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I have a book I have been poking along at for some time. It is a rather dry treatment of stage lighting during the time of Marlowe. The short story is they put on plays in the afternoon, for two reasons. They had to rely somewhat on natural light, and they had to avoid conflict with state required prayer times.

The book goes into a lot more detail. And it is interesting, but not something that I can gobble down at once.

But it does include, if anyone else wants it, a chart detailing when the sun set in London, in each week of each month of 1574. It comes out to 4-ish in the winter and 8-ish in the summer, which seems similar to someplace like Boston, to me.

The author of the book uses Shakespeare as an example more than Marlowe, but they are exact contemps up to the time Marlowe died. The author says that when we hear 'Out, out, brief candle' or something like it,  coming from a stage today, lit up brightly, and indoors at night, it is very different from what the people experienced when the play was new. If the stage was dark, and the actors seen dimly, and the light all around was flickering and dancing, that would have felt very different. Or if the play was performed in mid-afternoon in a theater open to the sky, different again. The words are colored in meaning by the way they are staged.

It reminds me of that thing about how even if you could talk to a lion, you could not really talk to a lion. We can try to get close, put we cannot know what the past was really like.

I guess this is an example of how a person can get a little goofy over research. Even if it leads nowhere, I want to get as close as I can to imagining what it was really like.

That is what is so great about LJ. So many of you know so much more than me-- and you share. That is delightful.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 13th, 2013 02:16 am (UTC)
i think its very neat...
Jul. 13th, 2013 05:31 am (UTC)
London is actually somewhat north of Boston - and, in fact, north of anywhere in the 48 - with correspondingly later days. Around the summer solstice, sunset is closer to 9pm than to 8.
Jul. 13th, 2013 06:02 am (UTC)
I guess I can see that, on the map, now that I actually look. I always forget how far up the UK is. (Or how big eastern Canada is.)

I guess that explains all the children's books where little English children are packed off to bed while the sun is still out!
Jul. 13th, 2013 06:11 am (UTC)
Oh, definitely - I can well remember that.

And the northern tip of the UK is at the same latitude as the southern tip of Greenland :-)
Jul. 13th, 2013 07:36 am (UTC)
which explains British weather hahaha (signed a happy escapee!)
Jul. 13th, 2013 05:47 pm (UTC)
It hit 29.5C / 85 F in the shade with us today - about 10C hotter than that in 0ractice, as there *was* no shade - and then another 10C on that when we got on the bus. Can I escape too???
Jul. 13th, 2013 06:11 am (UTC)
Um, isn't it something like 2am with you?
Jul. 13th, 2013 05:30 pm (UTC)
It was something very much like 2 am. I should have been long asleep. But sometimes i just find myself awake. Wonderful how it is almost always proper awake-time for somebody, so I might find someone to write at.
Jul. 13th, 2013 05:41 pm (UTC)
This is one of the great benefits of the world-wide web :-)
Jul. 13th, 2013 07:35 am (UTC)
i participated in lighting a 'natural' production of shakespeare once - it was great fun because we had the constraints of daylight etc + the possibility of bad weather to contend with - and first night of 'the scottish play' guess what....a storm started in the distance just as the three witches appeared (but the wind blew it the other way so we were saved!)
Jul. 13th, 2013 05:34 pm (UTC)
Tonight--weather permitting-- husband and I are going to see a production by The New York Classical Theater. It is going to be The Tempest, in battery park. They do Shakespeare every summer.

It is like a combination play and track event. Each act is somewhere else outdoors, and the actors and audience have to get up and run to the next spot, and quick sit on the ground. It sounds odd, but it is a lot of fun.

It is held outdoors, in (obviously) natural light. Last year they did Macbeth. Very spooky under the darkening trees...
Jul. 13th, 2013 08:00 pm (UTC)
Boston has "Shakespeare in the Park", on Boston Common. No running,though!!
Jul. 13th, 2013 11:50 pm (UTC)
Looks like we got rained out today. Still there is hope. The show runs another little while.

We have managed to make it once every summer for the last few years. it really is a wonderful event. There is something about being made to get up and scamper every 10 minutes or so that is quite charming.

The actor have to run too-- and they hurry everyone along, and say 'Come on, it is this way.' And everyone helps each other carry blankets and baskets and stuff.

And if you end up in the back for one part you may well be in the front for the next because sometimes you sit as directed and the actors form up behind you and you have to turn around!
Jul. 14th, 2013 02:53 pm (UTC)
Sounds like fun!!
Jul. 14th, 2013 10:15 pm (UTC)
That was the one time I ever caught Patrick O'Brian in an error. He wrote a scene that depended on a lit stage/dark house theater to work, so the flash of light from a door opening into a box in the audience would catch Stephen's eye (and allow him to observe Diana).

Nope. The house didn't GO dark until theaters were gaslit, and that hadn't happened yet at the time of the scene. Just IMAGINE trying to extinguish and re-light those enormous chandeliers at intermission, on ladders, candle by candle...
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )