Can’t Get Enough of Misalliance?

by Kelsee Jackson, dramaturg

It’s easy to fall in love with the Edwardian time period. It has fascinated scholars, authors, playwrights, and screenwriters for years. The clothes, the mannerisms, the parties, and the people are intriguing and fashionable. It makes the perfect backdrop for dramatic and comedic stories alike.

But if Misalliance closes tomorrow, how will you get your Edwardian fix? If you, like many others, simply can’t get enough of the Edwardian lifestyle, here are some stories you might fancy.

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The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Published in 1902, this novel follows the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and his trusty companion Dr. Watson as they try to solve the mystery of an attempted murder and a fearsome, supernatural beast. This novel still ranks as one of the UK’s most beloved stories, and many films and TV shows have been made about Sherlock’s many adventures.

Peter_pan_1911_pipesPeter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Peter Pan was first published as part of a novel called The Little White Bird in 1902. J.M. Barrie expanded it and published it as a play in 1904. The play captured the imaginations of grown-ups and children alike, emphasizing the magic of childhood years. While most of this story takes place in the enchanted world of Neverland, hints Edwardian lifestyle can be seen in scenes at home, with Wendy, Michael and John’s parents.

A_Little_Princess--pg1--coverA Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A beloved story about a little girl who is suddenly orphaned and left in a desolate condition. She makes friends and learns how to enhance the situation she is put in through kindness and love. First published in 1905, A Little Princess and The Secret Garden, Burnett’s most beloved books, have lasted throughout the century in the hearts of children and grown-ups alike. Continue reading

A Day in Hindhead: Thoughts

by Kelsee Jackson, dramaturg

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The stone cross on Gibbet Hill, Hindhead, Surrey, England; Photo Credit: Charlesdrakew via Wikimedia Commons.

If you travel to England, should you make a stop in Hindhead? Of course, it is up to you. If you are needing a bit of fresh air and a break from the city, it might interest you to know that Hindhead has a nickname, “Little Switzerland.” George Bernard Shaw wasn’t the only famous person to enjoy the fresh air and scenery of “Little Switzerland,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was another notable resident. Some even claim that he wrote The Hounds of Baskerville after walking the Devil’s Punchbowl.

image1 (1)What else makes this town notable? The people, or at least all of the ones we talked to, were genuinely kind and helpful. They talked highly about the beauty that surrounded them and were open to giving all kinds of pointers and tips. We even ran into local residents who go for daily runs on the many trails, or walk on the paths when they need some fresh air. There was a great sense of pride in this little town, and it was rather refreshing.

Since going to Hindhead, I’ve wondered if Shaw had any particular connection there. He did live there at a certain point and it obviously impacted his life, at least enough for him to make the setting of what would become one of his most well-known plays in Hindhead. I’ve wondered especially if the Tarletons, or perhaps the Summerhays or Julius Baker were characters that had some basis in real people from this small town. Who knows? Continue reading

A Day in Hindhead: Scenery

by Kelsee Jackson, dramaturg

Hindhead is well-known for it’s beautiful scenery. This beautiful scenery is often referenced in Misalliance, with lines like, “Shall we stroll over to the Gibbet?” or “…take a walk through the heather and admire the scenery of Hindhead.” While visiting Hindhead this past spring, a friend and I decided to try one of the more basic hikes to admire the scenery and get a glimpse of the beauty of Hindhead.

Hindhead is home to a large, natural amphitheater called the Devil’s Punch Bowl. The Devil’s Punch Bowl is an area protected by England’s National Trust. This beautiful location is next to Hindhead and has many well-traveled hikes and nature walks for visitors and locals to explore.

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Devil’s Punch Bowl, Hindhead, Surrey, England- Photo credit to author

One of the first things we came across was the Sailor’s Stone. Like all good English towns, there was a local story attached to this sailor’s stone. In this story, an anonymous seaman was murdered in Hindhead in 1786. His body was laid to rest at the Thursley churchyard and this sailor’s stone (in remembrance of the sailor, not his gravestone) was place on Gibbet Hill, where the men who committed the crime were hung. The front of the stone reads: Continue reading

A Day in Hindhead: Introduction

by Kelsee Jackson, dramaturg

I had a chance to go to England this past spring and one thing I was determined to do was visit Hindhead. After all, what a better way to dramaturg Misalliance than to visit the town where it takes place? Not only that, but Shaw himself spent a fair amount of time there too. So one lovely afternoon this past June, a friend and I dedicated a whole day to finding Hindhead and exploring it.

I was determined to do everything using only public transportation. To get to Hindhead from London, one must take a train to Haslemere, a small town in southern Surrey. Haslemere (pronounced hazel-meer) is also mentioned as the train station Bunny walks down from within the first few pages of the play. Getting a train to Haslemere was not a problem– it’s about an hour away from London and a regular service runs on most days. The tricky part was getting from Haslemere to Hindhead.

