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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: February ::
Peacham Sketch of Titus
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0468  Wednesday, 18 February 2004

[1]     From:   Kimberly Woosley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 17 Feb 2004 09:12:12 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0456 Peacham Sketch of Titus

[2]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 17 Feb 2004 15:31:25 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0456 Peacham Sketch of Titus

[3]     From:   W.L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 17 Feb 2004 13:11:54 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0456 Peacham Sketch of Titus



[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kimberly Woosley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 17 Feb 2004 09:12:12 -0600
Subject: 15.0456 Peacham Sketch of Titus
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0456 Peacham Sketch of Titus

I'm completing a dissertation on this very topic.

The account books of drapers and milliners in the Records of Early
English Drama include references to sums "paid to the painter for the
painting of players faces" and also "for the blacking of the faces."
Before cosmetics became the dominant way to represent racial difference,
actors would wrap themselves in black fabric.

Shakespeare's plays sometimes hint at processes of representing race
onstage-Othello's bosom is described as "sooty," his face "begrimed," as
if his blackness were something that could be put on and removed-perhaps
using a preparation of burnt cork.   A number of early modern dramas
actually incorporate racial impersonations involving cosmetics into
their plots-Webster's The White Devil, Rowley's All's Lost By Lust, and
later in the seventeenth century, Berkeley's The Lost Lady and Brome's
The English Moore.

I don't know if you're interested in the courtly context, but the
epilogue to Ben Jonson's The Gypsies Metamorphosed confesses that the
gypsies skins were darkened using "an ointment/ Made and laid on by
Master Wolfs appointment./  It was fetched off with water and a ball,/
And to our transformation this is all (ll. 1389-1392).  Wecker has a
recipe for a cosmetic water using green walnut shells that will turn the
skin black, and also advises readers how to "take off that blackness."

We know Queen Anne and her ladies used blackface disguise to perform in
The Masque of Blackness, and James I also kept blacks at his court.
Tokson, Hall, and others have found that some were used in courtly
performances or processions. I haven't found references to black actors
on the popular stage, however.

Kim Woosley Poitevin
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 17 Feb 2004 15:31:25 -0000
Subject: 15.0456 Peacham Sketch of Titus
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0456 Peacham Sketch of Titus

There is, of course, the account of Queen Anne and her courtiers
appearing in black makeup for the Masque of Blackness; that they chose
not simply to carry black vizards not only posed a problem for Jonson in
arranging a transformation at the masque's end, but, according to one
report, posed a problem for the Spanish Ambassador in kissing the
ladies' black hands.

David Lindley

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W.L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Tuesday, 17 Feb 2004 13:11:54 -0500
Subject: 15.0456 Peacham Sketch of Titus
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0456 Peacham Sketch of Titus

Thomas Berger, et al., An Index of Charaters in Early Modern English
Drama Printed Plays, 1500-1660, offer a brief bibliography under
Moor(s).  There are cross references to Africa/African(s), and Negro(s).
  Since there were many Blacks in early modern London, some may have
made it on to the stage.

Bill Godshalk

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