The following comes from a 1906 masterâ€™s thesis by Allie V. Parks titled, â€œStage Properties, Costumes, Scenery and Music of the English Miracle Playsâ€ (see part 1 here). These were religious pageants performed in England from the 10th to the 16th centuries. Iâ€™ve reformatted the text a bit to make it a little more readable, since it is already challenging trying to decipher the Middle English text:
In regard to the use of fire on the Mystery stage, Mr. L. W. Cushman in “The Devil And The Vice,” says on page 24, “None of the great Mystery-cycles contain, in the stage directions, any mention of the use of fire. Sharp found in the account books only one entry for fire in hell-mouth and that of a late date; 1557, “Item payd for keeping of fyre at hell mouth iiijd.”
In the ‘York Plays,’ however, Lucifer complains at the time of his fall, of intollerable heat, “alyke hat,” 5/97 and again, he complains of the heat and smoke, which rolls up from below, “ye smore me in smoke, 5/117.” This statement may easily be disproved by the following stage directions, in the ‘Abraham and Isaac Play’ already quoted, p. 65, Heare Abraham taketh a sworde and fire, shows that fire was used on the stage.
On page 391 of Mediaeval Plays, Chambers gives stage directions of a very early play, at Cornwall, “Lucifer voydeth & goeth downe to hell apareled fowle with fyre about hem turning to hell and every degre of devylls of lether & spirytis on cordis runing into ye playne and so remayne ther.” In the stage directions of the Chester cycle by the Early English Text Society, p. 42, Then a flame shall Descende upon the sacrifice of abell.
Parks, Allie V. â€œStage Properties, Costumes, Scenery and Music of the English Miracle Plays.â€ Thesis. University of Illinois, 1906. Internet Archive, 29 Oct. 2013. Web. 18 Oct. 2016. <https://archive.org/details/stagepropertiesc00park>.