2003 - 2004 Play Sponsors
Education Program Supporters
2003-2004 Season Educational Support Impresario ($25,000 and above) TIAA-CREF Education Sponsor
Student Matinee Program Impresario ($25,000 and above) Central New York Community Foundation Constant Star, Amadeus, Wizard of Oz, Hamlet Stage Education Sponsor ($5,000 - 7,499) Niagara Mohawk - Hamlet
Annual Children’s Tour 2003 A Midsummer Night’s Dream Stage Education Sponsor ($5,000 - 7,499) Fleet Bank Stage Educational Partner ($3,000 - 4,999) Lockheed Martin Employees Federated Fund Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Stage Educational Spotlight ($500 - 1000) Robert D. Willis, DDS, PC, Children’s Dentistry
Student Study Guide Stage Education Manager ($1,000 - 2,999) Midstate Printing
Young Playwrights Festival Staging the Future Stage Educational Producer ($7,500 - 9,999) JPMorgan Chase
Table of Contents Performance Policies and Procedures ...................................................................................................... 4 Audience Role and Responsibility ........................................................................................................... 6 One-Minute Etiquette Reminder .............................................................................................................. 7 Why We Attend Theatre ......................................................................................................................... 8 Amadeus Peter Shaffer . . . . ............................................................................................................................................. 14 Literary Chronology/Setting/Synopsis/Characters/Vocabulary .......................................................................... 16 Foreign Words and Phrases ............................................................................................................................... 21 Salieri and Mozart .............................................................................................................................................. 23 Patronage, 18th Century Style, Or, how musicians lived ................................................................................... 35 Sources Consulted ............................................................................................................................................. 39 Constant Star Tazewell Thompson, playwright, director .......................................................................................................... 41 Playwright/Directorâ€™s Note/Setting ................................................................................................................... 42 Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931) ..................................................................................................................... 43 Vocabulary ......................................................................................................................................................... 44 Quotable Quotes ................................................................................................................................................ 54 The FBI list ........................................................................................................................................................ 55 Lynching ............................................................................................................................................................. 69 The Gospel Hymns ............................................................................................................................................ 73 Discussion Questions/Sources Consulted .......................................................................................................... 84 The Wizard of Oz L. Frank Baum, historian, proprietor .................................................................................................................. 88 Literary Chronology ........................................................................................................................................... 92 Vocabulary ......................................................................................................................................................... 97 Lyrics ................................................................................................................................................................. 99 Suggested Activities from: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Website .................................................................. 108 Sources Consulted ........................................................................................................................................... 114 Stones in His Pockets Marie Jones. .................................................................................................................................................... 115 Synopsis/Characters/British Curses and Slang ................................................................................................ 116 Vocabulary ....................................................................................................................................................... 117 Discussion Questions/Sources Consulted ........................................................................................................ 123 Hamlet Bio of the Bard ................................................................................................................................................ 125 Synopsis/Main Characters ............................................................................................................................... 126 Vocabulary ....................................................................................................................................................... 127 Discussion Questions/Sources Consulted ........................................................................................................ 142 Private Lives Noel Coward .................................................................................................................................................... 143 Literary Chronology ......................................................................................................................................... 145 Setting/Synopsis/Vocabulary ..................................................................................................................146 Extra credit: translate Louise ........................................................................................................................... 149 Sources Consulted ............................................................................................................................... 150
PERFORMANCE POLICIES AND PROCEDURES WHEN TO ARRIVE AT THE THEATRE: We recommend you arrive at the theatre at least 30 minutes prior to the performance to allow time for seating. This is a professional theatre production and will start at the scheduled time. Student matinees begin promptly at 10:30 am. BUS DROP OFF AND PARKING: Busses not staying may load and unload at the Centro bus stop on East Genesee Street. Bus parking is available along East Genesee Street at the bagged meters. Cars must make arrangements in parking facilities as they will be ticketed if parked at the bagged meters. SEAT ASSIGNMENTS: As each seat at Syracuse Stage is reserved and performances are often standing room only, students must sit in their assigned seats. For reasons of convenience, efficiency, and courtesy, we request that students do not trade seats. Regardless of the number in your block of seats, we request that this rule is respected. We ask that chaperons and teachers do not sit together but sit evenly distributed throughout the students. LATECOMERS: Latecomers will be seated at the discretion of the Management. There is no late seating below Row F. BACKPACKS, CAMERAS, WALKMANS AND FOOD: Backpacks, cameras and tape recorders (including Walkmans) are strictly prohibited in the theatre, as is food of any kind. As we do not have storage facilities for these items at Syracuse Stage, we ask that you leave them at school or on the bus. PHOTOGRAPHY: Cameras (flash or otherwise) are strictly prohibited in the theatre. Union rules do not allow the taking of pictures during a production and flash cameras are a distraction to both the acting company and audience. Any camera used in the theatre will be removed for the duration of the performance. FOOD, DRINK AND GUM: Absolutely no food, drink, or gum is allowed in the theatre. Please leave snacks and lunches on the bus. Students will be asked to leave the theatre to remove any food items or the items will be taken and not returned. INTERMISSION REFRESHMENTS: Soda will be available during intermission for $1.00 (exact change will be appreciated). Reminder: You must dispose of all snack items before reentering the theatre. AUDIENCE ETIQUETTE: Live performance theatres require behavior different from that required in the movie theatres. Please review theatre etiquette with your students before attending the performance. If any student becomes disruptive to the point of interference with the performers or other audience members, a chaperon will be asked to remove that student. POST-SHOW FOLLOW UP: Performances at Syracuse Stage are funded by grants, corporations, and individuals. They do want to hear from you. We ask students and teachers to write the sponsors with your likes and dislikes and to let the sponsors know that the student matinees are an important program. (Do write to us too!)
Please: 1] Write thank you letters to the sponsors to let them know that this is an important program. (Names and addresses can be obtained from the Education office.) 2] Write to Syracuse Stage with suggestions to improve your theatre experience. 3] Call the Education office if you have any questions or if there is an issue that requires immediate action. Thank you in advance for the work you put into helping Syracuse Stage present the student matinee program. We hope that the season entertains and enlightens you and your students.
Part of the art of living is living with the arts.
PEOPLE YOU SHOULD KNOW Education Associate............................................... Group Sales Coordinator........................................ House Manager...................................................... Corporate/Foundation Relations............................. Producing Director................................................. Artistic Director.....................................................
Pat Pederson Tracey White Anthony Corcoran James Dungey James Clark Robert Moss
IMPORTANT NUMBERS Syracuse Stage Administration Offices: 315/443-4008 Education Department: 315/443-1150 Group Sales: 315/443-9844
AUDIENCE ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITY As audience members, your students have a distinct role and responsibility. The success of any performance depends on the actors on the stage as well as the people in the seats. For those students enjoying their first exposure to a live theatre production, we encourage some discussion of theatre manners before you attend the play, as some movie-, video- and television-watching behaviors are not always appropriate in the theatre. We have included two pages to assist you: the first lists discussion questions or topics for the classroom (with some suggested answers in italics) while the second is a ONE MINUTE ETIQUETTE REMINDER to read on the bus before you arrive. (You might also review the essay on Dramatic Criticism .)
Thank you for helping us help your students get the most out of the performance. [ 1 ] What are some of the differences between a live theatre production and a movie? Movies can be filmed in any sequence and scenes can be redone as many times as needed to get a “good scene.” The scenes are then composed into the movie by editors and the director. Each scene in a live theatre performance is presented once only, in sequence, as written, the performance being created anew each time by the actors, stage manager(s) and backstage staff. The audience’s noise level, activity level, and attention level do not affect the movie actor’s performance. BUT, all of these things are heard and noticed by the actors of a live performance and have an immediate effect on the performance, which may be positive or negative—if the audience laughs at funny lines or is leaning forward in anticipation of the action, actors respond with energetic performances; if the audience does not respond to the actors, responds at inappropriate times or is restless, actors find it difficult to give their best performances because their concentration, their “trains of thought,” as it were, have been disrupted . Special effects in a movie are often be generated by computers or camera angles while special effects in the theatre often rely on the audience’s imagination to enhance or help create them. Movies provide realistic images while live theatre provides images of reality.
[ 2 ] What is the best way to approach viewing a live performance of any art? Audiences attending a live performance must be willing to “suspend their disbelief”; that is, they should be prepared to use their imagination to fully enter into the ideas of the play/musical composition/dance, etc. Live performances are in ways television and movies are not: try to be open to the passion and emotion behind the actions, words, movements and/or music presented. Because each performance is affected by audience response, audience members will never see the same performance twice. Though the piece’s meaning remains the same, each performance may have its own underlying interpretations due to factors such as the performer(s) and/or audience’s state of mind, performer(s) physical readiness, and even the comfort level in the performing space.
[ 3 ] What is the audience’s role during a live performance? How do you think audience behavior can affect a performance? Audiences ready to observe naturally connect with the performers and appropriately respond to the performance, by laughing, gasping, applauding, or quietly listening. Even when this is so audience members should remember that, for live performances, paper rattling, watch alarms, cell phones, beepers, and talking will distract the performers, thereby disrupting the connection between stage and auditorium and weakening the performance. Just as importantly, those around noisy audience members will miss hearing or seeing elements of a live performance that will not be repeated.
ONE-MINUTE ETIQUETTE REMINDER Please read to students on the bus prior to entering the theatre. Stay in the group to be seated. Your school or class will be called and seated as a group. Sit in the seat to which you are assigned. If you move or refuse to take a particular seat, you will delay our seating other members of your group as well as other groups. No food, drink, gum-chewing, headsets, or backpacks in the theatre. Please leave lunches, snacks and backpacks on the bus. NO TALKING OR GETTING UP DURING THE SHOW. This includes whispering. Every live performance is a unique experience, created jointly by actors and audience members present for a specific presentation. Live performances vary greatly from recorded TV programs or movies because the audience’s reactions are not only obvious to the performers but are relied upon by them as signals that they presenting the best performance possible, regardless of the type of reaction—applause, laughter, crying or even quiet but responsive attention— because the actors can see and hear you. Please do not talk, act or distract attention from the stage. Please use the restrooms before the show or at intermission only. If you have any problems or questions, please ask the ushers for help. Enjoy yourself!
Why We Attend Theatre Oscar Brockett, from The Theatre: An Introduction Art is one way whereby mankind seeks to understand the world. . . .Our search for meaning . . . is always directed toward discovering those relationships that reveal order within what would otherwise seem to be chance events. Art, then, . . . shapes perceptions about human experience into . . . patterned relationships that help us order our views about mankind and the universe. . . . The artist . . . works primarily from his or her own perceptions and seeks to involve the audience’s emotions, imagination, and intellect directly. A playwright consequently presents events as though they are occurring at that moment before our eyes; we absorb them in the way we absorb life itself—through their direct operation on our senses. Thus, as art differs from life by stripping away irrelevant details and organizing events to compose a connected pattern, so a play illuminates and comments (though sometimes indirectly) on human experience even as it seemingly creates human experience. But, just as we do not mistake a statue for a real person, we do not mistake stage action for reality. Rather, we usually view a play with what Samuel Taylor Coleridge called a “willing suspension of disbelief.” By this concept he meant that, while we know the events of a play are not real, we agree for the moment not to disbelieve their reality. . . This state in which we are sufficiently detached to view an artistic event semiobjectively is sometimes called esthetic distance. [However], the distance must not be so great as to induce indifference. Therefore, while a degree of detachment is necessary, [audience] involvement is of equal importance. This feeling of kinship is sometimes called empathy. Thus, we watch a play with a double sense of concern and detachment. It is both a removed and an intensified reaction of a kind seldom possible outside esthetic experience. Another way of putting this is that art (that is, a statue, a musical composition, or a drama) lifts us above the everyday fray and gives us something like a “god’s-eye” view of human experience. . . . Art lays claim . . . to being serious (in the sense of having something important to communicate), but because its methods are so indirect (it presents experience but does not attempt to explain it fully) it is often ambiguous . . . . Special Attributes of Theatre as an Art. Even within the fine arts theatre holds a special place; it is the art that comes closest to life as it is lived from day to day. Not only is human experience and action its subject, it also uses live human beings (actors) as its primary means of communicating with an audience. Quite often the speech of the performers approximates that heard in real life; the actors may wear costumes that might be seen on the street; and they may perform in settings that recall actual places. Not all theatre attempts to be so realistic and at times it may even approximate other performing arts (such as dance and music), but nevertheless it is the art most capable of recreating mankind’s typical experiences. Such lifelikeness is also one of the reasons theatre is often insufficiently valued: a play, a setting, the acting may so resemble what is familiar to spectators that they fail to recognize how difficult it is to produce this lifelikeness skillfully. To a certain degree all people are actors; they vary the roles they play (almost moment by moment) according to the people they encounter. In doing so, they utilize the same tools as the actor: voice, speech, movement, gesture, psycho-logical motivation, and the like. Consequently, most persons do not fully recognize the problems faced by a skilled actor. Even those within the theatre often differ in their opinions about whether artistic excellence depends primarily on talent and instinct or on training and discipline. Theatre further resembles life in being ephemeral. As in life, each episode is experienced and then immediately becomes part of the past. When the performance ends, its essence can never be fully recaptured. Unlike a novel, painting, or statute, each of which remains relatively unchanged, a theatrical
production when it is ended lives only in the play script, program, pictures, reviews, and memories of those who were present. Theatre resembles life also in being the most objective of the arts, since characteristically it presents both outer and inner experience through speech and action. As in life, it is through listening and watching that we come to know characters both externally and internally. What we learn about their minds, personalities, and motivations comes from what they say and do and from what others tell us about them. Thus we absorb a theatrical performance the way we do a scene from real life. Additionally, theatre can be said to resemble life because of the complexity of its means for, like a scene from life itself, it is made up of intermingled sound, movement, place, dress, lighting, and so on. In other words, theatre draws on all the other arts: literature in its script; painting, architecture, and sculpture (and sometimes dance) in its spectacle; and speech and music in its audible aspects. In some ways, then, theatre encompasses all the other arts. Further-more, theatre is psychologically the most immediate of the arts. Several contemporary critics have argued that the essence of theatre—what distinguishes it from other dramatic media such as television and film—lies in the simultaneous presence of live actors and spectators in the same room, and that everything else is expendable. . . . Live performance has important attributes that television and film cannot duplicate, most significantly . . . the three-dimensionality of the theatrical experience and the special relationship between performers and spectators: in the theatre, . . . since the full acting area remains visible, the audience may choose what it will watch, even though the director may attempt to focus attention on some specific aspect of a scene. [But, and] perhaps most important, during a live performance there is continuous interaction between performer and spectator; even as the actor is eliciting responses from the audience, those responses in turn are affecting the actor’s performance. Thus, a live performance permits the audience a far more active role than television and film do. Ultimately, there is a fundamental difference in the psychological responses aroused by electronic media and theatre because the former presents pictures of events whereas the latter performs the actual events in what amounts to the same space as that occupied by the audience. This difference results in one unique characteristic of theatre: its ability to offer intense sensory experience through the simultaneous presence of live actors and audience. . . . The Audience. Until the public sees the material performed we usually do not call it theatre. For all the arts a public is imperative, but for most this public may be thought of as individuals—the reader of a novel or poem, the viewer of a painting or a piece of sculpture—each of whom may experience the work in isolation. But a theatre audience is assembled as a group at a given time and place to experience a performance. Why Does an Audience Attend the Theatre? One of the most powerful motives for going to the theatre is the desire for entertainment, which implies suspension of personal cares, relaxation of tensions, and a feeling of well-being, satisfaction, and renewal. But although everyone may believe that the theatre should provide entertainment, not all agree on what is entertaining. Many would exclude any treatment of controversial subject matter on the grounds that an audience goes to the theatre to escape from cares rather than to be confronted with problems. . . . Other persons look to theatre for stimulation. They too desire to be entertained, but argue that the theatre should also provide new insights and provocative perceptions about significant topics, advocate action about political and social issues, or increase awareness of and sensitivity to others and surroundings. . . . Both points of view are valid in part, but adherents of neither point of view should attempt to limit unduly the theatre’s offerings. The whole range of drama should be available to audiences, for the health of the theatre depends upon breadth of appeal.
In America today the success of a play is frequently judged by its ability to attract large audiences over a considerable period of time. But is a play to be considered a failure if it does not achieve financial success? Not necessarily. A dramatist has a right to select his or her audience just as much as an audience has to select a play. Actually, dramatists do so when they choose the subject matter, characters, and techniques to be used, for, consciously or unconsciously, they have an ideal spectator in mind. Although playwrights may hope for universal acceptance, each desires the favorable response of a particular group. Consequently, a play may be deemed successful if it achieves the desired response from the audience for which it was primarily intended. . . . The Problem of Value. It is difficult to defend art on the basis of its immediate utility. Art ultimately must be valued because of its capacity to improve the quality of life: by increasing our sensitivity to others and our surroundings, by sharpening our perceptions, by reshaping our values so that moral and societal concerns take precedence over material well-being. Of all the arts, theatre has perhaps the greatest potential as a humanizing force, for at its best it asks us to enter imaginatively into the lives of others so we may understand their aspirations and motivations. Through role-playing (either in daily life or in the theatre) we come to understand who and what we are and to see ourselves in relation to others. Perhaps most important, in a world given increasingly to violence, the value of being able to understand and feel for others as human beings cannot be overestimated, because violence flourishes most fully when we so dehumanize others that we no longer think of their hopes, aims, and sufferings but treat them as objects to be manipulated or on whom to vent our frustrations. To know (emotionally, imaginatively, and intellectually) what it means to be human in the broadest sense ought to be one of the primary goals of both education and life; for reaching that goal no approach has greater potential than theatre, since humans are its subject and living beings its primary medium. . . . Unfortunately, quality—unlike quantity—is not measurable except subjectively. And subjectivity takes us into the realm of taste, judgment, and a host of variables about which agreement is seldom possible. There are many levels of taste, many degrees of complexity, and a wide range of quality. But, if we cannot expect ever to achieve complete agreement, we all can sharpen our own perceptions of the theatre and its processes. To do this, we need first to understand the theatre and how it works. Second, we need to develop some approach through which we can judge the relative merits of what is performed and how it is performed. Then, we should work to encourage those theatrical values that seem important to us. In this way we may acquire understanding and judgment—that is, we become critics of the theatre. . . . Understanding/appreciating the Technical Elements A performance does not just happen; it is the product of a great deal of teamwork. The technical elements of a production support the characters the actors create to present the audience with the illusionary reality that is theatre. Sets, lights, sound, props, and costumes create the environment in which the play lives. These elements combine with the audience’s imagination to fashion a theatrical reality that is different from our day-to-day lives yet recognizable by all involved. The following discussion questions are intended to help students focus on each of these technical elements and analyze its part in a production. Section A: Scenery Before the performance began, what were your first impressions of the set design? How did it make you feel? Which of your senses were involved by the set design? What was the physicality of the stage? Did the set incorporate any theatrical devices such as a rake, a thrust, ramps or stairs onstage, or the voms or pit in the audience? What type of action did you
expect? As the performance progressed, did the set change from scene to scene or did it remain the same for the entire play? Were the changes of location made by actual set alterations or by the actorsâ€™ use of the set? How was the stage used? Did the action take place across the whole stage or was action contained in small areas? What could you tell about each environment and the time period of the used area? Was movement between areas fluid or rigid? Did the actors move around the set in purposeful motion or did action flow from one area to another? What materials and color schemes were used for walls, the deck (stage floor), set pieces? Did the materials and colors fit the time and location of the play? Did the colors suggest a mood or atmosphere to you? Were you able to concentrate on the action and characters or did the elements of the set attract your attention? After viewing the performance, do you feel the set design supported the play? Did it make sense to you? Would you have done anything differently? What and why? Section B: Costumes What could you tell about each of the characters based on his or her appearance before any action took place? Did the costumes influence your expectations or opinion of each character? Did the costumes put you in the appropriate time period and geographical setting (if any)? Did the style of the costumes match or enhance the charactersâ€™ personalities and social situations and the mood of the play? How did the colors and materials used compliment or contrast with the colors and materials of the set? Did the colors and materials group the characters in any way? Were there any parts of the costumes you found distracting or out of place? Section C: Lighting What clues did the lighting give you about the mood or emotional tone of the play? Was the lighting from an identifiable source or did it blend into the setting? Was the lighting supportive of the action or distracting? Was it ever supposed to be distracting? Could you identify the colors that were used? Why do you think these particular shades were chosen? Did any one character have a particular shade or degree of lighting? Sometimes lighting is used together with suggestive scenery or certain pieces of furniture to imply that a certain area onstage is always perceived as a specific place. Did you see this in this performanceâ€™s design? Section D: Sound What types of sounds were used? Were the sounds environmental noise or in response to specific character actions (for example: crickets chirping in the summer or a gunshot)? Was sound or music used to create or enhance the atmosphere, or to foreshadow events? Were certain sounds or musical motifs associated with certain characters or repeated situations? Did the sounds fit the situation or distract you from the performance? Were the sounds correct for time period and location, or did they comment on the time and place? Section E: Props
Were the props appropriate to the time period and setting? Were they in keeping with the rest of the setting (including color choices in setting and costumes)? Did some or all of them comment on the setting as a whole? Did the characters have all the props they needed for the scenes? Did they have too many props? Did they have fewer props than you expected? What did you learn about the characters’ situation or background from their possessions? Remember that props include furniture, books, purses, wagons, plates and silverware—anything an actor touches. Section F: General What non-actor aspect of the performance impacted you the most? Was this aspect more textual or physical? Did the technical elements of the performance enhance or detract from your enjoyment of the play? Would you have changed anything about this production? How would you have changed it? Why? Understanding/appreciating the Play in Performance Suggested by: Katherine Ommanney’s The Stage and the School The following questions may help you to view shows intelligently, but don’t let them spoil your enjoyment of the theatre or turn you into a commentator during the performance! Real enthusiasts of the theatre free their imaginations and emotions while seeing a play or a picture, while using their intelligence and discrimination to heighten their appreciation of this great art. Section A: Theme In your opinion, is the fundamental idea of the play true or false in its concept of life? Is the theme consistent with the setting, plot and characters presented in the play? Do you agree with the author’s philosophy? In your opinion, should the general public be encouraged to see the play? Section B: Plot Is there a clear-cut sequence of events? Do they rise to a gripping climax? Were you held in suspense until the end or did you realize what the ending would be beforehand? Were you as emotionally stirred as the author apparently wanted you to be? Are you satisfied as to the final outcome? Are you chiefly interested in the events, the people, or the place? Section C: Characterization Are the characters true to life? Are they consistent throughout the action of the entire play? Are the characters in keeping with the social and geographical background of the play? Do they arouse such feelings as sympathy, affection, disgust, admiration, or hatred on the part of the audience? Are their actions in keeping with their motives?
Are the situations at the climax and conclusion the result of their inherent natures? Section D: Style Did the dialogue retain your interest throughout the play? Is it consistent with the characters and the setting? Is it an end in itself or an adequate means of plot advancement and characterization? Did it make you think about the author or the characters themselves? Did or do you remember lines after having seen the play because of their appropriateness or beauty? If a dialect or dialects are used were they correct? Did the actors use them consistently? Would people of the class represented talk in real life as they do in the play? Is the power of expression worthy of the ideas expressed? Section E: Acting Were the actorsâ€™ interpretations of their roles correct from the standpoint of the play itself? Did each actor make his or her role a living individual? Were the actors artificial or natural in their technique? Were you conscious of the ways they sought to create effects? Did they grip you emotionallyâ€”did you weep, laugh, suffer, and exult with them? Were their voices pleasing and their presence magnetic? Did they remain in character every moment? Did or do you think of them as the characters they were depicting or as themselves? Did the actors use the play as a means of self-glorification, or were each of them an intrinsic part of the action at all times? Did each cooperate with the other actors, the director, and the author in interpreting the play: by knowing his or her lines, helping to focus attention on the center of interest, and by losing himself or herself in the part? Section F: Audience Reaction Was the audience attentive or restless during the performance? Was there a definite responseâ€”gasps, laughter, applause? Did the audience express any immediate appreciation of clever lines, dramatic situations, and skillful acting? Was the audience apathetic or animated, bored or buoyant, serious or scoffing? Was the applause spontaneous and whole-hearted, or politely perfunctory? Did it seem to you that some audience members enjoyed the play more than others? Do you think this was because of their own personal background, or some other reason?
Amadeus Peter Shaffer Peter Shaffer was born in Liverpool, England, on May 15, 1926, along with his twin brother, Anthony, who would also become a writer. In 1936 his family moved to London, where Shaffer attended Hall School and St. Paul’s School. From 1944 to 1947, Shaffer worked in the Chislet coal mine, having been conscripted as one of the “Bevin Boys,” essential workers in [wartime] service to the country, organized by Ernest Bevin, Churchill’s Minister of Labor. Shaffer studied history on a scholarship from Cambridge University . . ., where he and Anthony co-edited the student magazine Grantha; he received a B.A. in History in 1950. During the following year, Shaffer, under the pseudonym Peter Antony, penned The Woman in the Wardrobe, the first of his three detective novels. He co-authored the second and third—How Doth the Little Crocodile? (1952) and Withered Murder (1955)—with Anthony, who went on to write the enormously successful mystery Sleuth. It is interesting to note that Peter Shaffer’s reverence for the structure and characters of the detective novel is apparent in many of plays . . . . From 1951 to 1954, Shaffer lived in New York and worked a variety of jobs: at Doubleday’s Book Shop, an airline terminal, Grand Central Station, Lord and Taylor’s department store, and the New York Public Library. Shaffer states that for years he labored under the impression that the passion he had developed for theatre could only be used as a pastime and that his daily profession had to be something “respectable.” He found his year’s worth of work in the Public Library’s acquisitions department acutely boring, but he still resisted the urge to devote himself to playwrighting until he spent two more years in London, working for Boosey and Hawkes music publishers. In 1955, Shaffer wrote the television play The Salt Land; the following year, he quit Boosey and Hawkes and decided to “live now on [his] literary wits.” From 1956 to 1957, Shaffer worked as a literary critic for the weekly review Truth; his Balance of Terror appeared on television, and The Prodigal Father was broadcast on the radio. He established his reputation as a playwright in 1958 with the production of Five Finger Exercise which opened in London under the direction of John Gielgud and won the Evening Standard Drama Award. When Five Finger Exercise moved to New York in 1959, it was equally well-received and landed Shaffer the Drama Critics Award. From 1961 to 1962 Shaffer incorporated his love for music (which, not incidentally, surfaces in such plays as Five Finger Exercise and Amadeus) into a stint as music critic for London’s Time and Tide. In 1962, a double-bill of Shaffer’s high comedies The Private Ear and The Public Eye was staged in London. A year later, he wrote a screenplay for William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies with British director Peter Brook. The Royal Hunt of the Sun premiered at the Chicester Festival in 1964 before moving to London’s National Theatre; Sir Laurence Olivier then commissioned Black Comedy for the National Theatre’s 1965 repertoire. At this time, Shaffer began dividing his time between living in Manhattan and England, and in1967 White Lies (one year later revised as White Liars) opened with the US premiere of Black Comedy in New York. Shaffer’s canon contains a unique mix of philosophical dramas and satirical comedies. The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1964) presents the tragic conquest of Peru by the Spanish, while Black Comedy (1965) takes a hilarious look at the antics of a group of characters feeling their way around a pitch black room— although the stage is, of course, actually flooded with light. Equus (1973) won Shaffer the 1975 Tony Award for Best Play as well as the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. An electrifying journey into the mind of a 17-year-old stableboy who has plunged a spike into the eyes of six horses, Equus ran for over 1000 performances on Broadway. Shaffer followed this success with Amadeus (1979) which won the Evening Standard Drama Award and the Theatre Critics Award for the London production. Amadeus tells the story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and court composer
Antonio Salieri who, overcome with jealousy at hearing the “voice of God” coming from an “obscene child,” sets out to destroy his rival. When the show moved to Broadway, it won both the 1981 Tony and Outer Critics’ Circle Awards for Best Play and, like Equus, ran for over 1000 performances. Following the success of Amadeus, Shaffer’s biblical epic Yonadab premiered at London’s National Theatre in 1985. In 1987, Shaffer was awarded the prestigious honorary title of Commander, Order of the British Empire. That same year, Shaffer wrote the comedy Lettice and Lovage for actress Maggie Smith; a revised version was produced in London in 1988 and New York in 1990. Shaffer returned to the radio in 1989 with the BBC-aired play Whom Do I Have the Honor of Addressing? Shaffer’s most recent stage play was The Gift of the Gorgon, produced in London in 1992, the same year in which he won the William Inge Award for Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre. Several of Shaffer’s plays have been adapted to film including The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1969), Equus (1977), and Amadeus (1984) which won eight Academy Awards including Best Picture; Shaffer’s adaptation of his stage play won Best Screenplay. He was made an honorary knight on New Year’s Day, 2001. Literary Chronology Five Finger Exercise, 1959 Private Ear and The Public Eye, 1964 The Royal Hunt of the Sun, 1964 Black Comedy, White Liars, 1967 Equus, 1973 Amadeus, 1981 Lettice and Lovage, 1990 Setting – Salieri’s apartments and elsewhere in and around Vienna, first in 1823 and then, in flashback, in the 1780s and 1790s. Synopsis Characters Antonio Salieri Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Constanze Weber Mozart Joseph II, Emperor of Austria Count Johann Kilian von Strack, Groom of the Imperial Chamber Count Franz Orsini-Rosenberg, Director of the Imperial Opera Baron Gottfried van Swieten, Prefect of the Imperial Library Two Venticelli – “Little Winds,” purveyors of information, gossip and rumor Majordomo - Webster’s tells us that this person is “the chief steward or butler in the household of a noble or
sovereign.” Salieri’s Valet and Cook – Salieri’s only remaining servants at the end of this life. They are loyal and silent. Kapellmeister Bonno Teresa Salieri – Salieri’s wife whom he married for expediency, not love. Katherina Cavalieri – Salieri’s voice pupil and later, his mistress Vocabulary Amadeus – literally, loved by God. Salieri recalls this meaning bitterly, since it seems to him that God loves only Mozart, not Salieri. The Prater – As early as 1403 a chronicle mentioned that hunts were being held in this area, and it later became the imperial family’s hunting-grounds. In 1766 Emperor Joseph II made the Prater accessible to the public. The Volks- or Wurstelprater is a paradise for children and for adults young at heart. The amusement park’s greatest attraction and . . . one of Vienna’s symbols is the huge Ferris Wheel with its 61 m [200 foot] diameter. The largest part of the Prater consists of an enormous park with meadows, situated between the Danube and the Danube Canal. Fourteen kms [8 + miles] of paths invite you to take lengthy walks. The Liliputbahn (miniature train) follows the Hauptallee (main avenue) over a distance of 4 km [2.5 miles]. A favorite destination is the Lusthaus, built in 1793, a nostalgic restaurant pavilion where even Napoleon’s troops once had meals. Kapellmeister – Webster’s says, “(also, Capellmeister \Ca*pell”meis`ter\) n. [German, fr. capelle chapel, private band of a prince + meister a master.] The musical director in royal or ducal chapel; a choir-master in service [to a prince or other member of the royalty].” Prince Klemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar von Metternich – (1773-1859), Austrian statesman and diplomat, who was the dominant figure in European politics between 1814 and 1848. Metternich was born into an aristocratic family on May 15, 1773, in Koblenz, Germany, and attended the universities of Strasbourg and Mainz. His family fled the revolutionary French armies to Vienna in 1794, and Metternich there married Countess Eleanor Kaunitz (fl. 17951825), whose family was prominent at the Austrian court. He served the [Austrian royal family, the] Habsburgs first as an envoy to the Congress of Rastadt (1797) and then as ambassador to Saxony (1801), Prussia (1803), and Napoleonic France (1806). In 1809 Metternich was appointed minister of foreign affairs for [Austria], then in disarray following several defeats by the French army. He arranged the marriage of Austrian archduchess Marie Louise (1791-1847) to Napoleon, but he planned to renew the war with France when the opportunity arose. After Napoleon’s disastrous Russian campaign in 1812, Metternich played a leading role in the formation of a new European coalition that two years later defeated the French emperor. At the Congress of Vienna (1814-15), which redrew the map of Europe after Napoleon’s downfall, he blocked Russian plans for the annexation of the whole of Poland and Prussia’s attempt to absorb Saxony. He succeeded in creating a German confederation under Austrian leadership but failed to achieve a similar arrangement for Italy. His attempt to make the postwar Quadruple Alliance (Great Britain, Russia, Prussia, and Austria) into an instrument for preventing revolution in Europe also failed. As chancellor of the Habsburg Empire (1821-48) he was, however, able to maintain the status quo in Germany and Italy, and he remained Europe’s leading statesman until driven from
power by the Revolution of 1848. He died in Vienna on June 11, 1859. Beethoven – In 1795, soon after he arrived in Vienna, Beethoven began an intermittent course of study under Salieri in vocal composition, verbal accent, rhythm, metre and other related subjects. Ferdinand Ries, a pupil of Beethoven’s, recalled the relations between Haydn, Albrechtsberger, Salieri and Beethoven thus: “All three valued Beethoven highly, but were also of one mind touching his habits of study. All of them said Beethoven was so headstrong and self-sufficient (selbstwollend) that he had to learn much through harsh experience which he had refused to accept when presented to him as a subject for study. . . . Particularly Albrechtsberger and Salieri were of this opinion.” Syphilis – A sexually transmitted disease, which, before the advent of penicillin, was pretty widespread, even a sign of sophistication for men. Medical science could not effectively treat it in Salieri’s day, and many people did suffer disabilities and eventually die as a result of contracting it; Beethoven’s deafness may have been a result of unsafe sex. Christoph Gluck – 1714–87, German-born operatic composer. Gluck revolutionized opera by establishing lyrical tragedy as a unified vital art form. He studied music at Prague and later in Italy with G. B. Sammartini. His first 10 operas, in the Italian style, were successfully performed in Italy in the years 1741–45. In 1752, after sojourns in England and Germany, Gluck became conductor of Prince Hildburghausen’s private orchestra in Vienna, and for the next decade he directed musical productions at the Viennese court. With his opera Orfeo ed Euridice (1762), inspired by the Greek legend [of Orpheus and Eurydice], Gluck introduced an entirely new kind of opera, in which dramatic, emotional, and musical elements were artistically fused for the first time. Gluck gave much of the credit for his new operatic style to Ranieri Calzabigi, the librettist of Orfeo and also Alceste [Alcestis] (1767). In 1773, Gluck went to Paris, where his first serious opera with a French libretto, Iphigénie en Aulide [Iphigenia in Aulis] (1774), was performed. That and subsequent productions created much controversy between supporters of Gluck and proponents of traditional Italian opera. His last important work, Iphigénie en Tauride (1779), is often considered his masterpiece, and firmly established his reputation. Eventually, Gluck’s emphasis on dramatic impact and musical simplicity became incorporated into the French operatic tradition, and his influence on later composers was considerable. Rossini/the escapades of hairdressers – (born Pesaro, 29 February 1792; died Passy, 13 November 1868). Both of Gioacchino Rossini’s parents were musicians, his father a horn player, his mother a singer; he learned the horn and singing and as a boy sang in at least one opera in Bologna, where the family lived. He studied there and began his operatic career when, at 18, he wrote a one-act comedy for Venice. Further commissions followed, from Bologna, Ferrara, Venice again and Milan, where La pietra del paragone was a success at La Scala in 1812. This was one of seven operas written in 16 months, all but one of them comic. . . . His first operas to win international acclaim come from 1813, written for different Venetian theatres: the serious Tancredi and the farcically comic L’italiana in Algeri [An Italian Woman in Algiers], the one showing a fusion of lyrical expression and dramatic needs, with its crystalline melodies, arresting harmonic inflections and colorful orchestral writing, the other moving easily between the sentimental, the patriotic, the absurd and the sheer lunatic. . . . In 1815 Rossini went to Naples as musical and artistic director of the Teatro San Carlo, which led to a concentration on serious opera. But he was allowed to compose for other theatres, and from this time date two of his supreme comedies, written for Rome, Il barbiere di Siviglia [The Barber of Seville, the “prequel,” as it were, to Mozart’s famously popular “escapades of hairdressers,” The Marriage of Figaro that Salieri complains of] and La Cenerentola [Cinderella]. The former, with its elegant melodies, its exhilarating rhythms and its superb ensemble writing, has claims to be considered the greatest of all Italian comic operas, eternally fresh in its wit and its inventiveness. It dates from 1816; initially it was a failure, but it quickly became the most loved of his comic works, admired alike by Beethoven and Verdi.
Sweetmeats – candy or other sweet delicacies. Salieri’s only vice, at the beginning of his story, is the consumption of pastries and other sweet desserts, so here are some of his faves: dolci, sweets; caramelli, caramel; crema al mascarpone, a dish of cream cheese whipped with sugar and rum!
the Austrian Empire – 1814 to the First World War. Lombardy is on the lower left. Firmament – The expanse of the heavens: sky. Webster’s goes on to say, “Firmament is a word that English owed to the long tradition of Biblical translation. The Latin Vulgate [editions of the Bible are] at least two removes from the original text of the Old Testament. Firmament is from Latin Firmamentum, ‘a support,’ which was used as a translation of the Hebrew raqi a. The Hebrew word literally means expanse but the verb from which it is derived means to make firm or solid in Syriac, a language closely related to Hebrew. The Greek word used to translate Hebrew raqi a was stereoma, “solid body, framework,” chosen probably because of the translators’ knowledge of the Syriac sense of the verb. The Latin translator in turn was influenced by the Greek interpretation of the Hebrew word.” Lambkins (on Christ’s sleeves in Lombardy) – fleecy little lambs such as might be featured on a young child’s clothes rather than a more serious or formal symbol of Christ. The guillotine fell in France – According to the Napoleonic Guide webpage, “After years of increasing dissatisfaction with the way they were treated by the royal family and aristocratic class, the people of France moved toward improving their lot in life [in 1789]. . . . The people wanted an end to tax exemptions and special privileges given to the nobility. The civil unrest grew stronger and [led to] a crowd storming Paris’ Bastille prison and releasing a handful of prisoners languishing there. After two years of detention King Louis XVI attempted to flee France, but was captured by revolutionaries at Varennes. Trapped, the King agreed to a constitution, but as the revolutionary armies were hit by defeat after defeat the extremists pushed to rid themselves of opponents and the monarchy. The Terror was unleashed and on 21 September the Republic of France was announced. The hardliners still wanted the King out of the way and put him on trial. He was condemned to death and guillotined on 21 January 1793. His wife, Marie-Antoinette, suffered the same fate on 16 October that year. Their son, the Dauphin, died terribly in prison.” A game of forfeits – Dickens, in Our Mutual Friend: “I’ll give you a clue to my trade, in a game of forfeits. I love my love with a B because she’s Beautiful; I hate my love with a B because she is Brazen; I took her to the sign of the Blue Boar, and I treated her with Bonnets; her name’s Bouncer, and she lives in Bedlam.” Constanze has played this game but guessed the wrong answer, and so has to pay the penalty of having her calves measured, back in a time when nice women did not even reveal their ankles in public!
Domenico Scarlatti - (born Naples, 26 October 1685; died Madrid, 23 July 1757). In 1701 he was appointed organist and composer of the vice-regal court at Naples, where his father was maestro di cappella. The following year he took a leave of absence and traveled with the family to Florence [but soon] Domenico returned to Naples, where he tried his hand at opera before his father removed him in 1705 and sent him to Venice to try his luck there. It may have been in Venice that he first met Handel, with whom he formed a strong attachment. . . . By 1707, however, Scarlatti was in Rome, assisting his father at San Maria Maggiore, and he remained in Rome for over 12 years, occupying posts as maestro to the dowager Queen of Poland from 1711, to the Marquis de Fontes from 1714, and at St. Peter’s . . . but he was unable to free himself from a domineering father until he obtained legal independence in January 1717 [when he was 31!]. In 1719 Scarlatti resigned his positions in Rome and apparently spent some years in Palermo before taking up his next post, as mestre [maestro] of the Portuguese court in Lisbon. The Lisbon earthquake of 1755 destroyed documents about his career there, but his duties included giving keyboard lessons to John V’s daughter, Maria Barbara, and his younger brother, Don Antonio. When Maria Barbara married the Spanish crown prince in 1729 Scarlatti followed her to Seville and then, in 1733, to Madrid, where he spent the rest of his life. Although he continued to write vocal music, sacred and secular, the main works of his Iberian years are the remarkable series of keyboard sonatas, copied out in his last years and taken to Italy by his colleague, the castrato Farinelli. Scarlatti married twice [but] none of his nine children became a musician. In 1738 he was honored with a knighthood from King John V of Portugal, to which he responded by dedicating to the king a volume of Essercizi per gravicembalo, the only music published during his lifetime under his supervision. The seven operas Scarlatti wrote in Rome for Queen Maria Casimira were by no means failures, and his church music and secular cantatas contain much admirable music. But his fame rightly rests on the hundreds of keyboard sonatas, nearly all in the same binary form, in which he gave free rein to his imagination, stimulated by the new sounds, sights and customs of Iberia and by the astonishing gifts of his royal pupil and patron. In these he explored new worlds of virtuoso technique, putting to new musical ends such devices as hand-crossing, rapidly repeated notes, wide leaps in both hands and countless other means of achieving a devastating brilliance of effect. Coloratura (“the only vocal range cats—that is, unrefined people—appreciate”) - 1. Complex vocal passages containing rapid runs of notes and requiring great vocal agility to sing. 2. A soprano, that specializes in this type of singing. Salieri does not approve of such vocal pyrotechnics, although others of his day (and today) find them thrilling. Joseph Haydn - Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were very close friends. They probably met each other in Vienna in 1781 at a gathering organized by Baron von Swieten to hear the music of J.S. Bach. In Vienna Mozart and Haydn were the “founders” of the Viennese classical “school.” Obviously Mozart had strong feelings for Haydn. In Haydn he found not only a composer whose achievements were on a level with his own, but a warm and sympathetic friend in whom he could confide. This contrasted strongly with the strained relationship that Mozart enjoyed with his father. Haydn gave his advice and criticism to Mozart, who was half his age and who attached more importance to Haydn’s opinion than to any other’s opinion, including his father Leopold’s. The two men differed a lot. Mozart was a virtuoso concerning composing and playing the pianoforte. He could not deal with money and was casual with everything except music. Haydn was a relatively slow worker but very good at administration. Haydn’s Opus 20 string quartets of 1772 may have provided models for the
quartets Mozart wrote over the next two years. In 1781 Haydn published a set of six highly original quartets, Opus 33, in Vienna. It probably inspired Mozart to begin his own set of six string quartets. The last of the set, Kv 465 in C, was finished in 1785. In February 1785 Mozart invited his father Leopold and Haydn, along with some other men, to his Viennese house at the Domgasse, to play through the three newest quartets. Wolfgang Mozart played the viola and Haydn played the first violin. . . . During this historic evening Haydn spoke the following words to Leopold Mozart . . . : “I tell you before God as an honest man that your son is the greatest composer known to me either in person or by reputation. He has taste and what is more the most profound knowledge of composition.” Wolfgang Mozart dedicated these string quartets to Haydn with the words: “A father who has decided to send his sons out into the wide world thought it his duty to entrust them to the protection and guidance of a man who was very celebrated at the time and who, moreover, happened to be his best friend. . . . In like manner I send my six sons to you, most celebrated and very dear friend. They are, indeed, the fruit of a long and laborious study; but the hope which many friends have given me that this toil will be in some degree rewarded, encourages me and flatters me with the thought that these children may one day prove a source of consolation to me.” Haydn thought his opera Armida was one of his best compositions. After he had heard several operas of Mozart, he recognized their superiority and he lost the desire to write operas. After a performance of Don Giovanni (7 May 1788) he declared that Mozart was the greatest composer the world possessed. In the spring of 1787 Haydn got the order from Prague to write a new opera. He answered that his operas were composed for Eszterhaza and that his friend Mozart was much better in the composing of operas. Mozart invited Haydn for the last rehearsals of the opera Così fan tutte in Vienna (26 January 1790). Every morning the two composers walked arm in arm to the theatre. In 1791 Haydn told Mozart he wanted to visit London. Mozart said: “I fear, Papa, that this will be our last farewell.” Maybe Mozart had a premonition of his coming death. . . . On December 5 1791 Mozart died. [When] Haydn heard the news [he] first refused to believe it. In January 1792 he found out that Mozart was really dead. This affected him so much that years later, if Mozart’s death was brought up, tears came from his eyes. Haydn declared to Dr. Charles Burney . . . : “Friends tell me often I am brilliant, but he (Mozart) stood far above me.” Hercules - Hercules, or Heracles as he is also known, is a Greek hero, who became a god after his death. The son of Zeus and Alcmene, he was intended by his father to become a great ruler, and ultimately to aid the gods in their battle with the titans, but Hera, jealous of Zeus’ unfaithfulness, conspired to make Hercules a slave . . . Even when he was a baby Hera tried to destroy him, sending two serpents [to] twine themselves around the infant Hercules and his twin brother Iphicles, son of Alcmene’s lawful husband Amphitryon, but the hero proved that he was Zeus’ son by strangling them. . . . Horatius – Outstanding Latin lyric poet and satirist. The most frequent themes in Horatius’ Odes and verse Epistles are love, pleasures of friendship and simple life, and the art of poetry. When the writings of a number of other Roman poets disappeared after the fall of the Roman empire, Horace’s oeuvre survived and influenced deeply Western literature. In his own time Horace could boast that his Ars Poetica was sold on the banks of the Bosphorus, in Spain, in Gaul, and in Africa. Quintus Horatius Flaccus—known in the English-speaking world as Horace [and to Mozart’s contemporaries as Horatius]—was [the son of] a former slave, who had worked as a tax collector. As a businessman he earned enough money to buy a small estate and educate the future poet in Rome. . . . When Horatius was about 19 years old, he continued his studies of philosophy in Athens. After Julius Caesar’s murder in March 44 B.C., Horace joined Marcus Brutus’ army and gained the rank of military tribune. The defeat of Brutus and Cassius at Philippi in 42 B.C. . . ., where also Horatius fought . . . , bought the republic to an end. Horatius returned to Italy sad, disillusioned, and penniless. His father had died [so] he sought Octavian’s (Augustus) favor. In this he was helped by Maecenas, Octavian’s friend and political
adviser, who was also known patronage of literature, supporting the poet Virgil among others. Horatius . . . secured a position as . . . clerk of the treasury. To earn extra money he began to write satires in his spare time. During these years Horatius produced his earliest Epistles, which attacked social abuses. Satires, written in hexameter verse and stating the poet’s rejection of public life, was probably published around 35 B.C. . . . In 30 B.C. Horatius published his second book of Satires and the collection of Epodes, iambic
poems. His three books of Odes appeared in 23 B.C.; the reception was lukewarm. The familiar phrase “seize the day” (carpe diem) occurs in Horatius’ Odes (I, xi): Dum loguimur, fugerit invida/Aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero. Three years later appeared the first book of Epistles. With the death of Virgil in 19 B.C., Horatius became the most celebrated poet of the Augustan age, although the social status of a poet was not very high . . . . Horatius’ works were often autobiographical and dealt with moral and political issues. . . . In the Secular Hymn Horatius expresses his approval of Augustus’ reforms and in the fourth book of the Odes he reflects on the inevitability of death—“Time’s winged chariot hurrying near” was his recurrent reverse side of poems praising simple pleasures. . . . Among Horatius’ mature works is Epistula ad Pisones, usually known as Ars Poetica. . . In it Horatius discusses with informality and humor such topics as the unity of poetry, the importance of decorum (what is fitting in poetic language, style and subject matter), and the necessity for a writer to have both innate ability and adequate training. Horatius’ Ars Poetica had much influence on Western poetry . His works were copied throughout the Dark Ages and quoted by early Christian writers. . . . Dante listed [him] in his Divine Comedy third among poets, after Homer and Virgil. Horatius’ works . . . are still read in schools; his influence is seen in the works of such authors as Montaigne, Ben Johnson, Henry Fielding, John Gay, Lord Chesterfield and Horace Walpole. Horatius died [in 8 B.C.] on November 17. Foreign Words and Phrases Salieri: Perdonami, Mozart! Il tuo assissino ti chiede perdono! – Salieri begs, “Forgive me, Mozart! Your assassin asks for your forgiveness!” Vi saluto! Ombri del Futuro! Antonio Salieri—avostro servizio! – I salute you! Ghosts/ Shadows of the future! Antonio Salieri, at your service! Via. Via, via, via! Grazie! – Go. Go, go go! Thank you! Bene – good. Divisi - part of the orchestra’s string section plays the top note; part plays the bottom note; they are divided. Chitarrini – Italian, chitar=guitar; so this is the diminutive of guitar, a little guitar serenade in the evening, perhaps? Rosenberg: Non e verito, compositore? Isn’t that true, Court Composer? Salieri: Divengono sempre sterili con gli anni. They [child prodigies] always become sterile over the years; in other words, child prodigies, like child actors, almost never continue their careers as adults. Rosenberg: Precisamente: Precisely.
Salieri: Niente, Signor Pomposo: Nothing, Mr. Pomposity/Pompousness. Joseph II: Fetes and fireworks! When the Emperor is pleased or excited he joyfully cries out for feasts and fireworks, as a child might. Salieri: Restiamo in contatto. Let’s stay in touch; we’ll discuss this further. Joseph II: Ju suis follement impatient! Allons! Comme d’habitude! I cannot wait. Let’s go! As usual! Salieri: Finalmente. Che Gioia. Che diletto straordinario. Finally. What joy! What extraordinary delight! Mozart: Grazie, signore. Mille milione di benevenuti! Sono commosso! E un onore eccezionale incontrare! Compositore brillante e famosissimo! Thank you, sir. A thousand million welcomes! I am deeply moved! And it’s an exceptional honor to meet you! Brilliant and most famous composer! Joseph II: Salieri’s being cattivo – Salieri is being naughty, catty. —Au revoir, Monsieur Mozart. Soyez bienvenu a la court. Goodbye, Mr. Mozart. I welcome you to court. Mozart replies: Majeste! Je suis comble d’honneur deter accepte dans la maison du Pere de tous les musicians! Servir un monarque aussi plein discernement que votre majeste, c’est un honneur qui depasse le sommet de mes dus! Your Majesty! I am entirely honored that the home of the Father/patron of all musicians accepts me. To serve a monarch so discerning as your Majesty is a greater honor than I could expect! Salieri: Un tesoro raro! Constanze is called a rare treasure by Salieri, ironically, of course. Mozart: Morboso! Nervoso! Ohime! Morbid! Overwrought! Oh dear! Mozart recounts how people reject his music. Botty – bottom, Mozart and Constanze’s nickname for one’s posterior. Capisco! I understand, I know. Dio inguisto! Unjust God! Cries Salieri. Nemico eterno Eternal enemy. Buona fortuna – Good luck. Salieri: Mi ha detto che ce un balletto nel terzo atto? E dimmi—non e vero che l’Imperatore ha proibito il balletto nelle sue opere? Hasn’t he said that there is a ballet/dance in the third act? And tell me—isn’t it true that the Emperor has forbidden ballets/dances in his operas? Rosenberg: Oh, capisco! Ma che meraviglia! Perfetto! Veramente ingegroso! Oh, I understand! I marvel at you! Perfect! Truly ingenious!
