The Indian Queen and The Indian Emperour The tables in Lewcock’s three-part ‘Computer Analysis of Restoration Staging’ are an excellent starting point for any detailed study of staging in the period. There are a few errors and some idiosyncrasies in the play selection, but the way the tables are set out allows an easy comparison between the repertoires of the two patent companies up to their merger as the United Company in 1682. As Lewcock herself notes, various aspects of theatre production and the rivalry between the two companies are thrown into relief by this tabulation.1 The King’s Company’s taste at Bridges Street for flying machines is one of these, as is the way it uses backshutter discoveries, especially in plays by Robert Howard, Boyle and Dryden. In total, six authors employed 30 discoveries in 13 of the 29 Bridges Street plays produced in the period 1663-72; over half of the total

(18) are in plays by Dryden, including four in The Indian Queen, his collaboration with Robert Howard.2 By contrast, such scenes in LIF plays are more evenly spread: 12 authors contributed 32 discoveries in 20 of the 32 plays produced within the same dates. What stands out from these figures is that Dryden, who was the first and only fully professional dramatist in the 1660s, was fascinated by the dramaturgical potential of backshutter discoveries and was clearly experimenting with their use. What I would like to focus on here is the use of discovery scenes in two plays that appears to explode the hypothesis that LIF and Bridges Street had the same basic scenic arrangement and, therefore, to limit the applicability of the LIF model. Both The Indian Queen (BS 1664) and Dryden’s sole-authored ‘sequel’ The Indian Emperour (BS 1665) seem to suggest that Bridges Street offered the capacity for successive backshutter discoveries. In Act 3 of The Indian Queen we appear to move directly from a confirmed relieve setting in which the usurping queen Zempoalla is discovered at the start of the Act, to the discovery of a sleeping figure in Act 3.2 (see Table 5.1). If anything, such a move is even clearer in Act 4 of The Indian Emperour, which has two successive scenes (3 and 4) headed by the term ‘discovered’ (see Table 5.2). These two plays are excellent examples of the type of experimentation in scenic staging being carried out at Bridges Street, by Dryden in particular; before analysing their stage directions it would be helpful to provide some context to their production. The two plays are of course thematically related, though as The Indian Emperour is not a direct sequel, Dryden thought it necessary to explain the connection in a short preface to the later play.3 While The Indian Queen had been a fairly successful production, the real reason for the follow-up was the opportunity to recycle the expensive new scenery and costumes made specifically for the earlier play. This recycling is acknowledged in the prologue to the later play: ‘The Scenes are old, the Habits are the same,/We wore last year, before the Spaniards came.’4 For any analysis of Restoration staging, evidence of a material connection between different plays is both rare and potentially valuable. Scenery was of course being recycled among productions on a regular basis, but usually this applies to individual settings and we need some hint in the published play to establish a specific connection. For example, a cave setting specified in The Indian Emperour (and presumably used in the Indian Queen) pops up again in Dryden’s Tyrannick Love (BS 1669), where it is advertised in the heading for Act 4.1 as ‘Indian Cave’, a scenic description that otherwise makes no sense in terms of the play’s fictional setting in Ancient Rome. The outstanding example of such backstage information finding its way into the published play is Boyle’s Guzman (LIF 1669, published 1693), which refers to scenery used in two previous plays by Boyle.5 Uniquely

within our period, however, The Indian Emperour was specifically designed to reuse scenery from another play wholesale. This is a powerful analytical tool, because in terms of scenic staging it means we can treat both texts effectively as one, reading each in the light of the other: we know the later play used the same scenery, but their relation also means that we can backfill, so to speak, gaps in the scene headings of the earlier play using the later. For all its relative scenic innovation, The Indian Queen is still a very early new play, only the fourth such in Killigrew’s new scenic theatre. The first two – Flora’s Vagaries by Richard Rhodes and Thomas Porter’s The Carnival – were produced in 1663. There is nothing in Rhodes’s play to suggest scenic production and it may have been written for the non-scenic Vere Street theatre.6 Porter’s play includes two directions for the scene to change, but is otherwise unchallenging scenically. The third play, Edward Howard’s tragedy The Usurper (1664) includes the King’s Company’s first discovery scene when, in Act 5, ‘The Senators appear in the Senate’.7 The Indian Queen offers fresh dramaturgical thinking and shows the effects of commercial competition. Killigrew’s company had undoubtedly been getting used to technical aspects of the new stage, playing catch up with their rivals at LIF, who had been using scenery since 1661, but The Indian Queen raises the stakes by offering scenic spectacle on a new scale. As noted, the play featured new scenery and magnificent costumes, including, if we take Aphra Behn at her word, a feathered costume from Surinam: ‘I had a Set of these [feathers] presented to me, and I gave ’em to the King’s Theatre, and it was the Dress of the Indian Queen, infinitely admir’d by Persons of Quality.’8 Certainly both Pepys and Evelyn were impressed. Pepys thought it ‘a most pleasant show, and beyond my expectation’, while the meticulous Evelyn declared it to be ‘so beautiful with rich scenes as the like has never been seen here, or haply (except rarely) elsewhere on a mercenary theatre’.9 Innovation in the play is present from the very start, when the prologue is delivered from the scenic area by actors wholly in character, rather than by the usual practice of actors speaking from the forestage in front of a dropped curtain as themselves, or as characters at least partly divorced from the role they are about to play:

As the Musick plays a soft Air, the Curtain rises softly, and discovers an Indian Boy and Girl sleeping under two Plantain-Trees; and when the Curtain is almost up, the Musick turns into a Tune expressing an Alarm, at which the Boy wakes and speaks.10