• Fireworks have played a part in the theater since the 14thcentury, when they were used in religious dramas to emphasize theterrors of Hell. In the 16th century they were shot from wooden figuresduring plays for the Feast of St John and the Assumption in Sienaand Florence. But fireworks have always been dangerous, and by the18th century the Com├ędie-Italienne in Paris was oneof the few companies still using them indoors. In Britain they weremostly used in pleasure gardens or in pageants such as the Lord Mayor'sshow, in which actors representing the Green Man carried clubs spoutingfire. By the 19th century they were considered somewhat old-fashioned.

    The British actor Ralph Richardson loved fireworks.As a young actor, he was placed beneath the stage with a stick ofdynamite to help simulate a wartime Zeppelin raid. The cue for theexplosion was to come from the actor F. R. Gowcott tapping on thestage with a stick. Richardson, however, mistook his tapping walkfor the signal and before Gowcott could deliver his opening line,Richardson had blown him some 20 feet off the stage.