Joseph II: Je prevois des merveilles! Herr Mozart, vois nous faites honneur! I foresee marvels! Herr Mozart, you honor us! [the royal we, of course]. Constanze: Non piu andrai, farfallone amoroso—notte e giono d’intorno girando! Won’t you go, dear lover. Night is becoming day. Mozart: O statua gentilissima, venite a cena! Oh kindest of statues, please come to dinner! Ti imploro! I beg you! Via subito! Go immediately! Salieri and Mozart Antonio Salieri - Born in Legnano, Italy, 18 August 1750, died Vienna, 7 May 1825. Soon after Antonio’s parents died, [Florian Leopold] Gassmann, Kapellmeister of ballet and chamber music to Emperor Joseph II of Austria, happened to visit his little town and was introduced to the promising young musician, then age 15. Impressed with the boy’s understanding and talent, Gassmann undertook Salieri’s training at the Emperor’s court. Joseph was somewhat of a musician himself—he could sight-read, and played pianoforte, viola and violoncello for the daily private “concerts” he held in his music room following his dinner, accompanied by his various kapellmeisters and other leading Viennese musicians. [Alexander Wheelock Thayer, a Salieri biographer, describes Joseph II as being of “a disposition to begin great things and drive them only as long as the novelty lasted,” an opinion apparently shared by Peter Shaffer!] Joseph’s circle of musicians included Antonio from the first evening the Emperor met the young man. Antonio had by then been studying music for most of his young life, and, like the Emperor, could sight-read, sing, and play several instruments. Salieri’s first compositions found favor with Joseph’s court musicians, and he was encouraged to complete his first opera, Le Donne Letterate, written when he was 20, when he played and sang portions of it for Gluck and Joseph Scarlatti, son of Domenico (the libretto was written by Giovanni Boccherini, brother of the famous composer). In 1774, following Gassmann’s death, Salieri was named court composer and conductor of the Italian opera by Joseph, despite the fact that he was only 24! Joseph also decreed that he would earn 400 ducats a year and be provided with his lodging. About this time Salieri set Metastasio’s poem La passione di Gesu Christo to music, which the poet praised highly. Salieri was known for his religious music throughout his career, some of his final compositions being Te Deums and funeral mass compositions. However, at the height of his career Salieri was known as one of the undisputed masters of Italian and French-style opera, as A. W. Thayer stated some 70 years later: “No operatic composer stood, on the whole, so prominent before the world as he, except Gluck [the preeminent opera composer of the time], whose career was just closed, and Mozart, whose great successes were so speedily to be followed by this death.” For example, his Europa riconosciuta opened the internationally renown opera house in La Scala in 1778, and, at Gluck’s suggestion and with his support, Salieri composed Les Danaides for the French Academy of Music, which proved so successful the Academy asked for more. Tarare (1787), with which he came closest to Gluck’s dramatic ideals, and his greatest success in Paris, established him as Gluck’s heir, the highest accolade for an opera composer at that time. Further, Thayer has found that in the original Italian or in German translations, the more important works of Salieri were far more popular and much oftener [sic] given than those of Mozart, while the Grotta di Trofonio
was at least as much performed as Mozart’s [Abduction from the Seralio]. . . . In other words, with the exception of the [abduction], Mozart’s operas were less to the taste of the monarch and the public in Vienna than those of Salieri, and it was the same way all through Germany. Whatever the appreciative few may have thought of The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni, to the general operatic public Salieri was certainly the greatest of then living composers! . . . and while it shows how little reason Salieri had to treat his rival ungenerously, it accounts satisfactorily for the bitterness of his remarks upon that rival’s music, when thirty years later it was to be heard on every operatic stage, while his was forgotten! The French Academy made Salieri a member in recognition of his contributions to French opera; he also received the French Legion of Honor. Salieri’s recasting of Les Danaides from the French into the Italian mode (as per the Emperor), with a libretto by Da Ponte (now best known as Mozart’s librettist) and retitled Axur, Re d’Ormus, became a personal favorite of Joseph’s, and was often repeated for him. The editors of Karadar.net state, “Salieri’s circa 40 Italian operas are traditional in their emphasis on melodic expression, but they also show Gluck’s influence, with dramatic choral writing, much accompanied recitative and careful declamation. . . . Among his many other compositions are oratorios, church music, cantatas, arias, vocal ensembles, songs and orchestral and chamber works. [According to Ignaz Franz von Mosel, an early Salieri biographer, the maestro had completed an organ concerto, two “pianoforte” concertos, a concerto for violin, oboe and violoncello, one symphony, five serenades, 40 canons for three voices, more than 100 vocal pieces for church, theatre or home entertainment, and 28 vocal pieces with piano accompaniment by 1805.] His many pupils included Beethoven, Schubert and Liszt.” He never charged a fee for his lessons but was rather of the belief that it was his duty to foster other musicians. Those who believed that Salieri was actively jealous of Mozart during his lifetime and charged the Italian with suppressing Wolfgang’s Don Giovanni in Vienna seem to have overlooked the fact that Giovanni was presented 15 times between early May and mid-December, 1788, when Salieri had “ascended” to the position of Imperial Royal Kapellmeister, that is, royal director of opera and of music for Joseph’s personal chapel, with the death of Guiseppe Bonno in 1788. Interestingly, Salieri relinquished the Italian opera two years later, due, he said, to the weighty task of providing sacred music for the Emperor. Still, according to Thayer, in 1790 Salieri “stood before the world . . . , the acknowledged greatest living composer for the stage.” Unfortunately his patron, Joseph, died in February of that year. The editors of Karadar.net add that Salieri “composed relatively little after 1804, but he remained a central and influential figure in Viennese musical life.” Nonetheless, many sources, including Thayer and Karadar.net, have noted that “as [Salieri’s] style became old-fashioned his works lost favor,” and since he was “blessed” with a long life of 75 years he lived to witness a most radical transformation in music, from the heights of the classical era to the dawn of romanticism. Salieri had the misfortune to see his own work lose its prominence to Beethoven, Rossini and Mozart, which might make anyone a bit bitter. Did Salieri do it? Antonio Salieri, despite rumors of his involvement in the death of his friend and contemporary Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (which have never been proven), has been forgotten over the past few centuries. During his lifetime and for nearly a century after, his operas (especially Axur, Re D’Ormus) were performed all over Europe. What happened? Why is this prolific composer now rarely mentioned, and less often his music heard? The rumors started near the end of his life; Salieri had suffered a nervous breakdown, and would sometimes in fits accuse himself of killing Mozart, later denying it when in control of his own mind; his pupils, Beethoven and Schubert, to whom he was very dear, were shocked by the accusations, as were many others (he tutored a vast number of students, most for free); the rumors didn’t
finish him yet, and when he died in 1825 he had a magnificent state funeral. However, the rumors were revived later by the Russian dramatist Pushkin who, in his “Little Tradgedy” entitled Mozart and Salieri (later an opera by Rimsky-Korsakov) accused Salieri of poisoning Mozart. This ended Salieri up until the present. . .” Did Salieri do it? II In reality, the mysterious messenger [who visited Mozart on his deathbed] was working for Count Walsegg-Stuppach, who wished to pretend that [the requiem that was Mozart’s last work] was his own composition. The unfinished requiem was the last piece of work the dying Mozart looked at, but Salieri was not present at his deathbed. Did Salieri do it? III Entries from Beethoven’s Conversation Books Theodore Albrecht, editor of Salieri: Rival of Mozart, offers excerpts from his former pupil Beethoven’s socalled conversation books, in which visitors “spoke” with the deaf composer, of “Salieri’s mental and physical decline, and Vienna’s reaction to it,” rather as the Venticelli whisper to Salieri about Mozart: Nephew Karl (ca. November 23-26, 1823): “Salieri has cut his throat, but he is still alive.” Anton Schindler (ca. December 22-23, 1823): “Salieri had to be taken to the hospital by force, because he did not want to bear the cost himself. Then, on the second day, while the guards ate lunch, he began to slash away with a table knife, but was restrained from it. . . . At home he would absolutely take no medicine, and had to be brought [to the hospital].” Nephew Karl (ca. January 21-25, 1824): “Salieri declares that he has poisoned Mozart.” Anton Schindler (ca. January 21-25, 1824): “With Salieri it is going very badly again. He constantly fantasizes that he is guilty of Mozart’s death, and that he gave him poison . . . he wants to confess this as such [i.e., to a priest]. . . .” Johann Schickh, newspaper editor (ca. February 8, 1824): “There is a 100 to 1 chance that the utterance of Salieri’s conscience is true! . . . The method of Mozart’s death bears out these remarks.” Albrecht adds, “It becomes apparent that contemplating his former teacher’s dissolution and the rumors it produced caused Beethoven considerable anguish, as it must have for many who had known and admired Salieri in his prime.” This sentiment was echoed by 2 male nurses assigned to Salieri during this time:
We, the undersigned, who are, by profession, attendants on the sick (infermieri), declare, in the presence of God and man, that in the spring of 1824, we were called to attend the Cavaliere Salieri, maestro di capella to the Royal court, and that during the whole course of his long illness we never quitted him a single moment; that is, when one of us was absent, the other always remained in attendance. We also attest, that in consequence of his weak state, no one was permitted to visit him except ourselves and his [other] medical attendants, it being judged proper that not even the members of his own family should see him. With respect, therefore, to the following question put to us: Whether it is true that the aforesaid Cavaliere Salieri had said, during his illness, that he had poisoned the celebrated composer Wolfgang Mozart? —we reply, upon our honor and conscience, that we never heard such words uttered by the said Salieri, nor the slightest mention of anything alluding to it. In confirmation of this, we subscribe our names as follow: Giorgio Rosenberg, Infermiere. Vienna, June 5, 1825.
Amadeo Porsche, Infermiere presso il Signor Salieri, Maestro di Capella di Corte.
N.B. Dr. Rörhik, the medical attendant of Salieri, confirms, as far as his knowledge goes, the above statement made by the two assistant infermieri. Foreword to Salieri: Rival of Mozart There are very few incidents of pure joy I have experienced in my career, but each of them shares the same quality of discovery, of surprise. It’s hard to describe to a civilian one’s work as an actor, but imagine, if you will, watching yourself in a home movie eating, drinking, showing off, when suddenly you see yourself do something completely uncharacteristic of your”self.” You are intrigued by the action and run the video back to look at it again, and sure enough you are surprised again. And again. And yet again. Mozart achieves this creative state almost at will. I must have heard the same passages of music 20 or 30 times during the filming of Amadeus, but they never paled. In fact, they grew even more satisfying with repetition, a phenomenon that astounds me every time I encounter great art. Salieri must have responded as any artist would have—with amazement, humility, envy and finally with gratitude. For in the end, the source of creation is available to all of us, and those who are blessed with genius are only messengers bringing good news to an otherwise dark, at times unbearable, world. F. Murray Abraham (Salieri) New York, New York Salieri’s Danaius, Joseph II’s favorite opera Les Danaius/Axur, Re d’Ormus - Act I - Atar, a soldier of humble origin, who has earned his position of commander thanks to his courage and heroism, returns to his beloved wife Aspasia after a victorious war. The only cloud marring his happiness consists of his frequent separations from her but, faithful to his King (whose life he has once saved), and a devoted subject, venerated by the people as a hero, Atar’s sense of duty does not permit him to abandon his position of service, although Aspasia encourages him to do so. One day, while the two are in the garden, they see tongues of flame suddenly rising from their house. While Atar is running to put out the fire, a soldier seizes Aspasia, and when Atar comes back to carry her to safety away from the flames, he is just in the time to see her being dragged away by force and put on to a ship. Act II - The action takes place in King Axur’s palace. Biscroma, the guardian of the Harem, knows that Axur has given the order to abduct Aspasia, and he begs for mercy for Atar, to whom he too owes his life. But Axur, already uneasy about the respect Atar arouses in the people, and above all envious of his happiness, a happiness which he, a king, is denied despite the hundreds of woman he has at his disposal, wants to ruin Atar’s life. Altamoro, son of the High Priest and Axur’s faithful servant, announces the success of the abduction. Axur then order Biscroma to organise an appropriate feast for the next day. Atar too, desperate, has come to the Palace to ask Axur for help. The latter secretly rejoices in his anguish and is ironic about his tears, the tears of a heroic soldier for a woman, but he pretends to feel compassion and promises to put a ship at his disposal for his search. Act III - The High Priest Arteneo informs Axur about some new enemies who are threatening his kingdom. A new leader needs to be appointed for the army and, in order to strengthen the latter’s fighting spirit, it would be useful to let the people think the heavens themselves had chosen him. Arteneo wants to know from Axur which name he would like to be suggested to the soothsayer. Axur puts forward the name of Altamoro, Arteneo’s son. In the meanwhile Biscroma has found Atar in the Palace and reveals the truth to him: that is
that Aspasia is being kept prisoner in Axur’s Harem under the false name of Irza. He intends to let down a ladder . . . from the Harem which can be reached by sea, so that Atar can steal into the gardens at night time. In the meantime the people have gathered in front of the temple and are swearing loyalty and obedience to the Leader chosen by the Heavens, whose name has been announced by the innocent lips on the young boy Elamir. Despite Arteneo’s suggestions, Elamir pronounces the name of Atar; the people rejoice enthusiastically and Atar declares himself ready to take command of the army. Altamoro tries to dispute the choice and offends him; Atar challenges him to a duel. Act IV - Contrary to what he had originally ordered Axur insists on the feast planned for the Harem the next day to be prepared immediately. Biscroma tries to make him change his mind, because that is the night in which Atar means to steal furtively into the Harem. But Axur’s decision remains firm. Biscroma is determined to end the feast earlier than planned with a stratagem. Some slaves introduce Aspasia and the feast begins. A Harlequinade is performed and meets with Axur’s approval. He praises Biscroma, who sings a little song recounting how Atar had saved his life. As soon as he pronounces this name, Axus hurls himself against him, overcome with wrath; everyone flees. Aspasia has fainted on hearing Atar’s name, and a cry from Fiammetta, who fears for Aspasia’s life, leads Axur to run back and rush into the latter’s rooms. In the meanwhile, Atar has stolen into the Harem and meets Biscroma, who disguises him as a negro so that Axur does not recognise him. In the same moment Axur angrily leaves Aspasia’s rooms, where she has determinedly refused him. At the sight of the negro, another wicked idea comes into his head. As a punishment for the humiliation he has undergone, he intends to give Aspasia to the negro as his wife. Desperate about the fate awaiting her, and convinced that Axur has had her husband killed, Aspasia invokes her death. When Biscroma announces that the negro will be her husband, she weeps and begs Fiammetta to let herself be taken to him in her place in disguise. Atar is disappointed to find that Irza is not his beloved Aspasia: In that very moment Axur’s guards burst into the Harem. Axur has given the order to kill the negro; in fact, he wants to try to win Aspasia’s favour once more. Biscroma keeps the soldiers back, revealing to them that the negro is Atar. All of them turn back horrified, knowing that there is no way out for him. Act V - Axur has Atar led to him to inflict his punishment, but Atar invokes his own death, curses Axur and warns him about the consequences of his wicked actions. He also reveals to him that the girl under the name of Irza, whom he believes to be in his power, is not Aspasia. The King, filled with indignation, has Aspasia brought to him; the two happy lovers fall into each other’s arms. Fiammetta confesses her disguise to Axur and she, too, is condemned to death as her punishment. The King orders Aspasia to be separated from Atar and the latter to be killed. But Aspasia extracts a dagger and threatens to kill herself if the guards approach Atar. Male and female slaves rush to Axur’s feet and beg him to have mercy. The people in a tumult have invaded the Harem and demand that Atar should be freed. Biscroma places himself at the head of a company of soldiers who want to free Atar. But the latter asks them to stop and to respect their King. Axur has to admit that Atar’s power over the people is intact and superior to his own. Cursing him and his people, he stabs himself. The crowd acclaims Atar as their new King. At first he refuses, but in the end he accepts, but does not allow them to remove his chains; they must remain to indicate that he will use his power only for the good of the people. “Wolfgangerl” Mozart Perhaps the greatest musical genius who ever lived, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria,
Jan. 27, 1756, the son of Leopold Mozart, concertmaster at the archiepiscopal court, and his wife, Anna Maria Pertl. Wolfgang was the greatest musical child prodigy who ever lived. He began composing minuets at the age of 5 and symphonies at 9. Five short piano pieces composed by Mozart when he was six years old are still frequently played. By the age of six, Mozart had become an accomplished performer on the violin and organ, and was highly skilled in sight reading and improvisation. Leopold Mozart was a successful composer and violinist, whose famous treatise on violin playing (Versuch einer grundlichen Violinschule) was first printed in 1756. In 1763, Leopold was made vicekapellmeister at the Salzburg court, whose sympathetic archbishop, Sigismund von Schrattenbach, appreciated and encouraged the activities of Leopold and his children. Leopold lost no time in teaching his children music and in 1760 he made a note alongside the first eight pieces in Nannerl’s music book that “the preceding 8 minuets were learnt by Wolfgangerl in his 4th year.” The young boy’s musical talent was not surprising, for his maternal grandfather, like his father, showed much aptitude for the art. From his grandfather, too, Wolfgang inherited a love of merriment which was not conspicuously present in Leopold, and all who knew the great composer as a young boy remembered his sense of fun. “Before he began music,” recalled Johann Andreas Schachtner, the court trumpeter, shortly after Mozart’s death, “he was so ready for any prank spiced with a little humor that he could quite forget food, drink and all things else.” Leopold Mozart The liveliness of his mind greatly impressed his sister Nannerl. “He was desirous of learning everything he set eyes on,” she wrote in later years. “In drawing and adding he showed much skill, but, as he was too busy with music, he could not show his talents in any other direction.” Soon, it seems, music invaded his whole life: even children’s games, according to Schachtner, “had to have a musical accompaniment if they were to interest him; if we, he and I, were carrying his play-things from one room to another, the one of us who was empty-handed always had to sing or fiddle a march the while.” Wolfgang even invented a musical bedtime ritual which, according to Nannerl, he kept up until he was ten years old: “he composed a melody which he would sing out loud each day before going to sleep, to which end his father had to set him on a chair. Father always had to sing the second part and when this ceremony, which might on no occasion be omitted, was over, he would kiss his father most tenderly and go to bed very peacefully and contentedly.” . . . The eagerness with which the eight-year-old Mozart left the harpsichord when a favorite cat came into the room, and the facility he showed for picking up card tricks and fencing tips from visitors when recovering from illness, though scarcely justifying the epithet “wicked,” bear witness to a nature wide open to distraction. An understanding of Mozart in childhood is very relevant to his later development, for in the view of his sister “he was, apart from his music, almost always a child, and thus he remained. This is a main feature of his character on the dark side. He always needed a father’s, a mother’s, or some other guardian’s care: he could not manage his financial affairs.” . . . [One day when Wolfgangerl was still quite young,] Leopold was rehearsing some trios with two favored colleagues from the court orchestra, Wentzel and Schachtner, when Wolfgang asked to be allowed to play second violin. Leopold refused, saying that he had not yet had the least instruction in the instrument. (Though Wolfgang must have been very young at the time, this statement may not have been absolutely true because we are told Mozart, age 5 the boy was holding “a little violin” at the time of the incident and went off with it in a sulk.) Schachtner thereupon suggested he should be allowed to play second violin along with him. “Very well,” said Leopold, “but play so softly that we can’t hear you or you will have to go.” “And so it was,” Schachtner recalled to Nannerl, “that Wolfgang played with me. I soon noticed with astonishment that I was quite superfluous. I quietly put down my violin and looked at your papa; tears of wonder and comfort ran down
his cheeks.” In 1761, Leopold was able to write alongside an Andante and Allegro composed between February and April of that year: “Compositions by Wolfgangerl in the first three months after his fifth birthday.” More wonder and comfort for the proud father, who was already planning to make the great world aware of his clever offspring. It would not have occurred to Leopold that there was anything wrong about exploiting the talents of Nannerl and Wolfgang. As Henry Raynor says in his book on Mozart: “Childhood as something different in nature from adulthood was the discovery of the early romantic movement. Leopold never realized, any more than did anyone in the 18th century, that children are not simply small adults.” . . . In 1762 [Leopold took Wolfgang on a series of concert tours together with his sister, Maria Anna, born four and one-half years before Wolfgang; she, too, was a child prodigy. Both played the keyboard. . . . Their mother accompanied them naturally. Among other places,] the Mozart children played at court in Vienna; the Empress Maria Theresa and her husband, Emperor Francis I, received the Mozarts cordially. During a large European concert tour (1763-66) the Mozart children displayed their talents to audiences in Germany, in Paris, at court in Versailles, and in London (where Wolfgang wrote his first symphonies and was befriended by Johann Christian Bach, whose musical influence on Wolfgang was profound). In Paris, Wolfgang published his first works, four sonatas for clavier with accompanying violin (1764). In 1768 he composed his first opera, La finta semplice, for Vienna, but intrigues prevented its performance, and it was first presented a year later at Salzburg, where, at the age of 13 Mozart was appointed concertmaster to the archbishop. In 1769-70, Leopold and Wolfgang undertook a tour through Italy, where, in Rome, Wolfgang wrote down Allegri’s Miserere [note for note] from memory after one hearing. This first Italian trip culminated in Wolfgang’s new opera, Mitridate, re di Ponto, composed for Milan. In two further Italian journeys Wolfgang wrote two more operas for Milan, Ascanio in Alba (1771) and the impressive Lucio Silla (1772). In 1772, Archbishop von Schrattenbach died, to be succeeded by Hieronymus von Colloredo. The latter, at first sympathetic to the Mozarts, later became irritated by Wolfgang’s prolonged absences and stubborn ways. In 1772, von Colloredo retained Wolfgang as concertmaster at a token salary. In this capacity Mozart composed a large number of sacred and secular works. Wishing to secure a better position outside Salzburg, he obtained permission to undertake another journey in 1777. With his mother he traveled through Germany to France, where he composed the well-known Paris Symphony (1778); he could find no permanent position, however. His mother died in Paris. [Mozart was 22.] When he returned to Salzburg he was given the position of court organist (1779) and produced a splendid series of church works, including the famous Coronation Mass. He received a commission to compose a new opera for Munich, Idomeneo (1781), which proved that he was a consummate master of opera seria. Wolfgang was summoned by von Colloredo to Vienna in 1781 and after a series of violent arguments was dismissed from the archbishop’s service. In a house in Vienna rented for him by friends, he hoped to sustain himself by teaching. Mozart’s career in Vienna began promisingly, and he was soon commissioned to write The Abduction from the Seraglio, a singspiel, for the Court Opera (1782). His concerts were a great success, and the emperor, Joseph II, encouraged him, later engaging him as court composer at a modest salary (1787). Mozart’s works were now in constant demand by amateur and publisher. In 1782 he married Constanze Weber from Germany (Mozart had fallen in love with her sister, Aloysia, at Mannheim in 1777-78), much to his father’s dismay. (Unfortunately unending poverty and illness persistently troubled the family until Mozart’s death.) The young pair visited Salzburg in 1783; there, the Kyrie and Gloria of Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor, composed in Vienna and destined to remain unfinished, were performed. Mozart’s greatest success was The Marriage of Figaro (1786), composed for the Vienna Opera. The great piano concertos and the string quartets dedicated to his “dear friend” Joseph Haydn, whom he had long admired and had first met in 1781 at Vienna, were also composed during this period. Mozart’s fame began to wane after Figaro. The nobility and court grew increasingly nervous about
his revolutionary ideas (as exemplified in Figaro; French playwright and onetime government spy Beaumarchais’ original play was still banned in Austria when the opera was being given), and his new musical style was not understood by many. He sank into debt and was assisted by a brother Freemason, Michael Puchberg (Mozart had joined the Masons in 1784 and remained an ardent member until his death). His greatest operatic success after Figaro was Don Giovanni (1787), composed for Prague, where Mozart’s art was especially appreciated. This was followed in 1790 by Così fan tutte, the third and final libretto provided by the Italian poet Lorenzo da Ponte; and in 1791 by The Magic Flute, produced by a suburban theatre in Vienna. During this period of financial strain, Mozart composed his last three symphonies (E flat, G minor, and the Jupiter in C) in less than 7 weeks (summer 1788); these had been preceded by a great series of string quintets, including in particular the two in C and in G minor (1787). For the coronation of Emperor Leopold II in 1791 he wrote the opera seria La clemenza di Tito with the libretto by Metastasio. [Later] in 1791, Mozart was commissioned to write a requiem (unfinished). He was at the time quite ill—he had never known very good health—and imagined that the work was for himself, which it proved to be. His death, on Dec. 5, 1791, which gave rise to false rumors of poisoning, is thought to have resulted from kidney failure [or typhoid fever]. After a cheap funeral at Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, he was buried in an unmarked grave at the cemetery of Saint Marx, a Viennese suburb. Much has been made of this, but at that time such burial was legally required for all Viennese except those of noble or aristocratic birth. Mozart’s grave is left unmarked. Mozart’s large output—more than 600 works, with a number of instrumental combinations, concertos and vocal works—shows that even as a child he possessed a thorough command of the technical resources of musical composition as well as an original imagination. . . . . Mozart excelled in every form in which he composed. His contemporaries found the restless ambivalence and complicated emotional content of his music difficult to understand. Accustomed to the light, superficial style of Rococo music, his aristocratic audiences could not accept the complexity and musical depth of much of Mozart’s music. Yet, with Joseph Haydn, Mozart perfected the grand forms of symphony, opera, string quartet, and concerto that marked the classical period in music. In his operas Mozart’s uncanny psychological insight, particularly into his female characters, is unique in musical history. His operas achieved a new unity of vocal and instrumental writing, with their profound contrasts between different personalities reacting to changing situations. They are marked by subtle characterization, and an unusual use of classic symphonic style in large scale ensembles. His music informed the work of the later Haydn and of the next generation of composers, most notably Beethoven. The brilliance of his work continued until the end, although darker themes of poignancy and isolation grew more marked in the last five or six years of his short life. Couched as they are in a language of shining technical perfection, his compositions continue to exert a particular fascination for musicians and music lovers. Mozart’s Operas Semiramide [Mozart wrote this opera at age 14.]- Act I: Oroe receives disturbing visions from the gods—a crime committed long ago now demands retribution. At a public ceremony, Semiramide intends to announce the successor to her throne. As she is about to disclose the name, the sacred flame is extinguished, signifying divine displeasure. Oroe proclaims that the murder of Semiramide’s husband, King Nino, continues to disturb the gods. An oracle will soon arrive naming the hero who shall bring the return of order. Arsace has been ordered to Babylon not only by a private note from his queen but in accordance with the wishes of his dying father, Fradate. At Fradate’s request, Arsace has brought to Oroe a casket whose contents remain a secret.
Assur is angered by Arsace’s presence and his intention to wed Azema, since he also wants her hand in marriage to strengthen his political position. Idreno also wishes to marry Azema, but she reacts coolly to his ardor. Once in possession of the oracle, Semiramide learns that peace will be restored by Arsace’s return and marriage. As she secretly loves Arsace, the wedding shall be her own. Arsace misunderstands her words, believing Azema is intended as his bride. At a public gathering Semiramide announces that Arsace will be both her successor and her husband. As she orders Oroe to unite them, a frightful sound is heard deep within Nino’s mausoleum. The shade of Nino appears and demands a sacrifice—Arsace will be king, but he must first descend into the depths of the tomb and offer a victim to the dead king’s ashes, thus avenging his unjust murder. Act II: Assur corners Semiramide and during a bitter exchange, the details of their plot are revealed—Assur may have killed Nino, but it was Semiramide who prepared the poison. The situation is complicated by the disappearance of her son, Ninia. Semiramide hopes Arsace will save her from the consequences of the terrible deed. Oroe shares with Arsace the secret of Arsace’s past—he is Prince Ninia, entrusted to Fradate as Nino lay dying. The appalling realization that his fiancée is really his mother—who now must be killed—is too much, and Arsace hopes that Assur’s murder alone will satisfy Nino’s spirit. Idreno renews his suit and Azema grudgingly agrees to marry him. Arsace confronts Semiramide with the awful truth. She is consumed with self-abhorrence and commands Arsace to strike her dead, but Arsace is moved by filial love and weeps in her arms. Assur prepares to go inside Nino’s tomb, intent on killing Arsace but is momentarily blocked by unearthly visions. Ninia (the prince formerly known as Arsace) searches for the sacrificial victim within the tomb. Semiramide lurks in the shadows, hoping to protect him. She pleads to be spared from her dead husband’s vengeance. Oroe commands Ninia to strike, and Ninia believes he has slain Assur, but in the confusing obscurity he has actually murdered Semiramide. With great remorse, Ninia attempts to take his own life but is prevented by Oroe. Assur is taken into custody, and Ninia is proclaimed the rightful king. Idomeneo [This is a more mature opera by Mozart.]- Act I. Sidon, capital of the island of Crete. Ilia, daughter of King Priam, reflects on the defeat of Troy, which she never will see again, and on her love for Prince Idamante, son of Idomeneo, which she hesitates to acknowledge. Soon Idamante comes to free the Trojan prisoners. Saddened by Ilia’s rejection of his love, he tells her it is not his fault that their fathers were enemies. Trojans and Cretans alike welcome the return of peace, but Elettra, jealous of Ilia, rushes in to protest Idamante’s clemency toward the enemy prisoners. Arbace, the king’s confidant, interrupts with the news that Idomeneo has been lost at sea on his return voyage. Elettra, fearing that a Trojan soon will be Queen of Crete, feels the furies of Hades tormenting her. On a deserted seashore, the shipwrecked Idomeneo recalls the vow he foolishly made to Neptune—to sacrifice, if he were spared, the first living creature he meets on shore. Idamante approaches him, but because the two have not seen each other since his son’s infancy, does not recognize him. When Idomeneo realizes the youth is his own child, he orders Idamante never to seek him out. Grief-stricken by his father’s rejection, Idamante runs off. Cretan troops disembarking from Idomeneo’s ship are met by their wives, and all sing the praises of Neptune, who will be honored with a sacrifice. Act II. At the palace, Idomeneo seeks counsel from Arbace, who says a substitute could be sacrificed if Idamante went into exile immediately. Idomeneo orders his son to escort Elettra home to Greece. Ilia then greets Idomeneo, whose kind words move her to declare that since she has lost everything, he will be her father and Crete her country. As she leaves, Idomeneo realizes his deliverance has cost Ilia her happiness as well as his own. . . . Elettra welcomes the idea of going to Argos with Idamante, voicing her love for him. At the port of Sidon, Idomeneo bids his son farewell and urges him to learn the art of ruling while he is away. Before the ship can sail, however, a storm breaks out, and a sea serpent appears among the waves. Recognizing it as a messenger from Neptune, the king offers himself as atonement for having defaulted on his
bargain with the sea god. Act III. In the royal garden, Ilia asks the breezes to carry her love to Idamante, who appears, explaining that the serpent is wreaking havoc in the countryside and that he must go to fight it. When he says he may as well die as suffer the torments of unrequited love, Ilia confesses her love. They are surprised by Elettra and Idomeneo. When Idamante asks his father why he shuns him and sends him away, Idomeneo can reply only that the youth must leave. Ilia asks for consolation from Elettra, who is preoccupied with revenge. Arbace comes with news that the people, led by the High Priest of Neptune, are clamoring for Idomeneo. The High Priest tells the king of the destruction wrought in the land by Neptune’s monster, exhorting Idomeneo to reveal the name of the person whose sacrifice is demanded by the god. When the king confesses that his own son is the victim, the populace is horrified. Outside the temple, the king and High Priest join with Neptune’s priests in prayer that the god may be appeased. Arbace announces that Idamante has succeeded in killing the monster. As Idomeneo fears new reprisals from Neptune, Idamante enters in sacrificial robes, saying he at last understands his father’s dilemma and is ready to die. After an agonizing farewell, Idomeneo is about to sacrifice his son when Ilia intervenes, offering her own life instead. The Voice of Neptune is heard: Idomeneo must yield the throne to Ilia and Idamante. Everyone is relieved except Elettra, who longs for her own death. Idomeneo presents Idamante and his bride as the new rulers. The people call upon the god of love and marriage to bless the royal pair and bring peace. Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro) [One of Mozart’s most famous operas, it stirred up controversy because the central characters are servants, and the nobles look like fools. It opened in Vienna in May of 1786.] - Act I. A country estate outside Seville, late 18th century. While preparing for their wedding, valet Figaro learns from maid Susanna that their philandering employer, Count Almaviva, has designs on her. Figaro vows to outwit his master. Before long the scheming Bartolo enters the servants’ quarters with his housekeeper, Marcellina, who wants Figaro to marry her to cancel a debt he cannot pay. After Marcellina and Susanna trade insults, the amorous page Cherubino arrives, reveling in his infatuation with all women. He hides when the Count shows up, furious because he caught Cherubino flirting with Barbarina, the gardener’s daughter. The Count pursues Susanna but conceals himself when gossiping music master Don Basilio approaches. The Count steps forward, however, when Basilio suggests that Cherubino has a crush on the Countess. Almaviva is enraged further when he discovers Cherubino in the room. Figaro returns with fellow servants, who praise the Count’s progressive reform in abolishing the droit du seigneur—the right of a noble to take a husband’s place on his wedding night. Almaviva assigns Cherubino to his regiment in Seville and leaves Figaro to cheer up the unhappy adolescent. Act II. In her boudoir, the Countess laments her husband’s waning love but plots to chasten him, encouraged by Figaro and Susanna. They will send Cherubino, disguised as Susanna, to a romantic meeting with the Count. Cherubino, smitten with the Countess, appears, and the two women begin to dress the page for his farcical rendezvous. While Susanna is out of sight, the Count knocks at the door, furious to find it locked. Cherubino quickly hides in a closet, and the Countess admits her husband, who, when he hears a noise, is skeptical of her story that Susanna is inside the wardrobe. He takes his wife to fetch some tools with which to force the closet door. Meanwhile, Susanna, having observed everything from behind a screen, helps Cherubino out a window, then takes his place in the closet. Both Count and Countess are amazed to find her there. All seems well until the gardener, Antonio, storms in with crushed geraniums from a flowerbed below the window. Figaro, who has run in to announce that the wedding is ready, pretends it was he who jumped from the window, faking a sprained ankle. Marcellina, Bartolo and Basilio burst into the room waving a court summons for Figaro, which delights the Count, as this gives him an excuse to delay the wedding. Act III. In an room where the wedding is to take place, Susanna leads the Count on with promises of a
rendezvous in the garden. Almaviva, however, grows doubtful when he spies her conspiring with Figaro; he vows revenge. Marcellina is astonished but thrilled to discover that Figaro is in fact her long-lost natural son by Bartolo. Mother and son embrace, provoking Susanna’s anger until she too learns the truth. Finding a quiet moment, the Countess recalls her past happiness, then joins Susanna in composing a letter that invites the Count to the garden that night. Later, during the marriage ceremony, the bride manages to slip the note, sealed with a hatpin, to the Count, who pricks his finger, dropping the pin, which Figaro retrieves. Act IV. In the moonlit garden, Barbarina, after unsuccessfully trying to find the lost hatpin, tells Figaro and Marcellina about the coming rendezvous between the Count and Susanna. Figaro inveighs against women and leaves, missing Susanna and the Countess, ready for their masquerade. Alone, Susanna rhapsodizes on her love for Figaro, but he, overhearing, thinks she means the Count. Susanna hides and sees Cherubino woo the Countess—disguised in Susanna’s dress—until Almaviva chases him away and sends his wife, who he thinks is Susanna, to an arbor; he follows. By now Figaro understands the joke and, joining the fun, makes exaggerated love to Susanna in her Countess disguise. The Count returns, thinking he sees Figaro with his wife. Outraged, he calls everyone to witness his judgment, but now the real Countess appears and reveals the ruse. Grasping the truth at last, the Count begs her pardon. All are reunited, and so ends this “mad day” at the court of the Almavivas. Don Giovanni [Some of Mozart’s best ensemble pieces are in this opera, which includes the figure that comes to haunt the composer, the masked man who replies to Mozart’s entreaties with gestures only.] - Act I: Seville, 1600s. At night, outside the Commendatore’s palace, Leporello grumbles about his duties as servant o Don Giovanni, a dissolute nobleman. Soon the masked Don appears, pursued by Donna Anna, Mozart’s custom-built pianoforte the Commendatore’s daughter, whom he has tried to seduce. When the Commendatore himself answers Anna’s cries, he is killed in a duel by Giovanni, who escapes. Anna now returns with her fiancé, Don Ottavio. Finding her father dead, she makes Ottavio swear vengeance on the assassin. At dawn, Giovanni flirts with a high-strung traveler outside a tavern. She turns out to be Donna Elvira, a woman he once seduced in Burgos, who is on his trail. Giovanni escapes while Leporello distracts Elvira by reciting his master’s long catalog of conquests. Peasants arrive, celebrating the nuptials of their friends Zerlina and Masetto; when Giovanni joins in, he pursues the bride, angering the groom, who is removed by Leporello. Alone with Zerlina, the Don applies his charm, but Elvira interrupts and protectively whisks the girl away. When Elvira returns to denounce him as a seducer, Giovanni is stymied further while greeting Anna, now in mourning, and Ottavio. Declaring Elvira mad, he leads her off. Anna, having recognized his voice, realizes Giovanni was her attacker. Dressing for the wedding feast he has planned for the peasants, Giovanni exuberantly downs champagne. Outside the palace, Zerlina begs Masetto to forgive her apparent infidelity. Masetto hides when the Don appears, emerging from the shadows as Giovanni corners Zerlina. The three enter the palace together. Elvira, Anna and Ottavio arrive in masks and are invited to the feast by Leporello. During the festivities, Leporello entices Masetto into the dance as Giovanni draws Zerlina out of the room. When the girl’s cries for help put him on the spot, Giovanni tries to blame Leporello. But no one is convinced; Elvira, Anna and Ottavio unmask and confront Giovanni, who barely escapes Ottavio’s drawn sword. Act II: Under Elvira’s balcony, Leporello exchanges cloaks with Giovanni to woo the lady in his master’s stead. Leporello leads Elvira off, leaving the Don free to serenade Elvira’s maid. When Masetto passes with a band of armed peasants bent on punishing Giovanni, the disguised rake gives them false directions, then beats
up Masetto. Zerlina arrives and tenderly consoles her husband. In a passageway, Elvira and Leporello are surprised by Anna, Ottavio, Zerlina and Masetto, who, mistaking servant for master, threaten Leporello. Frightened, he unmasks and escapes. When Anna departs, Ottavio affirms his confidence in their love. Elvira, frustrated at her second betrayal by the Don, voices her rage. Leporello catches up with his master in a cemetery, where a voice warns Giovanni of his doom. It comes from the Commendatore’s statue, which the Don has Leporello invite to dinner. When the servant reluctantly stammers an invitation, the statue accepts. In her home, Anna, still in mourning, puts off Ottavio’s offer of marriage until her father is avenged. Leporello is serving Giovanni’s dinner when Elvira rushes in, begging the Don, whom she still loves, to reform. But he waves her out contemptuously. At the door, her screams announce the Commendatore’s statue. Giovanni boldly refuses its warnings to repent, even in the face of death. Flames engulf his house, and the sinner is dragged to hell. Among the castle ruins, the others plan their future and recite the moral: such is the fate of a wrongdoer. The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflote) [This is Mozart’s last opera, the first “popular” opera in the genre’s history.] - Act I: An imaginary Egypt. Three Ladies attendant on the Queen of the Night save the fainting Prince Tamino from a serpent. When they leave to tell the Queen, the bird catcher Papageno bounces in and boasts to Tamino that it was he who slew the serpent. The Ladies return to give Tamino a portrait of the Queen’s daughter, Pamina, who they say is enslaved by the evil Sarastro, and they padlock Papageno’s mouth for lying. The Queen, appearing in a burst of thunder, laments the loss of her daughter; she charges Tamino with Pamina’s rescue. The Ladies hand a magic flute to Tamino and magic silver bells to Papageno to ensure their safety, appointing Three Genii to guide them. Sarastro’s Moorish slave Monostatos pursues Pamina but is frightened away by the feather-covered Papageno, who tells Pamina that Tamino loves her and intends to save her. Led to Sarastro’s Temple, Tamino is advised by a High Priest that it is the Queen, not Sarastro, who is evil. Hearing that Pamina is safe, Tamino charms the animals with his flute, then rushes to follow the sound of Papageno’s pipes. Monostatos and his retainers chase Papageno and Pamina but are rendered helpless by Papageno’s magic bells. Sarastro, entering in ceremony, promises Pamina eventual freedom and punishes Monostatos. Pamina is enchanted by a glimpse of Tamino, who is led into the temple with Papageno. Act II: Sarastro tells his priests that Tamino will undergo initiation rites. Sworn to silence, Tamino is impervious to the temptations of the Queen’s Ladies, who have no trouble derailing the cheerful Papageno from his course of virtue. The Queen of the Night dismisses Monostatos, whom she finds kissing the sleeping Pamina, and gives her daughter a dagger with which to murder Sarastro. The weeping Pamina is confronted and consoled by Sarastro. Papageno is quick to break an initiation oath to fast, and he jokes with a flirtatious old lady, who vanishes when asked her name. Tamino remains steadfast, breaking Pamina’s heart: she cannot understand his silence. The priests inform Tamino that he has only two more trials to complete. Papageno is eliminated but settles for the old lady, who turns into a young Papagena when Papageno promises to be faithful. She disappears, however. After the Genii save the despairing Pamina from suicide, she finds Tamino and walks with him through the ordeals by water and fire, protected by the magic flute. Papageno also is saved from attempted suicide by the Genii, who remind him to use his magic bells, which summon Papagena. The two plan for the future and move into a bird’s nest. The Queen of the Night, her Three Ladies and Monostatos attack the temple but are defeated and banished. Sarastro joins Pamina and Tamino as the throng hails Isis and Osiris, the triumph of courage, virtue
Patronage, 18th Century Style, Or, how musicians lived From: Mozart, by Richard Baker In every age, to a greater or lesser extent, the paymaster has called the piper’s tune and musicians have always had to please someone if they are not to starve. Nowadays state agencies and civic authorities, benevolent trusts and commercial firms have taken over from wealthy individuals as patrons of music. . . . Those who kept Handel and Haydn alive were not prepared to wait for posterity’s judgment; they wanted to be pleased as instantly by the music as by their food and tended to judge both by much the same criteria. Novelty? Well, just a soupcon perhaps, but not too much and not too often. Of course there were liberal patrons. But even the best of them demanded an attachment which could seem like slavery to an artist of spirit. Mozart was such an artist. He rebelled against the respectable chains his father had learned to wear. Yet for the rest of his life—such were the conditions prevailing at the time—he was searching for a steady appointment at court which would spare him the anxieties of a freelance existence. Beethoven was Mozart’s junior by only fourteen years, but he belonged to a different age. The irreverence which Mozart generally confined to private letters erupted in Beethoven’s open refusal to doff his hat to authority; the revolutionary spirit was abroad, and the Romantic tide was starting to flood, bringing with it the cult of the individual. Though Mozart bridled at the old system, he had to live with it, and that included working within the established musical language of the day. No furious smashing of pianofortes for him, no bursting the barriers of symphonic form with choral finales; instead, a disciplined approach which kept the strongest emotions within the context of musical good manners. “The passions, whether violent or not,” wrote Mozart on the subject of opera, “should never be so expressed as to reach the point of causing disgust; and music, even in situations of the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but should flatter and charm it and thereby always remain music.” To make conscious use of music as a vehicle for conveying the composer’s own feelings in the fashion of Berlioz or Tchaikovsky would have been even more unthinkable in Mozart’s time. There was then a European fraternity of creative musicians who drew on a common melodic tradition; no great store was set on originality and indeed one musicologist has estimated that 80% of Mozart’s tunes occurred also in the music of his contemporaries. Gradually this fraternal spirit was eroded, giving way to a competitiveness which demanded marked individual styles, almost a kind of brand warfare. Composers in Mozart’s day experienced none of the anguish of “finding their own voice” which beset serious composers of the 20th century. The [18th century] composer was merely required to produce to order a certain quantity of an established commodity. Yet for many people Mozart is the greatest of composers. No words can do justice to his simplicity or his sublimity; he is, like Shakespeare, ageless. But for all his transcendent genius, it is helpful to see him too as a child of his time. The power of Mozart was after all generated by an 18th century dam. . . . [Mozart] was born at a time when conditions were changing for the musician. His father Leopold, an able man who graduated with distinction from a Jesuit school in Augsburg and continued a good all-round education at Salzburg University before abandoning his general studies in favor of music, settled for what was still the most frequent employment for musicians—a permanent post in a noble household. He served five successive Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg for a total of forty years, never quite achieving the coveted title of Kapellmeister, Master of the Music. But his conditions of service did not prevent him publishing, in 1756, the year of his famous son’s birth, a Violin School, [a standard beginner’s introduction to the instrument,] which achieved an international reputation . . . . A number of 18th century composers managed to break away from their aristocratic patrons and make their own terms with the musical public. This was partly because a new middle-class audience was
growing up. Subscription concerts had begun in large cities like London, Hamburg and Paris. . . ; numerous music societies were being formed, musical periodicals started to appear in the early years of the century and publishers like Haydn’s Artaria were beginning to assert an influence which was to become dominant in later times. Various opportunities, then, were presented to the musician in the mid-18th century. In his early years Handel made a living as an organist in Halle, produced his first operas in Italy with the help of aristocratic patrons, and became briefly Kapellmeister to the Elector of Hanover. Then he decamped to London where he entered into contracts with theatres, continued to produce works for the stage under the auspices of the Royal Academy of Music, formed in 1719, exercised the privilege of copyright granted him by King George I in 1720 and, apart from a few bad patches, made enough money to give charity performances and become a regular subscriber to the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund from its inception in 1738. Bach, after a spell as Kapellmeister to Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cothen, became Cantor of St. Thomas’ School in Leipzig and spent the rest of his life as a city council employee. He was required to inform the Burgomaster if he wished to leave Leipzig and had to promise not to make church music “too long or too operatic,” but he was able to enhance his modest salary with various “perks” and to extend his scope by working for the university and directing the Telemann Singing Society. . . . Haydn in his late twenties entered the service of the Esterhazy family, becoming Kapellmeister in 1766. Though he intensely disliked the isolation of Prince Nicolaus’ country estate at Esterhiza, where the musicians had to spend much of their time, it was there that Haydn produced some of his finest and most inventive music. His meeting with the publisher Artaria took place in 1780, after which date his Esterhazy contract allowed him to travel and to promote his compositions as he wished. “The free arts and the beautiful art of composition,” wrote Haydn in 1778, “tolerate no shackling. The spirit and the soul must be free if one would gather one’s deserts.” Haydn fortunately lived long enough to reap an appropriate reward. In 1790 he retired from service to the Esterhazy family with a pension which was subsequently increased in stages, made his immensely successful journeys to London and settled in Vienna where he lived in old age, having learned how to preserve his economic independence. (But long before leaving his aristocratic patrons, they had rewarded him with marks of high esteem, none apparently more telling than Prince Esterhazy’s order to the wine superintendent “to deliver one quart of officers’ wine” to Haydn daily.) Mozart’s forerunner in restoring truth and dignity to the musical stage, Christoph Willibald Gluck, married a rich woman, which has always been one way to balance a budget. He too worked for a variety of employers, from princely households to the management of the Paris Opera. His last years brought disappointment and ill-health, but he rode out daily in his own carriage from a fine home in Vienna, where he was highly respected as a leading practitioner of the craft of music. . . . Mozart’s sister Maria Anna (“Nannerl”), who was born in July 1751 and outlived her brother by nearly forty years, listed in her memoirs the number of musicians in the employment of the Salzburg court. Apart from the Kapellmeister and his deputy there were 5 violinists, 2 cellists, 1 viola player, 2 bassoonists, 3 horns, 3 oboists, 3 flautists, 1 trumpeter and 2 organists—a chamber orchestra of moderate size. Music for the Cathedral was always in demand, as was background music for the dinner table, as well as music for more formal concerts and theatrical performances. . . . [During the course of one exhibition tour for the prodigies,] the Mozarts arrived in Vienna safely on 6 October and were very soon engaged in an exhausting round of exhibition appearances at the houses of the nobility. This rose to fever pitch after their reception at the Imperial summer residence, Schonbrunn Palace, on 13 October: “The nobles,” Leopold told Hagenauer, “send us their invitations four, five, six, to eight days in advance in order not to miss us.” Though the Emperor was pleased with the young boy’s performance on the harpsichord, he was not satisfied until he had produced such party tricks as playing with the keyboard covered over, and with one finger of each hand. Then followed a famous episode related thus by Arthur Hutchings: “The imperial family were evidently charmed by the children, for the Empress Maria Theresa is said to have gone with some of her own children to show the little visitors the adjoining apartments. Wolfgang slipped on a polished floor, and the
Archduchess Marie Antoinette, later queen of France, helped him up and received an immediate offer of marriage in return for her kindness.” She was two months older than Wolfgang. Then, according to Leopold, “Wolferl jumped on the empress’s lap, threw his arms round her neck and kissed her heartily.” The visit to Schonbrunn lasted from 3 to 6 pm and one would have thought it enough for that day, especially for young children. However the prospect of six ducats from the Prince von Hildburghausen overruled fatigue and they drove straight to his house for the evening. Handsome court dresses (which they subsequently wore for a portrait) soon arrived for Wolfgang and Nannerl from the Empress together with a hundred ducats and a pressing invitation to stay longer. Leopold was only too happy to comply with the Imperial suggestion, for it made his children the fashionable rage of Vienna. . . . We get an impression of Wolfgang’s performances at this early age from a newspaper correspondent in Vienna. “We fall into utter amazement,” he wrote, “on seeing a boy aged six at the clavier and hear him not by any means toy with sonatas, trios and concertos, but play in a manly way and improvise moreover for hours on end. . . . I saw them cover the keyboard with a handkerchief and he plays just as well. . . . Furthermore, . . . when he was made to listen in another room, they would give him notes . . . and he came out with the letter or the name of the note in an instant.” Such was the degree of public interest that Leopold was very soon planning further travels—this time a Grand Tour which was to take the family away from Salzburg for almost three and a half years. . . . In March the eight-year-old published his Opus 1—two sonatas for the harpsichord (K. 6 and 7), “which can be played with violin accompaniment.” These were written no doubt with assistance from his father. Two more sonatas quickly followed and there were two profitable public concerts before the family left Paris in mid-April en route for England. “I saw how the sea runs away and comes back again,” observed Nannerl in her diary as they waited at Calais for the cross-channel packet. The Mozarts were in London for fifteen months, . . . lodging with a hairdresser off St. Martin’s Lane, and subsequently in Chelsea and Thrift (now Frith) Street, Soho. The first of three court appearances took place only five days after their arrival in the English capital and although “the present was only twenty-four guineas,” King George III and Queen Charlotte impressed Leopold by their “easy manner and friendly ways” and the visit to Buckingham House had the desired effect of making the children fashionable everywhere. “I have had the shock of taking one hundred guineas in three hours,” Leopold exuberantly informed Hagenauer, his Salzburg landlord, after a benefit concert in June; but he also astutely realized that “nothing wins the affection of this quite Mozart and his family (mother is in exceptional nation” more surely than charity work, so he let Wolfgang play the organ at a concert in aid of the newly-founded Lying-in Hospital the framed portrait above) “in order to perform thereby the act of an English patriot.” Mozart dedicated his Opus 3-a set of six sonatas “for the harpsichord which can be played with the accompaniment of violin or transverse flute”-to the Queen and received a present of fifty guineas in reply. Further income was derived from putting Wolfgang on show at the family’s Soho lodgings, where, as Leopold said in his advertisement, “those ladies and gentlemen who will honor him with their company from twelve to three in the afternoon any day of the week except Tuesday and Friday may, by each taking a ticket, gratify their curiosity, and not only hear this young Music Master and his sister perform in private: but likewise try his surprising musical capacity.” Among their visitors in June 1765 was a Fellow of the Royal Society, Daines Barrington, who, in a subsequent report, admitted being skeptical at first about the child’s extreme youth. Although he had seen Wolfgang run about the room “with a stick between his legs by way of a horse” and leave the harpsichord to play with his cat, Barrington carefully verified his age before expressing amazement at “this prodigy of na-
ture.” He submitted the boy to many searching tests, among them the instant composition of operatic arias to express love and anger. Mozart responded without difficulty, demonstrating “a thorough knowledge of the fundamental principles of composition” and great facility in modulation: “his transitions from one key to another were excessively natural and judicious.” As for Wolfgang’s ability as a performer, Barrington declared that “his execution was amazing, considering that his little fingers could scarcely reach a fifth on the harpsichord.” Perhaps the most important musical encounter of the London visit was the young Mozart’s meeting with Johann Christian Bach, the “English Bach,” son of the great Johann Sebastian and himself a fine composer in the urbane “gallant” style of the day. In her reminiscences, Nannerl describes how this important man shared a keyboard with Wolfgang one day: “Herr Johann Christian Bach, the Queen’s teacher, took Wolfgang between his legs. The former played a few bars, and then the other continued, and in this way they played a whole sonata and someone not seeing it would have thought that only one man was playing.” J. C. Bach was a leading exponent of the newlyintroduced fortepiano and may perhaps have sowed a seed which was later to grow into Mozart’s great series of piano concertos. Certainly he was a strong influence on the boy’s childhood compositions, which are sometimes indistinguishable from those of J. C. Bach. . . . Discussion Questions 1. Based on the play, what were the popular opinions about Mozart during his lifetime? And of Salieri? There is a well-known belief about geniuses, that they are often unappreciated during their lifetimes. Is this the case with Mozart? And what of Salieri? Do you think Salieri’s bitterness is justified? Divisi. No ed. No date. Lancaster Symphony.org. 11 April 2003. http://www.lancastersymphony.org/pdfs/ 2. Do you think Peter Shaffer created a true picture of Mozart and Salieri’s relationship? Which character do you think is most important to him? Which character is most interesting or appealing to you? 3. Explore what daily life was like in Vienna at the end of the 18th century. What was Mozart’s day like? Salieri’s? Does it differ greatly from musicians’ lives today? 4. What reasons might a playwright or othe rauthor have for changing a historic person’s life in a work of fiction? Can you find instances of this in Amadeus? Is Shaffer justified in doing this? What other historical fictions have you read or seen that include “adjustments”? 5. Although newspapers did exist, many people got their news by work of mouth, as Salieri does from his Venticelli, or by letter. Does this account for the rumors that still swirl around Mozart’s death? 6. Do you think Amadeus has affected how people view Mozart? What about Salieri? 7. Young Salieri and Mozart both benefitted from other musicians discerning their talent and fostering it, although Salieri’s father was in no position to make his son’s talent famous, as Leopold Mozart could. In fact, if Salieri’s town had not been visited by an official of the Vienna court, he may not have become the musician presented in this play. What effect did Leopold’s treatment of his son Wolfgang have on Mozart the man?
