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Blood Question

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0470  Saturday, 24 November 2012

 

[1] From:        Eric Johnson-DeBaufre < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         November 23, 2012 7:00:54 PM EST

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Blood? 

 

[2] From:        Gabriel Egan < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         November 24, 2012 4:13:19 AM EST

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Blood? 

 

[3] From:        Alan Dessen < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         November 24, 2012 9:52:56 AM EST

     Subject:     Blood Query 

 

[4] From:        Joseph Egert < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         November 24, 2012 1:35:30 PM EST

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Blood? 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Eric Johnson-DeBaufre < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         November 23, 2012 7:00:54 PM EST

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Blood?

 

Re: Early Modern Stage Blood

 

Maik Goth addresses this in a recent issue of Comparative Drama (vol. 46 no. 2, Summer 2012, pp. 139-62). Although there is ongoing debate about how bloodshed was staged, surviving evidence suggests a range of practices. Goth notes the manuscript marginalia to George Peele’s The Battle of Alcazar (1594), which calls for the use of “3 vials of blood and a sheep’s gather” (p. 142) while Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy suggests the use of red ink rather than animal blood (p. 142), although the theatrical context (a letter written in blood) makes the latter choice understandable. See also her footnotes 22-24, and 28.

 

I confess to having doubts about how regularly viscous stage blood was used, but these are just suspicions rooted in the accounts of the investments companies made in clothing to costume their players and in my sense that they viewed these as valuable commodities. How willing were they to risk having them damaged by sheep’s blood or vinegar? I look forward to hearing from those on the list who have thought more about this than I have.

 

Eric Johnson-DeBaufre 

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Gabriel Egan < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         November 24, 2012 4:13:19 AM EST

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Blood? 

 

Michael Saenger writes

 

> I'm wondering what substance was typically used

> to simulate blood in the Elizabethan theater. I have

> heard people suggest that blood of an animal would

> be used, but this would create a pretty nasty mess,

> whereas another substance, such as wine lees, would

> be considerably easier to clean and would work

> essentially just as well.

 

The ‘plot’ for ‘The Battle of Alcazar’ (British Library Additional Manuscript 10449) has the marginal note “3 violls of blood & a sheeps gather” alongside what appears to be violent action. It is not clear (pace Tiffany Stern) what such a plot was used for, but it clearly has some connection to planning or running the performance.

 

Is wine lees easier to remove than blood? Anybody on SHAKSPER ever tried, using only the animal/vegetable fat-plus-ash soaps available then?

 

Gabriel Egan

 

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Alan Dessen < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         November 24, 2012 9:52:56 AM EST

Subject:     Blood Query

 

In response to Michael Saenger’s query about stage blood, the reference to a wine-related composition is from Thomas Preston’s Cambyses (1561?) that calls for “A little bladder of Vinegar pricked.” For information on the procedures used by Shakespeare and his contemporaries the person to consult is Prof. Andrea Stevens, U. of Illinois. For a list of relevant stage directions in professional plays between 1580 and 1642 (none of which help with the composition of the stage blood) see the entry for “bloody, bleeding” in Dessen and Thomson, A Dictionary of Stage Directions in English Drama, 1580-1642. (Cambridge U.P., 1999)

 

Alan Dessen

 

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Joseph Egert < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         November 24, 2012 1:35:30 PM EST

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Blood? 

 

Blood Question

 

Michael Saenger wonders “what substance was typically used to simulate blood in the Elizabethan theater.”

 

Check out Gurr & Ichikawa’s STAGING IN SHAKESPEARE’S THEATRES (2000) p.61:

 

http://books.google.com/books?id=5ClM9i9UoRcC&printsec=frontcover&dq=bladder+blood+%22+%22+intitle:staging+intitle:in+intitle:shakespeare's+intitle:theatres+inauthor:gurr&hl=en&sa=X&ei=sA-xUOICpd_RAZHxgIgL&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=bladder%20blood%20%22%20%22%20intitle%3Astaging%20intitle%3Ain%20intitle%3Ashakespeare's%20intitle%3Atheatres%20inauthor%3Agurr&f=false

 

“Stage blood, usually from a bladder or glass full of pig’s blood, was by no means a rare resource.[ . . . ]”

 

Joe Egert 

 

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