importance in structuring, organizing, and simplifying the complex activity of the playing companies. I would concur with David Bradley’s colorful account of the doors as “the systole and diastole of the great heart-beat of 30 COGNITION IN THE GLOBE the Elizabethan stage as it fills and empties, fills and empties” (1992: 29). The structuring of the space shapes what can be done within it; “this simple machine” (1992: 21), as Bradley called it, organizes and orients mental activity in space.
Indeed the plays often explore such antitheses and oppositions, mapping the conceptual dynamic of the play onto its spatial logic. The stage doors, then, function something like the large levers in a power station, providing a visual, spatial, and hence cognitive context that structures the work of the company. Moreover, they serve as anchor points that coordinate and organize movement across the stage. The players’ use of the doors, then, is a critical component in the management of the workspace of the stage, simplifying choice, perception, and computation (Kirsh 1995b) for both players and playgoers.
In particular, any resource that is seldom used would require some mechanism for signaling its employment in any particular case. Unless we assume that royal entrances always used the central door, it is hard to understand why the middle door was not nominated much more frequently. ” Gurr suggests that an extra symbolic resonance would be created if Cymbeline entered at the center, thus upstaging the Romans (2001: 71 n. 14). But in the absence of a stage direction specifying the middle door, we would have to adopt a rule of thumb such as “English royalty always enters at the centre door,” which seems scarcely plausible.