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www.wordreference.com/ Translations. No ed. ©2003. Google.com. 22 April 2003. http://www.google.com/language_tools?hl=en Webster’s II. New Riverside University Dictionary. No ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1983.
Constant Star Tazewell Thompson, playwright, director Mr. Thompson directed Porgy and Bess at New York City Opera and on PBS’ Live from Lincoln Center, for which he received an Emmy nomination. His production of Dialogue of the Carmelites was called “the hit and heart of the 2002 Glimmerglass Opera season.” Upcoming productions include the world premiere opera Margaret Garner with a libretto by Toni Morrison and score by Richard Danielpour; Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience and Benjamin Britten’s Death in Venice at Glimmerglass Opera; and Dialogues of the Carmelites at New York City Opera. For the opera world he has also directed at La Scala, Bastille Opera, Tokyo Opera, Madrid’s Teatro Real, San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Orange County Performing Arts Center, Portland Opera, Michigan Opera and New Jersey Opera. He directed the world premieres of the operas Vanqui at Opera Columbus, Luyala at Duke University, Stefan and As of a Dream at Musical Theatre Works, and produced and directed his own production of Aaron Copland’s The Second Hurricane at the New Federal Theatre. As playwright, his play Constant Star has been produced at Arena Stage, Hartford Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, City Theatre (Pittsburgh), PlayMakers Rep (Chapel Hill, NC), Dobama Theatre, and Florida Stage. In addition to appearing here at Syracuse Stage this season it will be presented at Virginia Stage. Mr. Thompson was a recipient of a 2002 NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights Grant and has been commissioned by the People’s Light and Theatre Company (PA) to write a play based on the role of the Pennsylvania Quakers in the Underground Railroad movement. He has also been commissioned to write new plays for Arena Stage and South Coast Rep. His adaptation of A Christmas Carol has been performed at the People’s Light and Theatre Company for the past three seasons. Mr. Thompson has directed and/or produced 25 world and American premieres including Wilder Rediscovered, four recently discovered one-act plays by Thornton Wilder, at Actors Theatre of Louisville, and the Goodman Theatre production of Charles Smith’s Black Star Line, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His regional directing credits also include Manhattan Theatre Club, Roundabout Theatre, the Public Theatre/New York Shakespeare Festival, Second Stage, Classic Stage Company, Soho Rep, the Guthrie Theatre, San Jose Rep, Marin Theatre, Huntington Theatre, Goodspeed Opera House, Cleveland Play House, Indiana Rep, Children’s Theatre of Minneapolis, Ma Yi Theatre, Perry Street Theatre, Sundance Theatre Lab, Actors Studio, Juilliard and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Mr. Thompson is a former artistic director of Syracuse Stage and artistic associate/resident director at both Arena Stage and The Acting Company (NYC). He is a board member of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, the Society for New Music and the Thornton Wilder Society.
Playwright/Director’s Note Though based on a historical figure and dealing with events that are real, this is a work of the imagination. In my own words—through my mind’s eye—I have brought to the stage Ida B. Wells as I imagined her to be; the way I discovered her when I got inside her head. Ultimately, it could not be any other way, since not even her descendents, contemporary intimates or professional associates seemed to know the “real” Ida B. Wells. Her limited diaries, like most of the genre, only somewhat revealing. Her autobiography, the way she wanted the world to remember her. My first introduction to Ida B. Wells was the PBS documentary on her life. Her story gnawed at me. A woman born in slavery she would grow to become one of the great pioneer activists of the Civil Rights movement. A precursor of Rosa Parks. She was a suffragette. Newspaper editor. Publisher. Investigative journalist. Co-founder of the NAACP. Political candidate. Mother. Wife. And the single most powerful leader in the anti-lynching campaign in America. A dynamic. Controversial. Temperamental. Uncompromising race woman. She broke bread and crossed swords with some of the movers and shakers of her time: Frederick Douglass. Susan B. Anthony. Marcus Garvey. Booker T. Washington. W.E.B. Dubois. President McKinley. By any fair assessment, she was a seminal figure in Post-Reconstruction America. Yet her formidable contributions to the Civil Rights movement have until most recently been under appreciated. Until now. Almost, but not quite, a historical footnote. My play with song is an answer to her insistent promptings. My attempt to let her story breathe freely on stage—to give it a symphonic expression—to give her extraordinary persona an audience, something she always craved. Some of the most evocative, informative storytellers of the black experience in America are the Negro Spirituals. There is a very strong history of a tie that binds these songs to the long struggle for physical survival and spiritual release of blacks in this country. The Negro Spirituals played a significant role in black history and continue to be a strong force in the black community. They are inseparable from the community’s ongoing journey to America’s promised land of equal access to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Originally, they were slave songs filled with secret codes and messages. They were a celebratory cry in the face of enduring struggle. Spirituals are a haunting legacy of the drama of a people fighting to find a voice. An identity. They mirror the suffering of the human soul in all its forms. Loneliness. Sorrow. Distress. Poverty. Lamentation. But also happiness. Thoughts of peace. Hope. Fulfillment. Enlightenment. Accomplishment. Personal and spiritual triumph. After exhaustive research, I have chosen twenty spirituals to permeate the entire play. A chorus of conduc Sheet music cover for a song tors. Guiding us on this journey to discover Ida B. Wells. The world she about Frederick Douglass’ encountered and engaged with an uncommon zeal. escape Setting: A turn-of-the-last-century office which becomes Ida’s parents’ house, railroad cars, speakers’ platforms, and any other location integral to the person who was Ida B. Wells. Synopsis: Five women portray 19th century civil rights activist Ida B. Wells throughout her life, from her Holly Springs, Mississippi, childhood in the 1860s to her final years in Chicago in the 1920s and early ’30s. Each actor presents a specific period in Wells’ life: the young teacher who sues a railroad for its Jim Crow laws, the internationally-renown speaker, the wife, newspaper editor, and so on. Transitions in her life and in the action of the play are accompanied by traditional gospel hymns and spirituals sung a capella by the actors.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931) One had better die fighting against injustice than die like a dog or a rat in a trap. - Ida B. Wells Ida B. Wells was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, months before the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. She was the oldest of eight children. When her parents died in 1880 as a result of a yellow fever plague, Wells took it upon herself to become a teacher in order to support her younger siblings. In spite of hardship, Wells was able to complete her studies [sufficiently to become a teacher] at Rust College [in Holly Springs] and in 1888 became a teacher in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1884, while only 22, Wells ignored a train conductor’s order directing her to sit in a segregated car. Forcibly Holly Springs, 1862 removed, she filed a successful lawsuit against the railroad company. The Tennessee Supreme Court, however, reversed the lower court’s decision in 1887. Racism also contributed to the poor conditions of Memphis’ black schools, which Wells openly criticized. School board disapproval resulted in her termination in 1891, after which she turned to journalism full-time [she had been an occasional contributor to a local paper for some time]. As editor (she wrote under the pen-name Iola) and co-owner of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight, Wells championed African American rights, especially after whites lynched three black Memphis grocers, [including her good friend Tom Moss, husband and father of two,] in 1892. Whites used lynching “to get rid of Negroes who were acquiring wealth and property,” Wells concluded, “and thus keep the race terrorized . . . .” By documenting lynchings across the country, she raised awareness and challenged alleged white “superiority.” White Tennesseans angered by her indictments destroyed the Free Speech offices and threatened her life if she did not leave town [in fact, she was in Natchez, Mississippi, finding subscribers for the Free Speech at the time. The Free Speech responded to the lynchings this way: The city of Memphis has demonstrated that neither character nor standing avails the Negro if he dares to protect himself against the white manor become his rival. . . . The white mob could help itself to ammunition without pay, but eh order was rigidly enforced against the selling of guns to Negroes. There is therefore only one thing left that we can do; save our money and leave a town which will neither protect our lives and property, nor give us a fair trial in the courts, but takes us out and murders us in cold blood when accused by white persons.] Undaunted, Wells carried her crusade north and published Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases. Moving to Chicago, Wells continued to write about Southern lynchings. While investigating, she would go directly to the site of a killing, sometimes despite extreme danger. In 1895, she published The Red Record, the first documented statistical report on lynching. In Chicago, Wells founded the Negro Fellowship League for black men, the first kindergarten for black children, and, in 1913, the first suffrage club for black women. She successfully integrated the U.S. suffrage movement when she refused to walk with the other black women at the rear of a 1913 Washington parade and instead infiltrated the ranks of her white Illinois “peers” after the march began. Two years later,
Wells helped elect Oscar Stanton De Priest, Chicago’s first African-American alderman. A forceful speaker, Wells lectured widely in the North and in Great Britain. She was a founding member of the National Afro-American Council, served as its secretary, and was chairman of its AntiLynching Bureau. Despite Wells’ efforts, Congress never passed anti-lynching legislation. Still, her advocacy made a larger black women’s movement possible. In 1909, Barnett was asked to be a member of the Committee of 40, which established the groundwork for the organization now known as the NAACP, the oldest civil rights organization in the country. She and Mary Church Terrell were the only two black women to sign the petition leading to the NAACP’s founding. In June of 1895 Wells married Ferdinand Barnett, a prominent Chicago attorney and African-American rights advocate, and the couple published the Chicago Conservator. They were considered pillars of the black community of Chicago. WellsBarnett kept active until the birth of her second son, Herman, when she resigned as president of the Ida B. Wells Club and devoted her time to raising her two young sons and subsequently her two daughters. However, by the start of the 20th century the racial strife in the country was disturbing. Lynching and race riots abounded across the nation. Wells-Barnett continued Ferdinand Barnett her tireless crusade for equal rights for African-Americans until her death in 1931. Vocabulary Usurped – someone illegally seized another’s power, rights or possessions. Gumption – common sense, applied ambitiously or boldly, with courage. To know enough when something must be done, despite obstacles, and to do it. Enfranchisement – to endow with the rights of citizenship, especially the right to vote, says Webster’s, which adds such definitions as to free, as from bondage, and to bestow a franchise on (franchise: a right or privilege officially granted to a person or group by a government, especially the right to vote). Suffrage – a vote cast in deciding a disputed question or in electing a person to office; the right or privilege of voting: franchise; exercise of voting rights; a short intercessory prayer. Barbarism – an instance, act, trait, or custom marked by coarseness or brutality. Lynching – executing a person or persons without due process of law, especially by hanging. The term seems to come from the actions of Charles Lynch, who had Americans loyal to Britain beaten during the Revolutionary War. Linen duster - meant to cover a smart driving ensemble and protect milady from the dust of the road [including the railroad]. Fashioned with up to the minute (for her) raglan sleeves, in a heavy linen with a loose belt that buttons closed, says Fashion Dig.com. Spittoon – Aka, cuspidors, were metal receptacles meant as spit catchers, from a time when more people chewed tobacco. As Ida B. notes, it was easy to miss this small container, particularly on a moving, swaying train. Dickensian – Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870) was known for so realistically chronicling the teeming, sweaty life of London’s poorer quarters that his readers could virtually smell the cabbage boiling and hear the babies
and children crying. Ms. Wells means to imply that the uncouth underclass that rode in the smoking car strongly resembled those who people Dickens’ books. Darky/colored – These terms were used interchangeably with the “n” word throughout the 19th century, and into the 20th. Darky has a troubled history, since it was often used in a pejorative sense. Colored is not much better, since it indicates difference from the accepted norm (that is, white) but it did gain some acceptance about mid-20th century; whether it morphed into persons of color I do not know. But as long as people are being set apart in a negative sense, as lesser people, it’s no good. Redress – Webster’s says, “To remedy or rectify, to make amends,” in its form as a verb, and “satisfaction or amends for wrong done, correction or reformation,” when used as a noun. Gall (at the back of Ida’s throat) – “liver bile,” Webster’s says. If you’ve known anyone with gallbladder trouble, you will know how horrible this feeling is. Ida is so upset her physical system itself is out of whack. Uppity – disrespectful, even “presumptuously arrogant,” according to HyperDic. Jumped the broom – A wedding ritual practiced by African Americans who were denied or otherwise could not have a traditional ceremony, particularly before the end of the Civil War. According to some, when couples joined hands and leapt over a broom handle or other stick, it signified their entering into a new life together. Some modern African American couples have begun honoring this practice by incorporating elements of it in their own ceremonies. Ku Klux Klan – also known as the White Knights of the Camellia, among other names. This organization, which still has some adherents, has its origins in the post-Reconstruction south. The African American History Museum online describes its history thusly: “Late 1800s: The Ku Klux Klan was formed as a social club by a group of Confederate Army veterans in Pulaski, Tennessee, around 1865. A Confederate General, Nathan Bedford Forrest, was the Klan’s first leader, whose title was the Grand Wizard. The group adopted the name Ku Klux Klan from the Greek word kuklos, meaning circle, and the English word clan. “White superiority was the philosophy of the Klan, and they would often use violence . . . as a means of exercising [their philosophy]. The Klan detested the idea of blacks gaining any rights following the Civil War . . . , and terrorized blacks to prevent them from voting in elections or practicing any other right. Blacks and white sympathizers were often threatened, beaten, or even murdered by Klan members in the South; the Klan used the now familiar white robes and hoods to mask their identity. The Ku Klux Klan became known as the Invisible Empire as it grew and spread rapidly [chiefly because its members’ identities were supposedly secret]. “In 1871, the Force Bill was passed by Congress, [giving] the President the authority to use federal troops against the Ku Klux Klan if he deemed the action necessary. Soon after this bill was passed, the Klan all but disappeared. “Early 1900s: William J. Simmons, a former Methodist preacher, organized a new Klan in Stone Mountain, Georgia, in 1915 as a patriotic, Protestant fraternal society. This new Klan directed its activity against . . . blacks [and] any group it considered un-American, including any immigrants, Jews, and Roman Catholics. The Ku Klux Klan grew rapidly from here and had more than 2 million members throughout the country by the mid-1920s. Although the Klan still reverted at times to violence . . . , burning crosses, torturing and murdering those they opposed, most of the Klan acted through peaceful means. The KKK became a more powerful political force as it elected many public officials throughout the nation. However, eventually the organization became weakened by disagreements among the leaders and because of public criticism of Klan violence. By 1944 the Ku Klux Klan had faded out again. “Mid-1900s: The Klan was revived again in 1946 by an Atlanta physician Samuel Green. However,
shortly after Green’s death in 1949, the Klan split into many smaller groups. During the 1960s, the Civil Rights movement [initiated] a new wave of violence by the Ku Klux Klan: . . . In Mississippi, three civil rights leaders were killed; in Birmingham, Alabama, a church was bombed, killing four black girls. President Lyndon B. Johnson used the FBI to probe the Klan and sent some Klan members to prison. Following this, Klan member ship fell to about 5,000 by the early 1970s. . . .” KKK.com, the homepage of the Knights Party, describes the Klan’s origins thusly: “The Ku Klux Klan came into existence at the end of the War Between the States in a period called ‘Black Reconstruction.’ During that period, most White people had lost the right to vote. Illiterate Blacks, with no history of civilized government, became the bulk of the voting population, resulting in tremendous crime, violence, and corruption against White Southerners. At the darkest hour, the Klan arose and restored the government of the South back to the Southern people, and as Woodrow Wilson said, it saved civilization on this continent. “Since that time, the KKK has been the target of incessant hatred from anti-White, pro-minority forces in the mass media, who, because they oppose the Klan’s ideals and recognize its powerful appeal, have endeavored to defame its leadership, its followers, its history, and its ideals. Hundreds of books, movies, and television programs are produced each year attacking the Klan, but no arguments sympathetic to the Klan are permitted in the mass media. The only examples given are morons who are paraded around TV shows such as Jerry Springer in their multi-colored Klan robes. They certainly don’t represent the type of spokesmen our people need; committed, intelligent, and articulate spokesmen for the movement they certainly are not. The Knights is proud to have such a tremendous speaker and leader as National Director Thomas Robb who doesn’t embarrass the organization as these so-called leaders embarrass theirs. Unfortunately the talk shows pass up the real deal like Pastor Robb in favor of a freak show of illiterate ‘Klansmen’ and higher ratings.” For a more complete history from the Knights Party’s perspective I would direct you to their webpage (http:// www.kkk.com/index1.htm) and the subheading In Depth History. Mason – From Freemasonry @ the Lodge: “Freemasonry is the world’s oldest and largest fraternal rganization. It is believed to have originated with the craft guilds of medieval Europe and latterly, to have expanded to admit those who did not actually belong to the trade [of] stone masons . . . . “Freemasonry, while based on religious principles, is not a religion and all members are . . . admonished never to make it such. It is open to all men who profess a belief in a Supreme Being and who believe that that Supreme Being rewards virtue and punishes vice. . . . No man can be made a Freemason if he is an atheist. Whether Christian, Moslem or Jew the Freemason believes in the God who created the universe and all prayers are offered to Him. . . . In this sense men of good morals can join together in nonsectarian and non-denominational fellowship adhering to the moral tendencies common to all faiths. . . . “Freemasonry has three particular principles of importance, which the Entered Apprentice (firstdegree mason) is taught. These Masonic principles are Brotherly love, Relief and Truth. “Brotherly Love: Every true Freemason shows tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and behaves with kindness, patience and understanding toward his fellow creatures. In fact, Freemasons are not permitted to discuss in open lodge topics that may cause differences of opinion, such as religion and politics. “Relief: Freemasons are taught to practice charity and to care for their own families and Brethren but also for the community as a whole, [through] charitable giving, and by voluntary efforts and works as individuals within the community. “Truth: Freemasons strive for truth continually. This requires high moral standards and a desire to achieve them in their own lives inside and outside the confines of the lodge room. “With further respect to charity Freemasonry has always been concerned with the care of orphans, the sick and the aged. Additionally it has given millions of dollars in financial aid to various charities. The principle difference between Masonic charity and others is that you will seldom see Freemasons in the newspaper holding a large check. It is rather Freemasonry’s belief that charity should be given silently. . . . “In 1787, . . . African Lodge No. 459 was formed by Prince Hall, a Revolutionary War veteran . . . .
This became the first Black self-help fraternal institution in the United States. His petition for the lodge was presented to the Grand Lodge of England in March 1784, but its implementation was delayed. These fraternal organizations were important to Blacks at the time; along with churches and schools, they constituted an important part of the self-help movement. . . . [Missouri’s state Grand Lodge was established in July 1865.] “ Despite all of the obstacles that [many whites] placed before [blacks], our Brethren persevered. . . .” “butterfly 16-year-old girl” – Ida is considered a young, inexperienced, frivolous, even flighty girl (not woman) by her parents’ friends when she declares that she will care for her siblings after their parents’ death, rather than split the children between homes. Lyceum club – an organization sponsoring public programs and entertainment, sez Webster’s. Iola – Ms. Wells-Barnett’s nom de plume, came from a typo: someone mistook Ida for Iola. While Ida, “a fortunate warrior,” is a name well-suited to Ms. Wells’ character, she grew fond of Iola, which means “violetcolored dawn.” President William McKinley - Born in Niles, Ohio, in 1843, McKinley briefly attended Allegheny College, and was teaching in a country school when the Civil War broke out. Enlisting as a private in the Union Army, he was mustered out at the end of the war as a brevet major of volunteers. He studied law, opened an office in Canton, Ohio, and married Ida Saxton, daughter of a local banker. At 34, McKinley won a seat in Congress. His attractive personality, exemplary character, and quick intelligence enabled him to rise rapidly. He was appointed to the powerful Ways and Means Committee. Robert M. La Follette, Sr., who served with him, recalled that . . . “on the great new questions . . . was generally on the side of the public and against private interests.” During his 14 years in the House, he became the leading Republican tariff expert, giving his name to the measure enacted in 1890. The next year he was elected Governor of Ohio, serving two terms. When McKinley became President, the depression of 1893 had almost run its course . . . [Still] he called Congress into special session to enact the highest tariff in history [to protect the recovering economy]. [Despite his earlier championing of “the people,” under his presidential administration] industrial combinations developed at an unprecedented pace. Newspapers caricatured McKinley as a little boy led around by “Nursie” Hanna [his political mentor, a very competitive and successful businessman], the representative of the trusts. However, McKinley was not dominated by Hanna; he condemned the trusts as “dangerous conspiracies against the public good.” . . . “Uncle Joe” Cannon, later Speaker of the House, once said that McKinley kept his ear so close to the ground that it was full of grasshoppers. . . . In 1900, McKinley again campaigned against [populist William Jennings] Bryan. While Bryan inveighed against imperialism, McKinley quietly stood for “the full dinner pail.” His second term, which had begun auspiciously, came to a tragic end in September 1901. He was standing in a receiving line at the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition when a deranged anarchist shot him twice. He died eight days later. Marcus Garvey – (1887 – 1940). Garvey was born on 17 August 1887 in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. He left school at 14, worked as a printer, joined Jamaican nationalist organizations, toured Central America, and spent time in London. Content at first with accommodation, on his return to Jamaica, he aspired to open a Tuskegeetype industrial training school. In 1916 he came to America at Booker T. Washington’s invitation, but arrived
just after Washington died. Garvey arrived in America at the dawn of the “New Negro” era. Black discontent, punctuated by East St. Louis’s bloody race riots in 1917 and intensified by postwar disillusionment, peaked in [the summer of] 1919 . . . . Shortly after arriving, Garvey embarked upon a period of travel and lecturing. When he settled in New York City, he organized a chapter of the UNIA, which he had earlier founded in Jamaica as a fraternal organization. Drawing on a gift for oratory, he melded Jamaican peasant aspirations for economic and cultural independence with the American gospel of success to create a new gospel of racial pride. “Garveyism” eventually evolved into a religion of success, inspiring millions of black people worldwide who sought relief from racism and colonialism. To enrich and strengthen his movement, Garvey envisioned a great shipping line to foster black trade, to transport passengers between America, the Caribbean, and Africa, and to serve as a symbol of black grandeur and enterprise. The UNIA incorporated the Black Star Line in 1919. The line’s flagship, the S.S. Yarmouth, made its maiden voyage in November and two other ships joined the line in 1920. The Black Star Line became a powerful recruiting tool for the UNIA, but it was ultimately sunk by expensive repairs, discontented crews, and top-level mismanagement and corruption. By 1920 the UNIA had hundreds of chapters worldwide; it hosted elaborate international conventions and published the Negro World, a widely disseminated weekly that was soon banned [by colonial governments] in many parts of Africa and the Caribbean. Over the next few years, however, the movement began to unravel under the strains of internal dissension, opposition from black critics, and government harassment. In 1922 the federal government indicted Garvey on mail fraud charges stemming from Black Star Line promotional claims and he suspended all BSL operations. . . . Garvey was sentenced to prison. The government later commuted his sentence, only to deport him back to Jamaica in November 1927. He never returned to America. In Jamaica Garvey reconstituted the UNIA and held conventions there and in Canada, but the heart of his movement stumbled on in America without him. While he dabbled in local politics, he remained a keen observer of world events, writing voluminously in his own papers. His final move was to London, in 1935. He settled there shortly before Fascist Italy invaded Ethiopia and his public criticisms of Haile Selassie’s behavior after the invasion alienated many of his own remaining followers. In his last years he slid into such obscurity that he suffered the final indignity of reading his own obituaries a month before his 10 June 1940 death. Booker T. Washington - Booker T. Washington was born into slavery in Franklin County near Roanoke, Virginia in 1856, and moved with his family just after the Civil War to Malden, West Virginia, where Washington worked in the salt mines. In . . . his autobiography, Up From Slavery, Washington tells the story of his journey from West Virginia to Hampton Institute in Virginia’s Tidewater region and then to the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. When Washington became president of Tuskegee in 1881, the school hardly existed, yet largely through his efforts it became one of the leading facilities for black education in the United States. By the 1890s, Washington was the most prominent African American in the country, and a number of Presidents, as well as business leaders, relied on Washington as an advisor. Other African-American leaders and intellectuals, however, most notably W.E.B. DuBois, resented Washington’s message of political accommodation in favor of economic progress and distrusted his reliance on wealthy white Northerners for assistance. Leaders such as DuBois also resented Washington’s willingness to use his political and economic influence in controlling ways that led them to refer to the “Tuskegee Machine.” Washington’s autobiography, Up From Slavery, published in 1901, followed the American tradition of the self-made man’s
account of his success. The work was internationally popular as well as a critical success, and brought a large amounts of much-needed funds to Tuskegee. Booker T. Washington died in 1915. Ida B. Wells-Barnett was not a fan of his, calling him Judas (the Christian apostle who betrayed Jesus to his enemies), Brutus (Julius Caesar’s erstwhile friend and supporter who joined with those plotting Caesar’s overthrow, and even had a hand in assassinating him), and Benedict Arnold (the American Revolutionary War officer turned traitor). Tuskegee Institute - Mr. Washington’s school, established in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1881 to provide secondary education and vocational training (most notably the latter) for African Americans. It was Washington’s intention that blacks literally work their way to equality gradually; his critics, Ms. Ida included, contended that he was training African Americans to remain subservient to whites. American Federation – The American Citizenship Federation was founded to make people aware of their rights and responsibilities as citizens. According to the Chicago Defender (Jan. 1927), its motto was “good citizenship—a shield of protection for our flag and all that it represents.” Negro Freedom Commission – This Illinois committee, given the task of creating a celebration of the 50th anniversary of African-American freedom, was called for by African-American women at the behest of a white man with, Ida suggests, a hidden agenda, because no black woman was named to the committee. Ida as a Tar baby - a sticky tar doll, the central figure in black American folktales popularized in written literature by the American author Joel Chandler Harris. Harris’ “Tar-Baby” (1879), one of the animal tales told by the character Uncle Remus, is but one example of numerous African-derived tales featuring the use of a wax, gum, or rubber figure to trap a rascal. Brer Fox, who is fed up with Brer Rabbit getting the best of him, fashions a baby-like figure out of tar knowing that it will be irresistible to Brer Rabbit, and, in fact, the rabbit becomes completely stuck to the figure. However, Brer Rabbit convinces Brer Fox that the worst thing the fox could do would be to throw the rabbit into a brier patch, which actually enables Brer Rabbit to escape again. At any rate, the tar baby became a negative symbol for African Americans, as according to the Cunningham & Cunningham website: “Although the phrase ‘ Tar Baby’ originally stems from an Brer Rabbit meets the African folk tale, at some point in the United States it gained a second meaning as a Tar Baby racial slur for black people. In that sense it’s about as nasty as nigger or coon. . . . Tar Baby has a history of actual usage as an epithet”: some say a tar baby is an African American you “can’t get rid of”; others that it’s a problem there’s no point in discussing, and so on. Coon - Melanie and Mike of the website Take Our Word for It note that their sources “all agree that it is an aphetic form of raccoon (aphetic refers to the loss of an initial, usually unstressed, vowel or syllable),” and that “coon songs enjoyed a great vogue in vaudeville and music-hall on both sides of the Atlantic. These were performed exclusively by white men in blackface [that is, black face paint with exaggerated, raccoon-like eyes] who portrayed the African-American as an ignorant, sentimental buffoon to audiences who accepted this stereotype uncritically. The genre was typified by such songs as ‘I’s Jes’ a Alambamy Coon.’ Al Jolson represented the last survival of this genre.” The German-based Historical Racial Stereotypes in America website notes: “The coon caricature is one of the most insulting of all anti-black caricatures. The name itself, an abbreviation of raccoon, is dehumanizing. The coon was portrayed as lazy, easily frightened and chronically idle. He acted childish, but he was an adult. Although he often worked as a servant, he was not happy with his status. He was, simply, too lazy or too cynical to attempt to change his lowly position. By the 1900s, coons were increasingly identified with young, urban blacks who disrespected whites.”
Mulatto: quadroon, octoroon, (macaroon, calhoun), spade – According to Zolo Agona Azania, who prefers Afrikan to African, “Mulatto is a person having one Caucasian and one Afrikan parent. Quadroon is a person having one-quarter (¼) Afrikan blood and the rest Caucasian. Octoroon is one who has one eighth (1/8) Afrikan blood, the offspring of a Caucasian person and a quadroon. Sambo is a word used by the Caucasian to define Afrikan men as humble pets, apes, beasts, stupid, dumb creatures and rapists white women. Coon is a slang derogatory term short for ‘raccoon’ used offensively against Afrikan people describing them as watermelon eating thieves. The watermelon is native to Afrika. Colored is a person having mixed Afrikan, Indian, and Caucasian blood, or a dark-skinned people of Afrikan descent. Nigger is Latin for blacken, darken, dirty, denigrate, disgraceful, belittle or defame. Negro is Spanish for . . . dark, dirty, or someone that is no good. Black is English for dirty, shameful, ugly, evil, sadness and everything negative. “The aim of the Caucasian was not only to enslave Afrikan people physically, but, also to enslave them psychologically. The Afrikan was forced by violence to denounce their heritage. Afrikan babies were brainwashed from the cradle to believe they were members of the so-called colored, nigger, or negro race.” Spade: word origins: “The racist usage of spade dates from the 1920s and is American in origin. It [seems to derive] from the card suit, as in black as the ace of spades.” Please note that “macaroon and Calhoun” are on this list only because they rhyme; nobody called African-Americans coconut cookies, although some of them undoubtedly sport the last name Calhoun, a legacy from slave days. Frederick Douglass – This is from Frederickdouglass.org. “Frederick Douglass was born in a slave cabin, in February, 1818, near the town of Easton, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Separated from his mother when only a few weeks old he was raised by his grandparents. At about the age of six, his grandmother took him to the plantation of his master and left him there. Not being told by her that she was going to leave him, Douglass never recovered from the betrayal of the abandonment. When he was about eight he was sent to Baltimore to live as a houseboy with Hugh and Sophia Auld, relatives of his master. It was shortly after his arrival that his new mistress taught him the alphabet. When her husband forbade her to continue her instruction, because it was unlawful to teach slaves how to read, Frederick took it upon himself to learn. He made the neighborhood boys his teachers, by giving away his food in exchange for lessons in reading and writing. At about the age of twelve or thirteen Douglass purchased a copy of The Columbian Orator, a popular schoolbook of the time, which helped him to gain an understanding and appreciation of the power of the spoken and the written word, as two of the most effective means by which to bring about permanent, positive change. Returning to the Eastern Shore, at approximately the age of fifteen, Douglass became a field hand, and experienced most of the horrifying conditions that plagued slaves during the 270 years of legalized slavery in America. But it was during this time that he had an encounter with the slavebreaker Edward Covey. Their fight ended in a draw, but the victory was Douglass’, as his challenge to the slavebreaker restored his sense of self-worth. After an aborted escape attempt when he was about eighteen, he was sent back to Baltimore to live with the Auld family, and in early September 1838, at the age of twenty, Douglass succeeded in escaping from slavery by impersonating a sailor. He went first to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he and his new wife Anna Murray began to raise a family. Whenever he could he attended abolitionist meetings, and, in October, 1841, after attending an anti-slavery convention on Nantucket Island, Douglass became a lecturer for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society and a colleague of William Lloyd Garrison. This work led him into public speaking and writing. He published his own newspaper, The North Star, participated in the first women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, in 1848, and wrote three autobiographies. He was internationally recognized as an uncompromising abolitionist, indefatigable worker for justice and equal opportunity, and an unyielding defender of women’s rights. He became a trusted advisor to Abraham Lincoln as well as the United States Marshal for the District of Columbia, the Recorder of Deeds
for Washington, D.C., and Minister-General to the Republic of Haiti. Frederick Douglass sought to embody three keys for success in life: • Believe in yourself. • Take advantage of every opportunity. • Use the power of spoken and written language to effect positive change for yourself and society. Douglass said, “What is possible for me is possible for you.” By taking these keys and making them his own, Frederick Douglass created a life of honor, respect and success that he could never have dreamed of when still a boy on Colonel Lloyd’s plantation on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. “plays the spaniel” - Ida feels that Booker T. acts like “a servile or docile person,” to quote Webster’s, around white people, just as a dog would signify submission through its behavior. Topsy/Uncle Tom – The Virtual Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia describes Topsy as “the first famous picaninny, [a] poorly dressed, disreputable, neglected slave girl. Topsy appeared in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. . . . to show the evils of slavery. Here was an untamable ‘wild child’ who had been indelibly corrupted by slavery. [Picaninnies] were ‘child coons,’ [with] bulging eyes, unkempt hair, red lips, and wide mouths into which they stuffed huge slices of watermelon. They were themselves tasty morsels for alligators. They were routinely shown on postcards, posters, and other ephemera being chased or eaten. Picaninnies were portrayed as nameless, shiftless natural buffoons running from alligators and toward fried chicken. “Stowe hoped that readers would be heartbroken by the tribulations of Topsy, and would help end slavery—which, she believed, produced many similar children. Her book, while leading some Americans to question the morality of slavery, was used by others to trivialize slavery’s brutality [and] was soon a staple character in minstrel shows. The stage Topsy . . . was a happy, mirthful character who reveled in her misfortune. [She] was still dirty, with kinky hair and ragged clothes, but these traits were transformed into comic props—as was her misuse of the English language. No longer a sympathetic figure, Topsy became, simply, a harmless coon. Her imitators remained popular from the early 1850s well into the 20th century. . . .” At Wikipedia, Uncle Tom is defined as “a derogatory term for a black person who cooperates with white people or protests injustice mildly instead of violently, or who is otherwise perceived to act in a servile and insincere way around white people. The term Uncle Tom comes from the title character of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. “The character of Uncle Tom has dignity in the book; he is strong and capable, but forgiving. It was his servile depiction in the popular stage version that was greatly influential in the development of the epithet. White-haired, shuffling Uncle Tom is supposedly grateful to his master. Essentially, an accusation of being an Uncle Tom or Tomming questions the accused person’s integrity; the implication is that the person is demeaning him- or herself for uncertain benefit, and that African-Americans should not be grateful simply for being treated the way people should expect to be treated, but should instead be confident, independent, and self-sufficient, even if this at times provokes a confrontation. . . .” “Despite being a model slave—hard working, loyal, non-rebellious, and often contented—Tom is sold, cursed, slapped, kicked, flogged, worked like a horse, then beaten to death. He never lifts a hand to hit his masters nor to stop a blow. Tom does not complain, rebel, or run away. This partially explains why the names Uncle Tom and Tom have become terms of disgust for African Americans. Tom’s devotion to his master is superseded only by his devotion to his religious faith. . . . The versions of Uncle Tom that entertained audiences on stages were drained of these noble traits. He was an unthinking religious slave, sometimes happy, often fearful. Significantly, the stage Toms were middle-aged or elderly. He was shown stooped, often with a cane or stick. He was thin, almost emaciated. His eyesight was failing. These depictions of Uncle Tom are inconsistent with Stowe’s Tom who was a ‘broad-chested, strong armed fellow.’ . . . How could slavery be
wrong, argued its proponents, if black servants, males (Toms) and females (Mammies) were contented, loyal servants? The Tom is presented as a smiling, wide-eyed, dark skinned server: fieldworker, cook, butler, porter, or waiter. Unlike the Coon, the Tom is portrayed as a dependable worker, eager to serve. Unlike the Brute, the Tom is docile and non-threatening to Whites. The Tom is often old, physically weak, [and] psychologically dependent on whites for approval. . . .” Phoenix (from the ashes) – a phoenix is a mythological bird (last seen in the movie Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) of Egyptian origin that consumes itself in fire and rises renewed from the ashes, thus being indestructible. (There is a) balm in Gilead – As Edgar Allen Poe (“The Raven”) well knew, the balm of Gilead is “an Old Testament reference to divine deliverance” from pain or misfortune. In the ancient Gilead area east of the River Jordan, the “gum” of a certain evergreen was used to heal wounds; in the Bible’s Book of Jeremiah the prophet, wearied by trials and tribulations, asks if there is no spiritual equivalent to it. Many African Americans wondered the same thing. Counter clocking (his every move) – Opposing his every move. World’s Fair/Exposition of 1893 – According to the interactive website Guide to the World’s Columbian Exposition, as the Fair was actually called, “As early as 1880, advocates argues that a special exposition should mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus sailing to the New World. By 1888, the movement gained enough momentum to begin being taken seriously by the public, and by government officials. . . . In an effort to woo the U. S. Congress to select their city, Chicago businesses raised $5,000,000 to pledge to the Fair, and promised to double the amount if Chicago was selected. After eight ballots, Congress finally selected Chicago as the site. . . . “The World’s Columbian Commission quickly laid the groundwork for the exposition and formally notified the President of the United States that all of the preliminary requirements of the Congressional act [establishing the Fair] had been fulfilled. He then issued a proclamation of invitation to all nations. This proclamation was accompanied by a letter from the Secretaries of State and of the Treasury detailing regulations and instructions for foreign exhibitors, as well as a prospectus for the World’s Congress Auxiliary. . . . For two years before opening day, the Department [of Publicity and Promotion of the Exposition] sent out 2,000 to 3,000 mail packages per day. Circulars, pamphlets, and books were distributed in all majors languages. Nearly every rail station in Europe featured a flier showing a view of the exposition. . . . The excitement level was such that there was not sufficient space on the site [of] more than 5 million square feet . . . for the size and scope of the plans of all of the participating nations. The exhibition truly marked the first World’s Fair, as it was the first opportunity for all nations to exhibit their resources and goods on neutral ground”--but not African Americans. Weaker vessel – women, as defined in the Biblical New Testament, 1st Book of Peter, chapter 3, verses 1-7: “1Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the Word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. 7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker [vessel] and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your
prayers.” Race woman/man – The historian Runoko Rashidi has this to say about these terms: “Race Men and Race Women [were] black people whose whole mission was uplifting the race in the 19th and 20th century. . . We need to be race men . . . and race women. . . . We could liberate ourselves tomorrow if we asked ourselves before every conscious act, . . . ‘How does this advance the future of Afrikan people?’ . . . Brothas and Sistahs we could take our destiny in our own hands and do anything we want to do . . . if we believe in ourselves . . . and if we’re willing to work together and submerge our petty egos . . . for the common good . . . and say not, ‘What is good for me?’ individually . . . but ‘What is good for my people?’. . . And once we embrace that freedom is right here in our grasp. . . Somebody say amen. [Amen. . .applause]” Paul and Silas fled their captors –Acts of the Apostles, chapter 16, verses 16-26: 16:16 It happened, as we were going to prayer, that a certain girl having a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much gain by fortune telling. 16:17 Following Paul and us, she cried out, ”These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation!” 16:18 She was doing this for many days. But Paul, becoming greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” It came out that very hour. 16:19 But when her masters saw that the hope of their gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas, and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 16:20 When they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men, being Jews, are agitating our city, 16:21 and set forth customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans.” 16:22 The multitude rose up together against them, and the magistrates tore their clothes off of them, and commanded them to be beaten with rods. 16:23 When they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely, 16:24 who, having received such a charge, threw them into the inner prison, and secured their feet in the stocks. 16:25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 16:26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were loosened. Republican party and African Americans – The GOP of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, recounts the history of the Republican party and African Americans:
• The roots of the Republican party lay in the opposition to slavery. • Republicans dealt the death blow to slavery with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the passage, by a Republican Congress, of the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery. • Republicans passed a Civil Rights Act in 1866 recognizing blacks as U.S. citizens. • Republicans proposed the 14th Amendment, which became part of the Constitution in 1868. • Republicans proposed and passed the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed voting rights regardless of race, creed or previous condition of servitude. Abolishing slavery. Free speech. Women’s suffrage. In today’s stereotypes, none of these sounds like a typical Republican issue, yet they are stances the Republican Party, in opposition to the Democratic Party, adopted early on. “Reducing the government. Streamlining the bureaucracy. Returning power to the states. These issues
don’t sound like they would be the promises of the party of Lincoln, the party that fought to preserve the national union, but they are, and logically so. With a core belief in the idea of the primacy of individuals, the Republican Party, since its inception, has been at the forefront of the fight for individuals’ rights in opposition to a large, bloated government. . . .” Quotable Quotes Caesar: I could be well moved if I were as you; If I could pray to move, prayers would move me: But I am constant as the Northern Star, Of whose true-fixed and resting quality There is no fellow in the firmament. Julius Caesar, Act III, sc. 1. This flattering Shakespeare quote—“Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them”—is applied to Malvolio in a letter purportedly from the object of his affection, Olivia (it’s really from her maid Maria, part of a scheme to discount Malvolio in Olivia’s eyes). Ida Wells uses it to emphasize her lack of respect for Booker T. Washington. “He dwells but in the suburbs of my good pleasure,” Ida says of Booker T. Washington, paraphrasing Brutus’ wife Portia: “Dwell I but in the suburbs/Of your good pleasure?” (Julius Caesar, Act II, sc. 1). While Portia is wondering why Brutus is keeping a secret from her, Ida applies the meaning of Portia’s statement—that there is distance between herself and her husband—to tell us that she feels no closeness with Washington. “Lay on, Macduff, and damned be him that first cries, ‘Hold, enough!’” Macbeth, in his eponymous play, challenges Macduff with this phrase in act V, scene 8, despite the fact that Macduff has just revealed that, according to the prophesies Macbeth has been following, Macduff is the person to end Macbeth’s reign. The phrase signals their “fight to the finish,” which Ida vows to emulate in her fight to end prejudice. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep, Let your laughter be turned to mourning And your joy to heaviness. The Apostle James advises Christians to do this to draw closer to God (James 4:1); Ida may be thinking more literally, rather in the spirit of Ecclesiastes: “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; . . .” “Could Heaven look on and not take their part?” Ida is stunned when she learns about the lynching of 3 of her friends who had the nerve to open a dry goods store for African Americans, in open competition with the white-owned store. She is thinking of Macduff’s agony, in act IV, scene 3, when he learns that Macbeth has had Lady Macduff and their children murdered in an attempt to stop Macduff from opposing him. “The world is out of joint. O cursed spite!/That ever I was born to set it right.” With Ida’s 3 shopkeeper friends lynched, and herself under threat of lynching for denouncing the mob that did it if she does not leave town, Barnett nonetheless resolves to continue her fight to end lynching. She is thinking of Hamlet, who, having learned from his father’s ghost that he had been murdered by his own brother, accepts the Ghost’s charge to punish his murderer: “The time is out of joint;—O cursed spite,/That ever I was born to set it right!”
