Author and philosopher Aldous Huxley once said, "Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards" ("Aldous Huxley Quotes"). This brings up an interesting question in terms of theatre technology. Is technology helping serve theatre, or is it a hindrance on the art form? The argument is fairly new, however in recent years; there have been a lot of shows to pull from for the ineffectiveness of technology. .
In the Italian and English Renaissances, technology was very new. In the late 14th century, Italian engineers began to design innovative equipment for spectacles produced in the churches. One invention was the paradiso, a system of riggings and winches by which an entire chorus of angels was built to descend from the clouds (A History of Italian Theatre). New variations of Roman and Greek stage machinery were used as well. The use of a periaktoi, a triangular scenic piece that rotates, was brought back to the theatre. Italian stage machinery developed into elaborate objects. So elaborate, in fact, that it became necessary to introduce the proscenium arch to cover the machines (Cairns). These new inventions became so popular that other countries began using them for their theaters.
Inigo Jones, an English renaissance man, presented the Italian idea of perspective scenery to the English theatre in the 17th century. During years abroad studying in various countries, Jones visited Italy before returning to his native country of England. In the early 1600s he designed a perspective setting using slanted wings and a back shutter, which essentially was his take on the periaktoi (Lagassé). He also brought with him the proscenium arch. To this day, the proscenium arch is one of the most commonly used stage designs. .
Theatre patrons loved the new designs. They felt that the technology helped to move the show forward and enhance their experiences overall.