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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: February ::
Titus enters like a cook
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0340  Friday, 6 February 2004

From:           Alan Dessen <
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Date:           Thursday, 5 Feb 2004 15:33:56 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 15.0322 Titus enters like a cook
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0322 Titus enters like a cook

The "like a cook" signal in Titus, 5.3 is part of a large family of
"like a..." s.d.s widely used in entrances (over 300 examples) to denote
either 1) disguise or 2) the attire or habit appropriate to a particular
figure or role.  The problem for us today (as reflected in the query) is
that the original actors and playgoers knew what a stage cook, lawyer,
doctor, forester, parson, captain, etc. looked like, so that more detail
is rarely provided (see our dictionary entry for "like").  In our
database, "cook" turns up seven times as a figure in a scene, whether
alone or along with related figures (e.g., butler, pantler).  The
exceptions are: "Enter Phillis like a Cook-maid" (English Moor, 39);
"Enter Gwenthyan and Rice, she meanly, he like a Cook" (Patient
Grissell, 4.3.0); "Enter the Master Cook, Butler, Pantler, Yeoman of the
Cellar, with a Jack of Beer and a Dish." (Bloody Brother, 262).  I'd
have to check out the scene in the original to figure out how to read
"Cook" in the following: "Enter Alexander, Collen, Mentz, Richard,
Saxony, Palsgrave, Collen Cook, with a gammon of raw bacon, and links or
puddings in a platter, Richard, Palsgrave, Saxon, Mentz, like Clowns
with each of them a Miter with Corances on their heads" (Alphonsus of
Germany, F1r).  A cook would likely be recognized by what he or she was
1) wearing as costume and 2) carrying as props, whether implements or
food.  One can seek further information in contemporary illustrations,
but such evidence may or may not help in pinning down onstage practice
(or coding).  To try to reconstruct the original staging or stage
practice is repeatedly to run into this problem.

Alan Dessen

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