(Act I, scene 5). Ida quotes Rabbi Hillel: “Hither, if I am not for myself, who will be for me; if I am for myself alone, what am I? If not now, when?” Eliezer C. Abrahamson says, “The great Talmudic sage Hillel made this statement. It can be found in the Talmud in tractate Avos (also know as Pirkei Avos) 1:14.” “Which of my bad parts did you fall in love with?” Ida wonders aloud to Ferdinand Barnett, much as Benedick questions Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, act V, scene 2: “I pray thee now, tell me for which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?” Ferdinand Barnett tells Ida B. Wells, “The very instant that I saw you, did my heart fly to your service. That I should love a bright particular star that to wed it . . . she who is so above . . .” He is quoting his literary “namesake,” Ferdinand, beloved of Miranda in Shakespeare’s The Tempest: “Hear my soul speak:/The very instant that I saw you, did/My heart fly to your service, there resides/To make me slave to it,” in the first scene of act I. Ferdinand vows, “I do love you dearer than eyesight, space and liberty. I will live in thy heart, and die in thy lap, and be buried in thine eyes; and yes, moreover, I will go with thee.” Again from Much Ado (Act V, sc. 2), Benedick assures Beatrice that “I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap and be buried in thy eyes; and moreover, I will go with thee to thy uncle’s,” thus equating Beatrice’s uncle with something dire and even dangerous, fool that Benedick is! “I feel now the future in the instant,” Ida tells her Ferdinand, expressing what she sees as her joyful destiny to work and live with him. It has a rather dark though still triumphant meaning in its original source, as Lady Macbeth greets her lord (act I, scene 5) with murderous intent behind this sentence since she knows that the witches he met foretold his becoming king, and what with the king alive and even healthy, well, what’s an ambitious couple to do? “‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished,” Ida says as she approaches the Heavenly banquet. She quotes Hamlet, act III, scene 1, from Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy, in which he contemplates suicide, or death, at any rate, rather than continue to pursue his uncle for Hamlet’s father’s murder. Momma, if you don’t go and help these men in Arkansas, no one else will. This is not from Shakespeare, but from one of Wells’ sons, who understood that his mother was the only person who could help a group of black men who were being held in jail on trumped up charges. Ida had announced to her husband and children that it was time for someone else to take care of them, not her, but her son’s simple, earnest question changed her opinion completely. The FBI list The Federal Bureau of Investigation is keeping track of Miss Ida B. and a number of her “radical” contemporaries. Here’s some information about these dangerous people. James Weldon Johnson – The Academy of American Poets notes that “James Weldon Johnson was born in 1871 in Jacksonville, Florida. He was encouraged to study English literature and the European musical tradition. He attended Atlanta University with the intention that the education he received there would be used to further the interests of the black people. After graduation, he took a job as a high school principal in Jacksonville. “In 1900, he wrote the song ‘Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing’ on the occasion of Lincoln’s birthday, the song
which became immensely popular in the black community . . . as the ‘Negro National Anthem.’ Johnson moved to New York in 1901 to collaborate with his brother Rosamond, a composer, and attained some success as a songwriter for Broadway, but decided to take a job as U.S. Consul to Venezuela in 1906. While employed by the diplomatic corps, Johnson had poems published in Century Magazine and The Independent. “In 1912, Johnson published The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man under a pseudonym, the story of a musician who rejects his black roots for a life of material comfort in the white world. The novel explores the issue of racial identity in the 20th century, a common theme in the writing of the Harlem Renaissance. “He had a talent for persuading people of differing ideological agendas to work together for a common goal, and in 1920 he became the national organizer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He edited The Book of American Negro Poetry (1922), a major contribution to the history of African-American literature. [He also is the author, with his brother, of The Book of American Negro Spirituals which I have quoted in the section about gospel songs performed in Constant Star.] His book of poetry God’s Trombones (1927) was influenced by his impressions of the rural South, drawn from a trip he took to Georgia while a freshman in college. It was this trip that ignited his interest in the African-American folk tradition. “James Weldon Johnson died in 1938.” William Monroe Trotter – The Hall of Black Achievement says, “William Monroe Trotter, a reform journalist and militant civil rights leader, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated from the Hyde Park High School in 1890 as an honor student and entered Harvard University, where he received his Bachelor’s degree magna cum laude. He had been elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor fraternity during his junior year. “Trotter’s career was launched in Boston as a real estate broker, but his ultimate goal was achieved in 1901, when he established the militant newspaper, The Guardian. The main purpose of the newspaper was ‘propaganda against discrimination based on color and denial of citizenship rights because of color.’ “The Guardian became a national institution. . . . [Trotter] opposed all compromises on civil rights, whether they were proposed by Booker T. Washington or President William Howard Taft. [One evening in 1903], at the Columbus Avenue African Zion Church in Boston, Booker T. Washington was the featured speaker. Trotter and his followers hissed and interjected remarks to such an extent during the course of Washington’s address that the police had to be called; some sources say that Trotter threw a stench bomb into the audience. Trotter and his cohorts were arrested, fined and sentenced to the Charles Street Jail for 30 days. He detested Washington’s leadership and compromising position, collaborating instead with WEB DuBois, in 1905, in the organization of the Niagara movement, forerunner of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People. . . . “In 1906, he challenged [President] Theodore Roosevelt over the discharge of three companies of the 25th United States Infantry Regiment [comprised of black men] in an incident in Brownsville, Texas: [local residents accused the soldiers of running wild in their town when in fact no misdeeds had occurred.]. In 1910, he organized a successful demonstration against the Negro-baiting play, The Clansman in Boston; and again, in 1915, he picketed the theatre where [the film] Birth of a Nation, [which included scenes championing acts of the Ku Klux Klan] was being shown. He was arrested, tried, and eventually acquitted for this demonstration. “Trotter also led a delegation to protest the discriminatory policy against Negro employees in government offices. His greatest feat occurred in 1919, when the Paris Peace Conference was convened. Trotter applied for a passport and was denied. In order to get around the denial, Trotter learned to cook and to reach Europe, he obtained a job on a trans-Atlantic steamer as a second cook. In Paris, he appeared at the
conference as a delegate of the National Equal Rights League and as Secretary of the Race petitioners to the Peach Conference. Returning home, Trotter continued all of his efforts in the fight for civil rights. William Monroe Trotter was a dedicated man to the cause of civil rights for black people worldwide.” Countee Cullen - Born in 1903 in New York City, Countee Cullen was raised in a Methodist parsonage. He attended De Witt Clinton High School in New York and began writing poetry at the age of fourteen. In 1922, Cullen entered New York University. His poems were published in The Crisis, under the leadership of W. E. B. Du Bois, and Opportunity, a magazine of the National Urban League. He was soon after published in Harper’s, the Century Magazine, and Poetry. He won several awards for his poem, “Ballad of the Brown Girl,” and graduated from New York University in 1923. That same year, Harper published his first volume of verse, Color, and he was admitted to Harvard University where he completed a master’s degree. His second volume of poetry, Copper Sun (1927), met with controversy in the black community because Cullen did not give the subject of race the same attention he had given it in Color. He was raised and educated in a primarily white community, and he differed from other poets of the Harlem Renaissance like Langston Hughes in that he lacked the background to comment from personal experience on the lives of other blacks or use popular black themes in his writing. An imaginative lyric poet, he wrote in the tradition of Keats and Shelley and was resistant to the new poetic techniques of the Modernists. He died in 1946. Mary Church Terrell – Voices from the Gaps has this to say about Ms. Ida B.’s contemporary: “Mary Eliza Church [like Ida] was born in Memphis, Tennessee on September 23, 1863, to Louisa (Ayres) Church and Robert Church, both former slaves. The Church family, however, soon settled into the black middle-class. Her father, Robert, son of Charles Church, his master, and Emmeline, a housemaid, worked on one of his father’s ships as a dishwasher, gaining increasing responsibilities until he was promoted to procurement steward. After the Civil War, Robert opened a prosperous saloon and during the yellow fever epidemic of 1878-79 he, unlike many of Memphis residents, did not abandon his property. Rather, he bought as much land and property as he could and became the first black Memphis millionaire. Louisa Church owned a successful hair salon, the monies from which provided the family with its first home and carriage. “When Church Terrell was about three years old her parents divorced. Her mother was granted custody of the two children, Mary and Thomas. Her father continued to see and support his family and ensured that Mary obtained the best education available to a black woman in the 19th century. In 1891 Church married Robert Terrell, a young lawyer she had met while working at the Colored High School in Washington, DC. Robert Terrell worked for many years in education and law and became the first black judge for the District of Columbia, a post he held for over twenty years (1902-25), through Republican and Democratic presidents. Terrell and Church had one child, Phillis, named after the 18th-century poet Phillis Wheatley. In addition to Phillis, the couple adopted the daughter, Mary, of Church Terrell’s brother Thomas. After both Robert Terrell’s and Thomas Church’s death, Church Terrell also raised her brother’s son, Robert. “Church Terrell . . . , like many other young black women of this era, obtained a Bachelor’s degree in 1884 from Oberlin College, which was run by abolitionists and had admitted blacks in 1835. Instead of taking the Literary or ‘ladies’ course,’ a two-year degree, Mary chose the more intensive Classical or ‘gentlemen’s course,’ a four-year degree. While teaching at the Colored High School, Church Terrell also completed the Masters of Arts degree requirements for Oberlin College, and was granted the degree in 1888. [Thereafter] Mary went on a two-year (1888-90) European tour, a common course for well-todo women and men of the 18th century. . . . It was in Europe that Church Terrell became fluent in French and German, skills that helped her immensely when speaking at suffrage meetings in Europe. “Church Terrell was an indefatigable activist and prolific writer. In 1940 her autobiography, A Colored Woman in a White World, was published. However, this work was a culmination of years of journals and writing about social ills in America. She, [like Ida] had been galvanized into activism by the lynching in 1892 of
her childhood friend, Thomas Moss, and dedicated the rest of her life to uncovering and eradicating injustices. She was involved for many years in the women’s suffrage movement and was a founder of the Colored Women’s league and, later, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). “During the 19th century, professional lecturers covered the country and Church Terrell became one of their number when, in 1892, she accepted a job as lecturer for the Slayton Lyceum Bureau. During this period and up to her death, Church Terrell published extensively in magazines and newspapers of the day. In the latter years of her life, Church Terrell fought tirelessly to uphold the equality laws of Washington, D.C., to put an end to Jim Crow [legislation]. “Church Terrell and her fluent, conversational, measured writings and lectures helped define the era between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of desegregation. Her strong and fair personality permeates all of her writing. Church Terrell, the consummate meddler, was given honorary doctorates from Howard University, and Wilberforce and Oberlin Colleges. A school in Washington, D.C., was named for her and several black women’s clubs are named in her memory. Church Terrell died on July 24, 1954, just two months after Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court decision which ended segregation in America’s schools.” Jane Addams – The Nobel Prize Society remembers their 1931 Peace Prize honoree: “(Laura) Jane Addams (September 6, 1860-May 21, 1935) won worldwide recognition in the first third of the 20th century as a pioneer social worker in America, as a feminist, and as an internationalist. “She was born in Cedarville, Illinois, the eighth of nine children. Her father was a prosperous miller and local political leader who served for sixteen years as a state senator and fought as an officer in the Civil War; he was a friend of Abraham Lincoln whose letters to him began ‘My Dear Double D-’ed Addams.’ Because of a congenital spinal defect, Jane was not physically vigorous when young nor truly robust even later in life, but she became a graceful attractive woman after her spinal difficulty was remedied by surgery. “In 1881 Jane Addams was graduated from the Rockford Female Seminary, the valedictorian of a class of seventeen, but was granted the bachelor’s degree only after the school became accredited the next year as Rockford College for Women. In the course of the next six years she began the study of medicine but left it because of poor health, was hospitalized intermittently, traveled and studied in Europe for twenty-one months, and then spent almost two years in reading and writing and in considering what her future objectives should be. At the age of 27, during a second tour to Europe with her friend Ellen G. Starr, she visited a settlement house, Toynbee Hall, in London’s East End. This visit helped to finalize the idea then current in her mind, that of opening a similar house in an underprivileged area of Chicago. In 1889 she and Miss Starr leased a large home built by Charles Hull at the corner of Halsted and Polk Streets. The two friends moved in, their purpose, as expressed later, being ‘to provide a center for a higher civic and social life; to institute and maintain educational and philanthropic enterprises and to investigate and improve the conditions in the industrial districts of Chicago.’ “Miss Addams and Miss Starr made speeches about the needs of the neighborhood, raised money, convinced young women of well-to-do families to help, took care of children, nursed the sick, listened to outpourings from troubled people. By its second year of existence, Hull-House was host to two thousand people every week. There were kindergarten classes in the morning, club meetings for older children in the afternoon, and for adults in the evening more clubs or courses in what became virtually a night school. The first facility added to Hull-House was an art gallery, the second a public kitchen; then came a coffee house, a gymnasium, a swimming pool, a cooperative boarding club for girls, a book bindery, an art studio, a music school, a drama group, a circulating library, an employment bureau, a labor museum. “As her reputation grew, Miss Addams was drawn into larger fields of civic responsibility. In 1905 she was appointed to Chicago’s Board of Education and subsequently made chairman of the School Management Committee; in 1908 she participated in the founding of the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy and in
the next year became the first woman president of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections. In her own area of Chicago she led investigations on midwifery, narcotics consumption, milk supplies, and sanitary conditions, even going so far as to accept the official post of garbage inspector of the Nineteenth Ward, at an annual salary of a thousand dollars. In 1910 she received the first honorary degree ever awarded to a woman by Yale University. “Charmingly feminine by nature, Jane Addams was an ardent feminist by philosophy. In those days before women’s suffrage she believed that women should make their voices heard in legislation and therefore should have the right to vote, but more comprehensively, she thought that women should generate aspirations and search out opportunities to realize them. “For her own aspiration to rid the world of war, Jane Addams created opportunities or seized those offered to her to advance the cause. In 1906 she gave a course of lectures at the University of Wisconsin summer session which she published the next year as a book, Newer Ideals of Peace. She spoke for peace in 1913 at a ceremony commemorating the building of the Peace Palace at The Hague and in the next two years, as a lecturer sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation, spoke against America’s entry into the First World War. In January 1915, she accepted the chairmanship of the Women’s Peace Party, an American organization, and four months later the presidency of the International Congress of Women convened at The Hague [Holland]. . . . When this congress later founded the organization called the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Jane Addams served as president until 1929, as presiding officer of its six international conferences in those years, and as honorary president for the remainder of her life. “Publicly opposed to America’s entry into the war, Miss Addams was attacked in the press and expelled from the Daughters of the American Revolution, but she found an outlet for her humanitarian impulses as an assistant to Herbert Hoover in providing relief supplies of food to the women and children of the enemy nations, the story of which she told in her book Peace and Bread in Time of War (1922). “After sustaining a heart attack in 1926, Miss Addams never fully regained her health. Indeed, she was being admitted to a Baltimore hospital on the very day, December 10, 1931, that the Nobel Peace Prize was being awarded to her in Oslo. She died in 1935 three days after an operation revealed unsuspected cancer. The funeral service was held in the courtyard of Hull-House.” Susan B. Anthony - According to The History Net, “Susan B. Anthony (February 15, 1820 - March 13, 1906) was raised in Battensville, New York, as a Quaker [she was born in Adams, Massachusetts]. She taught for a few years at a Quaker seminary and from there became a headmistress at a women’s division of a school. At 29 years old [newly settled in Rochester, New York,] Anthony became involved in abolitionism and then temperance. A friendship with Amelia Bloomer led to a meeting with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was to become her lifelong partner in political organizing, especially for women’s rights and woman suffrage. “Stanton, married and mother to a number of children, served as the writer and ideaperson of the two, and Susan B. Anthony, never married, was more often the organizer and the one who traveled, spoke widely, and bore the brunt of antagonistic public opinion. “After the Civil War, discouraged that those working for ‘Negro’ suffrage were willing to continue to exclude women from voting rights, Anthony became more focused on woman suffrage. She helped to found the American Equal Rights Association in 1866, and in 1868 with Stanton as editor, became publisher of Revolution. Stanton and Anthony founded the National Woman Suffrage Association, larger than its rival American Woman Suffrage Association with which it finally merged in 1890. “In 1872, in an attempt to claim that the constitution already permitted women to vote, Susan B. Anthony cast a test vote in Rochester, . . . in the presidential election. She was found guilty, though she refused to pay the resulting fine (and no attempt was made to force her to do so). “In her later years, Anthony worked closely with Carrie Chapman Catt, retiring from active leadership
of the suffrage movement in 1900 and turning over presidency of the NAWSA to Catt. She worked with Stanton and Mathilda Gage [of Fayetteville; see The Wizard of Oz for her biography] on a History of Woman Suffrage. “In her writings, Anthony occasionally mentioned abortion. Anthony opposed abortion which at the time was an unsafe medical procedure for women, endangering their health and life. She blamed men, laws and the ‘double standard’ [that men were free to have sex as they wished, while women were cast out of family, home and society for doing likewise] for driving women to abortion because they had no other options. (‘When a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is a sign that, by education or circumstances, she has been greatly wronged.’ 1869) She believed, as did many of the feminists of her era, that only the achievement of women’s equality and freedom would end the need for abortion. Anthony used her anti-abortion writings as yet another argument for women’s rights. “Some of Anthony’s writings were also quite racist by today’s standards, particularly those from the period when she was angry that the Fifteenth Amendment wrote the word ‘male’ into the constitution for the first time in permitting suffrage for freedmen. She sometimes argued that educated white women would be better voters than ‘ignorant’ black men or immigrant men. In the late 1860s she even portrayed the vote of freedmen as threatening the safety of white women. George Francis Train, whose capital helped launch Anthony and Stanton’s Revolution newspaper, was a noted racist. “In 1979, Anthony’s image was chosen for the new dollar coin, making her the first woman to be depicted on US currency. The size of the dollar was, however, close to that of the quarter, and the Anthony dollar never became very popular. In 1999 the US government announced the replacement of the Anthony dollar with one featuring the image of Sacagawea.” W.E.B. DuBois - The Hall of Black Achievement has this to say: “William Edward Burghardt DuBois, outstanding among Negro intellectuals and a militant civil rights leader, was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. His childhood in New England was a happy one until he experienced his first rejection because he was a Negro, when he was sharply snubbed by a newcomer at a school party. This incident helped set the course of a gifted youth’s life. He became determined to establish a record of excellence in all of his school activities. At the age of sixteen, he graduated from college preparatory school with honors. Because of the influence of his mother and one of his teachers, he went to Fisk University instead of Harvard, where he had planned to study. “In 1888, DuBois entered Harvard, where he won the Boylston oratorical contest and was one of the six commencement speakers. After two years of study in Germany, he returned to America, receiving his Ph.D. in 1895. He accepted appointments to teach at Wilberforce University and the University of Pennsylvania before moving to Atlanta University to head the department of history and economics for 13 years. Here he wrote, for the Atlantic Monthly, World’s Work and other magazines, articles that later were collected in The Souls of Black Folk, a sociological study of the Negro people. “Infuriated by the compromising leadership of Booker T. Washington at the turn of the century and by the denial of protection of Negro citizens as race riots spread throughout the North, DuBois backed the Niagara movement, advocating civil rights for Negroes. When the Springfield, Illinois, race riot shocked a group of liberal whites into forming a civil rights group, which later became the NAACP, they invited the participants of the Niagara movement to join them. With the establishment of the NAACP, DuBois became the editor of its Crisis magazine. “In 1919, he launched the Pan-African Congresses in Paris, to focus world opinion on the conditions and status of black men. In his fight against discrimination and economic exploitation of the Negro, DuBois published books, articles, and poems to set forth his views. Some of his works are: The Suppression of the
African Slave Trade, 1896; John Brown, 1909; Darkwater, 1920; Black Reconstruction, 1935; Black Folk Then and Now; Color and Democracy, 1945; and The World and Africa. At the time of his death, he was living in Ghana and serving as editor in chief of the Encyclopedia Africana. “DuBois was generally recognized as one of the most incisive thinkers and effective platform orators in the United States, as well as one of the most profound scholars of his time and generation.” Richard Wright - Richard Nathan Wright was born September 4, 1908, in Roxie, Mississippi, the son of Nathan Wright, an illiterate sharecropper, and Ella Wilson Wright, a schoolteacher; he was the grandson of slaves. In 1911 Ella took Richard and [his brother] Leon Alan to Natchez to live with her family; their father later joined them, finding work in a sawmill. In 1913, the four Wrights moved to Memphis, Tennessee. But within a year, Nathan deserted them for another woman and Ella worked as a cook to support the family. In September 1915, Richard entered school at Howe Institute. However, Ella fell ill early in 1916 and Nathan’s mother came for a while to care for the family. When she left, Richard and Alan had to live for a brief time in an orphanage until Ella [arranged to] have them live with her parents in Jackson, Mississippi. [Soon thereafter] Richard, Alan, and Ella moved with Ella’s sister Maggie and her husband Silas Hoskins to Elaine, Arkansas. But whites murdered Hoskins, and the family ran, [first] to West Helena, Arkansas, and then to Jackson, Mississippi. After a few months, they returned to West Helena, where Ella and Maggie cooked and cleaned for whites. Soon, Aunt Maggie moved north to Detroit with her new lover. Richard again entered school in the fall of 1918, but was forced to leave after a few months because his mother’s poor health [required] him . . . to support the family, [including gathering] coal next to the railroad tracks in order to heat the home. When his mother suffered a paralyzing stroke, [Richard and his mother returned] to Jackson, and Aunt Maggie took Leon Alan to Detroit with her. At the age of 13, Richard entered the fifth grade [but] was soon placed in sixth grade. He delivered newspapers and worked briefly with a traveling insurance salesman. The next year, when he entered the seventh grade, his grandfather died. [Richard] managed to earn enough to buy textbooks, food, and clothes by running errands for whites. In the meantime he read pulp novels, magazines, and anything he could get his hands on. During the winter, he wrote his first short story, “The Voodoo of Hell’s Half-Acre,” published in 1924 in the Jackson Southern Register. In May 1925, Wright graduated valedictorian of his ninth grade. He began high school, but as Leon Alan had returned from Detroit, quit after only a few weeks to earn money. At times he worked two or even three jobs. In [time], Richard read H. L. Mencken, and from Mencken, Wright learned about and read Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, Sherwood Anderson, Frank Harris, and others. [After he] and Aunt Maggie moved to Chicago . . . he worked as a dishwasher and delivery boy until finding temporary employment with the postal service. Soon his mother, brother and Aunt Cleopatra joined Richard and Aunt Maggie in Chicago. He made friends, both black and white, in the post office, wrote regularly, and attended meetings of black literary groups. Following the stock market crash Wright lost his postal job, but began work, in 1930, on a novel, Cesspool, published posthumously as Lawd Today!, that reflects his experience in the post office. In 1931 Wright published a short story, “Superstition,” in Abbott’s Monthly Magazine, a black journal that failed before Wright collected any money from them. [About that time he began] to write through the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP). He also became a member of the Communist Party and published poetry and short stories in such magazines as Left Front, Anvil, and New Masses. In New York for the American Writers’ Congress, he spoke on “The Isolation of the Negro Writer.” He published a poem about lynching in The Partisan Review and wrote an article for New Masses entitled “Joe Louis Uncovers Dynamite.” After his return [to Chicago], he was hired by the FWP to research the history of Illinois and of the Negro in Chicago. His short story “Big Boy Leaves Home” (1936) appeared in The New Caravan anthology, where it attracted mainstream critical attention. In 1937 Richard Wright . . . became the Harlem editor of the Communist paper, Daily Worker. He helped to launch the magazine New Challenge [“Blueprint for Negro Writing” appeared in the first and only
issue . . .], and published “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow” in American Stuff: WPA Writers’ Anthology. A second novel manuscript, Tarbaby’s Dawn, made the rounds with publishers and . . . was never published, but “Fire and Cloud” won first prize in a Story Magazine contest. The next year, Uncle Tom’s Children was published in March to wide acclaim. “Bright and Morning Star” appeared in New Masses, [whose] editorial board [he joined]. [Working] on a new novel he asked Margaret Walker to send him newspaper clippings from the Robert Nixon case in Chicago [and] in October, he finished the first draft of . . . Native Son. “Fire and Cloud” won the O. Henry Memorial Award. By February 1939 he completed a second draft of Native Son. After winning a Guggenheim Fellowship, Wright resigned from the FWP. In June, he finished Native Son and married Dhima Rose Meadman, a white modern dance teacher. Ralph Ellison was his best man. He began a new novel, Little Sister, which was never published. Native Son was published in 1940, a Book-of-the-Month Club main selection. Though the book was banned in Birmingham, Alabama, libraries, Wright became internationally famous. Unhappy with the stage adaptation of Native Son, Wright and John Houseman revised it for Orson Welles, [who] staged it successfully on Broadway in 1941. Wright expressed his opposition to [WWII] first by signing onto an anti-war appeal by the League of American Writers, and second by publishing “Not My People’s War.” Both items appeared in New Masses in 1941. He criticized Roosevelt’s racial policies in a speech to the NAACP, although Communist Party pressure forced him to soften his critique. Wright’s “Note on Jim Crow Blues” prefaced blues singer Josh White’s Southern Exposure album, and Paul Robeson, accompanied by the Count Basie orchestra, recorded Wright’s blues song, “King Joe.” Twelve Million Black Voices: A Folk History of the Negro in the United States was published [about this time]. . . . Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Wright signed a petition, which appeared in New Masses, supporting America’s entry into the war [but] was not drafted because he was his family’s sole support. He unsuccessfully tried to secure a special commission in the psychological warfare or propaganda services of the army. [Soon after] “The Man Who Lived Underground” appeared in Accent and “What You Don’t Know Won’t Hurt You” in Harper’s, he broke quietly with the Communist Party. Wright began American Hunger. In 1943 the FBI began interviewing Wright’s associates and neighbors, presumably to determine if Twelve Million Black Voices constituted sedition, but while that [specific] inquiry concluded during 1943, the FBI’s investigations continued until Wright’s death. The Book-of-the-Month Club told Harper that it only wanted the first section of American Hunger, which describes Wright’s southern experience. Wright agreed to this demand and titled the new volume Black Boy. The second section was not published until 1977 (as American Hunger). “I Tried to Be a Communist” appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, causing New Masses and Daily Worker to denounce and disown Wright. Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth was published in March 1945, [and was] on the bestseller list from 29 April until 6 June. . . In 1947, a Hollywood producer offered to film Native Son, but wanted to change Bigger Thomas to a white man; Wright refused. He decided to move the family to Europe permanently, in reaction to the continued racism he encountered in America. While in France, Wright took a growing interest in anti-colonial movements and also traveled extensively, [taking time to] play Bigger in a motion picture of Native Son made in Argentina in 1951. Late in 1952, Wright began working on a novel about a white psychopathic murderer. The Outsider (1953) was acclaimed as the first American existential novel. Three later novels were not well received. Among his polemical writings of that period was White Man, Listen! (1957), which was originally a series of lectures given in Europe. [Also that year] Pagan Spain appeared. It failed to sell well, despite favorable
reviews. In 1958 Wright finished The Long Dream, his novel about Mississippi, and began to work on its sequel, Island of Hallucinations, set in France. The Long Dream . . . received poor and even hostile reviews, and did not sell well. On 14 January, 1959, Wright’s mother died. In February, Wright met with Martin Luther King, Jr., on his way to India. . . . Asked for substantial revisions on Island of Hallucinations, Wright shelved it and never completed it. In the spring, his play Daddy Goodness opened in Paris. The Best American Stories of 1958 included Wright’s “Big Black Good Man.” A stage adaptation of The Long Dream opened on Broadway February 17, 1960, to poor reviews and closed within a week. Of his completed haiku, Wright prepared 811 for publication. He began a new novel, A Father’s Law, but on returning to Paris in September, fell ill. He prepared Eight Men, a collection of short stories, which was published in 1961. On November 28, 1960, Wright died of a heart attack. He was cremated along with a copy of Black Boy [and] his ashes placed at Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris. The autobiographical American Hunger, which narrates Wright’s experiences after moving to the North, was published posthumously in 1977. A. Philip Randolph - [Since I downloaded this information PBS.org has “retired” the webpage; I’m sorry that it’s no longer available online, but I can’t resist running it just the same. I have listed another website you might try instead in Sources Consulted.]] Asa Philip Randolph was born April 15, 1889, in Crescent City, Florida, one of two sons of Reverend James William and Elizabeth Robinson Randolph, both descendants of slaves. His father was an African Methodist Episcopalian (AME) minister, whose parishioners were poor domestic servants and unskilled laborers. The AME church had historically been a center of black radical politics since the 18th century. The Reverend was well-read and his views reflected the daily mandatory reading of books and religious magazines he imposed on himself and his sons. The Randolphs moved to Jacksonville in 1891, where both Asa and his older brother, James, excelled in school. Both graduated at the top of their classes at the Cookman Institute, the first high school for African Americans in Florida. With no funds for college, Randolph was reduced to menial work. In the spring of 1911, he traveled to New York with a friend, secretly hoping to become an actor. He arrived in Harlem at a time of great fervor, part of two great migrations, one by Southern blacks and the other by European immigrants. The result was an urban landscape of remarkable contrasts— tremendous ethnic diversity, congested streets, and crowded technological innovations alongside terrible poverty and overcrowded housing. Intellectually, culturally and politically, Harlem was thriving with ideas; the Harlem Renaissance was in full bloom. The European communities contributed to the spread of cultural and political ideologies of socialism and communism, and a wave of progressive reform challenged the rise of big business and industrialization. Randolph took classes at City College, and, bowing to his parents objections to an acting career, switched from drama to politics and economics, soon joining the Socialist party. During this time, Randolph met his future wife, Lucille Green, a 31-year-old widow from Christianburg, Virginia. Trained as a teacher, she quit teaching when her husband died, and became a beautician with her own salon where she maintained a lucrative business. Randolph and his wife were devoted to each other and sustained a lifelong partnership, though Randolph’s radical activities often cost Lucille clientele. Randolph soon made another long-term acquaintance, Chandler Owen, a student from North Carolina, studying sociology and political science at Columbia University. The two shared political ideas and would soon become soap box orators and establish The Messenger, a radical Harlem magazine, in 1917. The formation of The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) was considered the first serious effort to organize [a union at] the Pullman Company. The Pullman Company was among the most powerful business organizations in the country, and it viciously resisted efforts to unionize. After federal control of the railroads ended in 1920, Pullman created a company union to stifle outside organization efforts. The porters
sought out Randolph because they considered him a good orator, a tireless fighter for the rights of African Americans and, most importantly, because he was not a porter, he was immune from Pullman vengeance. In August of 1925, the BSCP was officially launched. With recruits increasing, Pullman struck back with a spy system, threats and firings, [and] subsidized efforts by the African-American press to wage an allout offensive against the union. Ministers and politicians joined in the attack, decrying the Brotherhood as “reds” and “Communists” who dared attack the Pullman Company, the “benefactor of the Negro race.” Randolph and the Brotherhood struggled with Pullman for 12 years. In time, the Brotherhood’s courageous battles won the admiration of many labor and liberal leaders, including the American Federation of Labor (AF of L). The AF of L leadership saw the bitterly anti-Communist Brotherhood as a bastion against the influence of communism among the black working class. The churches and African-American newspapers eventually joined the NAACP and local members of the National Urban League in supporting the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood had come to be viewed as a symbol of the African American’s claim to dignity, respect and a decent livelihood. Despite many setbacks, the Brotherhood eventually prevailed. Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation guaranteed workers the right to organize and required corporations to negotiate with unions. In 1935, the Pullman Company was forced to sit down with the Brotherhood. Randolph moved to secure formal affiliation with the AF of L and was finally granted an international charter. . . . In 1937, the Brotherhood . . . finally obtained a contract with the Pullman Company, the first contract ever between a company and a black union. Randolph emerged as one of the first major black labor leaders in the country. Randolph . . . became a very visible national spokesperson for African-American rights in the 1940s and 1950s. He focused his attention on the rising number of blacks on relief and the number of defense industry jobs that were increasing with the war effort heating up. These jobs traditionally excluded blacks. Randolph proposed the March on Washington—a mass action protest to demand change. The African-American community embraced the plan enthusiastically, and a band of young militants threw themselves into the project with fervor. Under pressure, President Roosevelt finally signed an executive order banning discrimination within the government and among the defense industries that won government contracts. A Fair Employment Practices Committee was set up to implement the order. Randolph called off the march. The young militants felt betrayed, even though Randolph reminded them that the executive order was what they had sought. In 1947, Randolph again clashed with a president over civil rights for African Americans. President Truman called for a peacetime draft, but failed to include a provision against segregation. Randolph founded the Committee Against Jim Crow in Military Service and Training. Within a year, the group became the League for Non-Violent Civil Disobedience Against Military Segregation and called for blacks to refuse to register for the draft or to serve if called. Truman met with Randolph and other African-American leaders, but refused to be persuaded. Amid dissension in the black community, Randolph testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee and continued to pressure Truman. At last the president relented: On July 26, 1948, Truman issued an executive order barring discrimination in the military. Believing they had achieved their purpose, Randolph called off the non-violent civil disobedience campaign, again angering the young militants who were hungry for action. By the early 1950s, the civil rights movement was coalescing. Brown v. the Board of Education was before the Supreme Court. The Montgomery bus boycott was heating up in Alabama and with its subsequent success, Martin Luther King, Jr., suddenly came to the nation’s attention. Randolph had successes with progress in government practices, but there continued to be troubles for blacks in organized labor. . . . George Meany—a friendly, but old protagonist of Randolph’s—became head of the new [AFL-CIO]. When Randolph stood to make his annual address against racism at the 1959 convention, Meany, pressured by the civil rights movement, rebuffed Randolph angrily. Randolph’s fights inside the AFL-CIO were taking place in the late 1950s during a time of harsh economic recession that was disproportionately affecting blacks. Randolph called for a March on Washington
for Jobs and Freedom. Bayard Rustin—one of the young militants who had denounced Randolph in the 1940s as a reactionary sell-out—made peace with Randolph by the ’50s and became the chief organizer. Trade unions provided organizational and financial support, although Meany refused to endorse the march. Randolph was a bridge between the many different groups participating in the march and kept the coalition from splintering. The march took place on August 28, 1963. It was an emotional event for Randolph, whose wife Lucille had died a few months before. A crowd of 250,000 participated in a peaceful demonstration. Randolph, Martin Luther King, Jr., and other leaders met with President Kennedy afterward. Within a year, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed. Over the next decade, Randolph became entrenched as the elder statesman of the civil rights movement. When he died in 1979, Randolph’s funeral was attended by a host of luminaries led by President Jimmy Carter. Jack Johnson - Ron Flatter, writing for ESPN.com, poses this “easy question: Who was the man named Jack who broke a color barrier in sports?” [Jackie Robinson, right?] “Harder question: Name another. “ . . . In 1908, 39 years before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball, there was Jack Johnson—the first black man to hold the world heavyweight championship. “Johnson is still considered one of the best, most powerful counter-punchers who ever stepped in a ring. Once he won the title, he would not relinquish it for more than six years. But Johnson is often remembered more for a flamboyant lifestyle that, coupled with his skin color in ‘White America,’ inspired unprecedented controversy and even rioting. “He transformed himself from the docks of Galveston, Texas, [born March 31, 1878, John Arthur Johnson would spend much of his childhood working on the boats and sculleries of his native Galveston] to early 20th-century glitterati. He had his own jazz band, owned a Chicago nightclub, acted on stage, drove flashy yellow sports cars, reputedly walked his pet leopard while sipping champagne, flaunted gold teeth that went with his gold-handled walking stick and boasted of his conquests of whites—both in and out of the ring. “Johnson kept the company of some of his era’s most desired women, most of them white: Moulin Rouge star Mistinguette. German spy Mata Hari. Sex symbols Lupe Velez and Mae West. Johnson was romantically linked to all. “Johnson was also a fugitive for seven years, having been accused of violating a white slavery act with a woman who would become his third wife. “All these things would have been lost in obscurity were it not for the fact Johnson was the most dominant boxer of his time. The Ring Record Book lists his record as 79-8 with 46 knockouts, 12 draws and 14 no-decisions. “If there was one fight that forged Johnson’s celebrity, it was against Jim Jeffries, the former heavyweight champ who had been in retirement five years. Famed promoter Tex Rickard lured more than 22,000 fans to Reno, Nev., on July 4, 1910, for the first ‘Fight of the Century,’ the bout matching the outspoken African American against ‘The Great White Hope.’ Johnson became the first to floor Jeffries, whose corner gave up in the 15th round. ‘I could never have whipped Johnson at my best,’ Jeffries said. ‘I couldn’t have hit him. No, I couldn’t have reached him in 1,000 years.’. . . “After whipping Jeffries, Johnson didn’t fight for two years, but he made waves out of the ring. In January 1911, he married . . . Etta Duryea, a white divorced woman from high society. The marriage ended tragically only eight months later, when Duryea committed suicide. “A week after successfully defending his championship against Jim Flynn on July 4, 1912, Johnson opened Cafe de Champion, his Chicago nightclub. That year, he was frequently in the company of Lucille
Cameron, a white secretary. . . . [Soon] Johnson was charged with taking Cameron across state lines for ‘immoral purposes,’ a violation of the Mann white slavery act. With the charge hanging over him, Johnson married Cameron on Dec. 4, 1912. [Still,] the following spring, Johnson was convicted, sentenced to a year and a day in prison and fined $1,000. Johnson was free pending an appeal when he and Cameron fled the country. “Johnson spent the next seven years on the lam. In Paris, he took on a series of farcical matches against wrestlers. He fought exhibitions in Buenos Aires for measly purses. . . . Johnson went to Spain, then Mexico, fighting off and on until he returned to America and surrendered to federal authorities in 1920. He was sent to prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, where he boxed five times before being released on July 9, 1921. “In his 40s, Johnson fought in Cuba, Canada and Mexico before returning to the United States for the last two sanctioned fights of his career—knockout losses in Kansas to Ed ‘Bearcat’ Wright and Big Bill Hartwell in the spring of 1928. Johnson was 50. “By then, Johnson had divorced Cameron and married Irene Pineau, another white woman. If that wedding was not perceived as trouble enough for Johnson, his non-sanctioned fights in 1931 against Brad Simmons led to his being banned from boxing in Kansas. “If Johnson lived in the fast lane, he died there literally—in an automobile accident in Raleigh, N.C., on June 10, 1946. He was 68. Eight years later, he became a charter member of the Boxing Hall of Fame [in Canastota, NY].” Marian Anderson - Our source for this bio is once again the Hall of Black Achievement: “Marian Anderson, who has often been called ‘the world’s greatest contralto,’ perhaps had a greater influence in opening doors for other black singers than anyone else. She was the first black artist to become famous on the concert stage and the first black soloist to sing with the Metropolitan Opera of New York City. “Ms. Anderson, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in February 1902, was the oldest daughter of John and Anna Anderson. From an early age, she had an interest in music; she learned to play the piano and was singing in Union Baptist Church at the age of 6. At the age of 8, she gave her first concert. Although untrained, her talent and versatility were immediately obvious, because she was able to sing soprano, alto, tenor, and even bass parts. With the help of her high school principal and black actor John T. Butler, Ms. Anderson met the famous voice teacher Guiseppe Boghetti. At first, Boghetti was not impressed with what he heard. However, after she sang her rendition of the Negro spiritual, ‘Deep River,’ he changed his mind. “Aided by a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship, Ms. Anderson studied abroad in Germany. She understood that to be successful in America’s opera houses, a European reputation had to be established. She made her European debut in Berlin and was invited to tour the Scandinavian countries, where she sang in both Swedish and Finnish, and before King Gustav of Sweden and King Christian of Denmark. Ms. Anderson became a star attraction in Europe. In 1935, during her debut in France, she met the American impresario Sol Hurok. Hurok was so impressed with her singing that he offered her a management contract that would feature her in 15 concert halls throughout America. “Upon her return to the United States, Marian Anderson performed at New York’s Town Hall as a renowned artist. With Hurok’s backing, she walked through doors that had been previously closed to blacks. It was not long before Ms. Anderson became a prima donna. In 1936, she was asked to give a performance at the White House. She confessed that this occasion was the first time that she had really been frightened on stage. She and Eleanor Roosevelt became close friends, and that friendship became evident with the Daughters of the American Revolution affair. Despite Ms. Anderson’s tremendous success, the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to let her perform in Constitution Hall in 1939. The public outcry was so great over this issue that Mrs. Roosevelt withdrew her membership from the organization. The White House made arrangements for Ms. Anderson to give her concert on Easter Sunday on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before an audience of 75,000. She sang from Handel, Hayden and Schubert, but her
repertoire also included spirituals. Ms. Anderson said the spirituals gave an aura of faith, simplicity, humility and hope. Later, she did sing at Constitution Hall. “For more than 30 years, Marian Anderson toured widely throughout the world and broke many racial barriers. She received many honorary degrees and awards for her achievements in the field of music. Some of them were: a request for a command performance by the British Crown; a decoration from the government of Finland, the Spingarn Medal; the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963; the first black to receive a Congressional Gold Medal; and she was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.” Paul Robeson - [Some of this information comes from the website of the Swiss Peace Movement.] Paul Robeson—singer, actor, civil rights activist, law school graduate, athlete, scholar, author—was perhaps the best known and most widely respected black American of the 1930s and 1940s. Robeson was also a staunch supporter of the Soviet Union, and a man, later in his life, widely vilified and censored for his frankness and unyielding views on issues to which public opinion ran contrary. As a young man, Robeson was virile, charismatic, eloquent, and powerful. He learned to speak more than 20 languages in order to break down the barriers of race and ignorance throughout the world, and yet, as Sterling Stuckey pointed out in the New York Times Book Review, for the last 25 years of his life his was “a great whisper and a greater silence in black America.” Born in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1898, Robeson was spared most of the daily brutalities suffered by African Americans around the turn of the century. But . . . Robeson’s mother died from a stove-fire accident when he was six [and] his father, a runaway slave who became a pastor, was removed from an early ministerial position. Nonetheless, from his father Robeson learned diligence and an “unshakable dignity and courage in spite of the press of racism and poverty.” These characteristics, Stuckey noted, defined Robeson’s approach in his beliefs and actions throughout his life. . . . Robeson received a scholarship to Rutgers College (now University), where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in his junior year and chosen valedictorian in his senior. He earned varsity letters in four sports and was named Rutgers’ first All-American in football. Fueled by his class prophecy to be “the leader of the colored race in America,” Robeson went on to earn a law degree from Columbia University, supporting himself by playing professional football on the weekends. After graduation he obtained a position with a New York law firm only to have his career halted, as was recalled in Martin Baulm Duberman’s Paul Robeson, when a stenographer refused to take down a memo, saying, “I never take dictation from a nigger.” Sensing this episode as indicative of the climate of the law, Robeson left the bar. While in law school, Robeson had married fellow Columbia student Eslanda Cardozo Robeson as a member of Goode, who encouraged him to act in amateur theatrical productions. the elite Skull and Cap Convinced by his wife and friends to return to the theatre . . . , Robeson Society at Rutgers joined the Provincetown Players, a group associated with playwright Eugene O’Neill. Two productions in which he starred, The Emperor Jones and All God’s Chillun Got Wings, brought Robeson critical acclaim. Contemporary drama critic George Jean Nathan, quoted by Newsweek’s Hubert Saal, called Robeson “thoroughly eloquent, impressive, and convincing.” Thus Robeson continued on the stage, winning applause from critics and audiences, gaining an international reputation for his performances on the London stage, and eventually extending his acting repertoire to include films. His stage presence was undeniable, and with the musical Show Boat and Shakespeare’s Othello, Robeson’s reputation grew even larger. In Show Boat he sang the immensely popular “Ol’ Man River,” displaying a powerful, warm, soothing voice. Robeson, realizing his acting range was limited both by the choice of roles available to him as a black performer and by his own acting abilities, turned to singing full time as an outlet for his creative energies and growing social convictions. Robeson had been giving solo vocal performances since 1925, but it wasn’t until he traveled to Britain that his singing became for him a moral cause. Robeson related years later in his autobiography, Here I Stand,
that in England he “learned that the essential character of a nation is determined not by the upper classes, but by the common people, and that the common people of all nations are truly brothers in the great family of mankind.” Consequently, he began singing spirituals and work songs to audiences of common citizens and learning the languages and folk songs of other cultures, for “they, too, were close to my heart and expressed the same soulful quality that I knew in Negro music.” Nathan Irvin Huggins, writing in the Nation, defined this pivotal moment: “[Robeson] found the finest expression of his talent. His genuine awe of and love for the common people and their music flourished throughout his life and became his emotional and spiritual center.” Continued travels throughout Europe in the 1930s brought Robeson in contact with members of politically left-leaning organizations, including socialists and African nationalists. Singing to, and moving among, the disadvantaged, the underprivileged, the working classes, Robeson began viewing “himself and his art as serving the struggle for racial justice for nonwhites and economic justice for workers of the world,” Huggins noted. A critical journey at that time, one that changed the course of his life, was to the Soviet Union. Paul Robeson author Duberman depicted Robeson’s time there: “Nights at the theatre and opera, long walks with [film director Sergei] Eisenstein, gala banquets, private screenings, trips to hospitals, children’s centers, factories . . . all in the context of a warm embrace.” Robeson was ecstatic with this new-found society, concluding, according to New York Times Book Review contributor John Patrick Diggins, “that the country was entirely free of racial prejudice and that Afro-American spiritual music resonated to Russian folk traditions. ‘Here, for the first time in my life . . . I walk in full human dignity.’” Diggins went on to assert that Robeson’s “attraction to Communism seemed at first more anthropological than ideological . [and that] Robeson convinced himself that American blacks as descendants of slaves had a common culture with Russian workers as descendants of serfs.” . . . Robeson soon became a vocal advocate of communism and other left-wing causes. He returned to the United States in the late 1930s, Newsweek’ s Saal observed, becoming “a vigorous opponent of racism, picketing the White House, refusing to sing before segregated audiences, starting a crusade against lynching, and urging Congress to outlaw racial bars in baseball.” After World War II, when relations between the United States and the Soviet Union froze into the Cold War, many former advocates of communism backed away from it. When the crimes of Soviet leader Josef Stalin became public—forced famine, genocide, political purges—still more advocates left the ranks of communism. Robeson, however, was not among them. . . . Robeson could not publicly decry the Soviet Union . . . because “the cause, to his mind,” Nation contributor Huggins theorized, “was much larger than the Soviet Union, and he would do nothing to sustain the feeding frenzy of the American right.” In his autobiography Robeson recounted how, during the infamous McCarthy hearings, when questioned by a Congressional committee about why he didn’t stay in the Soviet Union, he replied, “Because my father was a slave, and my people died to build this country, and I am going to stay right here and have a part of it just like you. And no fascist-minded people will drive me from it. Is that clear?” Robeson’s popularity soon plummeted in response to his increasing rhetoric. After he urged black youths not to fight if the United States went to war against the Soviet Union, a riot prevented his appearing at a concert in Peekskill, New York. In 1950 the U.S. Department of State revoked Robeson’s passport, ensuring that he would remain in the United States. “He was black-listed by concert managers,” [effectively ending what remained of his singing career]. Robeson’s passport was restored in 1958 after a Supreme Court ruling on a similar case, but it was of little consequence. By then he had become a nonentity. When Robeson’s autobiography was published that year, leading literary journals . . . . Robeson traveled again to the Soviet Union, but his health began to fail. He tried twice to commit suicide. “Pariah status was utterly alien to the gregarious Robeson. He became depressed at the loss of contact with audiences and friends, and suffered a series of breakdowns that left him withdrawn and dependent on psychotropic drugs,” Dennis Drabble explained in Smithsonian. Slowly deteriorating and virtually unheard
from in the 1960s and 1970s, Robeson died after suffering a stroke in 1976. During his life Paul Robeson inspired thousands with his voice—raised in speech and song. [His awards included the Badge of Veterans of Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the Spanish Civil War, 1939; a Donaldson Award for outstanding lead performance, 1944, for Othello; an American Academy of Arts and Letters medal, 1944; the NAACP Spingarn Medal, 1945; Champion of African Freedom Award, National Church of Nigeria, 1950; the Afro-American Newspapers Award, 1950; the Stalin Peace Prize (U.S.S.R.), 1952; Peace Medal (East Germany), 1960; the Ira Aldridge Award, Association for the Study of AfroAmerican Life and History, 1970; the Civil Liberties Award, 1970; the Duke Ellington Medal, Yale University, 1972; and the Whitney M. Young, Jr., National Memorial Award, Urban League of Greater New York, 1972. He was given honorary degrees from Rutgers University, Hamilton College, Morehouse College, Howard University, Moscow State Conservatory, and Humboldt University.] . . . His life, full of desire and achievement, passion and conviction, “the story of a man who did so much to break down the barriers of a racist society, only to be brought down by the controversies sparked by his own radical politics,” . . . Diggins pronounced, “is at once an American triumph and an American tragedy.” Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s awakening to the realities of lynching From: her Crusade for Justice Like many another person who had read of lynching in the South, I had accepted the idea meant to be conveyed—that although lynching was irregular and contrary to law and order, unreasoning anger over the terrible crime of rape led to the lynching; that perhaps the brute deserved death anyhow and the mob was justified in taking his life. But Thomas Moss, Calvin McDowell, and Lee Stewart, [co-owners of the grocery that drew down white wrath,] had been lynched in Memphis, one of the leading cities of the South, in which no lynching had taken place before, with just as much brutality as other victims of the mob; and they had committed no crime against white women. This is what opened my eyes to what lynching really was. An excuse to get rid of Negroes who were acquiring wealth and property and thus keep the race terrorized and “keep the nigger down.” I then began an investigation of every lynching I read about. I stumbled on the amazing record that every case of rape reported in that three months [between the lynching and destruction of the Free Speech’s offices] became such only when it became public. Many cases were like that of the lynching which happened in Tunica County, Mississippi. The Associated Press reporter said, “The big burly brute was lynched because he had raped the seven-year-old daughter of the sheriff.” I visited the place afterward and saw the girl, who was a grown woman more than seventeen years old. She had been found in the lynched Negro’s cabin by her father, who had led the mob against him in order to save his daughter’s reputation. That Negro was a helper on the farm. [See To Kill a Mockingbird.] In Natchez, Mississippi, one of the most beautiful homes of one of the leaders of society was pointed out to me. I was told the story of how the mistress of that home had given birth to a child unmistakably dark, and how her colored coachman left town on hearing the news. The Memphis Scimitar published the story of how a young girl who had made a mistake had been awaiting confinement in the home kind-hearted women provided for such cases; how she, too, had given birth to a colored child, and because she would not tell the name of the “rapist” she was bundled out of the home to the public ward of the county hospital. . . I also found that what the white man of the South practiced as all right for himself [that is, intimate relations with black women], he assumed to be unthinkable in white women. The could and did fall in love with the pretty mulatto and quadroon girls as well as black one, but they professed an inability to imagine white women doing the same thing with Negro and mulatto men. Whenever [white women] did so and were found out, the cry of rapre was raised, and the lowest element of the white South was turned loose to wreak its fiendish cruelty on those too weak to help themselves. No torture of helpless victims . . . exceeded the cold-blooded savagery of white devils under lynch
law. None of the hideous murders by butchers of Nero to make a Roman holiday exceeded these burnings alive of black human beings. This was done by white men who controlled all the forces of law and order in their communities and who could have legally punished rapists and murderers, especially black men who had neither political power nor financial strength with which to evade any justly deserved fate. The more I studied the situation, the more I was convinced that the Southerner had never gotten over his resentment that the Negro was no longer his plaything, his servant, and his source of income. The federal laws for Negro protection passed during Reconstruction times had been made a mockery by the white South where it had not secured their repeal. This same white South had secured political control of its several states, and as soon as white southerners came into power they began to make playthings of Negro lives and property. This still seemed not enough to “keep the nigger down.” Hence came lynch law to stifle Negro manhood which defended itself, and the burning alive of Negroes who were weak enough to accept favors from white women. The many unspeakable and unprintable tortures to which Negro rapists (?) of white women were subjected were for the purpose of striking terror into the hearts of other Negroes who might be thinking of consorting with willing white women. I found that in order to justify these horrible atrocities to the world, the Negro was being branded as a race of rapists, who were especially mad after white women. I found that white men who had created a race of mulattoes by raping and consorting with Negro women were still doing so wherever they could, these same white men lynched, burned, and tortured Negro men for doing the same thing with white women; even when the white women were willing “victims.” . . “Iola” on Discrimination From: Ida B. Wells: Mother of the Civil Rights Movement We howl about the discrimination exercised by other races, unmindful that we are guilty of the same thing. The spirit that keeps Negroes out of the colleges and places him by himself, is the same that drives him in the smoking car; the spirit that makes colored men run excursions with “a separate car for our white friends,” etc., provides separate seats for them when they visit our concerts, exhibitions, etc., is the same that sends the Negro to theatres and church galleries and second class waiting rooms; the feeling that prompts colored barbers, hotel keepers and the like to refuse accommodation to their own color is the momentum that sends a Negro right about when he presents himself at any similar first-class establishment run by white men; the shortsightedness that insists on separate Knights of Labor Assemblies for colored men, is the same power that forces them into separate Masonic and Odd Fellow lodges. Consciously and unconsciously we do as much to widen the breach already existing and to keep prejudice alive as the other race. There was not a separate school in the State of California until the colored people asked for it. To say we wish to be to ourselves is a tacit acknowledgement of the inferiority that they take for granted anyway. The ignorant man who is so shortsighted has some excuse, but he man or men who deliberately yield or barter the birthright of the race for money, position, self-aggrandizement in any form, deserve and will receive the contumely of a race made wise by experience. Memphis, Tenn., Dec. 28, 1886 Our World’s Fair Effort: Every Afro-American Should Contribute Something— Amount Already Subscribed. To the Friends of Equal Rights: Whereas, the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus is soon to be celebrated at Chicago by the World’s Columbian exposition; and
Whereas, the absence of colored citizens from participation therein will be construed to their disadvantage by the representatives of the civilized world there assembled; Therefore, the undersigned, in obedience to a request that we take under consideration the matter of setting ourselves right before the world, recommend: First. That a carefully prepared pamphlet setting forth the past and present condition of our people and their relation to American civilization be printed in English, French, German and Spanish. Second. That this pamphlet be distributed free during all the months of the World’s Columbian exposition. For this purpose liberal contributions are solicited from all who approve the objects herein set forth. As no one has been authorized to hold this money, or committee appointed to print this pamphlet, we ask the race newspapers that approve the plan to name both. We also ask these mouthpieces of the people to keep this address standing in their columns and open a subscription list for the same. This money, until the people otherwise decree, will be forwarded to Frederick Douglass at Cedar Hill, Anacostia, D.C., until May 1. F.J. Loudin Frederick Douglass Ida B. Wells
$50.00 50.00 10.00 Respectfully submitted,Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells
An Excerpt from The Fellowship Herald, ca. 1911 Wanted – Men! God give us men! A time like this demands. Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands; Men whom the lust of office does not kill; Men whom the soils of office cannot buy; Men who can stand before a demagogue, And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking! Tall men, sun crowned who live above the fog; In public duty, and in private thinking; For while the rabble with their thumb-worn creeds Their large professions and their little deeds Mingle in selfish strife, lo freedom weeps, Wrong rules the land and waiting justice sleeps.
