These are openings cut into the stage floor or in the scenery to allow scenic effects or unusual appearances by actors. Throughout most of the 19th century, the trapped stage floor was a standard feature of the well-equipped theatre, but their gradual neglect in the early 1900s paralleled the passing of melodrama and its cheap thrills. According to the Kansas City Star (18 November 1906), a modern stage of the 1890s had five traps: two quarter traps, one Hamlet trap, one star trap, and one vampire trap. The Hamlet trap, used in the gravedigger scene, was generally about seven feet by two-and-a-half feet and located slightly upstage of center. The two quarter traps, one at stage right and one at stage left, a little farther downstage than the Hamlet, were useful for emergencies as well as for pantomimes and extravaganzas with lots of special effects. In Faust, Mephistopheles always made his entrance from the vampire trap, near the footlights at stage right, as did any infernal or unpleasant characters. Some traps were named for the manner in which the doors were hinged to close behind the actor; thus "vampire trap" might also indicate two spring flaps in a piece of painted scenery, which allowed the illusion that an actor had materialized through a solid wall. The star trap was used for the sudden entrance down stage left of a good fairy, who would shoot up through segments that spread open in a star pattern, but which also snapped shut so quickly that hapless fairies were sometimes scratched, caught, or injured. Occasionally, theatres would install the ghost glide (known in England as the Corsican trap) by which the actor would rise into view as he moved parallel to the footlights, an effect achieved by having him ride a wagon up an incline beneath a long opening in the floor.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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