Fictional, Factual, and Flying Space: Throwing at the Theatre in The Author on the Wheel
The anonymously-written one-act play The Author on the Wheel, or, a Piece Cut in the Green Room premiered at Theatre Royal Drury Lane on April 18, 1785 (The Daily Universal Register April 18, 1785). It follows a theatre manager with an awful, yet necessary task on his hands: to substantially revise and cut down a play in between the play’s first and second performances. The opening night performance of the play was such a failure that it provoked the audience to throw fruit at the actors to show their disdain; therefore the cast refuses to perform until the script is substantially changed. The revision session in the green room does not go according to plan, and after much insult and humiliation from the manager, cast, and crew, the arrogant author storms out with his manuscript, ready to inflict his awful dialogue on another unsuspecting theatre company.
Spaces in the theatre, due to their dynamic and potent properties, offer a way to examine meanings created by spectators and performers in terms of physical space, fictional space, and even textual space. Through my study of The Author on the Wheel, I consider a part of performance that complicates the idea of physical stage space to an extreme (and sometimes even dangerous) degree while somehow managing to avoid much historical and theoretical scrutiny: the thrown object. I investigate the movement between and amongst spaces made by the thrown object. The thrown objects to which I am referring are the apples, pears and oranges hurled toward the stage by the fictional audience in The Author on the Wheel. The incident of the thrown object occurs only as a memory in the play, recounted in the after-performance discussion in the green room. Through this dialogue, the characters tell tales of acting on the stage whilst enduring a barrage of fruit.
This is an Open Access journal. All material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence, unless otherwise stated.
Please read our Open Access, Copyright and Permissions policies for more information.