The Reign of Mob Law: Iola’s Opinion of Doings in the Southern Field New York Age, Feb. 18, 1893 The lynching epidemic still rages in Texas. Gov. Hogg denounced the lynchers who burned Henry Smith as murderers, telegraphed the district attorney and sheriff of Lamar County, where the burning occurred, “to discharge their duty and make complaint and report those known to have been engaged in the lynching.” . . . The mob has so little fear and so great contempt of the governor, the sheriff and the district attorney that it went a few days later [on] February 7 and lynched Will Butler. Will Butler was a stepson of Henry Smith, the man who was burned alive, and made himself notorious
during the search for Smith by “claiming to know his whereabouts which he would not divulge”—so said the dispatches. Hence, because Will Butler did not tell where his stepfather was, he too was lynched. . . . New Orleans, Jan. 21—A mob of masked men broke into the jail last night at Convent, St. Joseph Parish, and forced the jailer to open the cells of Robert Landy and Pick George, who were incarcerated there, one for garroting and robbing a telegraph operator At Dehon Station and the other for murdering a man named Denhorst. Both were taken to a shed and lynched. Our race still sits and does nothing about it and say little except to doubt the expediency of or find fault with the remedy proposed. No plan of raising money by which the things can be investigated, the country aroused and the temple of justice, the pulpit and the press besieged until public opinion shall demand a cessation of the reign of barbarism, lynch law and stake burning. No money and little support to give to this work, but some of our prominent men and women have put their names on a circular asking the race to give entertainments on March 9, to raise money to defray the expenses of a most comfortable “day of praise” at the World Fair August 17, to be known as “Afro American Jubilee Day.” . . . The Persistance of Lynching These excerpted newspaper articles were collected in 100 Years of Lynching. They date from the mid-1950s, about the time the modern civil rights movement began, twenty years after Ida B. Wells-Barnett had died. End of Lynching (Washington Post editorial, January 2, 1954) One of the best year-end news items has come out of Tuskegee Institute. For two successive years the nation has had no lynching. At least for the present the blot that had so long stained the American record and poisoned the relations between the white and colored races has been lifted. While Tuskegee will continue to compile lynching statistics, its president, Dr. L.H. Foster, reports realistically that its annual report on this subject has had its significance as a yardstick of race relations. The current report will be especially gratifying to those who have believed that the states, themselves, under the impact of an aroused public opinion, could wipe out this especially heinous type of crime. To be sure, there are still would-be lynchers in the South and in other parts of the country. Lynchings were prevented last year in Alabama, New York and Arizona. But law enforcement is always a matter of eternal vigilance. There is good reason to believe that, having wiped out this offense to American civilization, the states will continue to maintain their new record. 15-Year-Old is Lynched; Wolf-Whistled at White (Washington Post-Times-Herald, 9/1/1955) Greenwood, MS, August 31—The body of a 15-year-old Chicago Negro who had disappeared after he allegedly made “fresh” remarks to a white woman was found floating in the Tallahatchie River today. He had been shot through the head. Two white men, one of them the husband of the woman allegedly insulted by the boy, earlier had been charged with kidnapping the victim, Emmett Till, from the home of his relatives here. In New York, Roy Wilkins, executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, branded the slaying a “lynching.” A 125-pound cotton-gin blower had been tied to the boy’s neck to make his body sink but his feet floated to the surface, leading to the discovery. A coroner’s jury ruled that death was due to the gunshot in the temple.
In addition to the bullet wound, the top of Till’s head was smashed, the medical examination disclosed. Leflore County authorities had charged Roy Bryant, a white storekeeper in the nearby Money community, and his half-brother, W.J. Milan, with kidnapping Till. Sheriff George Smith said the boy was abducted because of the allegedly insulting remarks made to Mrs. Bryant in the Bryants’ country store the night before. Bryant and Milan, however, told police they released the boy unharmed after Mrs. Bryant told them he was “not the one” who had made offensive remarks to her. The Bryants were said to have become offended when Till, who had visited the store with other teenagers, spoke to Mrs. Bryant and waved “good-bye.” Some bystanders said that Till had sounded the two notes of the wolf whistle at Mrs. Bryant. While the NAACP called on the government and Gov. Hugh White to take quick action in the case, the governor said at Jackson he had not heard from anyone about the Till boy’s death. Referring to the NAACP, he said: “They’re in the press all the time, that gang.” 4,733 Mob Action Victims since ’82, Tuskegee Reports (Montgomery Advertiser, 4/26/1959) Tuskegee, AL, April 25—While lynchings have about reached the vanishing point in recent years, Tuskegee Institute records show 4,733 persons have died from mob action since 1882. Except for 1955, when three lynchings were reported in Mississippi, none has been recorded at Tuskegee since 1951. In 1945, 1947, and 1951 only one case per year was reported. The most recent case reported by the institute as a lynching was that of Emmett Till, 14, a Negro who was beaten, shot to death and thrown into a river at Greenwood, MS, Aug. 28, 1955. He was accused of making ugly remarks to or whistling at a white woman. Two white men were acquitted of his death after a trial which attracted international attention. For a period of 65 years ending in 1947 at least one lynching was reported each year. The most for any year was 231 in 1892. From 1882 to 1901, lynchings averaged more than 150 a year. Since 1924 lynchings have been on a marked decline, never more than 30 cases, which occurred in 1926. Among the incidents other than the Till case since 1944 are these: [Rev.] George W. Lee, 51, Negro, shot to death May 7, 1955, at Bezoni, Humphreys County, MS, after he refused to withdraw his name from a voting list. Lamar D. Smith, 63, Negro, shot down on the lawn of the Lincoln County courthouse at Brookhaven, MS, Aug. 6, 1955. Smith had been encouraging others of his race to qualify as voters. When is Murder Lynching (Montgomery Advertiser, June 7, 1959) The recent mob murder of a rape suspect who was taken from a Mississippi jail raises a serious question of definitions: What exactly is a lynching? Tuskegee Institute, an all-Negro Alabama college, has become the authority on lynchings in the United States and is most frequently quoted by newspapers as listing just what killing is and is not a lynching. Tuskegee, which says that Mississippi has had four lynchings since 1952, gives this definition of it: There must be legal evidence that a person was killed. That person must have met death illegally. A group of three or more persons must have participated in the killing. The group must have acted under the pretext of service to justice, race or tradition. . . . The Gospel Hymns
This overview comes to us from an Italian webpage devoted to gospel music. White America’s most important contribution to world culture has been the western, but turn to black America and we have the blues, jazz, soul, funk, R&B and rap, all of which can be traced back to the granddaddy of musical genres—gospel. Gospel has its origin in the spirituals sung by rural blacks, and is today experiencing a resurgence in the inner-city black churches. In both instances the music performs the same function—a way of describing and dealing with everyday adversity. The story of gospel is also the story of black America, right from the start when the slaves were forced into a foreign religion, they made it their own and it helped them in troubled times—so spirituals like “Steal Away” are as much about running away from slavery as they are about religion. Much of the structure of modern gospel is dictated by the restrictions placed on slaves. After the church had conveniently decided that Christians could be enslaved (until then the unspoken justification for slavery was that Christians were fair game), there was an evangelistic rush. The newly converted slaves adapted Methodist hymns—ironically “Amazing Grace,” written by a slave captain, was very popular—to the call-and-response song structure of their native land and introduced West African rhythms. However the slaves weren’t allowed drums because the plantation owners feared that they might be used for long-distance communication and so clapping hands became the primary form of percussion. Politicization of gospel is evident right up to the civil rights movement when gospel songs provided anthems and marching songs, from “We Shall Overcome” to the lesser known “There’ll Be No Segregation In Heaven.” On the day Martin Luther King made his “I Have A Dream” speech, Mahalia Jackson also sang gospel from the same platform. As gospel entered the mainstream it faced another problem—sacred music and its appeal to secular forms. Elvis Presley used to attend gospel churches in Memphis and Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin were both lured away from their roots in gospel. . . . There is Balm in Gilead Pat Center writes, “Rev. Curry noted that the original source of the song is Jeremiah’s despairing cry in Jeremiah 8:22: ‘Is there no balm in Gilead?’ [see Vocabulary, above]. But, Curry continued, the slave(s) who made up the words to ‘Gilead’ turned Jeremiah’s question into a statement, ‘There is a balm in Gilead.’ “The balm is love—the self-sacrificing love of Jesus. And the second verse tells me to take the focus off me and share His great love with others, praying that He will become their balm as well.” Sometimes I feel discouraged And I think my work’s in vain But then the Holy Spirit Revives my soul again There is a balm in Gilead To make the wounded whole There is a balm in Gilead To heal the sin-sick soul. I cannot preach like Peter I cannot pray like Paul
But I can tell the love of Jesus He died to save us all. There is a balm in Gilead To make the wounded whole There is a balm in Gilead To heal the sin-sick soul. Deep River According to Dave Watermulder, J. Amber Hudlin, and Ellie Kaufman, “The Biblical allusion here is to the classic theme . . . of deliverance. Many of the old Negro spirituals are based on the theme of deliverance and salvation. Life is symbolized in the spiritual as the deep river and heaven is the campground. Burleigh makes a parallel between the Israelites and African-Americans [while he] continues the tradition of Biblical allusion that began . . . with the slave narrative. This spiritual follows the literary tradition of using Biblical allusion to describe the struggles we all face on earth. . . . The river implies a long hard journey followed by a place of supreme respite. Heaven is the counterbalance to the injustice of this world. “‘I want to cross over’ implies that one is presently in Babylon yearning to cross into the promised land: ‘I want to cross over into camp-ground.’ . . . ‘That promised land where all is peace’ refers to the solace one can find in prayer and Jesus in one reading and to heaven in another. The spiritual describes each person’s rightful place in the promised land, ‘my home is over Jordan.’ The soul craves to be with God: ‘Oh don’t you want to go to that gospel feast.’ “Freedom is probably the most prominent theme in early African-American writing such as the slave narrative and in spirituals. In [this case], freedom lies over the Jordan, or in the next life, in the hands of God. ‘Deep River’ is a plea for deliverance out of oppression and sorrow.“ Deep river, my home is over Jordan. Deep river, Lord, I want to cross over into campground. Oh, don’t you want to go to that gospel feast That promised land where all is peace. Deep river, Lord, I want to cross over into campground. Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel In Somebody’s Calling My Name, Wyatt Walker presents the views of researchers Harold Courlander and Hildred Roach on the use of double entendre in slave songs. . . . Both researchers agree that the double meaning did not always signal a desire to escape from slavery, although that was often the case. Roach asserts that these songs showed an obsession with “freedom land” but the meaning of Jesus is a bit ambiguous. Jesus in the slave song could mean the Christ of Christianity; Ntoa, the supernatural spirits of the ancestors; or Harriet Tubman of the Underground Railroad. Depending upon the circumstances and the singer, Canaan could mean Heaven, a better life in the north or freedom. There were many religious songs that had political meanings. Most specialists in the study of spirituals agree that these songs were as
adaptable as the people who created them. They allowed Black people to commune with their God, to communicate messages about rebellions and escape, or to bring comfort to those who had decided to stay in servitude. A few of these politically infused spirituals are “Joshua Fit de Battle of Jericho,” “Steal Away” [see below], “Deep River” [above], “O Mary, Don’t You Weep, Don’t You Mourn” [adapted by Soul Brother #1 James Brown into a pop song] and “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?”. Deliver me, Lord Deliver me, Lord Deliver me, Lord Deliver me, Lord You delivered Daniel from the lion’s den And saved the Hebrew children from the fiery furnace An’ why not a every man’? Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel Deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel An’ a why not a every man? Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel Deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel Didn’t my Lord Deliver Daniel An’ why not a every man? Don’t Let This Harvest Pass Of this gospel James H. Cone has said, “Some will argue, with [Karl] Marx, that the very insistence upon divine activity is always evidence that people are helpless and passive. ‘Religion is the sign of the oppressed creature, the heart of the heartless world . . . the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people.’ There were doubtless some black slaves who literally waited on God, expecting him to effect their liberation in response to their faithful passivity; but there is another side of the black experience to be weighed. When it is considered that Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, and Harriet Tubman may have been creators of some of the spirituals, that ‘Sinner, please don’t let this harvest pass’ probably referred to a slave resistance meaning, that after 1831 over 2,000 slaves escaped yearly, and that black churches interpreted civil disobedience as consistent with religion, then it is most likely that many slaves recognized the need for their own participation in God’s liberation.” Sinner please don’t let this harvest pass Sinner please don’t let this harvest pass Sinner please don’t let this harvest pass And die and lose your soul at last Sinner don’t let this harvest pass
Sinner don’t let this harvest pass. Sinner don’t let this harvest pass. Sinner don’t let it! Sinner don’t let this harvest pass. Sinner, please don’t let this harvest pass Sinner please don’t let this harvest pass, And die and lose your soul at last You can tell the world about this You can tell the nation about that. Tell ‘em what people have done. Tell them a new day must come and you’ll bring joy, great joy to my soul. You can tell the world about this, You can tell the nation about that Tell ‘em what people have done. Tell ‘em that a new day must come and you’ll bring joy, great joy to my soul Well, it’s time to take mah feet out the miry clay! Oh! I wanna place them on the rock to stay. Sinner! Oh, see that cruel tree... Sinner can’t you see that cruel tree’? Sinner, oh see that cruel tree. See where sisters have died like you and me. Sinner please! Don’t let this harvest pass And die and lose your soul at last. Sinner don’t let this harvest pass. Sinner don’t let this harvest pass! Get on Board Little Children The African American Experience in Monmouth County [NJ] webpage notes that “the spiritual ‘Get On Board, Little Children,’ sometimes also called ‘The Gospel Train,’ referred directly to the Underground Railroad.” The train is a comin’, The train is a comin’ The train is a comin’, The train is a comin’ The train is a comin’, The train is a comin’ I hear the train a comin’ She’s comin’ round the curve She loosen’d all of her steam and brakes
And strainin’ every nerve. Then get on board little children Get on board little children Get on board little children There’s room for many a more. The fare is cheap and all can go The rich and. poor are there No second-class aboard this train – No diff’rence in the fare Then get on board little children Get on board little children Get on board little children There’s room for many a more. Then get on board little children Get on board little children Get on board little children There’s room for many a more. Down By the Riverside Mrs. Phannie Corneal, born in 1864, explained her love for this gospel in the “Slave Narrative” she gave an interviewer in 1938: “I don’t remember nothin’ much about slavery cause I was too young. My mother used to tell me different things about it though. . . . My mother was the house-girl; in a way she was the mistress of her master because he was the father of all my brothers and sisters. “He freed her before the Civil War and her and us children was treated better than the other slaves on his place. She continued to stay on there after her freedom. I . . . did missionary work for the A.M.E. Church here in Lincoln [NE] and helped organize the colored people into the W.C.T.U. I’ve lectured and traveled all over the country for the W.C.T. U. Now I am too old and afflicted; I can’t go no more. “Now days the people need missionary work more than ever; they are too apt to put ‘I’ in front and ‘God’ behind. I believe in the holy spirit and life ever’ lastin’, to those that worship Jesus. My motto is: God is my help in every need,/God does my every hunger feed,/God walks beside me all the way,/Through every moment of the day. My favorite Gospel hymn: . . .” I’m gonna lay down my burden Lay my burden down Lay me down, Lawd Lay my burden down Lay me down I’m gonna lay down my burden Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside Lay me down. I’m gonna lay down my burden, Down by the riverside Ain’t gonna study war no more. His Name So Sweet Larry Marietta reminds us that “the African-American spiritual ‘I’ve Just Come from the Fountain’ has its basis in the story of the woman who met Christ at the well. Slaves put themselves in the position of this woman being told all the things concerning her life by the Master, imagining how she felt and then her running about everywhere telling of this marvelous experience.” Oh Lord. I jus’ come from the fountain I’m jus’ come from the fountain Lord, I jus’ come from the fountain His name so sweet. Oh Lord, I jus’ come from the fountain I’m jus’ come from the fountain Lord, I jus’ come from the fountain His name so sweet. Now Lordy, do you love him? Yes, yes I do love the man. Lordy, do you love him? His name so sweet. Tell me why do you love him? Don’t know I jus’ love the man. Oh tell me why you love him? His name so sweet. Oh Lord, I jus’ come from the fountain I’m jus’ come from the fountain Lord, I jus’ come from the fountain His name so sweet. My Lord What a Morning Assistant Professor Hank Langknecht expressed the following regarding this classic spiritual: When it comes to this spiritual, there are two schools of thought. There are those who believe that the spiritual is a song anticipating celebration. A song sung by God’s faithful people NOW, looking forward to how they will feel THEN . . . when Jesus comes . . . “My Lord, what a morning! when the stars begin to fall.”
For that is the morning when Zion will be established as the highest mountain; That is the morning when swords will become plowshares and spears pruning hooks; That is the morning when all nations will stream into the holy city of God; That is the morning when all of God’s elect will be gathered from the four winds and united with God and the Son of Man. “My Lord, what a morning!” In this school of thought . . . morning is spelled the way it is spelled in our hymnal. That’s one school of thought. But there’s another school of thought. There are those who believe that the spiritual anticipates lament. A song sung by God’s faithful people NOW, looking forward to how they will feel THEN . . . when Jesus comes . . . “My Lord, what a mourning! when the stars begin to fall.” That is the day when all the tribes of earth shall mourn; That is the day when the vultures will gather around the corpses; That is the day when one man out of every two in the field will be plucked up and thrown into the fire; When one woman out of every two grinding meal will be plucked up and thrown into the fire; If there is wrath to be poured down upon the earth . . . that is the day when the pouring will be done. If there is punishment to be handed out . . . that is the day . . . In this school of thought . . . My Lord what a Morning is spelled differently: Mourning. What will it be when the stars being to fall? A lament? My Lord what a M .. O ... U ... R ... N ... I ... N ... G ... ? or A celebration? My Lord what a M ... O ... R ... N ... I ... N ... G ... ? Morning or Mourning? You’ll have to tell me what you think . . . because I can’t decide. Maybe it should be both. Actually . . . there’s no maybe about it. It should be both. Actually . . . there’s no should about it. It is both. MORNING and MOURNING . . . It is both. Now the question is, “Can we do that when we sing it?” When we actually hold the hymnals in our hands, and May is actually playing, and we are actually singing . . . can we read the word M ... O ... R ... N ... I ... N ... G . . . on the page and at the same time also be thinking and singing the word M ... O ... U ... R ... N ... I ... N ... G ... ? Of course we can, just sing it from the heart . . . If we sing it from the heart . . . from the depths of our experience . . . it will come out both ways at once. Because in our hearts we know that both ways at once is how we live every single day. That’s the mystery of our existence as Christians. To sing it both ways at once. My Lord what a morning My Lord what a morning Oh, my Lord what a morning When the stars begin to fall. You’ll hear the trumpet sound To wake the nations underground Lookin’ to my God’s right hand When the stars begin to fall.
My Lord what a morning My Lord what a morning Oh, my Lord what a morning When the stars begin to fall. No Ways Tired I don’t feel No ways tired I come too far From where I started from. Nobody told me That the road Would be easy I don’t believe He brought me this far To leave me. I’m Rollin’ Through an Unfriendly World I’m a rollin’ I’m a rollin’ I’m a rollin’ Through an unfriendly world. I’m a rollin’, I’m a rollin’, I’m a rollin’ Through an unfriendly world. I’m a rollin’, I’m a rollin’, I’m a rollin’, Through an unfriendly world I’m a rollin’, I’m a rollin’, I’m a rollin’ Through an unfriendly world. I’m a rollin’, I’m a rollin’, I’m a rollin’ Through an unfriendly world Oh brothers won’t you help me Oh brothers won’t you help me to pray Oh brothers won’t you help me
Won’t you help me in the service of the Lord. I’m a rollin’, I’m a rollin’, I’m a rollin’ Through an unfriendly world. I’m a rollin’, I’m a rollin’, Through an unfriendly world. Oh sisters won’t you help me Oh sisters won’t you help me to pray Oh sisters won’t you help me Won’t you help me in the service of the Lord. I’m a rollin’, I’m a rollin’, I’m a rollin’, Through an unfriendly world. I’m a rollin’, I’m a rollin’, Through an unfriendly world. So Busy Workin’ for the Kingdom Lord I keep so busy workin’ for the kingdom, Keep so busy workin’ for the kingdom, Keep so busy working for the kingdom, ain’t got time to die. I keep so busy workin’ for the kingdom, Keep so busy workin’ for the kingdom, Keep so busy workin’ for the kingdom, ain’t got time to die. ‘Cause when I’m feeding the poor, when I’m feeding the poor, when I’m feeding the poor, ain’t got time to die. ‘Cause it takes all of my time, all of my time, to praise my lord, if I don’t praise him, the rocks gonna cry out: Glory and honor, glory and honor, ain’t got time to die. ‘Cause it takes all of my time, all of my time, to praise my lord, if I don’t praise him, the rocks gonna cry out: Glory and honor, glory and honor,
ain’t got time to die. Steal Away Steal away Steal away. Steal away to Jesus Steal away Steal away home. Steal away Steal away Steal away to Jesus Steal away Steal away home I ain’t got long To stay here. Trouble All Over the World There is trouble all over this world There is trouble all over this world, children There is trouble all over this world There is trouble all over this world Walk Together Children
Sources Consulted A. Philip Randolph. No ed. ©2002. PBS.org.10 June 2003. http://www.pbs.org/weta/apr/aprbio.html Balm in Gilead. Princeton University. © 2001. Ansme.com. 9 June 2003. http://define.ansme.com/words/b/ balm_of_gilead.html —. No ed. July 2002. Earthlight.co. 9 June 2003. http://lists.earthlight.co.nz/pipermail/nz-folk/2002-July/ 003210.html Balm in Gilead in “The Raven.” The Joyshticks, eds. 1 December 1997. Florida State University.edu. 9 June 2003. http://slis-two.lis.fsu.edu/~5340j/Definitions.html Book of James, King James Bible. No ed. © 2003. Bartleby.com. 1 April 2003. http://www.bartleby.com/108/ 59/4.html Booker T. Washington. Edward L. Ayers, ed. Fall 1997. University of Virginia.edu. 5 June 2003. http:// www.virginia.edu/history/courses/fall.97/hius323/btw.html
Walk together, children Walk together, don’t weary Walk together, don’t you weary, children Walk together, don’t you get a-weary. Discussion Questions 1. It is Mr. Thompson’s contention that Ida B. Wells-Barnett is a forgotten civil rights agitator who should be made known. Do you agree? Why? 2. While Ms. Wells-Barnett did write an autobiography (unfinished at the time of her death), it is largely a reporting of what she did as an adult, with little of her private self revealed. Do you feel that you “know” her now, having seen her depicted? What might you have done differently? Why do you think the playwright tells her story through 5 women? If you were writing the play would you include other characters? Why or why not? 3. There were some 19th century women who regularly contributed to newspapers and journals but few who were reporters or editors. Who else can you find in this field? 4. Imagine you are a newspaper reporter who is assigned to write Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s obituary (she died on March 25, 1931). What events from her life would you include? Who would you contact for a quote about her? How would you describe Ms. Wells-Barnett? What would the headline be? 5. There are many traditional spirituals in Constant Star. If you had to select 5 to convey the basic shape of Wells-Barnett’s life, what would they be and why? We have noted in this study guide that enslaved African Americans like Frederick Douglass used spirituals not only to express their wish to be free but to communicate when they might try to escape and how. Could the songs used in Constant Star be seen as sending such a message? Before the end of the Civil War, before slaves were freed, their only means of mass communication was the songs they shared with and learned from others and rumors that spread among those slaves who could travel. Ida B. Wells, who was able to educate herself and travel freely, reached a large audience through her journalism, speaking tours and books. Was she more successful in spreading her message, do you think? Which method was more effective for black audiences, do you think? And for whites? 6. Wells-Barnett is very clear in her assessment of President William McKinley; she also met with Pres. Woodrow Wilson. What does your research tell you about that meeting? What impression did others at that meeting come away with? 7. Wells-Barnett first supported herself as a teacher. How was her job as a 19th century southern teacher different from teaching today? What was her mother’s job? Would Mrs. Wells have the same job today? How would it be different? 8. “Sons of Ham” is one description Ms. Wells-Barnett used to describe African Americans. Who was Ham and why would Africans be his descendants? 9. Ida B. Wells’ primary subject was the injustice and horrors of lynching. In Lynch Law in Georgia she wrote that “the purpose of these savage demonstrations is to teach the Negro that in the South he has no rights that the law will enforce.” Do the lynchings she describes in the play, and those mentioned in this guide, support that claim?
The NAACP often used the following 4-point criteria to determine if a specific incident should be categorized a lynching: 1. There must be evidence that someone was killed; 2. The killing must have been illegal; 3. Three or more people must have taken part in the killing; and 4. The killers must claim to be serving justice or tradition. Do you agree with these stipulations? Why do you think the NAACP chose these criteria? Sources Consulted Coon. Melanie and Mike, eds. 25 September 2002. Take Our Word.com. 6 June 2003. http:// www.takeourword.com/search.html —. Lino Wirag, ed. No date. Keplerweb.de. 6 June 2003. http://www.keplerweb.de/fachber/englisch/ppt/ afroamerican.ppt+%22coon%22+epithet&hl=en&ie=UTF-8 Countee Cullen. No ed. © 1997-2003. American Academy of Poets. 9 June 2003. http://www.poets.org/ poets/poets.cfm?45442B7C000C0303 Deep River. Dave Watermulder, J. Amber Hudlin, and Ellie Kaufman, eds. 1998. George Washington University.edu. 3 April 2003. http://www.gwu.edu/~e73afram/dw-ah-ek.html Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel. Marcella Monk Flake. © 2002 by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. Yale.edu. 3 April 2003. http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1997/5/97.05.07.x.html (I’m Gonna Lay My Burden Down) Down by the Riverside. Albert Burks, ed. 16 December 1938. University Missouri-St. Louis. 10 June 2003. http://www.umsl.edu/services/library/blackstudies/corneal.htm Duster. Barry Bryant, ed. © 1999, 2000. Fashion Dig.com. 22 April 2003. http://www.fashiondig.com/ victorian/two.htm First Black Masonic Lodge. No ed. ©2002, 2003. African American Registry. 4 June 2003. http:// www.aaregistry.com/african_american_history/549/First_Black_masonic_Lodge_organized Fisher, Miles Mark. Negro Slave Songs in the United States. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1953. Fradin, Dennis Brindell and Judith Bloom. Ida B. Wells: Mother of the Civil Rights Movement. New York: Clarion Books, 2000. Frederick Douglass. Fred Morsell, ed. ©1997. Frederick Douglas.org. 6 June 2003. http:// www.frederickdouglass.org/douglass_bio.html Freemasonry. Stephen Dafoe, ed. ©2001-2003. The Lodge Room.com. 4 June 2003. http:// www.thelodgeroom.com/what.html The Fugitive’s Song cover (with Frederick Douglass). No ed. No date. Library of Congress. 10 June 2003. http://www.americasstory.com/aa/douglass/aa_douglass_escape_4_e.html Get on Board Little Children. History 103 class, eds. ©1999. Monmouth University. 10 June 2003. http:// zorak.monmouth.edu/~afam/Songsheet.htm
Gospel overview. Nicoletta Aresca, ed. 11 February 1997. Associazione Musictus. 3 April 2003. http:// www.gospel.it/musictusnews/archives/1997/digest1997-01.txt His Name So Sweet. Larry Marietta, ed. 8 February 1998. First Congregation Church of Berkeley (Ca.). 10 June 2003. http://www.fccb.org/music/m980208.html Ida B. Wells Barnett. No ed. November 26 2002. Lakewood Public Library.org. 10 March 2003. http:// www.lkwdpl.org/wihohio/barn-ida.htm Ida B. Wells Barnett. No ed. 19 Oct.1998. Library of Congress.gov. 10 March 2003. http://memory.loc.gov/ ammem/aap/idawells.html Ida B. Wells House. No ed. Wed, Oct 9 2002. National Park Service.gov. 10 March 2003. http:// www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/civilrights/il2.htm Iola. No ed. ©1999-2003. The New Parents Guide. 5 June 2003. http://www.thenewparentsguide.com/babynames-i.htm Jack Johnson. Ron Flatter, ed. ©2003. ESPN.com. 10 June 2003. http://espn.go.com/classic/biography/s/ johnson_jack.html Jack Johnson/Jim Jeffries fight. No ed. September 1997. Renoworld.com. 10 June 2003. http:// www.renoworld.com/fight.htm Jack Johnson picture. No ed. No date. A.R.T.S. GmbH. 10 June 2003. http://www.klitschko.com/eng/ ist2_e.html James Weldon Johnson. No ed. ©1997-2003. American Academy of Poets. 9 June 2003. http:// www.poets.org/poets/poets.cfm?45442B7C000C0106 Jane Addams. No ed. 27 June 2003. Nobel.se. 9 June 2003. http://www.nobel.se/peace/laureates/1931/ addams-bio.html Ku Klux Klan. Josh Stephens et al., eds. 3 April 2003. Geocities.com. 4 June 2003. http:// www.geocities.com/__izzy__/Dengue/kkk/ —. No ed. ©1995-2000. The Knight’s Party. 4 June 2003. http://www.kkk.com/index1.htm Grand [Masonic] Lodge History:1849-1899. Antonio O. Caffey, ed. No date. M.W. Prince Hall Grand [Masonic] Lodge of Ohio. 5 June 2003. http://www.phaohio.org/mwphgloh/hist50.html Marcus Garvey. No ed. ©1995. UCLA. 9 June 2003. http://www.isop.ucla.edu/mgpp/intro.htm Marcus Garvey photo. No ed. No date. Africa Within.com. 9 June 2003. http://www.africawithin.com/ garvey/garvey_bio.htm Marion Anderson. No ed. 10 January 2003. Hall of Black Achievement, Bridgewater State College (Ma.). 9 June 2003. http://www.bridgew.edu/HOBA/Inductees/Anderson.htm
Mary Church Terrell. Dena Mildred Gilby, ed. 26 July 1997. University of Minnesota. 9 June 2003. http:// voices.cla.umn.edu/authors/TERRELLmarychurch.html Mulatto, quadroon, octoroon. Zolo Agona Azania, ed. May 1988. Prairie Fire Organizing Committee. 6 June 2003. http://www.prairie-fire.org/Zolo/Who_is_the_New_Afrikan.htm My Lord What a Morning sermon. Hank Langknecht, ed. 5 December 2001. Trinity Lutheran Seminary. 10 June 2003. http://www.trinity.capital.edu/sermon.asp?cycle=indiv&ID=110 Paul and Silas. Steve Amato, ed. 1 March 2002. Boston Christian Bible Study Resources. 9 June 2003. http:// www.bcbsr.com/books/acts16a.html Paul Robeson. Rob Nagel, ed. September 1992. N2k.com. 10 June 2003. http://homepage.sunrise.ch/ homepage/comtex/rob3.htm Pres. William McKinley. Frank Freidel and Hugh S. Sidey, eds. No date. 5 June 2003. White House.gov. http:/ /www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/wm25.html Rabbi Hillel. Eliezer C. Abrahamson, ed. November 1998. Aol.com. 1 April 2003. http://members.aol.com/ lazera/archive/misc.html Race woman/man. Runoko Rashidi, ed. April 1999. Yahoo.com. 9 June 2003. http://groups.yahoo.com/ group/historynotes/message/299 Republican Party and African Americans. No ed. ©2002. Mecklenberg County (N.C.) Republican Committee. 9 June 2003. http://www.meckgop.com/history.html Shakespeare quotations. No ed. ©2003. Bartleby.com. 1 April 2003. http://www.bartleby.com/70/4021.html Sinner don’t let this harvest pass. James H. Cone, ed. Princeton Theology Seminary. 10 June 2003. http:// theologytoday.ptsem.edu/apr1972/v29-1-article5.htm Spade. David Wilton, ed. ©1997-2003. Word Origins.org. 6 June 2003. http://www.wordorigins.org/ wordorc.htm —. Mark Israel, ed. 1997. Alt Usage English. 6 June 2003. http://alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxtocall.html Susan B. Anthony. Jone Johnson Lewis, ed. ©2003. About.com. 9 June 2003. http:// womenshistory.about.com/library/bio/blanthony.htm Tar-Baby. Encyclopædia Britannica. ©2003. Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. 5 June 2003. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=73105. —. No ed. ©2003. Cunningham & Cunningham, Inc. 5 June 2003. http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?TarBaby There is a balm in Gilead. Pat Center, ed. © 2001 Sunday Evening Praise.net. 3 April 2003. http:// www.sundayeveningpraise.net/praise/clawson.htm Thompson, Mildred I. Ida B. Wells-Barnett: An Exploratory Study of an American Black Woman, 1893-
1930. Brooklyn, NY: Carlson Publishing, Inc., 1990. Uncle Tom. No ed. 29 April 2003. Wikipedia.org. 9 June 2003. http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncle_Tom Uppity. No ed. ©2001-2003. Hyperdic.net. 4 June 2003. http://www.hyperdic.net/dic/u/uppity.shtml
Weaker Vessel. No ed. © 1973, 1978, 1984. International Bible Society. 9 June 2003. http:// bible.gospelcom.net/cgi-bin/bible?language=english&passage=1+Peter+3%3A+1-7&version=NIV W.E.B. Dubois. No ed. 10 January 2003. Hall of Black Achievement, Bridgewater State College. 9 June 2003. http://www.bridgew.edu/HOBA/Inductees/DuBois.htm Webster’s II: New Riverside University Dictionary. No ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1983. Wells-Barnett, Ida B. Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells. Alfreda M. Duster, ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970. William Monroe Trotter. No ed. 10 January 2003. Hall of Black Achievement, Bridgewater State College. 9 June 2003. http://www.bridgew.edu/HOBA/Inductees/Trotter.htm World’s Fair/Columbian Exposition of 1893. Bruce R. Schulman, ed. ©1996-2002. CT Communications. 9 June 2003. http://users.vnet.net/schulman/Columbian/columbian.html
The end of segregation.
Many thanks to the following individuals who generously contributed their knowledge and effort to the Constant Star portion study guide: Maria Samuelson, Literary Assistant; Susan Hyatt, Education Coordinator; and Des Gallant, Literary Manager, all of Florida Stage; Rev. Hank Langknecht, professor of homiletics at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio; Marquetta L. Goodwine, known as Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition, Post Office Box 1207, St. Helena Island SC 29920; Talya Kingston, Director of Education, Hartford (CT) Stage and the education staff of Arena Stage, Washington, D.C. The Wizard of Oz L. Frank Baum, historian, proprietor Born Lyman Frank Baum in 1856, just east of Syracuse in Chittenango, NY, Baum never used his first name since he preferred Frank. A sickly child with a weak heart who was both timid and shy, he kept to himself and made up imaginary places and playmates since he had to refrain from strenuous exercise, much as Robert Louis Stevenson did. Throughout Frank’s life, his health was a constant impediment, but it never impeded his
creativity, drive and talent. When Frank was about 5 years old, his father Benjamin Baum struck it rich in the oil business and the family moved to Rose Lawn Estate, a country home near Chittenango. Rose Lawn was an idyllic place for young Frank to grow up; he was very happy there. Undoubtedly young Frank developed his creative side more than most since he was not allowed to play physically like other children his age. Frank read fairy tales and British writers voraciously, and he especially enjoyed Dickens. But even at his young age, he criticized the fairy tales that were frightening and horrifying, “I demanded fairy stories when I was a youngster . . . and I was a critical reader too. One thing I never liked then, and that was the introduction of witches and goblins into the story. I didn’t like the little dwarfs in the woods bobbing up with their horrors.” These fairy stories contributed to his nightmares. Frank made the decision that he would write a different kind of fairy tale. In time, Frank’s parents sent him away to Peekskill Military School to rid him of his fanciful demeanor; he had always been home schooled prior to this experience. However it did not curb his whimsical nature but instead resulted in his suffering a temporarily debilitating attack, and his parents allowed him to withdraw. Soon thereafter his parents began to nurture Frank’s creative interests. Frank’s initial attempt at writing and publishing was his own small newspaper called The Rose Lawn Home Journal. His father bought him a small printing press after Frank showed an interest in a commercial one; he was fifteen when he began this paper with his younger brother Harry. The newspaper contained articles, editorials, fiction, poetry, and word games. The Rose Lawn Home Journal did well and some of the local stores bought advertisement space for their services. In 1873, Frank started a new paper called The Empire as well as a philatelic periodical, The Stamp Collector. Early on Frank demonstrated his resourcefulness, drive and creativity. He always had many interests and one of them was tending chickens. With the help of his father and brother Harry, he began to breed Hamburgs, small colorful birds which were popular at the time, and they soon won awards. Frank then began a new magazine called The Poultry Record. His first book, The Book of Hamburgs, A Brief Treatise upon the Mating, Rearing, and Management of the Different Varieties of Hamburgs, was published in 1886. Throughout his life, Frank did well at most things he attempted. His most influential interest was the theatre, which loved and supported throughout his life. He took acting seriously and viewed it as an art. “When he went to plays, he studied actor’s techniques. He memorized passages from Shakespeare, and then, with money from his father, he formed a Shakespearean troupe.” As a young man, he entertained the thought of being an actor. He finally got a taste of the stage with Albert M. Palmer’s Union Square Theatre in New York. Frank took the stage names Louis F. Baum and George Brooks. Benjamin Baum owned a string of opera houses in New York and Pennsylvania and, seeing his son’s enthusiasm and love of the theatre, made him their manager in 1880; eventually Benjamin gave them to him. As he learned what delighted the audiences, Frank set to work on writing plays, of which, The Maid of Arran became an immediate success. “It was based on a novel, A Princess of Thule, by the Scottish novelist William Black.” Frank was the leading man and manager of The Maid of Arran company. Overall, the reviews were very positive and inflamed Frank’s passion for the theatre. While Frank was home on holiday he met the other love of his life, Maud Gage. Maud came from a prosperous family who lived in Fayetteville, NY. Maud’s mother, Matilda Joslyn Gage, was a nationally known feminist, and her father was a dry-goods merchant. It is interesting to note that Matilda worked with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in her later years: it was in the Gage home that these three women wrote The History of Woman Suffrage. At his sister Harriet’s insistence, Frank agreed to meet Maud at a party, who was still at Cornell University. After the holiday season, Maud went back to school and the admiration of other male suitors and Frank stayed with the company.
Baum later recalled his feelings after meeting Maud: “My show had some free time between bookings. At every opportunity I returned to Syracuse, borrowed a horse and buggy from Father, and drove the eight miles to Fayetteville.” Frank began courting Maud soon after meeting her. Matilda Gage was not thrilled by Frank for he seemed rather flighty, a dreamer type and she thought him an unsuitable match for her daughter. However, against the wishes of her mother, Maud and Frank were married on November 9, 1882. Maud went along with Frank and The Maid of Arran company on tour, but when Maud became pregnant with their first child, Baum found a new leading man to take his place, trained a new company manager, and rented a home in Syracuse. Maud soon took over the family finances and the role of disciplinarian, for it was known that these were not Frank’s strong suits. In many respects, Frank and Maud were exact opposites. She was headstrong, strong willed and temperamental. Frank, on the other hand, was low key, optimistic, even-tempered and whimsical. For Baum, “years of living in the shadow of a heart ailment had taught him to avoid upsets that might bring on an attack.” Maud was raised in a much stricter environment though she seems to have had her way with her parents, and was spoiled in a certain respect. “Maud Baum often mentioned that peace and harmony had always graced her home, but those who knew the family best felt that this was true only because Frank, from the time of their marriage until his death 37 years later, allowed her to have her own way with the household, the children, and the family purse.” Whatever their secret formula was to a happy marriage, it seemed their opposite natures were a good combination. During this time, Frank’s health was less than perfect. Baum had suffered one heart attack shortly before his marriage, and in the summer of 1883 his uncertain health was indicated by nausea and dizzy spells. Once settled in Syracuse, Baum worked in sales for his father’s Castorine [an oil byproduct] business. In 1884, trouble hit with full force: Frank’s uncle Doc, then managing the theatrical establishments, became quite ill and a bookkeeper was hired to replace him. Unfortunately, by the time Doc was ready to go back to work, the bookkeeping was so illegible that it was impossible to follow. As it became clear that funds had been terribly mismanaged, the bookkeeper conveniently disappeared. Frank only managed to stay afloat by working as head salesman for his father. Shortly after Frank’s father died, the family fortune began to wane. During this time, Frank was preoccupied with his own fragile health, his hectic sales schedule, the birth of his second son, and the Uncle Doc’s failing health. When business was left in the hands of a clerk, they were taken advantage of again, their money gambled away while bills went unpaid. They lost everything. “In the spring of 1888 Baum returned to Syracuse early one morning from a sales trip and went directly to the office. He unlocked the door, entered, and was stunned to find the clerk sprawled across the desk—dead. The revolver with which he had shot himself was still in his hand.” Forced to sell the business, Frank and Maud decided (at Maud’s suggestion) to move out west to the Dakota territory. “Western Fever” was the talk of the day. Many families were migrating, including Maud’s relatives. In Aberdeen, Frank operated a general store that he named Baum’s Bazaar. It sold a variety of goods from tableware, household goods, tinware and lamps to toys and candy. There were always plenty of children around the store for they liked to listen to Frank tell stories of faraway places and enchanted lands. “The Bazaar always was crowded with youngsters after school. Some bought a penny’s worth of candy or ice cream. . . . Many came to hear stories . . . that Baum could be persuaded to tell.” Unfortunately, due to a terrible drought customers had no money to buy anything, and Baum’s compassion for his neighbors led him to extend such credit that the Baums lost Baum’s Bazaar in 1890. Still, Frank never lost hope or relinquished his creativity and resourcefulness. He began managing a weekly newspaper called The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer. He sold advertisements, set the type, ran the press, and wrote: the skills he acquired as a boy came in handy. To defray costs, though, the paper also included syndicated editorials rife with disparaging racial comments and intolerant attitudes toward Native Americans. It was a well-liked paper but the scarce Dakota years got the best of him and in 1891 Frank lost the Pioneer to bankruptcy. He reportedly responded by saying, “I decided the sheriff wanted the paper more than I.”
