Thursday, March 27, 2014

"Period appropriate" is relative

This last, overdue, post on A Tale of Two Cities at Lifeline Theatre is in not about anything I made. All of this glassware was purchased or pulled from stock.
The interesting challenge here was that the show took place in so many different locations. The disparities between those with money and without is also a huge theme in the show. I needed to have people drinking wine in four different scenes, in four different locations. 
Starting with the richest character in the richest setting, I used cut glass (meant to look like crystal) for the Marquis St Evremonde. Glasses like these would have been a more recent innovation at the time of the show, and only the rich would have owned it. 
One step below the Marquis, would be the Mannettes. I was thrilled to find these etched glasses at a local rental shop. They almost exactly matched some antique period glasses I had in my research. The ones at the time would have been a thicker glass, and not as perfectly matched (as they would have been hand-blown). Not as nice as the crystal, but solidly upper middle-class. 
Next came glasses at the English pub. I wanted to convey that this was a fairly nice place, but logically could not image any pub at the time using hand blown glass wine glasses. That would be far to expensive to purchase in bulk, in a place where they are likely to get broken. I knew found the right balance when I found these glasses made of brown glazed ceramic.  
And finally, the lowest class glasses would have been in the Defarge wine shop. They sold cheap wine to the poorest villagers in their suburb of Paris. The glasses in that shop only needed to be functional, cheap, and easy to replace. These clay mugs were the perfect solution. 
Working through these different wine glasses served as a good reminder of the importance of research. It can be very easy, especially when working on shows set further in the past, to find one or two images research images and move on; "That is what wine glasses looked like in 1790." But class, region and wealth also need to be factored in. 

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