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Hindhead; Photo credit to author; taken June 2015

Upon arriving in Haslemere, we found a bus to take us to Hindhead. Before we went out to explore the natural beauty, we decided to see the town. My first impressions of Hindhead were quaint, quiet, and surrounded by GREEN. Because my friend and I had spent so much time in London, it was refreshing and lovely to get out in the green and breathe the fresh air. Continue reading

Dance the Night Away: Edwardian Balls and Music

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“Franz josephgrandball” by Wilhelm Gause – http://img18.imageshack.us/img18/7121/1900sfashiongrandballin.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

By Kelsee Jackson, dramaturg

The Edwardians were dedicated to creating their own sense of ‘self.’ Smashed between the time of Queen Victoria and the roaring 20s, society began moving away from Victorian ideals one day at a time. This was especially true in music and dance.

Edwardians still had balls which required good music, a nice place to dance, fancy dresses and suits, and good company. Men asked women to dance and there was enough food and drink to go around. It was possible to meet your future spouse at one of these events, making it an important social get-together for both the young and the old. For families like the Summerhays, these events were taken very seriously.

While the Victorian era was holding on, this was the beginning of a new era and a new century. While traditions such as balls and coming-out parties were continued, new things, like nightclubs, were introduced and quickly became popular. For obvious reasons, the kind of music that would be played at a nightclub would be different than what was played at a ball.

For kids who would go “out on the town,” ragtime was beginning to become popular as different music styles from around the world were introduced to England. Artists such as Irving Berlin and Ted Snyder were gaining popularity, and songs such as Maple Leaf Rag and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot were all the rage. For a snippet of what kinds of songs were well-known, listen below for Ada Jones and Billy Murray’s rendition of Shine On, Harvest Moon, recorded in 1909. Continue reading

What do Edwardians do for fun?

by Kelsee Jackson, dramaturg

When the Victorian era ended in 1901, the Edwardian era began. It was short lived, lasting just until the beginning of WWI.

Misalliance takes place in 1909, right at the height of the Edwardian era. Not only did this era mark a period of peace before war broke out, it was well known as a period of change. This is evident in the activities they participated in in their free time. Here is just a glimpse into some of the fun things Edwardians would do when they had a spare moment!

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Girl Reading – Isaac Israëls – 1906

Edwardians enjoyed a traditional past time for many English people: reading. As you’ll notice in our production of Misalliance, reading for fun was common. It was something that both men and women could do, and it could be done alone or with other people.

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Gamblers – Anonymous – c. 1900

Gambling was another favorite past time of the Edwardians, especially those who had money to spare. For obvious reasons, this activity turned out to be rather dangerous and quite the problem. Not only was gambling addicting, it was usually mixed with drinking. It turned out to be quite the expensive activity, especially if you weren’t much good! Continue reading

A Lesson in Edwardian Etiquette: Part 2

by Kelsee Jackson, dramaturg

Now that you have a starting grasp on what to do to conform with standards of Edwardian etiquette, you must learn what not to do before you step out into good society. If you know what not to do, can impress your superiors and you won’t make a silly mistake out of ignorance.

Twentieth_century_culture_and_deportment,_or,_The_lady_and_gentleman_at_home_and_abroad_-_containing_rules_of_etiquette_for_all_occasions_(1899)_(14592413109)Twentieth_century_culture_and_deportment,_or,_The_lady_and_gentleman_at_home_and_abroad_-_containing_rules_of_etiquette_for_all_occasions_(1899)_(14592523887)

  • “Don’t, when presented to the King, offer to shake hands with him, but bow low.”
  • “Don’t talk of your pedigree, save in the bosom of your own family, and then only indulge yourself about once in a lifetime.”
  • “Don’t, in walking, take the wrong side of the path and elbow out those who are but keeping their proper place.”
  • “Don’t wear a number of diamonds or other precious stones by day; it is never in good taste.”
  • “Don’t make a point of being late for church and for any entertainment to which you may be invited; it is a habit which does not increase your importance, but materially decreases your popularity.”
  • “Don’t lose control of your temper, and rage and storm at persons or animals. Avoid public disagreements and arguments with persons.”
  • “Don’t wear a large number of rings; it looks vulgar, and does not show the beauty of the rings or of the hands. to wear a few rings shows the beauty of both.”
  • “Don’t, if a friend mispronounces a word, immediately pronounce it in the correct way; it will probably hurt his or her feelings very much.”
  • “Don’t make a point finishing the last mouthful on your plate, or the last piece of bread.”
  • “Don’t use the word “ride” when you should say “drive.” You don’t “ride” in a carriage, a bus, or a train– you drive.”

And finally:

  • “Don’t eat in the street.”

According to these tips, how are your Edwardian manners? Continue reading

A Lesson in Edwardian Etiquette

by Kelsee Jackson, dramaturg

Twentieth_century_culture_and_deportment,_or,_The_lady_and_gentleman_at_home_and_abroad_-_containing_rules_of_etiquette_for_all_occasions_(1899)_(14799121073)One way to better understand the Edwardian era is to study the etiquette and manners of the time. For BYU’s production of Misalliance, learning the etiquette of the time period has been very important. Proper Edwardian etiquette is one of the main things that helps both the actors and the audience go back to 1909, England.