Throughout his life, Frank loved children and they adored him. He never stopped believing in the creative powers of the imagination. While working at the paper, he would see his truly faithful story listeners: “Often, as Baum would walk down the streets of Aberdeen on his rounds for news and advertising, he would be stopped by children demanding a story. He would sit down on the edge of the dusty wooden sidewalk . . . and spin one of his yarns of magic countries.” These children forecast his future; they saw his genius for storytelling. Baum decided that moving onward a second time was the smartest choice, and he was right. Chicago’s 1893 World Columbian Exposition seemed a logical place to find employment. Frank first worked as a reporter for the Evening Post but the pay was so slight he became a traveling salesman for a China company, Pitkin and Brooks. Maud’s mother Matilda would stay with her and help when Frank traveled. As Matilda overheard her son-in-law telling the children stories she came to admire his storytelling abilities, encouraging him to write the stories down and publish them. Frank often recited “to the boys [their] favorite Mother Goose rhymes. [Then] they would ask him, for instance, how blackbirds baked in a pie could later come out and sing and get what Harry remembered as a satisfactory answer. Often neighborhood friends of the older boys would drop in for the storytelling hour.” Baum had the ability to capture a child’s imagination and create timeless worlds. He states in the introduction to The Lost Princess of Oz, Imagination has given us the steam engine, the telephone, the talking-machine, and the automobile, for these things had to be dreamed of before they became realities. So I believe that dreams—day dreams—with your eyes wide open—are likely to lead to the betterment of the world. The imaginative child will become the imaginative man or woman most apt to create, to invent, and therefore to foster civilization. A prominent educator tells me that fairy tales are of untold value in developing imagination in the young. I believe it. While traveling, Frank would write in hotel rooms on scrap paper or anything available. While in Chicago, Baum would visit with the Chicago Press Club, which he had joined in his newspaper days. He mentioned to a popular novelist, Opie Read, about his versions of Mother Goose stories and that he was looking for a publisher. Through Read he met Chancey L. Williams of Way & Williams Publishing. With illustrator Maxfield Parrish, Baum’s Mother Goose stories became Mother Goose in Prose in1897. About this time, Frank began to have nasal hemorrhages and terrible chest pains. A heart specialist advised him to find a more sedentary job, rather than travel. Smoking cigars as he did throughout his life probably didn’t help but he did not relinquish them. The Show Window, a monthly trade magazine that Baum started, was one of Baum’s successful creative ventures that he continued until 1902 when it was sold. His days with the Baum Bazaar and with Pitkin and Brooks had given him a keen eye for window design. Baum was able to enliven the topic, “by publishing short stories by Stanley Waterloo and Gardner C. Teall, and by writing himself about the values of window advertising.” Being a magazine editor gave Baum more time to frequent the Press Club. Through his friend Opie Read, he met William W. Denslow, or Den. Denslow was described as being serious and gruff, quite the opposite of Baum, which may have led to the downfall of their relationship. Denslow sported a large walrus moustache and was known to wear a beautiful red vest that he liked to show off while at the Baum home, Den drawing pictures to fit the verse. Their first venture was Father Goose, His Book, published in 1899; it was the bestselling children’s book of the year. Baum had finally hit it just right. It was so popular that it spurred The Songs of Father Goose, in which some of the verses were put to music. The combination of Baum’s verses and Denslow’s illustrations were the perfect mixture to please a child, which was Baum’s original purpose. Sales of the Mother/Father Goose books allowed the Baums to spend several summers at Macatawa Park, Michigan, a resort along the shore of Lake Michigan. They bought
a summer cottage that Frank named “The Sign of the Goose.” Frank made all the cottage furniture by hand: large rocking chairs, a grandfather’s clock, a small bookcase, as well as other creations. He engraved and stenciled geese into some of the woodwork, as well as into a stained glass window, a hobby he took up after recovering from an attack of facial paralysis. Baum also wrote there, including a book about Macatawa entitled Tamawaca Folks: A Summer Comedy. The Baum-Denslow team would produce Frank’s most lasting and popular piece of work, The Wizard of Oz. The most worthy and notable of Baum’s creations was the story of Dorothy and the Scarecrow and the other inhabitants of Oz, which not surprisingly, began as a story told to some of the young neighborhood children and his own children. He wrote out the story, which he titled The Emerald City. His publisher, the Hill Company, had a superstitious notion about a book with a jewel in its title, so Frank finally came up with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Baum had wanted to write a new kind of fairy tale because of the frightening themes he remembered as a child. It has been suggested that Baum never totally created a purely American fairy tale for he did borrow ideas from the European tradition such as witches, wizards, magical shoes, etc. Interestingly he had a recurrent nightmare about a scarecrow who chased him, yet the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz is a friendly companion of Dorothy’s. The Wizard of Oz has been equated with a utopian socialist society because of the inhabitant’s notions of happiness and love, their economy and peaceful ways. It has the universal theme and appeal of fantasy couched in sensible terms. Everyone can understand being lost and trying to get home, feeling alienated and misunderstood, yet simultaneously feeling the excitement of meeting new friends in distant lands in a fanciful adventure; thus, Dorothy’s journey is taken by many. Oz was carefully created with many countries within its borders, each with its own rulers, where the colors of the land coordinated with the inhabitant’s clothing. The characters are interesting, endearing and unforgettable. Maud said of her husband, “Frank knew how to cater to the tastes of children. He wrote their language . . . .” The Baum–Denslow team were to work together on a few more books and projects following their success with The Wizard of Oz. In 1902, they collaborated with Paul Tietjens and Julien Mitchell to produce an adult version of The Wizard of Oz as a musical, a major success that toured the nation. But over time Frank and Den found it more and more impossible to agree and so parted ways. Baum went onto produce 17 sequels to the Oz books. (In fact he named the family dog Toto and their home in California Ozcot.) Children would send him letters constantly telling him how enjoyable and delightful The Wizard of Oz was and would beg him to write more of them. Since the Oz stories appealed to both young and old he received fan mail from both. Baum noted, “My books are intended for all those whose hearts are young, no matter what their ages may be.” People could not get enough of Oz so a small newspaper, The Ozmapolitan was issued in 1905. Baum was the Royal Historian of Oz until his death. Baum did not want to write as many sequels as he did, but he could not refuse children’s requests. While “recording” the history of Oz he also wrote other books under different pen names so he could try other themes and situations, not just the happy place of Oz. For example, Aunt Jane’s Nieces became a very popular teenage series for girls that Baum wrote as Edith Van Dyne. His cumulative financial success gave him not only the comforts of life but the pleasures of traveling that he and Maud enjoyed so much. In 1908, Baum produced a traveling film show called the Fairylogue and Radio Plays, which [unfortunately put Baum in] a great amount of debt. . . . Frank and Maud decided to leave Chicago and move to California, which proved much more compatible with his failing health. Here Frank was very contented, writing constantly, and tending his garden. His garden, like many of his other ventures, was wildly successful. “Baum soon made a name for himself as a grower and exhibitor of prize dahlias and chrysanthemums. His blooms won so many awards in strong competition in that land of flowers that he was often described as the champion amateur horticulturist of Southern California.” His health had begun to fade; it had become quite a restriction and he soon was left immobile, restricted to minor tasks throughout the day. The pressure and strain of his health contributed to his attacks of angina pectoris, as well as unpredictable gall bladder problems and excruciating sharp pain jabs across his face
like seizures. “Although few traces of agony are detectable in his work, there were many times when the tears would stream from his eyes and wet the paper as he wrote.” Baum courageously went on in the face of adversity. He never gave up easily and his horizon always seemed within his grasp. In a letter he wrote to one of his sons serving in WWI, “I have lived long enough to learn that in life nothing adverse lasts very long. And it is true that as years pass, and we look back on something which, at that time, seemed unbelievably discouraging and unfair . . . the eventual outcome was, we discover, by far the best solution for us. . . .” Bedridden and in constant pain, he continued to write, propped up with pillows. Baum had to stop his beloved gardening, answering letters from devoted fans and basking in the California sunshine; nothing could extend Baum’s fragile years. Glinda of Oz, the last of the Oz sequels, was published posthumously in 1920. On May 5, 1919, Frank lapsed into a coma after telling Maud he hoped she would remain in their home when he was gone where they had been so happy. The next day, while in a semicomatose state, Frank’s breathing became very erratic and unsteady, and as he slipped from one world into the next, he managed to whisper to Maud, “Now we can cross the Shifting Sands.” Literary Chronology The Wizard of Oz (originally published as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) (1900) The Land of Oz (originally published as The Marvelous Land of Oz) (1904) Ozma of Oz (1907) Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908) The Road to Oz (1909) The Emerald City of Oz (1910) The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913) Tik-Tok of Oz (1914) The Scarecrow of Oz (1915) Rinkitink in Oz (1916) The Lost Princess of Oz (1917) The Tin Woodman of Oz (1918) The Magic of Oz (1919) Glinda of Oz (1920) The Surprising Adventures of the Magical Monarch of Mo and His People Queen Zixi of Ix, or the Story of the Magic Cloak The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus A Kidnapped Santa Claus The Sea Fairies Sky Island: Being the Further Exciting Adventures of Trot and Cap’n Bill after Their Visits to the Fairies The Master Key: An Electrical Fairy Tale Dot and Tot of Merryland
Creators of the musical Wizard of Oz Harold Arlen - Born Hymen Arluck, the son of a synagogue cantor, in Buffalo, New York on February 15, 1905 [Harold Arlen] emerged as one of the greatest of all American composers and songwriters, writing extraordinarily complex melodies and harmonies that somehow remained accessible to a broad popular audience. He grew up in Buffalo attending public schools and private music study with instructors Arnold Cornelissen and Simon Bucharoff. By age 7 he was singing in his father’s synagogue choir and by age 15 he
had become a professional pianist and entertainer in nightclubs and lake steamers. In his late teens he organized The Snappy Trio, which later became The Southbound Shufflers, and the trio found its way to New York City. In Manhattan, Arlen found a home as a singer, pianist and arranger with dance bands and eventually with Arnold Johnson’s pit orchestra for the Broadway revue George White’s Scandals of 1928. Arlen appeared at the Palace Theatre in New York and did several tours with Loew’s vaudeville circuit. He continued to work on Broadway writing songs for musicals 9:15 Revue, Earl Carroll Vanities (1930 and 1932), Americana [with Yip Harburg, see below], George White’s Music Hall Varieties, and The Show is On. He also wrote entire scores for the Broadway shows You Said It, Cotton Club Parade, Life Begins at 8:40 , Hooray For What, Bloomer Girl [these last three with Harburg], St. Louis Woman, House of Flowers, Jamaica [also with Harburg], Saratoga and Free and Easy (a blues opera; Arlen was chiefly known as a blues master). Arlen collaborated with the greatest of the Tin Pan Alley lyricists, including E.Y. “Yip” Harburg, Johnny Mercer, Ted Koehler, Leo Robin, Ira Gershwin, Dorothy Fields and Truman Capote. Arlen was also active in Hollywood producing some of the greatest film musicals of the era including The Wizard of Oz, Let’s Fall In Love, Blues In the Night, Star Spangled Rhythm, Cabin In the Sky [with Harburg], Up in Arms, Kismet [not the one you’re thinking of], My Blue Heaven, Gay Purr-ee [also with Harburg], Down Among the Sheltering Palms and A Star is Born. The Harold Arlen catalog boast the standards . . . “Get Happy” (1929), “I Love a Parade” (1930), “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” (1931, lyric by Ted Koehler), “I Got A Right To Sing the Blues” (1932, lyric by Ted Koehler), “I’ve Got the World on a String” (1933), “Stormy Weather” (1933, with Ted Koehler), . . . “Last Night When We Were Young” (1935, with E.Y. Harburg), “Blues in the Night” (1941, lyric by Johnny Mercer)[ Arlen taught himself how the blues were formed in order to write this, using W.C. Handy’s Treasury of the Blues as his guide], “That Old Black Magic” (1942, with Johnny Mercer), . . . “One For My Baby (And One for the Road)” (1943, with. Johnny Mercer) “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” (1944, with Johnny Mercer), . . . “Any Place I Hang My Hat is Home” (1946, lyric by Johnny Mercer), . . . “Come Rain or Come Shine” (1946, with Johnny Mercer), and “The Man That Got Away” (1954, with Ira Gershwin). With a catalog of some of the greatest standards from Tin Pan Alley, the standout continues to be the unforgettable score for the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, which he wrote with E. Y. “Yip” Harburg. The film score includes a collection of songs, most notably the celebrated “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” Arlen was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971. E. Y. “Yip” Harburg, lyricist - “Yip” Harburg was born Isidore Hochberg to Jewish immigrant parents on the lower east side of New York City on April 8, 1898. He was nicknamed Yipsel (Yiddish for squirrel) for his constant clowning and unbounded energy. Faithful Orthodox Jews, his parents immersed Harburg in the positive aspects of the world around him, including the arts. Yiddish theatre had a profound effect upon him; the deft blending of humor, fantasy and social commentary left an indelible mark on his own work. He worked at many jobs while growing up, including putting pickles in jars at a small pickle factory, selling newspapers, and lighting street lamps along the docks of the East River. He attended high school at Townsend Harris Hall, an experimental school for talented children, where he worked on the school newspaper with fellow student Ira Gershwin. [It was Ira who introduced Yip to Arthur Sullivan’s musical settings of W.S. Gilbert’s “poems,” otherwise known as lyrics. Both future lyricists were also contributors to a witty column edited by Franklin P. Adams, “The Conning Tower”; other contributors included playwrights George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly, Dorothy Parker, E.B. White and James Thurber.] After graduation from City College of New York in 1921, Harburg worked as a journalist in South America. When he returned to the United States, he became co-proprietor of an electrical appliance company
that went out of business after the 1929 stock market crash. He told Studs Terkel, “I was relived when the Crash came. I was released. Being in business was someting I detested. When I found that I could sell a song or a poem, I became me, I became alive. . . . When I lost my possessions, I found my creativity.” Harburg’s old friend Gershwin loaned him some money and introduced him to a number of talented composers and writers. Harburg ventured into songwriting by writing lyrics for music by Jay Gorney, a former lawyer. . . . For the 1932 revue, Americana, they wrote what has been called “the anthem of the Depression,” “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” Harold Meyerson notes, “It was the first theatre (or film, or pop) song to treat the wreckage of the Depression seriously. . . . Yip’s achievement . . . was to have personalized the social, to have encapsulated the destruction and upheaval of the Depression in an individual story.” Considered by Republicans to be anti-capitalist propaganda, it was almost dropped from the show and attempts were made to ban it from the radio. Harburg and Gorney were offered contracts with Paramount Pictures, and during the following decades, Harburg wrote lyrics for the music of many composers, including Harold Arlen, Vernon Duke, Jerome Kern, Jule Styne, and Burton Lane. Harburg collaborated with Duke on several shows, including Walk a Little Faster in 1932, which introduced “April in Paris” [April in Paris/Chesnut in blossom/Holiday tables under the trees . . .]. Harburg’s very successful partnership with Arlen continued sporadically over many decades. With Billy Rose, they wrote “It’s Only a Paper Moon” in 1933 [Say, it’s only a paper moon/Sailing over a cardboard sea/But it wouldn’t be make believe/If you believed in me]. They followed up with a successful revue, Life Begins at 8:40, which included lyric collaborations with his old friend, Ira Gershwin. . . . The team’s pinnacle came in 1939, when they wrote the score for the movie The Wizard of Oz, which Harburg approached as a Depression fantasy. [Producer Arthur Freed, trusting Harburg’s judgement over his own, gave the lyricist the adaptations a series of writers had made of L. Frank Baum’s book, of which Yip chose Noel Langley’s as closest to the original. This gave Harburg and Arlen an unprecedented opportunity to incorporate their songs into the action of the film, which they took advantage of. Harburg said to Freed, “Let me write a score for the thing that will tell the story and then we will hang some of the best scenes onto that score.” He explained to Aljean Harmetz, “One function of song is to simplify, to take the clutter out of too much plot and too many characters, to telescope everything into one emotional idea. . . . I threw out [Langley’s] Munchkin sequence and lyriecized it, the whole ten minutes in rhyme.” And because he and Arlen had experience writing Broadway songs for Ray Bolger (Arlen’s onetime roommate) and the inimitable Bert Lahr, they were able to tailor “If I Only Had a Brain/a Heart/ some Courage” and, especially, “If I Were King of the Forest” to their actors’ talents.] Other songs from it included [the standard] “(Somewhere) Over the Rainbow,” “Ding, Dong! The Witch is Dead,” and “We’re Off to See the Wizard.” Soon after that film was finished Arlen and Harburg were given the task of writing songs for the Marx Brothers’ movie At the Circus, luckily for us, for they wrote “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady” for Groucho: “Lydia, oh, Lydia/That ‘encyclopidia’/Oh, Lydia, the queen of tattoo/On her back is the Battle of Waterloo/Beside it the wreck of the Hesperus too/And proudly above waves the red, white and blue/You can learn a lot from Lydia.” In 1943, they wrote the score for the movie Cabin in the Sky, which featured “Happiness is Just a Thing Called Joe.” Harburg and Arlen’s 1944 Broadway musical, Bloomer Girl, which starred Celeste Holm, was unlike the typical musical of the day, because it addressed slavery, the woman’s reform movement, and the horrors of war. Celeste Helm starred as a rebellious young daughter of a hoopskirt manufacturer, who refuses to wear hoopskirts and marry her father’s choice of a husband. Joining forces with her progressive aunt, Dolly Bloomer, the two women work together for abolition and women’s rights. . . . In 1947, Harburg and Burton Lane collaborated on what is considered the masterpiece of Harburg’s
career, the Broadway musical Finian’s Rainbow. In keeping with Harburg’s passion for social issues, Finian’s Rainbow dealt with issues of race and prejudice amid leprechauns, pots of gold, and politics in the fictitious southern U.S. state of Missitucky. The score included “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?,” “Old Devil Moon,” “Look to the Rainbow,” “If This Isn’t Love,” “When I’m Not Near the Girl I Love,” and “Necessity.” Harburg, who had been a member of several radical organizations but never officially joined the Communist party, was named in Red Channels. This pamphlet, distributed to organizations involved in employing people in the entertainment industry, listed 150 people who had been involved in promoting left-wing causes. This, along with his affiliation with the Hollywood Democratic Committee, led to his blacklisting by the film industry as well as the revocation of his passport. He was not helped by the failure of his next project with composers Sammy Fain and Fred Saidy. Flahooley opened on Broadway in 1951 to negative reviews. Set in a toy factory, Harburg parodied the rabid anti-communist sentiment and witch hunts that pervaded 1950s America through a fantastic storyline that was nearly impossible to follow. The cast included the Bill Baird Marionettes, Yma Sumac and Barbara Cook. Despite the score, which included “Here’s To Your Illusions,” audiences stayed away. In spite of the blacklist, Harburg continued to write poetry and musicals, including 1957’s Jamaica, with music by Arlen and Lena Horne as the leading lady, and 1961’s The Happiest Girl in the World (set to music by Offenbach). Based on Aristophanes’ anti-war Lysistrata, it presented Harburg with an opportunity to mock growing militarism of the industrial nations. A collaboration with Jule Styne produced Darling of the Day in 1968. It starred Vincent Price and Patricia Routledge, who won a Tony Award for her performance in this short-lived musical about an anti-social painter who seeks anonymity and romance with a rambunctious young widow in downscale Putney-on-the-Thames, England in 1908. Harburg and Arlen wrote some songs for Judy Garland near the end of her career, when they wrote the score for the animated movie Gay Purree (1962), in which she sang “Paris is a Lonely Town,” and the title song for her final movie, I Could Go On Singing (1963). On the occasion of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death in 1968, they wrote the song “Silent Spring.” The Sixties folk group Peter, Paul and Mary recorded his “Hurry Sundown,” which landed on the pop music charts. Harburg once said, “I am one of the last of a small tribe of troubadours who still believe that life is a beautiful and exciting journey with a purpose and grace which are well worth singing about.” Harburg died [of a heart attack while driving] in Los Angeles, California on March 5, 1981. Noel Langley A successful Broadway playwright, Langley began writing for films in the late 30s, most notably on the musicals Maytime and The Wizard of Oz. Among the screenplays he received no credit for were Babes in Arms and Northwest Passage. After World War Two he entered the British film industry, working on such memorable films as Trio, Scrooge (aka A Christmas Carol), Tom Brown’s Schooldays, and Richard Thorpe’s swashbucklers Ivanhoe and The Prisoner of Zenda. Langley began directing his own scripts in 1952 with his Dickens adaptation The Pickwick Papers; he went on to helm the sex farce Our Girl Friday (aka The Adventures of Sadie), Svengali with Donald Wolfit, and the fact-based occult drama The Search for Bridey Murphy. His later scriptwriting credits include The Vagabond King for director Michael Curtiz and Snow White and the Three Stooges. Florence Ryerson Active from 1926, American screenwriter Florence Ryerson was employed by Paramount Pictures when talkies came in. During this period, Ryerson’s assignments included the studio’s Fu Manchu films and the 1929 Philo Vance mystery The Canary Murder Case. She also had a hand in 1931’s The Reckless Hour. It
was another Philo Vance yarn, The Casino Murder Case, which brought her to MGM in 1935. Four years later, she was one of the credited screenwriters for the studio’s musical classic The Wizard of Oz (1939). Thereafter, any screen derivation of Oz was obliged to carry Florence Ryerson’s name in the credits, even the 1971 European quickie Aysecik and the Bewitched Dwarves in Dreamland (1971). She was also known as a short story writer (her Christmas story “The Littlest Shepherd” was included in an anthology of seasonal tales), and, with husband Colin Clements (1894-1948, who also was a detective story author), a playwright. The Pasadena Playhouse, a theatrical respite for Hollywood’s “emigrant” population from New York, presented their Harriet (which was included in Burns Mantle’s Best Plays of 1942/ 1943), Oh, Susanna (1947) and Strange Bedfellows (1949); Ryerson’s Little Scandal appeared there a year later. The couple also wrote the high school press room comedy Ever Since Eve and collaborated on screenplays, although Ryerson worked on more films with Edgar Allan Woolf than she did with Clements. Edgar Allan Woolf Before entering films, Edgar Allan Woolf was a prolific vaudeville sketch writer; at one time, 60 of his sketches were playing simultaneously on the vaudeville circuits. Woolf also penned special material for Broadway musical revues, not to mention a few plays, one of which, April Fool, was filmed in 1926. He was also the librettist for Toot Toot, which featured music by Jerome Kern and lyrics by Berton Braley. When talkies came in, he was signed by MGM as a scenarist (Freaks, Mask of Fu Manchu) and script doctor. When released theatrically in 1932, Freaks was met with near universal disgust by critics and audiences alike, lasting in theatres for only a short time in the States and banned in England. The film stars Harry Earles as Hans, a suave midget who belongs to the sideshow of a seedy circus and who makes the mistake of falling in love with the beautiful Cleopatra, one of the “normal” circus performers. Learning that Hans is about to inherit a fortune, Cleopatra agrees to marry Hans even though she abhors him, planning to steal his money and get rid of him. When the freaks of the circus, who keep a watchful eye on Cleopatra, discover her scheme, they plan to exact an unforgettable revenge. Far more unsettling than [the] horror film, Dracula, Freaks has long been neglected due to its subject matter, even though it is a genuinely effective film. Gripping and often creepy, Freaks manages to humanize its main performers, even looking at them with a sense of awe. By contrast, the “normal” performers in the film are largely hateful creatures who turn out to be much more repellant than their deformed colleagues. Both an excellent horror film and a unique look at the lives of sideshow performers, Freaks is a chilling movie whose final ten minutes are some of the most harrowing in all of cinema. He was also a contributor to Man Killer, a 1932 flick. He usually worked in tandem with Florence Ryerson; their best-known collaboration was the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz. Prior to that Woolf and Ryerson wrote the script for the 1936 film Tough Guy; the same year as The Wizard they completed work on a Joan Crawford picture, The Ice Follies of 1939. [In it] Mary and Larry McKay are a modestly successful skating team. Shortly after their marriage, Mary (Joan Crawford) gets a picture contract, while Larry (Jimmy Stewart) is sitting at home, out of work. To prove that he can accomplish things on his own, he leaves Hollywood and convinces a former partner to put on an ice revue in Canada. The show is a huge success, but it makes it impossible for him to be with his wife, but the studio boss has a wonderful idea which will make everyone happy [in typical Hollywood fashion]. Interestingly, like The Wizard of Oz, the film ended in a beautiful Technicolor sequence. Still, it was not a success. In addition to his scripting talents, Woolf was an accomplished gourmet chef, and for many years his weekend dinner parties were major Hollywood social events. At the time of his death on Dec. 8, 1943, Edgar Allan Woolf hadn’t received a screen credit for nearly five years, though he’d kept active rewriting the works of others sans billing. Vocabulary
Scarecrow sings: “I could be another Lincoln” – a reference to our 16th president, true, but your students may not know how revered he was by Midwesterners in particular as late as the late 19th century, when Baum wrote this book. Heavenly semaphores – The Lion hears beautiful singing coming from the Emerald City, but rather than call it the music of the heavenly spheres, he comes up with semaphores. Jiminy crickets - J.W. Hiebert, in his online essay “Christian Cursing,” tells us that “Jiminy Crickets has been used by many [Christian] people, however, it is . . . a euphemistic expression of Jesus Christ. It is just a way to try to exchange acceptable words with which to euphemistically use our Lord’s name lightly. It is an interjection.” Caliginous - Webster’s says, “ dark and gloomy.” The Wizard is simply indulging in some alliteration, which is, of course, the repetition of a consonant sound at the beginning of two or more words in a phrase or sentence; a tongue twister is an extreme example of alliteration. The Tinman isn’t really dark and gloomy, but it sounds good, doesn’t it? Bovine fodder - literally, cow food, the straw the Scarecrow is stuffed with. This is another Wizard putdown. Whippersnapper - Again we turn to Webster: “an insignificant, often impudent [that it, smart mouth] person.” Mellifluous baggage (the Wizard calls Dorothy this) - “flowing with sweetness or honey, smooth and sweet” is what mellifluous means, but baggage is another put-down: “an impudent [there’s that word again!] or saucy girl or woman.” Are you getting the sense that the Wizard is trying to sound important and intellectual, but he is neither? Simian minion - The Wicked Witch calls the captain of the flying monkeys, Nikko, her “monkey assistant”: simian = ape and minion = subordinate officer. Flibberty-gibbet - “a silly, scatterbrained person.” Fly-by-Night - “Fly-by-night was originally an ancient term of reproach to an old woman, signifying she is a witch, according to Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. From a witch flying about at night on a broom, the term was applied, at the beginning of the 19th century, to anyone who flies hurriedly from a recent activity, usually a business activity and usually at night – someone who is a swindler and whose activities are fraudulent,” our friends at The Phrase Finder say. Jitterbug - In The Wizard of Oz this insect is something that can inflict humans but it’s merely a personification of a lively dance from the 1930s, “a strenuous dance performed to quick-tempo jazz or swing music and having various two-step patterns embellished with twirls and sometimes acrobatic maneuvers.” Yip Harburg and Harold Arlen originally wrote this dance number because the Wicked Witch of the West says she is sending “an insect” to pester Dorothy and her companions, and the number was filmed but was ultimately cut from the movie because the studio felt the movie was too long. Arlen took some home movies of part of the dance sequence, however, so some of the number still exists and has been excerpted in “behind-thescenes” documentaries about the movie. Universitatus commetteatum e pluribus unum - That ol’ Wizard is just making things up now, in pseudoLatin. He means the university committee (universitatus commetteatum) is conferring this diploma on the
Scarecrow, and then he throws in a real Latin phrase that he learned from U.S. money, e pluribus unum, which means “out of many, one,” a reference to our country being composed of so many states, you know, the United States. “The sum of the square root of any 2 sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side.” Compare the Scarecrow’s definition of this triangle with MathWorld’s: “An isosceles triangle is a triangle with (at least) two equal sides. [Assuming] the two equal sides have length b, the remaining side has length a. This property is equivalent to two angles of the triangle being equal. An isosceles triangle therefore has both two equal sides and two equal angles. The name derives from the Greek iso (same) and skelos (leg).” Sounds as if the Scarecrow has “caught” the Wizard’s speech patterns! Fortitude - “strength of mind allowing one to endure pain or adversity courageously.” Cataclysmic - disastrous. Stratospheric skill - well, the dictionary says, “the relatively isothermal part of the atmosphere above the strophospere and below the mesosphere,” but it just means the sky. The Wizard has lapsed into his standard hot air balloon introduction, as if he’s at a county fair. Conveyance - a vehicle, like a car or bus, or, in the 19th century, horse and buggy. Par ardua ad alta - Here’s some more bogus Latin. The Wizard probably means that flying his balloon is difficult (ardua = arduous, I think) and will rise impossibly high (unless alta = old, as it does in German, but old makes even less sense than the Wizard usually does). telegraph - “a [19th century] communication system that transmits and receives . . . electric impulses,” usually the dots and dashes of Morse code, over wires. This system predates telephones, it’s so old! Lyrics Somewhere Over the Rainbow Dorothy (intro): When all the world is a hopeless jumble And the raindrops tumble all around Heaven opens a magic lane When all the clouds darken up the skyway There’s a rainbow highway to be found Leading from your window pane To a place behind the sun Just a step beyond the rain (Verse) Somewhere over the rainbow way up high There’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue And the dreams that you dare to dream Really do come true (Bridge) Some day I’ll wish upon a star And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops Away above the chimney tops That’s where you’ll find me (Refrain) Somewhere over the rainbow blue birds fly Birds fly over the rainbow Why then, oh why can’t I? If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow Why oh why can’t I? Munchkinland Operetta Yip Harburg told interviewer Max Wilk that editing and shaping the Wizard of Oz script “gave me wider scope. Not just 32-bar songs, but what would amount to the acting out of entire scenes, dialogues in verse and set to Harold’s modern music. All of that had to be thought out by us and then brought in and shown to the director so he could see what we were getting at. Things like the three Lullaby girls and the three tough kids who represented the Lollipop Guild. And the Coroner . . . it wasn’t in the book.” It was decidedly in the film, with dialogue as well as lyrics by Yip: Dorothy. But, if you please, what are Munchkins? Glinda. The little people who live in this land. It’s Munchkinland. And you are their national heroine, my dear . . . (To Munchkins) It’s all right. You may all come out and thank her. [She starts singing in a conversational tone so that it is hard to realize, at first, that a number has begun.] Come out Come out Wherever you are And meet the young lady Who fell from a star She fell from the sky She fell very far And Kansas she says Is the name of the star Munchkins. Kansas she says Is the name of the star Glinda. She brings you good news Or haven’t you heard When she fell out of Kansas A miracle occurred . . . Dorothy. It really was no miracle What happened was just this The wind began to switch The house to pitch And suddenly the hinges started to unhitch Just then the witch To satisfy an itch Went flying on her broomstick Thumbing for a hitch And oh, what happen’d then was rich
Munchkins. The house began to pitch The kitchen took a slitch It landed on the wicked witch In the middle of a ditch Which was not a healthy sitch-uation For a wicked witch Who began to twitch And was reduced to just a stitch Of what was once the wicked witch A Munchkin. We thank you very sweetly For doing it so neatly 2nd Munchkin. You killed her so completely That we thank you very sweetly. Glinda. Let the joyous news be spread: The wicked old witch at last is dead! Munchkins. Ding dong! The witch is dead Which old witch? The wicked witch Ding dong, the wicked witch is dead Wake up, you sleepy head Rub your eyes, Get out of bed Wake up, the wicked witch is dead She’s gone where the goblins go, Below, below, below, yo-ho Let’s open up and sing And ring the bells out Ding dong, the merry-o Sing it high, Sing it low, Let them know the wicked witch is dead Munchkin Mayor. As Mayor of the Munchkin city In the County of The Land of Oz I welcome you most regally But we’ve got to verify it legally To see 2nd Munchkin. Munchkin Mayor. 2nd Munchkin.
To see If she If she
Munchkin Mayor. Is morally, ethically, 2nd Munchkin.
Both. Positively, Undeniably, Absolutely And reliably Dead. Coroner. As Coroner I must aver I thoroughly Examined her And she’s not only merely dead. She’s really most sincerely dead. Mayor. Then this is a day of independence For all the Munchkins and their descendants. Yes, let the joyous news be spread That the wicked old witch at last is Dead! Munchkins. Ding dong! The witch is dead Which old witch? The wicked witch Ding dong, the wicked witch is dead Wake up, you sleepy head Rub your eyes, Get out of bed Wake up, the wicked witch is dead She’s gone where the goblins go, Below, below, below, yo-ho Let’s open up and sing And ring the bells out Ding dong, the merry-o Sing it high, Sing it low, Let them know the wicked witch is dead. Lullabye League Munchkins. We represent the Lullabye League The Lullabye League The Lullabye League And in the name of the Lullabye League We wish to welcome you to Munchkinland. Lollypop Guild Munchkins. We represent the Lollypop Guild The Lollypop Guild The Lollypop Guild And in the name of the Lollypop Guild
We wish to welcome you to Munchkinland. All Munchkins. Tra la la la la Tra la la Tra la la Tra la la la la la Mayor. lst Munchkin. 2nd Munchkin.
We welcome you to Munchkinland
From now on you’ll be history You’ll be histYou’ll be hist-
Mayor. You’ll be history. And we will glorify your name You will be a bust lst Munchkin. 2nd Munchkin. Mayor.
Be a bust Be a bust In the Hall of Fame
Munchkins. Tra la la la Tra la la Tra la la Tra la la la la laaaaaaaa [Wicked Witch of the West appears in red smoke and spoken dialogue resumes] The Munchkinland operetta is more formally ambitious than anything Yip was to undertake in his later Broadway shows—in part because it comments upon a social formality and order that was fading from the American scene. The sequence isn’t simply musicalized speech; it’s musicalized speeches—of mayors and council members, union leaders and the heads of ladies’ auxiliaries, coroners and soldiers. . . . If I Only Had a Brain/a Heart/the Nerve Scarecrow. Tinman. I could while away the hours When a man’s an empty kettle Conferrin’ with the flow’rs He should be on his mettle Consultin’ with the rain And yet I’m torn apart And my head I’d be scratchin’ Just because I’m presumin’ While my thoughts were busy hatchin’ That I could be kinda human If I only had a brain. If I only had a heart. I’d unravel ev’ry riddle I’d be tender, I’d be gentle For any individdle and awful sentimental In trouble or in pain Regarding love and art Dorothy. With the thoughts you’d be ’I’d be friends with the sparrows
Lion. Yeah, it’s sad, believe me, missy, When you’re born to be a sissy Without the vim and verve But I could show my prow-ess Be a lion, not a mow-ess If I only had the nerve. I’m afraid there’s no denyin’ I’m just a dandylion A fate I don’t deserve I’d be brave as a blizzard
thinkin You could be another Lincoln If you only had a brain gizzard Scarecrow. Oh, I could tell you why The ocean’s near the shore I could think of things brain I never thunk before And then I’d sit And think some more I would not be just a nuffin’ My head all full of stuffin’ My heart all full of pain And perhaps I’d deserve you And be even worthy “erv” you If I only had a brain.
Merry Old Land Called Oz Chorus. Ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, ho! And a couple of tra-la-las That’s how we laugh the day away In the merry old land of Oz ‘Bzz, ‘bzz, ‘bzz, Chirp, chirp, chirp And a couple of la-de-das That’s how the crickets crick all day In the merry old land of Oz We get up at twelve And start to work at one Take an hour for lunch And then at two we’re done Jolly good fun Ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, ho! And a couple of tra-la-las That’s how we laugh the day away In the merry old land of Oz. Tailors. A pat pat here And a pat pat there And a couple of brand new straws That’s how we keep you young and fair In the merry old land of Oz Metal Polishers. A rub rub here And a rub rub there Whether you’re tin or bronze That’s how we keep you in repair
And the boy that shoots the arrows Tinman. I’d be gentle as a lizard If I only had a heart. Scarecrow. I’d be clever as a Picture me a balcony Dorothy. If the wizard is a wizard Above a voice sings low Who will serve “Wherefore art Thou, Romeo?”Scarecrow. Then I’m sure to get a I hear a beat How sweet! Just to register emotion, Jealousy, devotion, And really feel the part I’d stay young and chipper And I’d lock it with a zipper If I only had a heart.
Tinman. A heart Dorothy. A home Lion. The noive All. We’re off to see the wizard The wonderful Wizard of Oz . . .
In the merry old land of Oz. Beauticians. We can make a dimple smile out of a frown Dorothy. Can you even dye my eyes to match my gown? Beautician. Uh-huh Dorothy. Jolly old town. Beauticians. A clip clip here And a clip clip there We give the roughest claws Lion. That certain air of savoir faire In the merry old land of Oz. Dorothy and Friends. Ha ha ha Ho ho ho Ha ha ha ha Lion. Haw Dorothy and Friends. That’s how we laugh the day away In the merry old land of Oz That’s how we laugh the day away With a ha ha ha Ha ha ha Ha ha ha Ha ha ha Ha ha ha Ha ha ha In the merry old land of Oz Ha ha ha Ha ha ha ... If I Were King of the Forest Lion. If I were King of the Forest Not Queen, not Duke, not Prince My regal robes of the forest Would be satin, not cotton, not chintz I’d command each thing Be it fish or fowl With a woof and a woof And a royal growl As I’d click my heel All the trees would kneel And the mountains bow And the bulls kow-tow And the sparrows would take wing ‘F I, ‘f I, were king Each rabbit would show respect to me The chipmunks genuflect to me
Tho’ my tail would lash I would show compash For ev’ry underling ‘F I, ‘f I, were king, —just king. Dorothy. Your majesty, if you were king You’d not be afraid of anything? Lion. Not nobody, not nohow Tinman. Not even rhinocerous? Lion. Imposserous. Dorothy. How about a hippopotamus? Lion. I’d thrash him from top to bottomamus. Dorothy. Supposin’ you met an elephant? Lion. I’d wrap him up in cellophant Scarecrow. What if it were a brontosaurus? Lion. I’d show him who’s king of the fores’. All. How? Lion. HOW? Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk In the misty mist or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the Sphinx the Seventh Wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the hottentot so hot? What put the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got? All. Courage! Lion. (Spoken) You can say that again. Huh?!
Matilda Joslyn Gage, Baum’s mother-in-law Matilda Joslyn Gage was born in Cicero, New York, an eastern suburb of Syracuse, in 1826. She made her first public speech at the third national Women’s Rights convention in Syracuse in 1852, and rapidly became a leader in the women’s rights movement. Raised in an Abolitionist home that was a station on the underground railroad, where she was taught multiple languages, Gage was throughout her career among the more radical leaders of the movement, and like Elizabeth Cady Stanton focused particularly on the role of social and religious institutions as well as civil concerns. Her writing focused on significant accomplishments of women in invention, military affairs, and in history. Gage co-authored with Stanton and Susan B. Anthony the first three volumes of A History of Woman Suffrage. She also worked with Stanton on The Woman’s Bible, and in 1893 she published Woman, Church and State, her most widely known solo publication. In 1879 Gage’s newspaper, The National Citizen and Ballot Box, published the early sections of A History of Woman Suffrage, including Stanton’s account of the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention. The newspaper was used prior to printing in book form in order to provide an opportunity for comment. In 1880 Gage became the first woman to vote in Fayetteville under a state law that permitted women to vote in school board elections. Gage’s Fayetteville home is privately owned, and bears only a small plaque marking it as a site of
significance. The inscription on her gravestone in the Fayetteville Cemetery was a lifelong motto with which she frequently signed autographs, including the 1876 Centennial memorial: There is a word sweeter than Mother, Home or Heaven, that word is Liberty. Matilda Joslyn Gage: Forgotten Feminist by Sally Roesch Wagner Sally Roesch Wagner, PhD is widely regarded as the leading authority on the life and work of Matilda Joslyn Gage. Introduced by Susan B. Anthony at the International Council of Women in 1888, Matilda Joslyn Gage began her speech with a brief sketch of her early entry into the suffrage movement: I have frequently been asked what first turned by thoughts toward woman’s rights. I think I was born with a hatred of oppression, and, too, in my father’s house, I was trained in the anti-slavery ranks, for it was one of the stations on the underground railway, and a home of anti-slavery speakers. Well I remember the wonder with which, when a young girl, I looked upon Abby Kelly, when she spoke of the wrongs of black women and black men. Then I remember . . . a large and enthusiastic anti-slavery convention was held, attended by thousands of people who all joined in singing William Lloyd Garrison’s song, “I’m an Abolitionist and glory in the Name,” and as they rang out that glorious defiance against wrong, it thrilled my very heart, and I feel it echoing to this day. I am indebted to my father for something better than a collegiate education. He taught me to think for myself, and not to accept the word of any man, or society, or human being, but to fully examine for myself. My father was a physician, training me himself, giving me lessons in physiology and anatomy, and while I was a young girl he spoke of my entering Geneva Medical College, whose president was his old professor, and studying for a physician, but that was not to be. I had been married quite a number of years when Elizabeth Blackwell was graduated from that institution, which opened its doors to admit her, closing them, upon her graduation, to women, until its union with Syracuse University. But with regard to woman’s rights proper, when I saw the reports of the first convention in the New York Tribune, I knew my place; and when I read the notice of a convention to be held in Syracuse, in 1852, I at once decided to publicly join the ranks of those who spoke against wrong. But I was entirely ignorant of all parliamentary rule, or what was necessary to be done. I prepared my speech, and going to the convention, sat near the front, and with a palpitating heart waited until I obtained courage to go upon the platform, probably to the interference of arrangements, for I knew nothing about the proper course for me to take. But I was so sweetly welcomed by the sainted Lucretia Mott, who gave me a place, and, when I had finished speaking, referred so pleasantly to what I had said [that] to her my heart turned always with truest affection. Soon after the close of the convention, almost immediately afterwards, it was criticized from the pulpit by the Rev. Mr. Ashley, of the Episcopal Church, and Rev. Mr. Sunderland, now of this city, but then established at Syracuse. With the latter gentleman I carried on a long newspaper controversy. As [it] has been truly said, it is not religion that has opposed woman suffrage, because true religion believes in undoing the heavy burdens and letting the oppressed go free. But from the church and from theology this reform has met opposition at every step. . . .
It was Gage’s outspoken opposition to the bigotry of Christian theology that would eventually cost her dearly. The price of liberty to Matilda Joslyn Gage became historical invisibility. “Until liberty is attained—the broadest, the deepest, the highest liberty for all—not one set alone, [nor] one clique alone, but for men and women, black and white, Irish, Germans, Americans, and Negroes, there can be no permanent peace.” Gage spoke these words during the Civil War, and they characterize her life-long commitment to the struggle of freedom for all people. Suggested Activities from: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Website http://www.eskimo.com/~tiktok/ozteach.html According to the webpage, “These lesson plans are not intended to be complete, but merely to suggest directions a Wizard of Oz-themed lesson can go. For this reason, I have decided not to give any sort of grade range. It is up to the teachers, who know their students and their abilities, to adapt these ideas for their classes. (It should be noted that many of these plans are based on the original novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which the famous movie is based on, but there are some differences.) . . . . Don’t let the somewhat arbitrary labels throw you, there is a lot of interdisciplinary learning here, and I give some suggestions of what other areas similar lessons can be applied.” Science and Health What a difference bones make! The class builds a life-sized Scarecrow to learn the difference skeletal systems make to the way their bodies work. What are things made of? Teach the categories of matter using the Oz characters (animal/Cowardly Lion, vegetable/Scarecrow and mineral/Tin Woodman). What makes each essential? Water melts the Wicked Witch of the West and what else? In Baum’s book, Dorothy says the Witch melts like brown sugar. Build small brown sugar witches and melt them. Have students discover what else is water soluble by attempting to dissolve different solids in water. Are prairies really all gray? What other colors are found on the prairie? Have students count the colors in their classroom, clothing or that they can see out their window. Identify the grasslands/prairies around the earth and compare the natural resources found there to those where the students live. (Also ties in with geography.) Get carried way with a study of tornadoes (or understanding storms in general). Could work with the group who developed a program for kids in areas hit by disasters. NOAA’s tornado page and The Tornado Project Online are also good starting points. Why aren’t our streets paved in gold? And our shoes made of sterling silver? From non-renewable natural resources to items made with skill, some things have more monetary value than others in our society. Students identify and report on what is valued and why. Examples can be historic and contemporary. (Also ties in with geography, sociology, and economics.) Gemstones are common in Oz, from rubies to emeralds. What are gems, how are they made, and why are they so valuable? And could you really make a city of emeralds, or wear a pair of ruby shoes? The animals of Oz. Study the habitats, diet and characteristics of dogs, lions, field mice and monkeys. Why does courage matter to a lion? Why is he called the king of beasts? Poppies. Identify different colors and varieties of poppies. Figure how many it would take to fill a field the size of a football stadium/playground/nearby park. Make paper poppies as an arts and crafts project, or grow real poppies in class. (Also ties in with mathematics and art.) Weight. The field mice pull the Cowardly Lion from the poppy field. The Tin Woodman and Scarecrow carry a sleeping Dorothy to safety. Later, the flying monkeys carry Dorothy and the Lion. How can you carry a friend safely? Learn appropriate lifting habits and study weight. (Also ties in with mathematics.) Why do we sleep? Night after night in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz the Scarecrow and Tin
Woodsman stand quietly and watch Dorothy sleeping, wondering why she does it. What does sleep do to restore us? How much sleep do people need? In the famous 1939 Judy Garland movie, the whole adventure is a dream caused by stress and a bump on the head. Why do we dream? Why do we dream only during the R. E. M. stage of sleep? Also, dreams are often spawned by events that have already happened to us. For example, Dorothy placed Hunk in her dream as the brainless Scarecrow because, before she was knocked unconscious, Hunk told Dorothy to use her brains about Miss Gulch, and that her brains weren’t made out of straw. This phenomenon can be explored as used in the movie, Return to Oz (1985), or in general. The Munchkins grew to be no bigger than Dorothy. What factors effect how much you will grow? Discuss genetics, diet, exercise and other factors that influence size. For an “Ozzy” way to explain some ideas of more advanced science, you may want to acquire the book The Wizard of Quarks: A Fantasy of Particle Physics by Robert Gilmore. Geography Students can create their own maps of Oz, based on the endpapers of [the book] Tik-Tok of Oz or the set of maps printed and sold by the International Wizard of Oz Club. Or use the maps to develop map-reading skills. (Also ties in with art.) Using a list of all the languages into which The Wizard of Oz has been translated (about sixty at last count), students find countries where those languages are spoken. Kids also could report on what life was like in those countries in the year 1900 (when the novel was first published) and how it has changed. (Also ties in with history.) Where are you from? Students find out and report to the class where their recent ancestors called “home.” How far back in their family must they look to find ancestors who were not American? Use a map of the world to create a class profile. This could support a curriculum unit on diversity. Provide opportunities for Native American children in your group to share their heritage. (Also ties in with history.) If there was a Yellow Brick Road between your house and the White House (or anywhere else, like Seattle, “The Emerald City”), how long would it take you to get there if you walked all the way? Dorothy often rode the Cowardly Lion (note to teachers, remember that Baum’s character is a fourlegged beast, not a man in a lion suit. . .). What types of transportation could you ride? How long would each method of transportation take and what would it cost? If you traveled by ground, what places would you see along the way? How would your journey have been different 100 years ago? (Also ties in with history.) History Write an essay comparing turn-of-the-century schooling to schools today. Or Dorothy’s home to their own home. Or her family to theirs. (Also ties in with language arts.) Live for a day like it was in 1900 schools, with only books—no TV, recorded music, computers or videos. Have the teacher and students use only chalk and the chalkboards, share their books and otherwise mimic the 1900 schoolroom. If available locally, take a field trip to restored/preserved turn-of-the-century site(s). The State of Kansas is known around the globe because of Dorothy. What else has Kansas contributed to history, literature, etc., and what are the state’s contributions today? (Also ties in with geography.) The States: Each child takes a state and identifies/reports on the best-known thing about it. Or have groups investigate the states L. Frank Baum lived in: New York, South Dakota, Illinois and California. How is that particular thing communicated to different generations? (Also ties in with geography and language arts.) What ways (legends, letters, books, songs, plays, films, exhibits, etc.) are there to communicate history? (Also ties in with language arts.) Create a Yellow Brick timeline of Baum’s life and the creation of the Oz books.
Who was L. Frank Baum? Students can research him and present their findings. Compare the written biographies of Baum with the television movie The Dreamer of Oz (televised Dec. 10, 1990). Baum’s mother-in-law was Matilda Gage, a Fayetteville native and one of the leaders of the turn-ofthe-century Women’s Suffrage movement. Students can research Gage and the Suffrage movement, and how they influenced Baum’s career. (Baum satirizes the Suffrage movement in [the book] The Marvelous Land of Oz.) Many people believe that The Wizard of Oz is a political story, a thinly-veiled satire of the American Populist movement of the turn of the century. While most Baum and Oz scholars don’t believe this to be the case, it does demonstrate that Baum’s writings reflected the times he lived in. Other examples of world events influencing Baum’s works may include the Women’s Suffrage movement in The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904), the San Francisco Earthquake in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908), and the Russian Revolution in The Magic of Oz (1919). How many other real-life examples can be found in the Oz books, or any other source? (Note that there are no strict right-and-wrong answers to this, it’s all a matter of interpretation. Also ties in with language arts.) Mathematics Make a Yellow Brick Road of paper for your classroom floor (or go outside and use yellow street chalk). How many bricks would it take to make your yellow brick road cross the hall? run across the playground? down the street? What about if the individual bricks were smaller or larger? If field mice really could each pull X ounces, how many would it take to pull the Cowardly Lion to safety? Note the added weight of the wooden “truck” built by the Tin Woodman and the weights of different lengths of string. Dorothy lived in Kansas, where there are lots of sunflowers. How many seeds are in a sunflower? (Also ties in with science.) Analyze the Scarecrow’s speech from the movie when he gets his diploma, comparing it to the Pythagorean theorem. Just how good was that diploma, anyway? In The Marvelous Land of Oz, an important magic spell involves counting to seventeen by two’s. How can this be done? Could Tip’s problems with the spell have been the result of faulty mathematics? Language Arts The Oz books can be used to discuss cause-and-effect, foreshadowing, or just about any other literary convention or device. Kids read translations of a popular book/fairy tale originally written in one of the languages into which Oz has been translated. The stories can also be compared to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. (Also ties in with geography.) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been called the first American fairy tale. Have students talk about it in relation with other fairy tales they are familiar with (Grimm, Perrault, etc.). Read a chapter from one of the Oz books, and leave off at an exciting place. Challenge the students to write the ending. What would your students like the Wizard to give them, if they could meet him? What might characters from other stories, movies, television, etc. ask from him? How do illustrations effect a story? Find the (three) illustrations of the Wicked Witch of the West that Mr. Denslow drew in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Look at Denslow’s Winged Monkeys. Are these characters frightening or funny? Oz has illustrations on nearly every page. Why would illustrations make a book particularly appealing to turn-of-the-century kids? (Note: Baum intentionally developed characters that would not be frightening to children, a concept that was reversed in the classic 1939 film based on his book. His Wicked Witch also had such a minor role in the book that she was completely omitted in the earliest theatrical productions of the story. Do not assume an MGM-like witch when approaching the Baum material.) Since many others have illustrated Oz over the last century, other artists can be used as well, and compared.
(Also ties in with art.) Word games: Make other words from the letters in “The Wizard of Oz,” write vertical poems around Oz character names, etc. In student pairs, role play Dorothy and a reporter. Write an interview with Dorothy for the school/ community paper after she returns that reports her adventures in journalist style. Kids could write from Dorothy’s perspective thanking her friends in Oz for their help while she was lost or telling Aunt Em why she misses home. They could be the Wizard and apologizing for leaving without Dorothy or for being a humbug. They could write to author L. Frank Baum and tell him what they think of his book and what they’d like to see happen to Dorothy next. There are lots of variations on this note-writing themes. Where do other storybook characters live? Identify real and make believe places. Make a pretend continent where all the make-believe places are found. (Also ties in with geography.) What makes fairy tales different from other books? From royalty to dragons, mermaids and hobbits discuss the use of what is “real” and what is make-believe in creating stories. As a group or as individuals (depending on age) have the kids make up original fairy tales. The class could develop plays based on their stories. What are the differences between the book and the movie? Why were these changes made? How is telling a story by writing it down different from showing it on a stage or screen? Encourage students to write their own, original Oz adventures. The students can even make themselves the main characters! How did they get there? Who did they meet? What problems did they encounter? How do they get home? Use The Marvelous Land of Oz or any of the later Oz books to bring up the idea of a sequel. Discuss what a sequel is and why an author would write one. Students can also write their own sequel to The Wizard of Oz or any other story. Students can write and/or perform original Oz plays or skits. The newspaper of Oz is called The Ozmapolitan. Students can write and illustrate their own issue of The Ozmapolitan with news of what’s going on in Oz. Use the events of an Oz book, or create your own news. Use Oz words for spelling, or study some of the more obscure vocabulary from the books or movie. (What does caliginous mean, anyway?) Society has changed greatly since 1900, when the book was originally written. In the movie version of The Wiz, we see The Wizard of Oz all urbanized. Most of Oz looks like back alleys, forests are replaced with amusement parks and subway stations. Students can make The Wizard of Oz more modern. Imagine Dorothy as a JLo-obsessed valley girl with a pair of silver platforms. Maybe the Lion could be a tough, cigar smoking, geezer with no real tough stuff. Who knows what you can come up with, but have students rewrite The Wizard of Oz as if it were to take place in the current year and illustrate. Art and Music Students can draw their favorite Oz characters or places, or make Oz sculptures, collages, batiks, masks, oversize cutouts, silkscreens... Set up an Oz museum. Let students bring in Oz memorabilia or other objects relating to the story. Let them create labels and explanations for the items. This could also be used to exhibit the items from the first idea here... What different kinds of instruments might be used to characterize each of the Oz characters, especially the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion? What kinds of tunes or rhythms might characterize each one (a la “Peter and the Wolf”)? How might each character dance or move to their instrument or rhythm? (Also ties in with physical education.) In the movie, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion sang songs about themselves and what they wanted, all to the same tune. What might other characters from the movie have sung to the tune of “If I Only Had a Brain/a Heart/the Nerve”? What about characters from other stories, or the students
themselves? The two-CD movie soundtrack set from the movie, issued by Rhino Records, includes several tracks not used in the movie. Some were tests, some were alternate takes, and some were just cut for time reasons. Share these tracks with students, and discuss how a movie soundtrack develops, or how music is used in the movies and on television. Compare the songs and soundtracks of The Wizard of Oz and The Wiz (both available on CD). How
are they the same? How are they different? What musical styles and traditions are in each? Social and Life Skills Good things come in small packages. Munchkins are important people in Oz, described as being “no taller than Dorothy, who was just a little girl herself.” Discuss the wonderful things only small people can do. Make this an opportunity to influence kids to appreciate those who are noticeably small. From the little people who could repair World War II airplane wings (from the inside!), to entertainment industry stand-ins/stunt men and jockeys, reinforce the value and contributions of mature little people over the years. (Solicit content help from the Little People of America organization.) Recommend documentaries on this topic (one even includes interviews with actors/actresses who played Munchkins in the 1939 MGM Oz classic). Discuss appropriate vocabulary when referring to those who are small. Explain the right and wrong difference between labeling someone for where they are from (American/Munchkin) versus their physical characteristics (giants/mermaids) using fantasy people to illustrate. Apply the lesson to real people today. Could incorporate professional titles and other vocabulary. Do a “what are you” exercise that has kids think of names they are proud to be called. Lost can be lonesome. What should you do and who should you to turn to if you are lost? How can you help someone who is lost? How would it feel to be lost? Could tie in a program that documents info on kids for security purposes. Dogs can be more than friends. Toto, Dorothy’s pet dog, travels with her to Oz and protects her from many dangers. Study different breeds of dogs and how working dogs (guide dogs, guard dogs, sled dogs, World War I messenger dogs, “actor” dogs) are raised and used. Invite a person who uses a working dog to visit the class. Or, in areas near a guide-dog training foundation (or other dog school) have a trainer or member of a guide-dog puppy’s foster family speak to the class. Have kids who own dogs talk about their pets. Use a creative problem solving process in discussing Oz stories as they are read to the class, and what’s coming next. Home Economics Find a copy of an Oz-themed cookbook (see links below). Study how the recipes are categorized by what region of Oz is highlighted, and how ordinary recipes are “Ozzified.” Let students create their own “Ozzy” recipes. Cooking in Oz: Kitchen Wizardry from America’s Favorite Fairy Tale by Elaine Willingham and Stephen Cox. Recipes from many Oz celebrities and fans. Forward by movie Munchkin Margaret Pellegrini. The Wizard of Oz Cookbook. Recipes inspired by Kansas, Munchkinland, the Emerald City, and every point in between. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Cookbook by Monica Bayley. Oz-themed recipes for young chefs to try out. The Oz Project This is a project put together in Aberdeen, South Dakota. (L. Frank Baum lived in Aberdeen for a number of years before he became an author, and his writing was influenced by the Aberdeen area.) Since this is an interdisciplinary, cross-grade assignment, there is no easy way to summarize it. Therefore, I am
quoting it exactly as it appears in a pamphlet of Oz lessons for teachers, assembled and distributed by the L. Frank Baum Oz Festival. A letter to 9th Grade Students This project is a collaborative effort between our 9th grade Art Students and the Henry Neill 3rd grade Physical Education students. You will begin by working in groups of 3-5 students depending on the number of students in class. Your job will be to read/research four of the Ozian character groups (some you may not have heard of before). The group names are: The Winkies, The Gillikins, The Munchkins, and The Quadlings. You will need to answer various questions about the character groups like, What are their personalities like, How do they act and talk, What do they look like, etc. to decide what each of the groups are like. From this information you will need to write a description of these characters for the 3rd grade students. You will need to write the information clearly and in an “easy to read” format. You will be listening to some music from an “Oz” album—you will need to choose the song which you feel would be best for your “character group” (we will need to come to consensus with all of the 9th grade students regarding the song). You will then draw a picture of the characters from your description. The 3rd grade students are going to read your descriptions and also draw a picture of the character. The following week we will exchange the drawings so each of you will have an individual student to write to. At that time, you will compare/contrast ideas from the drawings and we will email a note/letter back to your 3rd grade “partner.” Who in turn will email a note back to you. You may be able to communicate like this a few times. We’ll see how it works. Once all of the information has been shared the 3rd grade students will be creating a dance/ gymnastics routine to the music you have chosen (using the dance/art information you provide on shape, line/ pathways, texture, color, pattern, and space). At that time, you will be creating masks for these third graders to wear during their routine. The final process will be a costumed dance/gymnastics routine performed by the 3rd graders. Video and still photos will be taken by selected 9th grade students. We will then do some simple editing by adding the video, the still photos, and text. The 3rd grade students are really going to “Look up to you”! Basically, you are going to be the “Producers” while they will be the “Workers.” Please be polite, kind, helpful and understanding, be a good role model for these students!!! Resources for Teachers (and others who might be interested) The International Wizard of Oz Club. The Oz Club has members throughout the United States and other parts of the world, and may be able to get you in touch with an Oz expert or collector in your area to talk to your class. The Club’s website also has useful information on Baum’s life, the history of Oz, and other areas of interest. The Seamonkey Oz Home Page. This is a website made up of students’ writings and drawings of Oz. Lots of ideas here! Read the original novel. A new edition of The Wizard of Oz published by Aladdin includes some suggested discussion topics for reading groups, and ideas for activities and projects.
