Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: April ::
Re: Stage Blood
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0735  Saturday, 24 April 1999.

[1]     From:   Krishna Dunston <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 23 Apr 1999 11:08:32 -0400
        Subj:   RE: Elizabeathan Stage Blood

[2]     From:   Christine Cornell <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 23 Apr 1999 15:32:33 AST4ADT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0720 Re: Stage Blood


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Krishna Dunston <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 23 Apr 1999 11:08:32 -0400
Subject:        RE: Elizabeathan Stage Blood

While I agree that it is in rather poor taste to splatter your audience
with blood, regardless of whether or not you pick up their dry cleaning
bill, I respectfully submit that in some of Shakespeare's plays, the
blood is simply far more important than the costumes.  Furthermore,
there is a very simple solution.

Mix red food coloring into dye free laundry detergent.  As long as the
actor doesn't "play" with the bloodied clothing, it looks fantastic (it
tends to foam and bubble if handled too much).  I have directed and
choreographed Romeo and Juliet several times and each time I have had
all the men in bright white shirts in Act III, scene one, and Juliet in
bright white in the tomb.  Blood was prominently featured in all of the
productions.  One Romeo in particular found being covered in Mercutio's
blood for his banishment scene with the friar to be particularly
useful.  We nearly went overboard with that production - as we kept
experimenting with how much blood we could bag on the actor playing
Mercutio, and still allow him to complete the sword fight.  Needless to
say - the costumes were none the worse for wear, and as long as they
were washed immediately following the production there was never any
problem.  I know - the first time I used this blood technique I was in
college and, as the only one in and apartment with a laundry machine - I
was the one washing the costumes every night.

In another production of Romeo and Juliet I was hired only as the fight
director, and was outvoted by the director and costumer on the use of
blood effects.  This Mercutio was expected to pull out a pre-bloodied
rag from his costume. While writhing and moaning in agony (he was
something of a ham), he would stare at the bloodied rag in horror.  He
got laughs...despite his elegantly brocaded costume.

This is not to say that other stylistic effects are not equally
effective.  I remember being particularly impressed with Julius Ceasar
at the Shakespeare Theater in D.C. a few years back, in which Ceasar was
layed out on a sea of red silk.  It fit the production very well and I
enjoyed the visual.

Blood can often be a signifier of violence. Stylistic blood effects mesh
well with stylistic violence, but stylistic blood effects with realistic
violence - particularly if done simply to save the costumes - simply
trivializes a major theme of the play.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christine Cornell <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 23 Apr 1999 15:32:33 AST4ADT
Subject: 10.0720 Re: Stage Blood
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0720 Re: Stage Blood

I'm interested in this discussion of stage blood because it indirectly
raises an issue we don't seem to talk about often: the use of scent in
productions.

When my students asked me what was used in the Renaissance, I did
mention animal blood being used some of the time.  In a particularly
gory revenge tragedy, for instance, I think the smell of blood in the
theatre would be highly effective in evoking fear or at least uneasiness
in the audience.

Christine Cornell
St. Thomas University
Fredericton, NB
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.