For those of you who are looking to improve your early 20th century manners, here is a very brief lesson on Edwardian Etiquette from Etiquette for Women: A Book of Modern Modes and Manners by “One of the Aristocracy”:

Introductions

  • “It is necessary, before introducing two persons, to find out if such an introduction would be pleasing to both of them, in any case you should say to the lady, either “May I introduce Mr. Low to you?” or, “Allow me to introduce Mr. Smith to you,” when making an introduction. Never introduce a lady to a gentleman or a superior to an inferior.”
  • “When a gentleman and a lady are introduced both bow, but do not shake hands.”

Acceptance of Invitations

  • “After you have been invited to a ball or a dinner, or a reception, whether the invitation has been accepted or not, you should pay a visit of ceremony to your hostess within a week or ten days.”
  • “This sort of invitation should be answered in the third person, thus– “Miss — has much pleasure in accepting Mr. and Mrs. Dash’s kind invitation to dinner on May the 30th.”

When Eating

  • “…let me remark at once that, except for soup or ice pudding, a spoon should be but rarely made use of– never if you can manage to do without it: a fork should be used whenever possible.”
  • “In answering a servant who offers you things at a dinner-party it is necessary to answer quickly, distinctly, yet softly, that conversation may not be interrupted.”
  • “The correct way to eat curry is with a spoon and fork.”
  • “Do not begin to eat your meat until you have the various vegetables and sauces handed to you. When you have finished with you knife and fork, lay them side by side on your plate– the knife the right side up, the fork with the points turned up.”

Continue reading

Spotting Shaw in Misalliance

by Kelsee Jackson, dramaturg

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George Bernard Shaw circa 1894. Photo from wikimedia.org.

Irish-born playwright George Bernard Shaw had strong opinions and experiences that changed his life. Many of these opinions and experiences show up in his various writings. Here’s a brief look at how Shaw’s personal views influenced Misalliance.

Education

George Bernard Shaw (who much preferred the name Bernard to George) completed his irregular schooling in his hometown of Dublin. While possessing an eager mind, he passionately despised organized training, which lead to his deep dislike for school.

In Misalliance, Shaw’s disdain for formal education shows through in Hypatia, the young daughter of the largely successful John Tarleton. When Hypatia cannot even be bothered with talk of her education, responding to inquiries with:

HYPATIA.  [gathering up her work]  If you’re going to talk about me and my education, I’m off.

Parents and Children

Shaw grew up in a complicated family. His father was said to be an alcoholic and a wife beater, causing his mother to move away to London when he was 16. Shaw stayed behind in Dublin with his father to finish his schooling. However, he did not get along with his father and by the time he was 20, he left Dublin for London and a reunion with his mother.

Shaw’s disconnect with his parents also influenced his writings. This conflict between parents and children is a central piece of the plot in Misalliance. The two older men in the play, Lord Summerhays and Mr. Tarleton, spend time contemplating the ins and outs of this complicated relationship.

LORD SUMMERHAYS.  Parents and children, Tarleton.

TARLETON.  Oh, the gulf that lies between them! the impassable, eternal gulf! 

Socialism

By the time Shaw had moved to London with his mother, he started to develop views of socialism. He started speaking out on his opinions, an act with helped him get rid of his stutter. Shaw soon helped establish the Fabian Society, a program dedicated to making Britain a socialist nation by progressive legislation. He dedicated much of his time to this society, giving lectures and writing pamphlets. Continue reading

An Ever-Changing New World

by Kelsee Jackson, dramaturg

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Undershaw, part of Hindhead, photo taken circa 1900. Photo credit: wikimedia.org.

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A House in Hindhead, Surrey, photo taken June 2015

Think of it. England. Spring of 1909. There was talk of a new world, a changing world. Fashions were evolving, transportation was faster, and people were more educated. It was a booming time for business, a somewhat peaceful time for soldiers, and a happy time for families. It would have been nearly impossible to predict all the heartache that would ensue starting five years from when this story of Misalliance began.

We see through 21st century eyes. It is very difficult (and some would say impossible) for us to perceive the world without the lenses of the stock market crash, World War I and II, the Holocaust, or the Cold War. It is hard for us to imagine a time before nuclear weapons and televisions. This is a time when radios weren’t even commonly used in the household yet and no one had dreamed up Facebook or Twitter.

While we can’t take out our 21st century eyes, we can study the new world through temporary, early 20th century lenses. For the people of England, this was a time of growing, learning, and general happiness that had yet to be tainted by the world wars or economic depression. Women were speaking out, insisting upon rights that many of us take for granted today, and major technological advances were taking place with the invention of the automobile and airplanes. Indeed, these were big, society-changing alterations. Changes that would, and still do impact generations. Continue reading