Sources Consulted Colin Clements. No ed. 17 October 2002. University of California at Santa Barbara. 19 July 2003. http:// www.library.ucsb.edu/speccoll/sbauthors_ce.html Edgar Allan Woolf. Hal Erickson, ed. ©2003. Yahoo.com. 19 July 2003. http://movies.yahoo.com/ shop?d=hc&id=1800067715&cf=biog&intl=us --. No ed. 24 September 1997. The International Wizard of Oz Club, Inc. 19 July 2003. http:// www.ozclub.org/reference/oztl1939.htm Ever Since Eve (Florence Ryerson). 19 July 2003. http://www.dramashop.com/flp.html Florence Ryerson. Hal Erickson, ed. ©2003. Yahoo.com. 19 July 2003. http://movies.yahoo.com/ shop?d=hc&id=1800136323&cf=biog&intl=us Florence Ryerson plays. No ed. ©2003. The Pasadena Playhouse. 19 July 2003. http:// www.pasadenaplayhouse.org/19411950.html Fly-by-night. No ed. 23 May 2003. The Phrase Finders. 19 July 2003. http://phrases.shu.ac.uk/ bulletin_board/13/messages/1571.html Freaks (Edgar Allan Woolf). No ed. ©1995-2003. Videoflicks.com. 19 July 2003. http:// www.videoflicks.com/titles/1007/1007838.htm Harmetz, Aljean. The Making of The Wizard of Oz. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977. Harriet (Florence Ryerson). No ed. ©1997-2003. The International Art, Antiques and Collectibles Forum. 19 July 2003. http://www.the-forum.com/books/burns.htm Ice Follies of 1939 (Edgar Allan Woolf). No ed. No date. Joan Crawford Online. 19 July 2003 http:// www.joancrawfordonline.com/films/i/ice_follies/icefollies.html Isosceles triangle. Eric L. Weisstein,ed. 1999. MathWorld. 21 July 2003. http://mathworld.wolfram.com/ IsoscelesTriangle.html Jablonski, Edward. Harold Arlen Rhythm, Rainbows, and Blues. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1996. Jiminy crickets. J.W. Hiebert, ed. No date. Llano.net. 21 July 2003. http://www.llano.net/baptist/ christiancursing.htm L. Frank Baum. No ed. No date. Alexlibris.com. 14 March 2003. http://www.alexlibris.com/bio_baum.asp “The Littlest Shepherd” (Ryerson). William G. Contento, ed. No date. 19 July 2003. http://users.ev1.net/ ~homeville/fictionmag/s169.htm
Matilda Joslyn Gage. Sally Roesch Wagner, ed. No date. National Parks Service.gov/National Women’s Rights Park. 18 March 2003. http://www.nps.gov/wori/gage.htm Meyerson, Harold, and Ernie Harburg, with Arthur Perlman. Who Put the Rainbow in The Wizard of Oz? Yip Harburg, Lyricist. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 1993. Noel Langley. No ed. Yahoo.com. 8 July 2003 http://movies.yahoo.com/ shop?d=hc&id=1800047394&cf=biog&intl=us “Over the Rainbow.” Alan Haley, ed. © 2002, 2003. Waterville (ME) Sr. HS. 9 July 2003. http:// wshs.wtvl.k12.me.us/dept/social/alan/ap/chap21/wiz-oz.html The Reckless Hour (Florence Ryerson). No ed. © 2003. Rotteneggs.com. 19 July 2003. http:// www.rotteneggs.com/r/show/se/154670.html Riley, Michael O. Oz and Beyond: The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1997. Toot Toot (Edgar Allan Woolf). Peter Leeflang, ed. © 2002, 2003. Berton Braley.com. 19 July 2003. http:// www.bertonbraley.com/music_sheets.htm Tough Guy; Man Killer (Edgar Allan Woolf). No ed. © 2003. 19 July 2003. http://www.rotteneggs.com/r/ show/se/337550.html
Stones in His Pockets Marie Jones. Born in Belfast, Marie was writer-in-residence for Charabanc Theatre Company from 19831990. Marie’s plays have toured extensively throughout the world, including the former Soviet Union, Germany, coast-to-coast in the United States, Canada, Britain and Ireland. Her recent plays include an adaptation of The Government Inspector [aka The Inspector General] which toured Britain and Ireland; A Night in November (London, Glasgow, New York and three tours of Ireland); Women on the Verge of HRT (Belfast, Dublin, London’s Vaudeville Theatre, and three U.K. and Ireland tours); Eddie Bottom’s Dream and Stones in His Pockets, which toured Ireland prior to the Dublin Theatre Festival, Lyric Belfast, Grand Opera House Belfast, the Edinburgh Festival and the Tricycle, Ambassador’s and Duke of York’s theatres in London. Other dramas include Lay Up Your Ends (co-written with Martin Lynch), ‘Oul Delph and False Teeth, Girls in the Big Picture, Somewhere Over the Balcony, The Hamster Wheel, The Terrible Twins, Under Napoleon’s Nose, Hiring Days, Don’t Look Down, Yours Truly, The Cow, the Ship and the Indian, Christmas Eve Can Kill You, It’s a Waste of Time Tracy, Gold in the Streets, Now You’re Talking, Hang All the Harpers (co-written with Shane Connaughton) and Ethel Workman Is Innocent. Marie’s drama work for BBC Radio Four includes The Hamster Wheel, Christmas Eve Can Kill You, Weddins Weeins and Wakes, The Woman in the Pink Silk Dressing Gown, From Donegal with Love and The Blind Fiddler of Glenadauch. Her writing for BBC TV includes the three-part drama series Tribes, Fighting with Shadows and The Hamster Wheel. For Channel Four, she has written The Wignut and the Sprog. As an actress, Marie has performed in most of the major theatres in Ireland, with many Irish touring companies. She has toured internationally in many productions, several of which she wrote. She has worked extensively for BBC Radio Four in numerous productions, playing a variety of characters, from Natasha in Brian Friel’s adaptation
of The Three Sisters, to a cow in Gerry Stembridge’s Daisy, The Cow Who Talked. Marie’s television acting credits include Life After Life, You Me and Marley and Space Oddity. Her film work includes Hush-a-Bye Baby, The End of the World, All Things Bright and Beautiful and the role of Sarah Conlon in In the Name of the Father. Marie can be seen playing George Best’s mother in the film Best and has recently filmed Rebel Heart for the BBC. A Night in November appeared Off-Broadway in New York , and won the TMA Award for Best Touring Production and the Glasgow Mayfest Award. Stones in His Pockets won the 2001 Olivier Award for Best Comedy and Best Actor, the 2000 Irish Post Award for Literature, the 1999 Irish Times’ Irish Theatre Award for Best Production and Best Actor, and the 2000 Evening Standard Award in London, as Best Comedy. It opened at Broadway’s Golden Theatre on April 1, 2001 and played 201 performances. The Broadway production received three Tony Award nominations, as well as special awards from the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World. Marie is also a recipient of the John Hewitt Award for her contribution to the cultural traditions debate. Synopsis - Jake Quinn and Charlie Conlon, extras in an American film being shot on location in Ireland, try to advance themselves as filmmakers while coping with the film crew’s impact on the small village they inhabit. Characters The actors playing Charlie and Jake, unmarried men in their mid-thirties, also play all the other characters in the village and on the film’s crew, from the star, Caroline Giovanni, to Sean, a local young man frustrated by life in a small town. British curses and slang (according to The Best of British Slang and Peevish.com): 40 quid – That is, £40, which is roughly equivalent to $60 nowadays. Bailiffs – the sheriffs here in the U.S. Bloody - One of the most useful swear words in English. Mostly used as an exclamation of surprise, i.e., “bloody hell” or “bloody nora.” Something may be “bloody marvelous” or “bloody awful.” It is also used to emphasize almost anything, “you’re bloody mad,” “not bloody likely” and can also be used in the middle of other words to emphasize them, e.g., “Abso-bloody-lutely”! Americans should avoid saying “bloody” as they sound silly. Talking bollocks - Bollocks - This is a great English word with many excellent uses. Technically speaking it means testicles but is typically used to describe something that is no good (that’s bollocks) or that someone is talking rubbish (he’s talking bollocks). Surprisingly it is also used in a positive manner to describe something that is the best, in which case you would describe it as being “the dog’s bollocks.” Englishmen who live in America take great delight in ordering specialized registration plates for their cars using the letters B.O.L.L.O.X. Good eh? Threw the tent in the boot – the car’s trunk. In England, elephants have trunks, not cars! A wee butchers - Noun. A look. From the Cockney rhyming slang butcher’s hook, e.g. “Let’s have a butchers at it before you put it back.” Codding Sean into the pond – cod: Verb. To hoax, to joke, e.g., “Stop codding me and tell me the truth.” dead - Adv. 1. Very, extremely, e.g. “Our holiday was dead good.” 2. Noun. A sure thing, e.g. “It’s a dead
cert [certainty] that the favorite will win.” eff/effing – Adj./Adv. A euphemism for “f***ing,” often in the formula effing, blinding and some other descriptor. Using obscenities such as expletives, usually in annoyance, e.g., “I’ve never seen him so angry, effing and blinding despite being a vicar.” That one (Aisling) has a gob [Your gob is your mouth] on her that would turn milk. And then there’s the more informal, “Ya jumped up gobshite”: Shite is just another way of saying shit. It is useful for times when you don’t want to be overly rude! shagging/shag - Same as bonk [to have sex] but slightly less polite. At seventies parties you could watch the look of surprise on the Englishman’s face when an American girl asks him if he would like to shag [a popular American dance]. Best way to get a Brit to dance that I know! Tosser - This is another word for wanker and has exactly the same meaning and shares the same signal. Unfortunately [the webpage author’s] house in Texas was in Tossa Lane, which was a problem when telling older members of the family where to write to me! Wanker - This is a derogatory term used to describe someone who is a bit of a jerk. It actually means someone who masturbates and also has a hand signal that can be done with one hand at people that cannot see you shouting “wanker” at them. This is particularly useful when driving. Vocabulary Ballycastle (Charlie’s from here) - Ballycastle is in Antrim [County] in Northern Ireland. It lies against a backdrop of the Antrim Mountains and faces onto Rathlin Sound. Scotland is not far away across the North Channel. Antrim is a maritime county of northeast Northern Ireland in Ulster Province [that] includes 90 miles of seacoast. . . . Off the north coast lie Rathlin Island and the Skerries, and off the east coast the Maiden Rocks. . . . There are many peat bogs, but more than three quarters of the area of the county is under cultivation. There are salt mines at Duncrue and Carrickfergus, and small coal fields. Several large distilleries are situated in the county. The principal towns are Belfast, Lisburn, Carrickfergus, Ballymena, Larne, Ballymoney, Portrush, and Antrim. My Da, the mother – These are both references to parents: My Dad, my mother. “The Mother” is a deliberately objective phrase, meant to imply distance between mother and child. The sweet – Charlie is asking for another helping of the dessert being provided by the film caterers, in this case, lemon meringue pie, which Charlie also calls the pudding. It just means dessert. Spanish Inquisition – the caterers remind Charles of this fun-loving group. Dib dib, I was in the Brownies – Charlie was in the Boy Guides; in American, the Boy Scouts. Caravan – an ordinary RV (see Winnebago, below). A few more gargles – Mickey needs a few more drinks before he’ll sing. “run like hammers” – running very hard indeed, pounding the ground.
Haring off (into the kitchen) – she’s running and moving about with great speed, like a wee hare. Hures = whores, in the local dialect. Put me in Joe Depressos – Depress me. a loud hailer – Charlie has shouted that the wee rigger has COKE (not the drink), not the smartest action he could have taken. The morra – tomorrow, that is, the morrow. [Sean is only] a piece of muck on their boots – Mud, dirt, filth, or, to put not too fine a point on it, animal dung. The Americans think nothing of Sean, poor sot. Mixing with the plebs – shortened form of plebeian, the common people. Caroline barely acknowledges the locals, so she could hardly be mixing with them (more UK irony). Getting up at the scrake – that is, the crack of dawn. a wee skiff – a light, passing shower; also, to pass over something quickly. Squeeze box – unless Mickey has an accordion, he must mean his voice. Stall the ball – in American, “Slow your roll,” slow down, wait a bit. Whacki backi – marijuana. Also spelled whacky backy, a shortened form of whacky tobacco. Winnebago – Caroline’s dressing room R.U.C. – The Royal Ulster Constabulary, so named in 1922 when King George V granted that the British force policing Northern Ireland could be so called. . . . From the beginning it had a dual role, unique among United Kingdom police forces, of providing a normal law enforcement police service while protecting Northern Ireland from the terrorist activities of outlawed groups. For personal protection its members were armed (a continual requirement since the formation of the constabulary in 1822), unlike other British police, including London’s force. . . . The size of the R.U.C. has since increased on several occasions because of the [Sixties] terrorist campaign [known as The Troubles]. There are now 8500 regular police officers supported by about 5000 full-time and part-time reserve officers, making it the second largest force in the United Kingdom next to the Metropolitan Police in London. Special Branch – The Special Irish Branch was formed in 1883 to combat the threat from the Fenian movement, whose aim was independence in Ireland and who had been responsible for a series of explosions in London. The Special Irish Branch later became known as the Special Branch and extended its work into Royalty protection with Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. While the Special Branch is a division of the police force, in practice it coordinates closely with MI5. . . . The Security Service, also known as MI5, originated in 1909 as the internal arm of the Secret Service Bureau, under Army Captain (later Sir) Vernon Kell, tasked with countering German espionage. In 1931 it assumed wider responsibility for assessing threats to national security which included international communist subversion and, subsequently, fascism. . . . As the UK’s domestic security intelligence agency the Service’s purpose is to protect the State against substantial, covertly organized
threats, primarily from terrorism, espionage and subversion. Most recently, since the passing of the Security Service Act 1996, its role has been expanded to provide support to law enforcement agencies in the field of organized crime. Extra Vision – “Extra Vision is a video rental store that sells videos and also rents them. It also sells and rents Playstation games and DVDs,” students from Kildare National Place school say. The Quiet Man – an Academy Award film starring John Wayne and Margaret O’Hara about an American of Irish descent (Wayne) who moves back to “the old country” and falls in love with a local woman who is, in the parlance of the time, past marriageable age (O’Hara). Some of the local men scheme to get the couple married, over the objections of the woman’s brother, and they do, but when a question arises over the woman’s dowry, the American refuses to fight: he’s actually a former boxer who accidentally delivered a fatal blow to an opponent and has never recovered from the incident. Nearly all the leading actors, except Barry Fitzgerald, were either American or British. The Quiet Man was one of the first Technicolor films to be shot on location outside America. Most of the outside scenes in this film were shot in the West of Ireland in locations such as Maam Valley, Cong, Oughterard, Lettergesh, Ballyglunin and many other locations in Galway and south Mayo. A Kerryman with brains - When the world makes fun of Irish men and tell Irish men jokes did you ever wonder who the Irish told jokes about? Well wonder no more! We tell jokes about those Irishmen who come from County Kerry—Kerryman jokes! Here is a selection therefore of the silly kerryman jokes that abound in Ireland: “Have you heard about the Kerryman who had a brain transplant? The brain rejected him.” “What do you do if a Kerryman throws a pin at you? Run like mad—he’s probably got a grenade between his teeth!” “How do you recognize a Kerry pirate? He has a patch over each eye!” Dispossessed - Webster’s: deprived of possession or occupancy or, as land or property. The irony is that the local actors actually feel as if the film company has deprived them of what’s theirs, which they are supposed to express on film. Blasket Islands – Great Blasket Island, lying 5 km off the West Kerry coast, was inhabited continuously for at least three hundred years until finally abandoned in 1953. At one stage there were nearly 200 inhabitants on Great Blasket. They lived a harsh life with few facilities. There was no shop, doctor or priest on the Island so that they had to make the hazardous journey to the mainland to avail of these services. For a time there was a primary school, but it was often difficult to get teachers to stay [so it] closed in 1941 when only six pupils remained. . . . As the island had no secondary school most island children completed their education by the age of twelve or thirteen. Like many communities on the mainland, emigration stole the young islanders away to America, leaving only the old and the infirm. The Irish government, after considering pleas from the islanders, decided that the Island should be abandoned. The government provided the remaining Island families with a house and a few acres of land on the mainland in Dunquin, where some of the islanders and their descendants remain IRA – The Irish Republican Army. The Irish Volunteers—Oglaigh na hEireann in the Irish language—were established in November 1913 to ‘’secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland.” In 1914 the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force, comprised of leading members the Conservative Party and the British aristocracy) was allowed to import arms unhindered by British crown forces; when the Liberal government made plans to use the British army, if necessary, against the UVF, senior [British] officers mutinied and the Liberal government backed down. On the other hand when the Irish Volunteers imported a much smaller quantity of arms they were attacked by the crown forces who shot civilians dead on the streets of Dublin.
When [World War I] broke out later that year the leader of the Home Rule Party pledged the Irish Volunteers to fight on England’s side. This split the Irish Volunteers, one section joining the British army and the other remaining independent and going on to plan an armed uprising during the war. The Easter Rising of 1916 was the defining event in the history of Irish republicanism. Many would regard the Proclamation of the Republic issued then as the founding document of the IRA. It declared an independent Republic and pledged republicans to ‘’equal rights and equal opportunities’’ for all the Irish people. The Easter Rising was crushed after a week. Sixteen of its leaders were executed by the British government. By now . . . nationalists in the Home Rule party had been completely undermined. They had seen years of parliamentary agitation thwarted by the threat of force; they had seen the Home Rule leaders acquiesce to British government plans to partition Ireland; they had seen thousands of young Irish nationalists killed in the trenches of France on the promise that their sacrifice would win Home Rule, while Unionists who joined the British army were promised the opposite; they had seen the execution of the 1916 leaders. In 1918 they saw the threat of conscription being imposed in Ireland. By an overwhelming majority in the General Election of that year the Irish people voted for the Sinn Féin party which sought to establish an Irish Republic. ... In January 1919 Sinn Féin established an independent Irish parliament—Dáil Eireann—and declared the sovereignty of Ireland as a Republic. They formed independent institutions including a functioning central government, ministerial departments and republican courts of law. The Irish Volunteers became the Army of the Republic, under the Ministry of Defense and pledging its allegiance to Dáil Eireann. The response from the British government was to ban all these institutions and declare war on the new Irish democracy. . . . And this fighting continued, almost without interruption, until the late 1990s, when the IRA was convinced to participate in the Irish Peace Initiative which was initiated by Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and SDLP leader John Hume and supported by the Irish government. . . . In 1997 the IRA agreed to a bi-lateral, that is, Irish and British, decommissioning of weapons and munitions, to happen over the course of the next 2 years, which paved the way for 2000’s Good Friday Accord, in which the governments of the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland agreed to act cooperatively, reduce border restrictions and the like. Since that time the violence has declined, and the IRA is little spoken of. Marquee for the flowers – The Oxford English Dictionary defines a marquee as “a tent, esp. one large enough to hold many persons, as for social or commercial functions.” Brother Gerard: Cunas, cunas, muy hu aigus sigi sios. It would seem Brother Gerard has been sampling the Communion wine, because this is gibberish that bears some resemblance to both Spanish and fractured Latin. Or maybe he’s always a ridiculous figure. Dermot – Irish for “free of envy,” according to Ivillage.co.uk.
Mickey’s song: When all beside a vigil keep, The West asleep, the West asleep Alas and my Aisling weep When Connaught lies in slumber deep There lakes and plain smile fair and free ‘Mid rocks their guardian chivalry.
Sing oh, let man learn liberty From crashing wind and lashing sea.
He’s have a wee bit of fun with “The West’s Song,” as evidenced by the real first verse: When all beside a vigil keep, The West’s asleep, the West’s asleep Alas! and well may Erin weep When Connacht lies in slumber deep. There lake and plain smile fair and free, ‘Mid rocks their guardian chivalry. Sing, Oh! let man learn liberty From crashing wind and lashing sea. Designer trainers – Designer-label cross trainers, without a doubt! Caroline knows the Seamus Heaney poem, to Charlie’s chagrin. “Whatever you say, nothing” Who blowing up these sparks For their meager heat have missed The once-in-a-lifetime portent of the comet’s pulsing rose. Seamus Heaney Seamus Heaney - Seamus Heaney was born in April 1939, the eldest member of a family which would eventually contain nine children. His father owned and worked a small farm of some fifty acres in County Derry in Northern Ireland, but the father’s real commitment was to cattle-dealing. There was something very congenial to Patrick Heaney about the cattle-dealer’s way of life to which he was introduced by the uncles who had cared for him after the early death of his own parents. The poet’s mother came from a family called McCann whose connections were more with the modern world than with the traditional rural economy; her uncles and relations were employed in the local linen mill and an aunt had worked “in service” to the mill owners’ family. The poet has commented on the fact that his parentage thus contains both the Ireland of the cattle-herding Gaelic past and the Ulster of the Industrial Revolution; indeed, he considers this to have been a significant tension in his background, something which corresponds to another inner tension also inherited from his parents, namely that between speech and silence. His father was notably sparing of talk and his mother notably ready to speak out, a circumstance which Seamus Heaney believes to have been fundamental to the “quarrel with himself” out of which his poetry arises. Heaney grew up as a country boy and attended the local primary school. As a very young child, he watched American soldiers on maneuvers in the local fields, in preparation for the Normandy invasion of 1944. They were stationed at an aerodrome which had been built a mile or so from his home and once again Heaney has taken this image of himself as a consciousness poised between “history and ignorance” as representative of the nature of his poetic life and development. Even though his family left the farm where he was reared (it was called Mossbawn) in 1953, and even though his life since then has been a series of moves farther and farther away from his birthplace, the departures have been more geographical than psychological: rural County Derry is the “country of the mind” where much of Heaney’s poetry is still grounded.
When he was twelve years of age, Seamus Heaney won a scholarship to St. Columb’s College, a Catholic boarding school situated in the city of Derry, forty miles away from the home farm, and this first departure from Mossbawn was the decisive one. It would be followed in years to come by a transfer to Belfast where he lived between 1957 and 1972, by another move from Belfast to the Irish Republic where Heaney has made his home, and then, since 1982, by regular, annual periods of teaching in America. All of these subsequent shifts and developments were dependent, however, upon that original journey from Mossbawn which the poet has described as a removal from “the earth of farm labor to the heaven of education.” It is not surprising, then, that this move has turned out to be a recurrent theme in his work, from “Digging,” the first poem in his first book, through the much more orchestrated treatment of it in “Alphabets”(The Haw Lantern, 1987), to its most recent appearance in “A Sofa in the Forties” which was published this year in The Spirit Level. At St. Columb’s College, Heaney was taught Latin and Irish, and these languages, together with the Anglo-Saxon which he would study while a student of Queen’s University, Belfast, were determining factors in many of the developments and retrenchments which have marked his progress as a poet. The first verses he wrote when he was a young teacher in Belfast in the early 1960s and many of the best known poems in North, his important volume published in 1975, are linguistically tuned to the Anglo-Saxon note in English. His poetic line was much more resolutely stressed and packed during this period than it would be in the ’80s and ’90s when the “Mediterranean” elements in the literary and linguistic heritage of English became more pronounced. Station Island (1984) reveals Dante, for example, as a crucial influence, and echoes of Virgil—as well as a translation from Book VI of The Aeneid—are to be found in Seeing Things (1991). Heaney’s early study of Irish bore fruit in the translation of the Middle Irish story of Suibhne Gealt in Sweeney Astray (1982) and in several other translations and echoes and allusions: the Gaelic heritage has always has been part of his larger keyboard of reference and remains culturally and politically central to the poet and his work. Heaney’s poems first came to public attention in the mid-1960s when he was active as one of a group of poets who were subsequently recognized as constituting something of a “Northern School” within Irish writing. Although Heaney is stylistically and temperamentally different from such writers as Michael Longley and Derek Mahon (his contemporaries), and Paul Muldoon, Medbh McGuckian and Ciaran Carson (members of a younger Northern Irish generation), he does share with all of them the fate of having been born into a society deeply divided along religious and political lines, one which was doomed moreover to suffer a quartercentury of violence, polarization and inner distrust. This had the effect not only of darkening the mood of Heaney’s work in the 1970s, but also of giving him a deep preoccupation with the question of poetry’s responsibilities and prerogatives in the world, since poetry is poised between a need for creative freedom within itself and a pressure to express the sense of social obligation felt by the poet as citizen. The essays in Heaney’s three main prose collections, but especially those in The Government of the Tongue (1988) and The Redress of Poetry (1995), bear witness to the seriousness which this question assumed for him as he was coming into his own as a writer. These concerns also lie behind Heaney’s involvement for a decade and a half with Field Day, a theatre company founded in 1980 by the playwright Brian Friel and the actor Stephen Real. Here, he was also associated with the poets Seamus Deane and Tom Paul, and the singer David Hammond, in a project which sought to bring the artistic and intellectual focus of its members into productive relation with the crisis that was ongoing in Irish political life. Through a series of plays and pamphlets (culminating in Heaney’s case in his version of Sophocles’ Philoctetes which the company produced and toured in 1990 under the title The Cure at Troy), Field Day contributed greatly to the vigor of the cultural debate which flourished throughout the 1980s and 1990s in Ireland. Heaney’s beginnings as a poet coincided with his meeting the woman whom he was to marry and who was to be the mother of his three children. Marie Devlin, like her husband, came from a large family, several of whom are themselves writers and artists, including the poet’s wife who has recently published an important collection of retellings of the classic Irish myths and legends (Over Nine Waves, 1994). Marie Heaney has
been central to the poet’s life, both professionally and imaginatively, appearing directly and indirectly in individual poems from all periods of his oeuvre right down to the most recent, and making it possible for him to travel annually to Harvard by staying on in Dublin as custodian of the growing family and the family home. The Heaneys had spent a very liberating year abroad in 1970/71 when Seamus was a visiting lecturer at the Berkeley campus of the University of California. It was the sense of self-challenge and new scope which he experienced in the American context that encouraged him to resign his lectureship at Queen’s University (1966-72) not long after he returned to Ireland, and to move to a cottage in County Wicklow in order to work full time as a poet and freelance writer. A few years later, the family moved to Dublin and Seamus worked as a lecturer in Carysfort College, a teacher training college, where he functioned as Head of the English Department until 1982, when his present arrangement with Harvard University came into existence. This allows the poet to spend eight months at home without teaching in exchange for one semester’s work at Harvard. In 1984, Heaney was named Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory, one of the university’s most prestigious offices. In 1989, he was elected for a five-year period to be Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, a post which requires the incumbent to deliver three public lectures every year but which does not require him to reside in Oxford. In the course of his career, Seamus Heaney has always contributed to the promotion of artistic and educational causes, both in Ireland and abroad. While a young lecturer at Queen’sUniversity, he was active in the publication of pamphlets of poetry by the rising generation and took over the running of an influential poetry workshop which had been established there by the English poet, Philip Hobsbaum, when Hobsbaum left Belfast in 1966. He also served for five years on The Arts Council in the Republic of Ireland (1973-1978) and over the years has acted as judge and lecturer for countless poetry competitions and literary conferences, establishing a special relationship with the annual W.B. Yeats International Summer School in Sligo. In recent years, he has been the recipient of several honorary degrees; he is a member of Aosdana, the Irish academy of artists and writers, and a Foreign Member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1996, subsequent to his winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995, he was made a Commandeur de L’Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. Discussion Questions 1. Imagine an American film crew is filming in your town or neighborhood. Who from your community would try to become involved? If you would, what position would you want? Do you think you would get it? What story would they be filming? What locations would they want to use? 2. Several of the locals in Stones harbor dreams of leaving with the film company. Do you think their dreams are realistic? Suppose a friend of yours comes to you for advice about a dream of theirs that isn’t practical; would you encourage him or her? What if your relative came to you? Do you think Aisling will achieve her dream? 3. What economic impact might an American film have on a small town in a rural area? Do you think the lasting impact would be mostly positive or negative? Why? How might an area entice such projects to come to them? Sources Consulted Ballycastle. No ed. ©1995-2002. Online Highways, LLC. 29 May 2003. http://www.2hwy.com/ir/b/ ballycas.htm
Best of British: Slang. Mike Etherington, ed. No date. Effingpot.com. 30 May 2003. http:// www.effingpot.com/slang.html The Blasket Islands. No ed. ©2001. Local.ie. 2 June 2003. http://www.local.ie/general/map/ Decommissioning. No ed. May 2002. Northern Ireland Office. 2 June 2003. http://www.nio.gov.uk/issues/ decomm.htm Dermot. No ed. ©2000-2003. IVillage.co.uk. 28 July 2003. http://www.ivillage.co.uk/pregnancyandbaby/ tools/babyname_gloss/0,,5-973-D-,00.html Irish Republican Army. No ed. 24 August 1998. Geocities.com. 2 June 2003. http://www.geocities.com/ CapitolHill/Congress/2435/irahist Kerryman. Fiona, ed. No date. Fiona’s Place.net. 2 June 2003. http://www.fionasplace.net/irishjokes/ Kerrymanjokes.html Northern Ireland. No ed. No date. Softguides.com. 29 May 2003. http://www.softguides.com/ireland/maps/ north.html The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles. Lesley Brown, ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993. Forty quid. No ed. ©2001. X-rates.com. 2 June 2003. http://www.x-rates.com/ The Quiet Man. Tim Dirks, ed. ©1996-2002. Filmsite.org. 29 May 2003. http://www.filmsite.org/quie.html Riggers. Photius Coutsokis, ed. 26 May 2003. Occupational Info.org. 2 June 2003. http:// www.occupationalinfo.org/dot_r3.html Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). No ed. ©2003. Police Service of Northern Ireland. 2 June 2003. http:// www.psni.police.uk/index/media_centre/pg_police_museum/pg_the_royal_ulster_constabulary.htm Seamus Heaney. No ed. ©2003. Nobel.se. 2 June 2003. http://www.nobel.se/literature/laureates/1995/ heaney-bio.html Slang. J.M. Duckworth, ed. ©1996-2003. Peevish.co.uk. 30 May 2003. http://www.peevish.co.uk/slang/
e.htm Special Branch. John Pike, ed. 6 December 1997. Federation of American Scientists. 2 June 2003. http:// www.fas.org/irp/world/uk/mps/ Stones in His Pockets. No ed. ©2003. California Music Theatre. 25 March 2003. http://www.calmt.com/ html/Archive/bway2002-2003/bway2003-Stones-cast.htm Stones in His Pockets review. Lydia McCormack, ed. No date. University College Dublin. 25 March 2003. http://www.ucd.ie/~observer/o2stones.htm
Stones in His Pockets press release. No ed. No date. IrishMassachusetts. 25 March 2003. http:// www.irishmassachusetts.com/wang_Bio.htm Webster’s II: New Riverside University Dictionary. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1984. The West’s Song. Richard Kopp, ed. No date. AcroNet.net. 29 July 2003. http://www.acronet.net/ ~robokopp/eire/whenallb.htm
Hamlet Bio of the Bard William Shakespeare, third son of John Shakespeare, glover and trader, and Mary Arden, landowner’s daughter, was born in Stratford-on-Avon in 1564. His birthdate is celebrated April 23 by convention only; since Shakespeare himself left no personal records we glimpse him only through official records like christening certificates, marriage records and deed transfers. In 1568 his father was elected Bailiff (aka mayor) of Stratford. As the son of a merchant and town official young William would have attended the town’s free school to learn his “small Latin and little Greek” from university graduates like Simon Hunt, Thomas Jenkins, John Cottom, and perhaps Walter Roche and Alexander Aspinall. But merchant’s sons did not attend university, so his schooling was probably over when he was 15, in 1579. He must have gone to work for someone in Stratford thereafter but no record of this exists. In November 1582 young Will and Anne Hathaway were issued a marriage license; in May 1583 their daughter Susanna was christened. (Some believe Will was forced to marry Anne when she became pregnant, but others point out that formal betrothal, to which they had committed themselves well before their marriage, was both legally binding and permitted conjugal rights.) In early 1585 the Shakespeares became the proud parents of twins, Judith and Hamnet. By then John Shakespeare had suffered financial setbacks and shortly thereafter, Will seems to have left Stratford. Some believe he sought work sufficient to support his extended family; others think that a presumably long-felt love of the theatre finally impelled Will to London, the only English city where one could pursue such a career. Although several acting companies are known to have passed through Stratford (the Earl of Leicester’s Men in 1586, the Queen’s Men in 1587), none seems to have filled vacancies while “on the road,” so it is unlikely he traveled to London in a troupe. Somehow though, between 1589 and 1592, Shakespeare became a London actor and sometime playwright, as Robert Greene’s quotations from the third part of Henry VI in one of his 1592 poems bears witness. Unfortunately for Will the plague flared up in London that year, closing theatres until about 1594. In the interim Shakespeare wrote the poems Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, which he dedicated to the Earl of Southampton. (The earl’s patronage would have eased Will’s financial problems a bit.) Many playwrights and poets of the time sought patronage rather than publication as a means of support in those days before serial publication, Reader’s Digest, the Book of the Month Club and made for tv movies. It is known that several of Shakespeare’s early plays—The Comedy of Errors, Titus Andronicus, the Henry VII plays and possibly The Taming of the Shrew and Richard III—were performed by such troupes as Sussex’s, Admiral’s, Pembroke’s and Strange’s before the plague hit. There is evidence that Richard III (with Richard Burbage as Richard) was a very popular part of Strange’s Men’s repertoire in the years before 1592, which may have led to Will’s being hired (he appears on a company list from 1594, after they had become the Chamberlain’s Men). Many scholars believe that Shakespeare wrote Love’s Labor’s Lost, Romeo and Juliet, King John, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard II between 1594 and ’96, as a member of the Chamberlain’s Men.
In 1596 Will’s father John was granted a coat of arms and the right to be called gentleman; sadly, Will’s young son Hamnet died that year. Around 1597 Shakespeare’s success enabled him to purchase a Stratford estate for his family called New Place. After 1599, when he became a partner in Burbage’s new Globe Theatre and began to share in the box office “take,” the popularity of the plays written between 1596 and 1603 allowed him to send more money to Stratford for land purchases and the like. These plays include: The Merchant of Venice, The Merry Wives of Windsor, both parts of Henry IV, Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, and Troilus and Cressida. An earlier play, Love’s Labor’s Lost, was the first of his plays to be published, in 1598. After King James of Scotland came to Elizabeth’s throne in 1603 Chamberlain’s Men became the King’s Men and performed twice as often at court than before. This “new” audience saw premieres of Othello, All’s Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure, King Lear, Macbeth, Coriolanus, Antony and Cleopatra, and perhaps Pericles and Timon of Athens (which he left unfinished) between 1603 and 1608. When the King’s Men acquired the enclosed Blackfriar’s Theatre in 1608 (Shakespeare was a partner in this too), he responded to the new venue’s noble and learned audience, as well as its artificial lighting and capacity for scenery, with Henry VIII, The Winter’s Tale, Two Gentlemen of Verona, and Cymbeline. Will’s father had died in 1601, and his mother followed in 1608, when Will was 44. Between 1608 and 1611 Shakespeare gradually withdrew from the King’s Men and London to Stratford. The Tempest, generally considered to be his last play, may have been written at New Place; it was presented by Burbage’s troupe in 1611. He died at home on April 23, 1616. Synopsis - Four months after his father’s death Hamlet learns, from his father’s ghost, that King Hamlet’s brother Claudius murdered him in order to take his throne; Claudius has also married Hamlet’s mother. Charged by the ghost to take revenge, Hamlet tries to assure himself of Claudius’ guilt and find the right moment and method to carry out his father’s request. The Main Characters Hamlet - son of the late king, age 30 and still a college student who was away from home when his father died. He cannot believe his mother has remarried already. Claudius - brother to the late King Hamlet, he has succeeded to the throne in part by marrying his brother’s widow. According to the Ghost Claudius poisoned King Hamlet but there were no living witnesses. Gertrude - Hamlet’s mother, the late king’s widow, still Queen of Denmark due to her marriage to Claudius. A sympathetic soul who may not know much about Claudius. Ophelia - Hamlet’s girlfriend, daughter of Polonius (a member of the court) and sister to Laertes. She is very obedient in telling Hamlet she can’t see him anymore but obviously still loves him. Laertes - son of Polonius, brother to Ophelia and also a college student. He comes home to mourn the late king, and returns to school only to have to return when his own father is murdered. Polonius - an advisor to the late king and to Claudius, he offers fairly ridiculous advice to everyone and is easily misled by Hamlet. Horatio - Hamlet’s good friend who has seen his father’s ghost and becomes the prince’s confidant. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern - friends of Hamlet who are summoned to court by Claudius. He wants them
to find out what’s on Hamlet’s mind. Vocabulary My dread lord - When Laertes hails Claudius this way, and Rosencrantz later refers to Claudius and Gertrude’s “dread pleasures,” they are using dread in a Middle English sense of great awe, a revered personage, place or thing (OED); of course, since it’s Claudius, for our purposes the sense of great fear and apprehension is also applicable. nighted color - Hamlet is dressed in black, still mourning his father 2 months after his father’s death, which Gertrude has apparently gotten over. Obsequious sorrow - The OED lists one rare definition of obsequious as “dutiful in showing respect for the dead,” so this is simply underscoring the fact that the court should still be mourning its former king. Filial obligation - From the Latin, filius, son, this is the obligation a son or daughter owes a parent (Webster). Claudius: It is most retrograde to our desire - Since retrograde means “opposed, contrary” (OED) Claudius means he would not grant this wish. Claudius: The King’s rouse the heavens shall bruit again -(OED) The King’s (ca)rousing will be noisily made known, either because it’s so loud it will echo across the sky or Heaven itself will be talking. (Gertrude had) galled eyes - (OED) In Middle English this meant “made sore by rubbing,” so Gertrude has been crying. To post . . . to incestuous sheets! (the Ghost calls it incest, too) - (OED) “to run, ride or travel with speed or haste (as if you were delivering the King’s mail). . . to the bed Gertrude shares with her former brother-inlaw, now her husband.” Although there was Biblical precedent for a brother-in-law to marry his brother’s widow, it was not necessarily still common practice, and this marriage is certainly rather suspect. Truncheon - (Webster) a short stick carried by police, a billy club; a heavy club or cudgel. Horatio: a sable silver’d - Horatio describes the Ghost’s beard as looking black, like the precious furbearing animal itself, overcast with silvery gray, or “color on color,” as Clairol says. Laertes: your chaste treasure - Laertes is speaking of his sister Ophelia’s virginity, without which she would not be acceptable as a bride. In those days chastity was more than a virtue. Polonius: (to Ophelia) That you have taken these tenders for true pay/which are not sterling - The OED says thata tender is “a formal offer of money made by one party to another” in exchange for something; Polonius is cautioning Ophelia that Hamlet’s flattering phrases may not be based in reality (sterling, like silver, like precious metal) and that she shouldn’t bank on them. Polonius: . . springes to catch woodcocks! - (OED) Middle English: “a snare or noose for catching small game, esp. birds,” to catch woodcocks, which, beside typeof bird, had an Old English meaning of “fool or simpleton, dupe.” Polonius just doesn’t want Ophelia to be led astray. Parley – from the French, parle, to talk, speak.
Hamlet: The king . . . drains his draughts of Rhenish down - Claudius is enjoying Rhine wine, a dry white wine. Hamlet: canonized bones - Hamlet speaks of the Ghost’s remains as “declared saintly and entitled to fully be honored,” as one might expect a son to speak of his father. The Ghost: forged process of my death - The Ghost’s cause of death has been falsified because nobody living knows what Claudius did (Webster). hebona - The Oxford English Dictionary supports its definitions with literary examples of specific usuage, particularly helpful with words whose meaning has changed or shifted over time. In the case of hebona there is only one citation for its definition as “a poisonous juice or substance,” and that is Shakespeare’s use of it in this play. Leprous distilment - (OED) This would be “ an essence or purified form” of something that has been “affected with leprosy (a disfiguring skin diseasethat is quite contagious); also, foul, obscene; morally corrupt or corrupting.” Enmity - (Webster) deep-rooted mutual hatred. Quicksilver - an old word referring to mercury, which is silvery in its liquid form, and in small amounts rolls like small ball bearings; when ingested, however, mercury is poisonous, and so this “leperous distilment” acts quickly to poison the unfortunate person who has ingested it. Distracted globe – so Hamlet describes his head/mind, after listening to the Ghost’s story. Saws of books – in this instance saws means “impression of books,” that is, the information and knowledge Hamlet has gathered from reading. As a student and an intelligent fellow, this is a sacrifice Hamlet is making to his father’s ghost, placing the ghost’s business his sole occupation. Baser matter – this would be something of even more inferior quality than what proceeded. Pernicious woman – Gertrude is, then, exceedingly harmful; working or spreading in a hidden and usually
injurious way. Ghost: Mark – Pay attention; notice what is happening. Hamlet, to the Ghost: truepenny, “an honest fellow”; cellarage, cellar, or a storage area in a cellar; Hamlet refers to the Ghost’s grave; Hic et ubique: the National Committee for Latin and Greek urges people to study Latin, for “as Hamlet says of the Ghost [it is] here and everywhere”; Hamlet, of course, is a little surprised at how the Ghost is everywhere, not Latin. Put an antic disposition on – Hamlet tells Horatio he may have to act the fool (in Shakespeare’s day, act fantastically or oddly) so others will still think he’s lost his mind and not suspect what he’s up to. Hamlet: Nymph, in thy orisons/be all my sins rememb’red. – there are so many opinions on the relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia, what’s one more? Judging from this sentence, in which Hamlet refers to Ophelia as a lovely young woman, a lesser goddess of water or wood and then guesses? hopes? assumes?
that she prays for him (orison = prayer, supplication to a deity) for forgiveness of his sins, I have always felt that he actually likes her. Maybe I simply hear what she wants to hear, though. Ophelia: sewing in my closet – HyperDictionary.com cites Webster’s 1913 edition, which defines a closet as a small private room where one might pray or otherwise concentrate. Hamlet has visited Ophelia in a very private space, which gets the parents excited without hearing how weird he was acting (see below). (Hamlet’s) doublet, all unbraced . . . his stockings fouled,/Ungart’red and down-gyved to his ankle – Hamlet’s “close-fitting men’s jacket” unbuttoned, his hose dirty, free of their garters (yes, men wore garters to hold up their socks or “stockings”) and fallen down around his ankles—he does seem distracted, doesn’t he? He’s not only in Ophelia’s private room but he’s a mess! But is he putting on an antic disposition or is he really upset? sith – since, not a Sith lord from Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Claudius: I cannot deem of – Claudius is not sure how to judge (an obscure meaning attributed to Shakespeare) what could be making him act so strangely, apart from his father’s death—as if that is not enough, but to Claudius, who doesn’t suspect what Hamlet believes, it would not be enough. Havior – as you might suspect, this is behavior in an old form, another obscure word used by Will. Vouchsafe your rest here – HyperDictionary.com says, to grant with condescension, to bestow and to accept with condescension. Glean – to gather, originally to collect what’s left in the field after the harvest, but in recent times, to understand based on bits of information. Whether aught to us unknown afflicts (Hamlet) – whether anything we do not know about afflicts H. Guildenstern: show us so much gentry – Guildenstern is remarking about how he and Rosencrantz are being treated by Hamlet and his family, because the gentry (educated, well-bred people) should behave with courtesy (see court in courtesy?). Expostulate – this does mean “examine, argue (about), reason (over),” but it also means to “discuss something with another so as to encourage him/her to rectify some wrong s/he has done.” Perpend – to weigh carefully, to pay attention to. Again, Shakespeare is the only author with examples of how this is used. Polonius: . . . this machine – There is no clanking hulk of metal in the Prince’s possession but there is an artificial device, in Polonius’ mind, that is distracting Hamlet. Prescripts - Polonius gave Ophelia a series of rules or guiding statements to bear in mind regarding Hamlet. Keep in mind that a proscript is a prohibited action. Declension - Hamlet’s state of mind as far as Ophelia is concerned is thought to be worsening, declining, decaying.
Arras – a tapestry hung on the wall, from Arras the capital of Artois, in the French Netherlands, also known as Flanders. The Flemish were some of the best weavers in Europe until the advent of the power loom. Carters – men who drove carts, teamsters. Fishmonger – This is a person who sells fish by crying out about his/her wares in the market. They, like carters, were generally considered poor people, of low birth, uncouth. Carrion – dead animal flesh preferred by crows, ravens and other scavengers. Hamlet tells Polonius about old men: their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum and their weak hams - Hamlet has a low opinion of Polonius which he expresses about old men and their physical lackings: their eyes become clouded and leak a hard, translucent,yellow, orange or brownish-yellow resin and resin from a plum tree and their weak thighs. “What a waste!” Hamlet is inferring, as many young people have and do. :) Polonius (of Hamlet): how pregnant/sometimes his replies are! - Polonius is trying to describe the layers of meaning he senses are lurking in Hamlet’s flippant replies. If he only knew! Rosencrantz: as the indifferent children of the earth - He means that he and Guildenstern are fine and, as just ordinary guys, their state is actually unimportant in the grand theme of things. Hamlet: she (Fortune) is a strumpet- literally this means whore; Hamlet means that Dame Fortune, a pagan demi-goddess controlling how events in our lives turn out (good/bad--it’s that simple), only favors those who do what she wants, gives her what she wants--it’s all about her. Let me conjure you - Webster’s: “to call on solemnly, to summon by oath, to evoke.” Let me create a masterful picture for you. Hamlet: consonancy of our youth - Rosecrantz, Guildenstern and he are “in agreement” as to their age: they are all about the same age. Players – they mean a troupe of actors, those who “speak the speech.” Lenten entertainment - Lent, in the Catholic church, is a time when individuals prepare themselves spiritually for Good Friday, that is, for the death of Jesus. In Hamlet’s day there were no celebrations during Lent, not even weddings; people went to church constantly; they even refrained from eating meat and sweets. With Hamlet in such a gloomy mood, there is concern that he will only want a depressing play from the actors, rather than a comedy. Hamlet: Roscius was an actor in Rome - According to the Columbia Encyclopedia, Roscius (c.126 B.C.– 62 B.C.,), though “born a slave at Solonium, became the greatest comic actor of his time. From the dictator [emperor] Sulla, Roscius received the honor of the gold ring signifying equestrian rank. [This was a huge honor.] In a lawsuit, [the renown speaker] Cicero, whom he had taught elocution, defended him . . . . The title ‘the young Roscius’ or ‘the new Roscius’ has been bestowed on several English actors as a mark of supreme distinction.”
