Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: March ::
Re: Stage Blood
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0250.  Tuesday, 28 March 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Michael Best <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 27 Mar 95 22:44:19 PST
        Subj:   Blood and Guts
 
(2)     From:   Skip Shand <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Mar 1995 09:33:36 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0249  Re: *Titus* and Stage Blood
 
(3)     From:   Melissa Aaron <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Mar 1995 09:31:23 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0249 Re: Stage Blood and Stain Removers
 
(4)     From:   Helen Ostovich <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Mar 1995 14:42:24 +0001 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: Q: Blood in *Titus*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Best <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 27 Mar 95 22:44:19 PST
Subject:        Blood and Guts
 
The early _Cambyses, King of Persia_ ("A lamentable tragedy mixed full of
pleasant mirth . . .") has some useful stage directions: Cruelty and Murder
(having entered "with bloody hands") kill Cambyses' brother:
 
     Even now I strike, his body to wound.
       _Strike him in divers places._
     Behold, now his blood springs out on the ground.
       _A little bladder of vinegar pricked._
 
Red wine vinegar, perhaps?
 
The ending is particularly fine:
 
       _Enter the King, without a gown, a sword thrust up into his
       side, bleeding,_
 
His final speech ends
 
     Thus, gasping, here on ground I lie; for nothing I do care,
     A just reward for my misdeeds my death doth plain declare.
       _Here let him quake and stir._
 
Lots of blood and no awkward moral ambiguity.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Skip Shand <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Mar 1995 09:33:36 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0249  Re: *Titus* and Stage Blood
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0249  Re: *Titus* and Stage Blood
 
The stage direction Don Foster refers to is from *Cambises*. Murder and Cruelty
stab Lord Smirdis 'in divers places,' and Cruelty says, 'Beholde, now his blood
springs out on the ground!' This is followed by the direction:
 
'A little bladder of vinegar prickt.'
 
The directions in this text are a goldmine, of course, especially for folks
interested in the borderlines between mimetic behaviors and the real thing. A
number of them stress the pretend nature of the actions they encode, as if
concerned that performers might otherwise forget pretense and embark on the act
itself:
 
'Smite him in the neck with a sword to signifie his death.'
 
'Flea him with a false skin.'
 
The stress on the mechanics of make-believe in these directions may bode ill
for the Cambises-actor himself, however:
 
'Enter the King, without a gowne, a swoord thrust up into his side, bleeding.'(!
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melissa Aaron <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Mar 1995 09:31:23 +0200
Subject: 6.0249 Re: Stage Blood and Stain Removers
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0249 Re: Stage Blood and Stain Removers
 
It's still not unusual to provide two costumes in productions--the "nice" one
and the cheaper "gross" version in which the person gets stabbed or otherwise
bleeds a lot.
 
I suppose I have always assumed that the Renaissance stage used real blood, but
that smells very bad in a hurry.  Does anyone know if fake blood was ever used
and/or how it was made?
 
1 bottle light Karo syrup to one part reddening agent--sticky, but it works--
 
Melissa Aaron
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Helen Ostovich <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Mar 1995 14:42:24 +0001 (EST)
Subject:        Re: Q: Blood in *Titus*
 
Certainly there were ways of using blood hidden in a pig's bladder, to be
spilled at the appropriate moment, but _acting_ does not require blood being
spilled, especially if the blood will wreck the costumes.  Blood on a shirt is
one thing:  blood on less easily laundered material is another.  The words of
the description can replace actual blood, and the combination of stage action
and audience's imaginative participation will do the rest.  There's always the
old medieval trick of using ribbons to suggest a cascade of blood.
 
Helen Ostovich
McMaster University
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.