About the "Hamlet" trap

Many theatres of the late 18th and the 19th centuries whose plans survive indicate the presence of a so-called "Hamlet" trap, an opening in the stage floor sufficiently large for the Grave Digger scene and, in general use, for moving large objects from below the stage to the level of the stage floor.

The theatre history of this period is rife with anecdotes involving people, furniture and animals falling through this large trap.

Additionally, some theatres boasted of a "cauldron" trap, an opening roughly three feet square which could accommodate the disappearance of the witches' cauldron in Shakespeare's Macbeth.