Sunday, 10 February 2013

ESAH Sunday Series: Evenings Out in Olden Days

Some anecdotes taken from the Commonplace Book of EHL Reeve in 1881.

Evenings Out
Amateur dramatics

Some itinerant players visited Hadleigh at one time, and the elite of the neighbourhood kindly patronized their performances during the few nights of their sojourn in the town.  The pieces were on the whole well played, but, of course, there were defects observed here and there; and the close proximity of the stalls to the stage, owing to the small space covered by the whole caravan, was the means of disclosing to their occupants many of the asides and whispers of the green room.  In one of the scenes the plot required that snow should descend in considerable quantities; and, after a while, the perplexed cries of the weather-proprietor became audible to those assembled.  “There is no more white paper,” he cried. ”I cannot go on with the snow”.  “No white paper,” said the ready stage manager. “Then snow brown”.

At the theatre

Revd. Thomas Reeve went on one occasion with Sir Thomas Thorogood to the theatre in Hadleigh.  A few moments before the performance began the orchestra, as their custom is, began to saw away at their violins to get them to the same key and pitch.  “What are they up to, Revd. Reeve?”, asked the baronet.  “Tuning up their instruments, Sir Thomas”, replied the Rector.  “Tune their instruments”, cried the impatient old gentleman, “why can’t they tune their instruments before they come?”

At the Ball

Fiske Harrison would seem to have been a bit of a wag.  Tom Wallace would appear in the ball room, as was the custom in those days, with an opera hat which used to be carried under the arm.  Tom, however, had an unfortunate habit of carrying his hat with the crown towards the ground, and Fiske Harrison nearly overstept the bounds of friendship on one occasion by dropping half-a-crown into it.

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