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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: February ::
Stage Money
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0111  Thursday, 8 February 2007

[1] 	From: 	Bradley G. Robbert <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 7 Feb 2007 14:09:07 -0600
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 18.0101 Stage Money

[2] 	From: 	Alan Dessen <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 7 Feb 2007 17:27:29 -0500 (EST)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0101 Stage Money


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Bradley G. Robbert <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 7 Feb 2007 14:09:07 -0600
Subject: 18.0101 Stage Money
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0101 Stage Money

Whenever gold (or silver) coins are called for, be they in plain view or 
in bags, I've always found it easiest to use Mardi Gras doubloons, which 
are never in short supply down here.  Of course if taking a trip down 
here and catching some in person from an upcoming parade isn't doable, 
you can also order some online.  I just found a 50 piece assortment for 
$6.95 from Accent Annex, which is a local distributor.

http://www.accentannex.com/doubloons-asst-50-pcs-p-30.html?zenid=92923b622defc73729d1e490b31dcb65

Even when shaken in a bag they have that nice coin sound (particularly 
helpful in a smaller theatre setting).  Hope this helps.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Alan Dessen <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 7 Feb 2007 17:27:29 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 18.0101 Stage Money
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0101 Stage Money

Will Sharpe raises an interesting question about money or gold as a prop 
in plays such as *The Jew of Malta* and *Volpone* - and I wish I had an 
answer.  Our s.d. dictionary entries provide a lot of tantalizing 
signals (see also the relatively sparse usages of *treasure*) that 
include scripted entrances "with a ladle full of molten gold" and "with 
his gold and a scuttle full of horsedung," but I cannot supply any 
information about how such effects would have been achieved in those 
first productions (and I do not recall any helpful bits in Henslowe's 
papers).  Here is a typical example of the gap between then and now 
(with or without recourse to *presentism*).  Playwrights, players, and 
playgoers knew the coded signals for realizing gold and money onstage, 
whether through bags/purses or discoveries or some combination thereof, 
but, as with so many comparable effects, the authors of the surviving 
stage directions did not feel it necessary to spell out (for us) how to 
do it.  Rather, they (especially those dramatists attached to a theatre 
company - e.g., Shakespeare, Heywood, Fletcher, Massinger) could trust 
the expertise of their player-colleagues.  In my formulation, we as 
readers today are eavesdropping on a conversation in a coded language 
that we will never fully understand.

I would be delighted if others could fill in the blanks, as is sometimes 
the case with a s.d. such as "Exit corpse" or "organs play and covered 
dishes march over the stage" where the attendants who carry the bier (in 
*Richard III*, 1.2) or dishes (in *Mad World My Masters*) are elided, 
but often we can only conjecture about what those Elizabethan and 
Jacobean playgoers actually saw.

Good luck in the search.

Alan Dessen

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