Polonius’ favorite theatre: tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral - Okay, so Polonius likes everything, and he is not a purist--it can all be mixed together! Again, Shakespeare is making a point about how foolish Polonius is. For the record, tragedy, at that time, was a serious play about the fate of a king or kings (like Hamlet), a comedy was a play about common people that ended happily, a history play is a history play, and a pastoral play was a romantic story about pure love among shepherds and shepherdesses. Seneca cannot be/too heavy nor Plautus too light. - These two Roman playwrights are among Polonius’ favorites, and their plays had been “lost” until the Renassance, so they were rather “new” to people. Seneca wrote tragedies that, unlike Greek tragedies, featured violence onstage, which Elizabethans loved; Plautus wrote comedies about racy subjects: for example, his plays served as the inspiration and basis for the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which is about a slave trying to 1) earn his freedom while 2) helping his young master get his girlfriend out of the bordello next door which 3) the slave’s mistress wants evicted and 5) the older master can’t get enough of. Hamlet (to Polonius): O Jephthah, judge of Israel - Jephthah was selected by the Israelites to serve as a regional judge (a district judge, as it were) despite the fact that he was an illegitimate child whose brothers had driven out of their father’s house, leading Jephthah to join other outcast men who apparently raided nonIsraelites. Most people agree he was a wise leader. Hamlet (to an actor): com’st/thou to beard me in Denmark? – Have you come to confront me in Denmark? The actor has probably grown on since last Hamlet saw him. Aeneas’ tale to/Dido . . . where he speaks of/Priam’s slaughter – In Greek mythology, while entertaining Aeneas, Queen Dido of Carthage falls in love with him and cannot hear enough of his war stories about the siege of Troy, where Priam reigned as king, Hecuba was queen, their daughter Cassandra was cursed by Apollo to foretell the future and that nobody will believe her, and their daughter Polyxena was sacrificed at the hero Achilles’ tomb after the city fell. Listen, Hamlet is just asking the actor to deliver a speech Hamlet particularly likes. Hamlet: will you see the players well bestowed? – Hamlet would like Polonius to treat the actors as if they are official visitors to court; in those days actors were simply considered as servants who should be grateful for anything pleasant they received. God’s bodkins, God buy to you, ‘Swounds, ’sblood, by the rood – These are all mild curses. Bodkins are many things, including daggers; God buy to you is a version of God be with you, which in time became goodbye; ‘swounds is God’s wounds, a reference to Christ’s wounds; ’sblood is Christ’s blood; rood means the cross on which Christ was crucified, so by the rood is very strong language indeed. Unpregnant of my cause – the online Shakespeare gloss says this is stupid, but uninformed is closer in meaning. Hamlet (on himself): I am pigeon-liver’d and lack gall/ to make oppression bitter, or ere this/I should ‘a fatted all the region kites/with this slave’s offal – Hamlet feels he is chicken-hearted (Brainy Dictionary) and lacks the bitterness (required) to make oppression bitter, or before now he would have fattened up all the local hawks/with his excrement. A-cursing like a very drab, a scullion! - Hamlet is calling himself a slut, a kitchen maid. He is very down
on himself because he hasn’t revenged his father’s murder. Hamlet (of the play he’s presenting to Claudius): I’ll tent him to the quick. . . If ‘a do blench/I’ll know my course. -Webster’s 1913 dictionary, courtesy of HyperDictionary, uses the first phrase in defining tent as a bandage used to keep a wound open so it may drain or used as a probe to explore a wound, which brings us to quick: the living flesh as in an exposed wound. If, when Hamlet probes Claudius’ vulnerability Claudiusturns pale, Hamlet will know he’s on the right track. Rosencrantz: (Hamlet was) niggard of question - Hamlet did not answer the question fully; he was “stingy” about giving Rosencrantz information. Lawful espials - Claudius and Polonius are going to eavesdrop (espial) on Hamlet and Ophelia, to see for themselves how the prince is with her, which they believe is within their rights as parents, or lawful. Gertrude: bring him to his wonted way - Gertrude, worried about Hamlet, hopes they can help Hamlet act more as he used to. Shuffled off this mortal coil - The Riverside Shakespeare defines this as “leaving behind the turmoil of this mortal life,” that is, dying. Proud man’s contumely- rudeness compounded with haughtiness or arrogance. Insolence of office- pride or haughtiness manifested in contemptuous and overbearing treatment of others, as one might experience in any workplace. His quietus make/with a bare bodkin - commit suicide with a simple dagger. Who would these fardels bear - who would bear these burdens. The native hue of resolution/ - The natural color or appearance of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought/ - is made to look sickly just like thought and enterprises of great pitch and moment,/ - and important, urgent projects, with this regard, their currents turn awry/ - seeing this, are side-tracked or deflected and lose the name of action. - and are not completed; are stopped in their tracks. Ophelia: could beauty, my lord, have better commerce/than with honesty? - Could beauty, my lord, choose a better social partner or friend than honesty? Bawd - the madam of a house of prostitutes. More offences at my/beck - more offences at my command; half of “my beck and call.” (men are all) arrant knaves - entirely bad, dishonest rogues, scoundrels (stop me when you’ve had enough!)> calumny – Ophelia will not escape calumny, that is, people calling her unvirtuous, despite maintaining her virtue. Let [Gertrude] be round with him - Polonius suggests that Gertrude be plain and direct, outspoken with Hamlet when they meet in her room so she might find out what the problem is.
I had as lief - I would prefer. Hamlet (to the players): beget a temperance - act moderately, or moderate/temper your passion as you are acting. I will wear him in my heart - I will carry him in my heart (as a person precious to me). (Claudius’) occulted guilt- Claudius’ guilt is hidden. unkennel - to chase out of a kennel or hiding place; to disclose or reveal. Vulcan’s smithy - Vulcan is the Roman god of blacksmithing or metal working; his smithy is his workshop, which would be hot and smoky, since metal can only be worked when it is heated. Claudius calls him cousin Hamlet - The word cousin is more loosely defined in this instance and simply means they are related. Hamlet (raving for Claudius’ benefit): the chameleon’s dish. I eat the air promise/-cram’d. Riverside Shakespeare: “Chameleons were thought to feed on air. Hamlet says that he subsists on an equally nourishing diet, the promise of succession (to the throne of Denmark). There is probably a pun on air/heir.” (Polonius is) a calf - not a young animal but a “silly or awkward man; a dolt.” Bid the players make haste - tell the actors to hurry. Commingled - unlike items mixed together. (Hamlet is not) a pipe for Fortune’s finger/to sound what stop she please. - Hamlet declares that he is not an instrument to be manipulated to do as Dame Fortune (see above) wishes. Here’s metal more attractive - Ophelia is more appealing to Hamlet than Gertrude. Country matters - this is a dirty pun: breeding, in a literal sense (the act itself). Ophelia (about the pantomime): Belike this show imports the argument of the play. - It seems that this pantomimed “foreword” presents to us or tells us what the play itself is about. The posy of a ring (Hamlet calls the prologue this) - It is like a bit of poetry that might be engraved or inscribed on a ring. The actors refer to: Phoebus’ cart - Phoebus, also known as Apollo, the sun god, was tasked with driving the sun across the sky in a cart pulled by horses. Neptune’s salt wash - Neptune, Roman god of the sea, therefore lives in salt water. Tellus’ orbed ground - goddess of the earth, which would be her “orbed ground.”
Hyman did our hands/unite commutual in most sacred bonds - Hyman is the god of marriage. Operant powers - power enough to influence others or cause something to happen. That’s wormwood (Hamlet says of the play) - wormwood is a plant with a bitter taste, so, Hamlet believes that the play will “taste bitter” to Claudius. Enactures - resolutions; things to be enacted or made to happen. Player Queen: an anchor’s cheer in prison be my scope - Riverside Shakespeare: a hermit’s fare, that is plain food, as if I were in prison, will be the extent (of the comfort) I will allow myself. Beguile/the tedious day with sleep - pass time during a boring day by sleeping. Hamlet: knavish piece of work - deceitful, false, phony piece of work. Let the galled jade wince, our withers are unwrung. - Let the disreputable woman with eyes sore from crying wince, we are insensitive to her trouble. (If one’s withers are wrung one is in discomfort.) A pox on it/you - a curse: may it/you come down with a contagious disease that will leave pock marks on you! The croaking raven doth bellow for revenge. - Riverside Shakespeare says this is a misquote from a non-Shakepeare play about King Richard III. Undoubtedly Shakespeare’s audience would have recognized it. Confederate season - a time to join into plots, especially unethical or illegal plots. Hecate’s ban thrice blasted, thrice infected. - Hecate is the witch of all witches; if her ban has been announced three times (3 is a magic number), whatever she has cursed is cursed 3 times! Dire property – an item that bodes ill, is dreadful, is evil in great degree. Choler - a strong emotion; a feeling that is oriented toward some real or supposed grievance; a humor or fluid that was once believed to be secreted by the liver and to cause irritability and anger. Claudius is this upset by the play. Guildenstern: wholesome answer - Hamlet won’t give him a sound, sane answer. by these pickers and stealers – Hamlet tells Rosencrantz and Guildenstern he is still friends with them but qualifies that statement with this phrase; he gives them his hands on this but pickers and stealers implies his hands are criminal, not to be trusted. While the grass grows – This is part of a proverb that became popular in England in the 1300s; the full proverb is “While the grass grows, the steed starves.” Hamlet: They fool me to the top of my bent – they prompt me to be as foolish as I can be. Churchyards yawn . . . hell itself breathes out/contagion – this refers to the commonly-held notion that ghosts rose from their graves and that evildoers sent to the underworld could leave it to roam the Earth at
night, from dawn to dusk (which is why the Ghost only appears at night). Aside from indicating that fearful creatures are about it also means that it is very late at night. Soul of Nero – The Roman emperor Nero had the reputation for being heartless from such acts as murdering his younger half-brother to ensure his position as emperor, openly conducting affairs in front of his wife, divorcing his wife and having her killed, and killing his own mother (before she killed him, admittedly). Hamlet tells himself to stay resolute in his pursuit of Claudius, as Nero would be. Be shent – be berated or blamed. Polonius (of Gertrude): she’ll tax him home – Gertrude will get to the truth because she can be firm with Hamlet. Claudius: primal eldest curse—a brother’s murder. In his soliloquy as he tries to pray, Claudius compares his murder of his brother with Cain slaying Abel, a tremendous crime in the eyes of Christians. Interestingly, later on Hamlet refers to “Cain’s jawbone, that did the first murder,” as if to underscore this. Visage of offence – the appearance of offence. O limed soul, that, struggling to be free/art more engaged. – birdlime is a viscous material used to capture small birds who, once they step into it, cannot struggle out but rather become stuck even more. Make assay – to make a try or attempt, or to make an examination. Hamlet: That would be scann’d:/A villain kills my father; and for that I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven./Why, this is hire and salary, not revenge. - As Hamlet considers murdering Claudius as the king seems to be praying, the prince realizes that he would be, in effect, sending Claudius to heaven; Hamlet “reads” the situation as a scholar might “scan” a poem. Full of bread, broad blown, flush as May - King Hamlet, unlike Claudius, had not prayed before he died, so his soul was full of unconfessed sins, Hamlet notes. How his [the Ghost’s] audit stands – what the Ghost’s standing or status is; how he measures up. Physic – medicine. I’ll warrant you – I guarantee. Dead for a ducat – in the 17th century a ducat was equal to a British pound sterling, but still, that’s a rather small sum to be killed over. If damned custom have not braz’d it so/that it be proof and bulwark against sense. – If cursed custom have not hardened it so that it will withstand the power of sense. Hamlet describes his father in terms of Roman gods. What a man he must have been: Hyperion’s curls – an ancient Roman god, a Titan who was father to the sun (Helios), moon (Selene) and dawn (eos). the front of Jove/ - Jove was the patriarch of the Roman pantheon, equal to Greece’s Zeus. Like
Zeus he was known as a seducer, so his looks must have been something. an eye like Mars . . ./ - Mars, the god of war, was constantly vigilant, as a soldier should be. a station like the herald Mercury – Webster’s 1913 edition notes that this phrase refers to posture. To feed/and batten on this moor – to feed and grow fat/fatten on this area of poor soil, that is, not pastureland. Rank sweat of enseamed bed – odoriferous sweat of (Gertrude and Claudius’) greasy, polluted (because Hamlet considers theirs an illicit marriage) bed. Precedent lord – the king before/preceding Claudius, King Hamlet. Gertrude: (Hamlet does with the) incorporeal air do hold discourse. . . This is the very coinage of your brain./This bodiless creation ecstasy is very cunning in. – Gertrude can’t see the Ghost (does Hamlet really see one, some wonder?), so Hamlet appears to be speaking to thin are, with a figment of his “overheated” imagination, to her. Hamlet says, “I the matter will re-word which madness/would gambol from.” – He will change wording that madness would skip away from. Flattering unction to your soul – an unction is an ointment or salve used to treat wounds. Extreme unction, in the Catholic church, is the administration of last rites, including the use of holy oil to bless the dying person. Reechy kisses – soiled, dirty. Hamlet is pretty disgusted with Gertrude’s choice for her second husband. adders fanged - Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are snakes bearing their fangs, to Hamlet. I will delve one yard below their (R & G) mines/and blow them at the moon. – Hamlet will dig below the traps Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have set and use them against them to “explode” them. Claudius wants Hamlet out of haunt – Claudius wants Hamlet away from court, from his home, from the place he “haunts.” Keep it from divulging – keep it from becoming known. The pith of life – the heart of life, the essence of it. A king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar – a royal progress was a trip a monarch took through his/her kingdom to see the people and be seen by them, so one traveled on the best horses, in one’s best clothes, rather like a parade. (One’s loyal nobles put one up lavishly en route.) Hamlet means that a king (read: Claudius especially) makes his last “royal progress” once the king’s body deteriorates and is absorbed by the land, which grows plants eaten by animals and people, even beggars, the lowest of the low. Or does Hamlet simply think that kings are no better than anyone else? The bark is ready . . . the associates tend – The ship is ready . . . the sailors are waiting. Like the hectic in my blood he rages – Hamlet makes Claudius’ blood agitated, feverish. Larded – made full. In cooking one lards dry meat to make it juicy.
Cuckold – a man whose wife has had or is having an affair; a man who has been betrayed. Sweepstake, you will draw both friend and foe,/winner and loser – by making a clean sweep, you’ll catch everyone. Laertes: Life-rend’ring pelican/repast them with my blood - in heraldry and symbolical art, a picture of a pelican wounding her breast in order to nourish her young with her blood, a practice fabulously (that is, falsely) attributed to the bird, [leading to the bird’s adoption] as a symbol of Christ, and of charity. A pirate of very warlike appointment - A pirate ship prepared for/appointed with weapons for fighting. No place, indeed, should murder sanctuarize - Traditionally churches provided sanctuary for murderers and those accused of murder. Mountebank - a pitchman for phony medicine and illegal poisons. Back in the day these salesmen would either climb to the highest spot in the marketplace (mount a bank) or set up stage to attract customers. Cataplasm - a soft, moist compound applied to the body to provide relief from pain or infection. Contagion - the transmission of disease, laughter, even an idea--anything that can spread quickly among people. Our drift look through our bad performance,/twere better not assayed - It would be better if our slowly changing point of view as we act badly was not noticed. I’ll have preferred him/a chalice for the nonce - Claudius will offer Hamlet a drink in a stemmed glass for this single purpose of poisoning Hamlet. Gertrude, describing Ophelia’s death: hoar leaves of a willow, pendent boughs; her coronet weeds – old, faded willow leaves, boughs hanging down; weeds serving as a crown for her. For centuries the willow was a symbol of sorrow, desertion by a loved one, and even death. People still refer to the “weeping willow,” as if it is inherently sad. A creature native and indued/unto that element – Ophelia looked like a creature used to water, completely at home in it. The pate of a politician – the skull of a politician. Tis for the dead, not the quick – the grave is for a dead person, not a living one. When Hamlet says, “How absolute the fellow is,” he means the gravedigger is very literal—but maybe he’s just joking around. Sexton – an assistant to the minister of a church who was responsible for maintenance of the building, care for the minister’s vestments and “tools,” assisting the minister during services, and even digging graves in the church graveyard. Pocky corpses – dead bodies that have pock marks on them from disease.
Whoreson mad fellow – Yorick, King Hamlet’s jester, seems to have been a practical joker with everyone, including the gravedigger, who calls him illegitimate and insane. Flagon of Rhenish – a drinking vessel larger than a bottle with a narrow opening. Yorick poured a flagon of Rhine wine over the sexton’s head, quite a waste of good wine! My gorge rises - at the sight of Yorick’s skull, Hamlet’s throat closes and his stomach almost retches. gibes, gambols, flashes of merriment – As a court jester, Yorick’s job was to make jokes and sarcastic remarks, to dance or skip about, to be the life of the party, as it were. couch we a while – Horatio and Hamlet are going to lie down or recline to hide. funeral obsequies – burial rites. Ophelia cannot have a full burial, according to church law, because in the eyes of the church she committed suicide. I am not splenitive – I am not malicious or spiteful. Wouldst drink up eisel – He would drink vinegar or another bitter liquid. Benetted round with villainies – caught in a net/ensnared in villainies. England was his fair tributary, love between them like the palm might flourish, peace should still her wheaten garland wear – England pays Denmark a tribute of goods and/or money to keep peace between them. As for flourishing palms (Shakespeare is actually referring to Psalm 92:12), Michael and Christine Cortright note that “in the Bible lands [the palm tree] produces some kind of fruit year round [and] its root system is so firm that a palm can even stand in a monsoon storm.” And finally, returning to the peace motive, the goddess of Peace should be able to ensure prosperity for both countries, as signified by her garland of wheat. Shriving time – time to confess one’s sins. Coz’nage – practicing fraud or a scam. This lapwing runs away with the shell on his head. – a lapwing is a small bird with large, broad wings, whose back is coppery or greenish bronze, which is known for an irregular flight pattern: up, down and in circles. Osric reminds Hamlet of this bird. The shell he refers to is Osric’s hat, which he doesn’t know what to do with. He has many more of the same bevy – Osric has many more of the same flock of birds. Use some gentle entertainment with Laertes - Gertrude asks Hamlet to be civil, polite with Laertes. We defy augury; there is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow – we care nothing for omens. In the second half of this speech Hamlet makes reference to a Bible verse, Matthew 10:29, in which Jesus reassure his disciples that no matter what they do they should not fear retribution for “are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and not one of them shall fall to the ground without God knowing.” Hamlet is confident, unconcerned—or is he ready for the end, whatever that might be?
Stoups of wine – like the chalice Claudius mentioned in his conversation with Laertes, these are stemmed glasses for wine. In the cup an union shall (Claudius) throw – Claudius will add a large, fine pearl to the cup. This is, again, an obscure use of the word—good old Shakespeare! Ophelia’s songs (especially “How should I your true love know . . .” [This has been recorded by Marianne Faithful, according to Metrolyrics.com, and All Music Guide lists it as on her cd North Country Maid.] and “Tomorrow is St. Valentine’s day”) First, a helpful introduction to songs in Shakespeare’s plays from the Renaissance and Baroque Society of Pittsburgh : “It’s sometimes easy to forget that in [Shakespeare’s] plays, of course, the songs don’t stand apart—they have a dramatic purpose, a role to play, as it were. . . . Several types of music were employed in Elizabethan theatre. ‘Stage music’ set the mood for banquets, battles, processions, and duels. Trumpets, cornettos, drums, and the like were used in this way. ‘Magic music,’ a second category established a different mood, and would most often be heard from offstage, from behind a curtain or beneath a trapdoor; Ariel’s songs in The Tempest and ‘Come Away Hecate’ from Macbeth are excellent examples of ‘magic’ songs. Music could also be used to explore or establish character; such ‘character songs’ were generally not sung by the main characters in the play, but by a boy singer, a clown or a fool. In fact, in Shakespeare’s plays the main characters rarely sing (Ophelia and Desdemona were exceptions). Acting was a man’s profession, and boys would generally take women’s roles. There were a number of children’s acting companies—an outgrowth of boys’ choirs—in London until the early 1590s, at which time they were briefly banned. . . .” Then some specifics from Ian Delaney: “Ophelia sings three songs to the Queen in scene IV. v., and two more later in the scene after her brother’s arrival. The first (‘How should I your true love know. . .’) is about an absent lover. The second (which might be a continuation of the first) begins ‘He is dead and gone lady.’ The third ‘Tomorrow is St. Valentine’s Day’ is the story of how a young girl is duped into sleeping with a man who promises to marry her and doesn’t. [Steve Roth, writing for the journal Early Modern Literary Studies, notes that “Elizabethans observed a tradition on Valentine’s Day (much deplored by the Puritans) of young people choosing partners by lot to be their ‘valentines.’ I don’t find any correlation to this practice in Hamlet, but the sexual connotations make sense, especially when you consider that images of St Valentine often included images of cocks. The word cock is used six times in the play, many more if you include woodcock, cockle, and the like. (The OED cites a usage meaning ‘penis’ as early as 1618.) One notable occurrence is Ophelia’s bawdy oath—replacing God with cock—in her Valentine’s song about a maid losing her virginity: ‘Young men will do’t, if they come to’t;/By Cock, they are to blame.’”] “Applying the first two songs to Ophelia’s history doesn’t take much ingenuity. She has an absent lover and a dead dad. “The third, more bawdy, song is a little trickier. Hamlet has not been unfaithful to Ophelia, in fact the opposite is more true. Yes, he’s unpleasant to her, but she’s the one who participates in a plot to trick the other. It is possible that Ophelia’s madness transposes the sexes of the characters and that the song is about her infidelity. It is also possible that Ophelia is mourning her own virginity. Or that her delirium releases the sexuality which has till this point been pent up by the demands of propriety and decorum. We don’t know enough to make a definite choice. “The next song, after Ophelia hands out the flowers, is apparently part of a popular series of ‘Bonny Robin’ songs which were about lovers and unfaithfulness. The final song (‘And will ’a not come again’) is about the death of an older man. “It is not implausible, on the basis of these five songs, to assume that Ophelia’s madness was caused by the death of her father, her loss of Hamlet and her guilt about her infidelity to him. . . .”
Ophelia’s flowers: rosemary for remembrance, pansies for thoughts, fennel signifies “worthy of all praise,” columbines mean desertion or folly, rue for disdain, daisy for innocence, violets are for faithfulness, love and modesty (she says the violets died when her father did; Laertes hopes they will spring from her grave). Ophelia’s deadly wreath: crowflowers are for ingratitude, nettles are for cruelty and slander, daisies for innocence (wild daisies: I will think of it), and dead men’s fingers, a variety of orchid, could mean beauty, though the bee orchid means error.
Shakespeare said it first! Hamlet: A little more than kin, and less than kind O, that this too too solid flesh would melt/thaw, and resolve itself into a dew! Seems madame! Nay it is, I know not seems. Frailty, thy name is woman! (Hamlet on Gertrude) Polonius: Neither a borrower nor a lender be; And, of course: This above all—to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. Hamlet: And to the manner born, it is a custom/more honor’d in the breach than the observance. Ghost: what a falling off was there (re: Gertrude’s marriage to Claudius) Leave her [Gertrude] to heaven. Hamlet: There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio/than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Polonius: Brevity is the soul of wit. (Ironic that Polonius should say this, don’t you think?) Hamlet: The time is out of joint. O cursed spite,/that ever I was born to set it right! What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties! In form and moving, how Express and admirable! In action, how like an angel! In apprehension, how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence Of dust? Man delights me not—no, nor woman neither, Though by your smiling you seem to say so. I am but mad north-northwest [title of Hitchcock’s film]; when the wind is southerly/I know a hawk from a handsaw. Polonius (of Hamlet): Though this be madness, yet there is/method in’t. [Commonly repeated as “method to
my madness.”] Hamlet: O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I! (through That I have?) What’s Hecuba to him or he to Hecuba The play’s the thing/wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king. To be or not to be—that is the question. Film titles from “To be or not to be”: Outrageous Fortune (a Bette Midler/Shelley Long comedy; Ms. Long aspires to play the role of Hamlet), What Dreams May Come (After Robin Williams dies in a car accident he searches for his wife, who has committed suicide [which Hamlet considers in this speech]), The Undiscovered Country (Star Trek movie 6: the Federation and the Klingons are to discuss peace until Capt. Kirk’s Enterprise is accused of attacking a Klingon ship). This last phrase is also a book title used by: William Dean Howells, Eknath Easwaran, John M. Hay, Christina Koning, Georges Duquette, Samantha Gillison, Ron Rhodes, Kenneth Haxton, Robert C. Broderick, Philip C. Kolin (Undiscovered Country: The Later Plays of Tennessee Williams), and a play by Tom Stoppard. Hamlet: Get thee to a nunnery. Ophelia (of Hamlet): O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown! Hamlet: Speak the speech, p. 55 Gertrude: The lady [ the Player Queen] doth protest too much. The play within Hamlet is titled The Mousetrap, which is the title of Agatha Christie’s long running murder mystery play (at one time it was the longest running play on the British stage). A cry of players! Hamlet: I must be cruel only to be kind. Hoist with his own petard. Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times. Gertrude (of Ophelia): Sweets to the sweet. Hamlet: The dog will have his day. There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,/rough-hew them how we will. The readiness is all. The rest is silence.
Horatio: Good night, sweet prince,/and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. Discussion Questions 1. Do a little research about the state of Denmark in Shakepeare’s day (1590-1603). How equivalent is it to today’s country? Do you find anything about a special relationship between it and England? 2. Take a look at the 3 college students in the play: Hamlet, Laertes and Horatio. Do they resemble presentday college students, or are they very different? 3. Claudius would have been in line for the throne, as brother to King Hamlet, although as the king’s son, Hamlet would traditionally be next in line. Based on what Hamlet says and does in the play, do you think he would make a good leader? Why or why not? 4. Hamlet is tragedy in the traditional sense in that it is set among the nobility, the central character seems to exhibit a character flaw, and people die. In some ways it resembles Greek tragedy and Roman tragedy. Identify some characteristics Hamlet shares with the older forms, and ways in which it is different. In traditional tragedy the central character has a personal flaw that leads to his or her undoing: Macbeth and his Lady are usually seen as overly ambitious and ruthless, qualities that contribute to their deaths. What is Hamlet’s tragic flaw, and how does it do him in? 5. We never learn precisely what happens to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, so posit your own ending for them based on what Hamlet describes to Horatio. Is it an ending they deserve? 6. Many scholars, like several characters in the play, believe that Hamlet goes insane, if only temporarily. Do you think so? Or is he simply acting ( which he seems to know something about, judging from his speech to the players)? You could conduct a sanity trial for Hamlet, or simply debate whether he is loony or lucid. 7. Conduct a murder trial with Claudius as the defendant. What evidence or circumstances would the prosecution present? What sorts of witnesses might the defense call? 8. Horatio and Osric are among the few survivors left at court by the end of the play. Imagine they are interviewed by news reporters: how would their stories differ? 9. Retell this story from Horatio’s point of view, remembering that he is absent from some of the action in Hamlet. 10. Compare the father/son relationship between Hamlet Sr. and Jr. with that of Polonius and Laertes. This will probably require some imagination on your part. Compare your relationship(s) with your parents. Are there similarities? What are the differences? 11. Whose fate is the more tragic, the men’s or the women’s? Describe each character’s “purpose” as you determine this, and the effect they and their actions have on the others. Extra credit bonus: Name the characters who do not die by sword or dagger, and what kills them. Sources consulted Antic disposition. No ed. ©2002-2003. Family Education Network, Inc. 6 September 2003. http:// www.infoplease.com/ipd/A0319317.html
Ducat. Christopher Snazell, ed. 3 July 1999. Canaan.demon.co.uk. 9 September 2003. http:// www.canaan.demon.co.uk/roleplaying/venice/C17th-Costs.html#conversion Fall of a Sparrow. No ed. 11 July 2003. Godrules.net. 10 September 2003. http://www.godrules.net/library/ kjv/kjvmat10.htm Flourish like a palm. Michael Cortright, ed. ©1996-2003. Red Bay.com. 10 September 2003. http:// www.redbay.com/ekklesia/gladpalm.htm Hic et ubique. Scott Barker, ed. 12 December 1999. Promote Latin.org. 6 September 2003. http:// www.promotelatin.org/whylatin.htm How should I your true love know? No ed. No date. Metrolyrics.com. 10 September 2003. http:// www.metrolyrics.com/lyrics/69908/Faithfull_Marianne/How_Should_I_Your_True_Love_Know/ —— No ed. ©1992-2003. All Music.com. 10 September 2003. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/ amg.dll?p=amg&uid=MISS70309102157&sql=H562466 Lapwing. Richard Ford. 26 April 2002. Hantsweb. 10 September 2003. http://www.hants.gov.uk/hos/pics/ Waders/lapwing.html Nero. No ed. No date. Roman-Empire.net. 9 September 2003. http://www.roman-empire.net/emperors/ nero-index.html Ophelia’s songs. Ian Delaney, ed. 16 March 1999. Netcom.net.uk. 11 September 2003. http:// www.netcomuk.co.uk/~iandel/answ4.html#what5 Orisons; havior; vouchsafe, etc. No ed. ©2002-2003. Webnox Corp. 6 September 2003. http:// www.hyperdictionary.com/search.aspx Roscius. No ed. ©2003. Bartleby.com. 8 September 2003. http://www.bartleby.com/65/ro/Roscius.html Saws of old books; baser matter; pernicious; mark; truepenny; cellarage; etc.. No ed. ©2003. Lexico Publishing Group, Inc. 6 September 2003. http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=back%20pressure Shakespeare’s Top 40. No ed. No date. Renaissance and Baroque Society of Pittsburgh. 11 September 2003. http://www.rbsp.org/current_season/shakespeare.php Tomorrow is St. Valentine’s Day. Steve Roth, ed. ©2002. Sheffield Hallam University. 11 September 2003. http://www.shu.ac.uk/emls/07-3/2RothHam.htm
Private Lives Noel Coward
In the early 1920s Noel Coward established himself as the most versatile, most sophisticated theatre craftsman of the World War I generation. With seemingly equal ease, he wrote plays and acted in them, wrote musicals—the words and the tunes—and sang, danced and acted in them. He also directed and produced his own
shows. In the years following his first successes, Coward added another superlative to his string of “most versatile” and “most sophisticated,” by becoming also one of the most prolific theatre men of his generation Born in 1899 in Teddington, England, Coward had a private education and entered a dramatic school as a child, making his professional stage debut at the age of 11 in a company that included another child player with whom he formed a lifelong friendship, Gertrude Lawrence. He wrote two of his outstanding entertainments—Private Lives and Tonight at 8:30 —as vehicles for their appearances together at the height of their careers more than twenty years later. At eighteen he acted in D.W. Griffith’s film, Hearts of the World. In 1918, Coward spent nine months in what he described as a “brief and inglorious” career in the British army. But In 1920, when he was still five months short of being 21 years old he sold his first play: I’ll Leave It to You, and acted in its London production. He followed this with another the next year, The Young Idea. In 1922 Coward came to New York to look around—and stumbled upon the idea for Hay Fever, the first play he wrote that was a big success (though it was presented after a subsequently the written play). No interesting job turned up for the young actor-playwright during that first New York visit, though he was not, despite the legend that later grew up about this period, either hungry or threadbare. He was a well-dressed, well-fed young actor looking for a job. His cleverness and suave, brittle personality soon opened doors to him in New York among then celebrated Algonquin Round Table of sophisticates that included critic Alexander Woolcott, playwrights George Kaufman and Marc Connelly, playwright and novelist Edna Ferber, columnists Heywood Braun and Franklin P. Adams, and actresses Ruth Gordon and Laurette Taylor—the circle fictionalized in Auntie Mame thirty-five years later. Coward was a frequent guest at the mad parties given by Laurette Taylor and her playwriting husband, Hartley Manners—parties limited to the cream of New York’s celebrities, wits and beauties. Coward took malicious note of his hostess’s mannerisms, and when he returned to England the following year (1923) he put her, with only a few disguising aspects, as his central figure into Hay Fever. He wrote this play and two others, The Vortex and Fallen Angels, while appearing in a musical revue, London Calling, to which he had contributed some songs. Then there was a period when all three of these plays were voyaging disconsolately in and out of London managers’ offices, as he later told of it in his autobiography, Present Indicative. At last a producer agreed to present Hay Fever and The Vortex, preferring to do Hay Fever first. Coward, however, wanted to play the neurotic hero, Nicky, of The Vortex and pushed for the one as the first to be produced. When The Vortex opened in London late in 1924, with Coward in its showy leading role, hysterically pounding out a jazz rhythm on a piano to a hair-raising crescendo for a stunning second act curtain, it had an overwhelming success. Overnight Coward became the most talked-about and exciting young playwright to have appeared in England for many years. The same astonishing success was scored when Coward and The Vortex came to New York in September, 1925. This hit immediately opened for Coward the production of any play he chose to have presented. Hay Fever soon followed The Vortex in London and ran there a full year with Marie Tempest in the central role. Following these successes, Coward poured out one delightful play or musical after another for the next forty-odd years, acted in many of them, directed most of them, produced several of them—each of them a major theatrical event—as he shuttled frequently between the stages of New York and London. At the height of his popularity, he could imperiously set a twelve-week limitation on the run of any of his plays that he chose to appear in, and he guaranteed that the playgoers would bid furiously for every last seat available. A measure of his continuing versatility, as his hair thinned and he turned sixty was his record in the years 1960 and 1961. He appeared in leading roles in two movies, Our Man in Havana and Surprise Package, the first based on Graham Greene’s novel, the second starring Yul Brynner and Mitzi Gaynor along with Coward. He also wrote the musical score of a third movie, The Grass is Greener, starring Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum and Jean Simmons, and wrote a play, Waiting in the Wings, which ran nearly a year in London with Sibyl Thorndike and Lewis Casson and starring Marie Lohr. Also in 1960 Coward
published his second novel, Pomp and Circumstance, and the book hit the American best-seller lists in mid1961. In the same year he directed the New York production of his latest musical comedy, Sail Away. The Girl Who Came to Supper, with music and lyrics by Coward (and libretto by Harry Kurnitz), was produced at the end of 1963, and in the spring of 1964 Coward directed the musical High Spirits, which had been converted by other writers to a song-and-dance show from Coward’s comedy smash of the 1940s, Blithe Spirit. A trilogy of new Coward plays was presented in London in 1966, called Suite in Three Keys. One section, “A Song at Twilight,” took up a full evening. The other two parts made up a double bill for another evening, “Shadows of the Evening” and “Come Into the Garden, Maude.” Coward starred in these entertain As the years turned, the pace of Coward’s productiveness slowed but an autumnal splurge of attention was bestowed on him. The first anniversary to be celebrated in a major way was his 65th birthday, December 16, 1964,an occasion celebrated with considerable élan in London. A New York Times correspondent reported back to New York that on his asking the playwright-actor how he felt about surviving “devaluation” and becoming a classic, Coward replied, “It’s quite useless to congratulate me on a comeback, I never knew I’d been away.” He had 60 scripts to his credit at that time. Five years later, his 70th birthday was the occasion of an even bigger bash in London. The entire British press and broadcasting networks bloomed with articles about him, all drenched with affection and a feeling close to gratitude that the Master could still snap and giggle. Capping the celebration was a huge tribute to Mr. Coward by friends and admirers, held at the Phoenix Theatre, where Coward and Gertrude Lawrence had opened in Private Lives in 1930. The Master spent the bulk of his remaining years at his home in Jamaica and died there in 1973. His tombstone was engraved with the words, “A talent to amuse.” Literary Chronology Ida Collaborates, 1917 (with Esme Wynne) Woman and Whiskey (with Esme Wynne), The Rat Trap (1918) I’ll Leave It to You (1919) Sirocco (1921) The Young Idea, The Queen Was in Her Parlor, A Withered Nosegay (1922) The Vortex (1923) Fallen Angels (1924) Hay Fever (1924) This Was a Man, The Marquise, Semi-Monde, Easy Virtue (1926) This Year of Grace (1928) Bitter Sweet, Private Lives (1929) Post-Mortem, Mad Dogs and Englishmen (1930) Design for Living (1932) Conversation Piece (1933) Point Valaine (1934) Tonight at 8:30 (1935) Present Indicative (biography), The Stately Homes of England, Operette (1937) This Happy Breed, Present Laughter, To Step Aside (short stories) 1939 Time Remembered (Salute to the Brave), 1940 Blithe Spirit, In Which We Serve (1941)
Middle East Diary, Brief Encounter (screenplay based on “Still Life,” from Tonight at 8:30), 1944 Sigh No More, Pacific 1860, 1945 Peace in Our Time, 1946 Long Island Sound, 1947 Astonished Heart (screenplay, from Tonight at 8.30), 1948 Ace of Clubs, 1949 Relative Values, 1950 Star Quality (short stories), 1950 Quadrille, Bad Times Just Around the Corner, Meet Me Tonight (Tonight at 8:30 plays), 1951/52 After the Ball, Nude with Violin, Future Indefinite (second autobiography), 1954 Look After Lulu (based on a Feydeau farce), 1958 London Morning (ballet score), Waiting in the Wings, Pomp and Circumstance (novel), 1959 The Girl Who Came to Supper, 1962 Pretty Polly Barlow (short stories), 1964 Bon Voyage, Not Yet the Dodo, ca. 1966 Setting - First, hotel suites overlooking a Riviera beach; then, Amanda’s apartment in Paris. Synopsis -When Elyot and Amanda, once married but now on their honeymoons with new partners, discover they are vacationing next to each other, rekindle the sparks of their love and run away to Amanda’s Paris apartment. Although the “course of love” still does not run smoothly for them, they are not tempted to return to their current spouses even after Sybil and Victor catch up with them. Vocabulary Boule - The Wizard of Odds notes that “la Boule is a roulette popular in France. The game features 9 numbers and 3 colors of which to bet on. . . . The wheel is divided into 9 numbers, 1 to 9; and three colors, black, red, and yellow. The numbers 1, 3, 6, and 8 are black; 2, 4, 7, and 9 are red; and 5 is yellow. After the dealer calls ‘Rien ne va plus’ (no more bets) he will spin the wheel and ball, the depression where the ball lands determines the outcome.” Chemin de fer – The website 4YouBaccarat has this to say: “European bacarat (James Bond’s favorite), Bacarat en banque, and chemin de fer are all descendants of the original Italian game of baccarat, meaning zero and referring to value of all 10-count cards. In European bacarrat, in additon to the player’s standing or drawing on 5, the play of the dealer, who operates the permanent bank for the casino, is completely optional. In spite of these options, the decisions of the banker in almost all cases are exactly the same as required by the rules of play for American baccarat. . . . In this game, players who choose to bet with the bank to win are charged 5 percent of their winnings on each bet. . . . “The basic difference in the game of chemin de fer (which is French for railroad and refers to the shoe moving around the table like a train) is that the bank rotates among the players. The house acts as a broker, collecting a fee from the winnings of each banker, and therefore assumes no risk. The player who is acting as banker cannot draw down any part of his original bank or subsequent winnings unless either the players do not subscibe to all the bank or, after the completion of any hand, the banker chooses to pass the bank. “In this game, the player also has choice of standing or drawing on 5, and the banker’s play is completely optional. In any of these three games, the experienced American player who has observed the European game long enough to become familiar with the variations in procedure would be able to play a professional game just by using the American baccarat rules.” Cochineal – Elyot suggests this as a lipstick substitute Sybil may find the hotel kitchen has. Webster’s says
that this is “a brilliant red dye made by drying and pulverizing the bodies of the female insect Dactylopius coccus.” Easy to see why it would be popular as lipstick! You’ve gone a mucker, alright – Elyot’s Sybil is only 23! so the insinuation of the slang term mucker is that Elyot is “a low or vulgar laborer” (Webster’s, 1913) who has robbed the cradle, so to speak. Burning Ghars or Ghats - Well, it’s burning ghat, and it’s a place of cremation according to Lonely Planet. The Taj Mahal – The website GreatBuildings.com says, “A white marble tomb built in 1631-48 in Agra, seat of the Mugal Empire, by Shah Jehan for his wife, Arjuman Banu Begum, the monument sums up many of the formal themes that have played through Islamic architecture. Its refined elegance is a conspicuous contrast both to the Hindu architecture of pre-Islamic India, with its thick walls, corbeled arches, and heavy lintels, and to the Indo-Islamic styles, in which Hindu elements are combined with an eclectic assortment of motifs from Persian and Turkish sources.” It’s also quite a romantic tribute, don’t you think? Sacred elephant – “They’re lint white,” Amanda tells us. Do you suppose she really knows of “the Burmese belief that albino elephants are sacred, . . . can’t be used for work and must be lavished with the ultimate amount of care”? Solomon Isaacs – Elyot and Amanda’s signal to themselves to take a time out because they are behaving badly toward one another. It’s simply an odd phrase Amanda has dreamed up, which she and Elyot soon abbreviate to Sollocks, which may be someone’s last name but has no actual meaning to our battling couple beyond “time out.” Telegraph –“a [19th century] communication system that transmits and receives . . . electric impulses,” usually the dots and dashes of Morse code, over wires. This system predates telephones, it’s so old! Pull her fringe – Elyot thinks this may happen to Amanda’s maid Louise when Louise is in the bosom of her family, meaning that they torment her. My grandmother had a lovely seat on a camel – Elyot is making a joke about the term seat as it is used by those who ride horseback, unless, of course, Grandmother was a world traveler and horsewoman. “To properly develop a correct seat on the horse, one needs to first understand it, in order to perform it and learn it. . . . It not only makes us more stable on the horse, but it mainly insures our ability to feel and communicate with the horse and enables us to become part of him and his movement. We will no longer be a burden to the animal, but we will be an asset in improving the horse’s athletic ability, swiftness, speed, and freedom of movement. “It would be best to say at the start, that the rider becomes a part of the horse, through his or her seat. Since we were not born as a part of the horse, nor were the horses born as a part of us, we will come into a conflict with nature. . . . The conflict with nature will show in the pain and discomfort that the new rider will feel. If in any sport it [can be said]: ‘No pain, no gain,’ it is double that for riding. The entire lower body, from the hips down, needs to be somewhat ‘rearranged’ in order to achieve a good seat. . . . “The rider takes up the same position [on the horse] as when [he or she is] standing, rather then sitting. Hence the rider’s hips are in the same position, in relevance to the ground, as if he or she would be standing. I assure you folks; this will hurt, especially if the horse will be moving in trot. This is the key foundation stone of a correct seat, which the rider cannot ever abandon. I have learned from my teaching experiences, that most women find this very uncomfortable and painful. “I also believe that this is the main reason why the riding seat has [been]
corrupted so much in the last few decades, because the riding population in the advanced countries [is] about 90% women. “In the older days [Elyot’s grandmother’s day], women rode horses in the saddles specially designed just for them, [that is, side saddle]. . . .” I don’t believe in crying over my bridge before I’d eaten it. – Amanda has managed to cram several old sayings into this statement: No use crying over spilled milk; that’s water over the bridge, etc. What she means is that she doesn’t lose sleep over actions she has not taken—I think. Frowsy – Webster’s says this is “unkempt, slovenly,” even “having an unpleasant smell.” It’s a joke!, of course, but what an attitude toward marriage. Caraway biscuit and change my crinoline – Amanda is suggesting to Elyot that he is voicing out-of-date opinions on the state of women. It is important to note that this play was written in 1929, many decades before the so-called Sexual Revolution (another thing which your students may not know about, the revolution, I mean). Amanda’s statement, “It doesn’t suit men for women to be promiscuous,” is much in the same vein. Coward is pretty progressive for a man of that time—but don’t get me started on that! I think it needs a little Borax (the floor they’re dancing on) – The editor of Dance Addict’s Guide, a webpage about ballroom dancing in the Philippines, has this to say about dancing in modern clubs: “I have yet to experience ballroom dancing on my idea of the best dancing floor—a non-lacquered (read as ‘naturally polished’) sprung wood floor which has been naturally polished by thousands of dancing feet over the years. Many clubs have wood parquet floors, usually lacquered to look good. Club owners though have to check daily for lose slats which could sprain unwary dancers. Some hotels, in the absence of a real ballroom, install portable wooden floors with aluminum connectors, which could trip a lady’s heel. Other dance clubs, and this seems to be the trend, have marble or faux marble floors. But I find these too hard and slippery especially with suede and leather soles. The hard floor could also be a strain on the dancer’s ankles. . . . “Because dance floors are seldom cleaned and maintained properly, and because they are not really suitable for dancing, club owners help to smoothen the floor with either borax [a granular hydrated sodium borate used to clean things] or talcum powder. Club owners should not confuse this with corn starch which can glue dancers’ shoes to the floor. . . .” Ouch! How long, oh Lord, how long? - This phrase occurs repeatedly in the Bible, most often in the book of Psalms. Without fail it is utteredd by an individual who is feeling very oppressed and wondering when God will intervene. This is just a slight exaggeration of the situation Elyot and Amanda are in, which Elyot well knows. Like being under gas - It’s like being under the influence of a popular form of anesthesia. Tiller Girls - Britisher John Tiller began a troupe of dancing girls in 1885 who were chiefly known for their precision dancing, often done in a geometric formation and involving high kicks. People of a certain age may remember Jackie Gleason’s June Taylor Dancers, but the best known American equivalent is Radio City’s Rockettes. Sacred shibboleths - a “sacred” or special/secret word, phrase or manner of speaking used by a group of people that conveys a certain meaning. For Elyot and Amanda it is Solomon Isaacs or Sollocks! Place Vendome - a famous Paris shopping area: “Place Vendôme, in . . . magnificent perspective going from Opera Garnier to Jardin desTuileries, beside the Hôtel Ritz , not far from the Hôtel Crillon and one block from Rue de La Paix and Rue Saint Honoré,” according to the jeweler Alexandre Reza’s webpage.
Tunis – Another exotic getaway. Amanda’s neighbors are there, and she thinks of fleeing there, too. Shirking - avoiding, neglecting. Concierge - a French doorkeeper/janitor, who accepts packages and notes who goes in and out of an apartment building or hotel. Sacre Couer - This famous church, a landmark of the equally famous Montmartre section (the artist’s neighborhood) of Paris, was “built by the national will [sic] following [France’s] defeat in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870.The basilica was consecrated in 1919.” Brioni – an island resort on the Adriatic, in present-day Croatia, that catered to wealthy Europeans in the 1920s and 1930s. Brioche – a pastry theFrench Pastry Chef designates a “dry sweet,” well, at least that’s what the brioche au sucre (brioche encrusted with sugar) as pictured here is called. I would think every brioche worth breaking one’s fast with should contain some element of sweet, n’cest pas? Tasmania – Elyot’s aunt went there. According to the official tourist website, “separated from mainland Australia by the 240 km stretch of Bass Strait, Tasmania is a land apart – a place of wild and beautiful landscapes; friendly, welcoming people; a pleasant, temperate climate; wonderful wine and food; a rich history; and a relaxed island lifestyle.” Let’s book travel right away! Cape Ferrat – Victor’s friend lives in this beautiful location: “One of the pearls of the Riviera, such is Saint Jean Cap Ferrat. This elegant seaside resort, equipped with a marina, is renowed in the whole world for its wonderful peninsula which can be discovered thanks to many pedestrian paths. The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and its sumptuous gardens are registered also in this decoration enchantor. The museum is surrounded by seven splendid decorated gardens of basins, cascades and patio which you will be able to discover each day of the year. “Art lovers will be delighted to explore the surprising Ephrussi de Rothschild villa, set in the heart of extraordinary gardens (formal French gardens, Spanish, Italian, Stone, Japanese and Tropical gardens...). The Italian style villa was built in 1934 and overlooks the sea. The house has an unusually diverse collection of art: Medieval, Renaissance, Flemish tapestries, many 17th century items, porcelain from Vincennes and Saxony, Chinese works of art. “During the ‘Belle Époque’ the Cape Ferrat was already the vacation resort of the world elite: the great names of this world came there, in winter period, to profit from its climate and the quality of life. Built by Baronne de Rothschild at the, the “Villa” is one of most beautiful of the Riviera. With its prestigious gardens whose exceptional rosery, it dominates the Mediterranean on all sides: on a side roads of Villefranche and other the bay of Beaulieu.” Extra credit: translate Louise Louise, entering a dark, disheveled livingroom: Merde! Qu’est ce que c’est que ca? Les idiots ils ont tout fichu par terre pour que je me casse le nez. Espece d’imbecile. Regardex-moi ce gachis. Puis, après tout, si ca amuse les patrons de casser le mobilier, moi je m’en fiche, comme de ma premiere lignette! . . .
Sources Consulted Boule. 24 July 2003. http://www.wizardofodds.com/games/boule.html Brioche. 24 July 2003. http://www.frenchpastrychef.com/pastry/pastrychef.htm Brioni. 24 July 2003. http://www.croatiafortravellers.co.uk/pages/Selected_destinations.htm Burning ghat. 24 July 2003. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/indian_subcontinent/india/ attractions.htm Cape Ferrat. 24 July 2003. http://www.rivieraby.com/sightsee/sight30.htm Chemin de fer. 24 July 2003. http://www.4youbaccarat.com/www/var.htm French translation. No ed. ÂŠ 2002. Alta Vista.com. 23 July 2003. http://babelfish.altavista.com/babelfish/tr Mucker. 24 July 2003. http://www.hyperdictionary.com/dictionary/Mucker Noel Coward bio. 25 March 2003. http://www.repstl.org/education/studyGuides/privateLives/ Plaza Athenee. 24 July 2003. http://www.all-hotels-in-paris.net/hotel-plaza-athenee-paris.html --.24 July 2003. http://www.jpmoser.com/plazaathenee.html Roundabout. 24 July 2003. http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node=roundabout Sacre Coeur. 24 July 2003. http://www.paris.org/Monuments/Sacre.Coeur/info.html ---. 24 July 2003. http://www.paris-tourist-information.com/sacrecoeur.htm Tasmania. 24 July 2003. http://www.discovertasmania.com.au/home/index.cfm?SiteID=89