Doesticks: What He Saysскачать книгу бесплатно
Powerful villain evidently going to do it, when heroic lover comes down on a run, throws one arm around his lady-love, draws his sword with the other, strikes a grand attitude, and makes a terrific face at powerful villain, who disappears incontinently – lover drops his bloodthirsty weapon, slaps his hand on his breast, and the interesting pair pokes their head over each other's shoulders, and embrace in the orthodox stage fashion.
Magnificent chamber, furnished with a square-legged table, two chairs, and carpets whose shortcomings are distinctly visible to the naked eye – triumphal march, long dose of trumpet, administered in a flourish – supposed to portend the advent of royalty.
Enter procession of badly scared "supes," with cork whiskers, wooden spears, pasteboard helmets, tin shields resplendent with Dutch metal, and sandals of ingenious construction and variety – they march in in single file, treading on each other's heels, keeping step with the majestic regularity of a crowd of frightened sheep escaping from a pursuing bull-dog, and form a line which looks like a rainbow with a broken back.
King swaggers in, looking very wild – distracted heroine enters all in tears, her hair down her back, her sleeves rolled up, (evidently being convinced that "Jerdon is a hard road,") and her general appearance expressive of great agony of mind.
She makes a tearing speech to the king, during which she rolls up her eyes, throws her arms about, wrings her hands, pitches about in a certain and unreliable manner, like a galvanized frog – sinks on her knees, rumples her hair, yells, cries, whispers, screams, squirms, begs, entreats, dances, wriggles, shakes her fist at powerful villain – stretches forth her hand to heaven – throws her train around as if she was cracking a coach whip – slides about like a small boy on skates, and at length, when she has exerted herself till she is hoarse, she faints into the arms of heroic lover, who stands convenient; her body from the waist up being in a deep swoon, while her locomotive apparatus retains its usual action, and walks off without assistance, although the inanimate part of her is borne away in the careful arms of the enamored swain in the dirty tights.
Several scenes follow, in all of which the heroic lover, the dark villain, and the despairing maiden, figure conspicuously, and the scenic resources of this magnificent establishment are displayed to the utmost advantage – the omnipresent square-legged table being equal to any emergency – being an ornament of elegant proportions in the palace, then an appropriate fixture in the lowly cot of the "poor but honest parents" of heroic lovers.
It is used by the King to sign a death-warrant on, and is then transferred to the kitchen, where it makes a convenient platform upon which the low-comedy servant dances a hornpipe – it then reappears in the country-house of a powerful villain, who uses it by night for a bedstead – and it then makes its final appearance in the King's private library, prior to its eventual resurrection in the farce, where barmaid has it covered with pewter beer-mugs and platters of cold victuals.
And the same two ubiquitous chairs go through every gradation of fortune, turn up in all sorts of unexpected places, are always forthcoming when we least expect to see them – are chairs of state or humble stools, as occasion may require – are put to all sorts of uses – appear in varied unexpected capacities, and finally, when we think their Protean transformations are at last exhausted, they re-appear, covered with flannel ermine and Turkey red calico, doing duty as thrones for the King and Queen, and we are expected to honor them accordingly.
The end draws nigh – brigands begin to appear in every other scene – dark lanterns, long swords, and broad cloaks are in the ascendant.
Terrible thunder-storm prevails – the dashing rain is imitated as closely as dried peas and No.
1 shot can be expected to do it – the pendant sheet iron does its duty nobly, and the home-made thunder is a first-rate article. The plot thickens, so does the weather – heroic young lover is in a peck of troubles – has a clandestine moonlight, midnight meeting with injured damsel, and they resolve to kill themselves and take the chances of something "turning up" in another world.
Comic servant eats whole mince pies, drinks innumerable bottles of wine, and devours countless legs of mutton and plum-puddings at a sitting.
Villain is triumphant – blood and murder seem to be victorious over innocence and virtue – when suddenly "a change comes o'er the spirit of their dreams."
Heroic lover resolves not to die, but to distinguish himself – fights a single-handed combat with seven robbers – stabs three, kicks one into a mill-pond, and throws the rest over a precipice – distressed maid is pursued by bandit chief – is rescued by heroic lover, who catches her in his arms and jumps with her through a trap-door over a picket fence.
Hero is unexpectedly discovered to be a Prince, which fact is made known to the world by his old nurse, who comes from some unknown region, and whose word everybody seems to set down as gospel.
Despairing lady proves to be a Princess – King summons all hands to appear before him – heroic lover plucks up courage, runs at big villain with his sword – fight, with all the usual stamps by the combatants, and appropriate music by the orchestra.
Big villain is stabbed – falls with his head close to the wing – prompter slaps red paint in his left eye – looks very bloody – acts very malicious – spits at heroic lover – squirms about a good deal – kicks his boots off – soils his stockings, and after a prolonged spasmodic flourish with both legs, his wig comes off, he subsides into an extensive calm, and dies all over the stage.
Everybody is reconciled to everybody else. King comes down from his throne to join the hands of the loving pair, and immediately abdicates in favor of persevering lover – people all satisfied – young husband kisses his bride, leaving part of his painted moustache on her forehead, and she, in return, wipes the Venetian red from her cheeks upon his white satin scarf – Grand Tableau – triumph of virtue (painted young man and woman) over vice – (big dead rascal). Everybody cries "hooray" – curtain goes down.
The appreciating audience congratulate themselves on having done their part to encourage and sustain the "Modern Classic Drama."
Had I not been informed by the advertisement of the "Grand Thespian Wigwam," that this was a specimen of a sterling "legitimate Classic Drama," I should have supposed it to be a blood and thunder graft of another stock transplanted here for the delectation of "upper-tendom" – from the rustic shades of the unmentionable Bowery.
Since my visit to this Modern Temple of the Drama, it has been converted into a Circus, and the Home of Tragedy has been changed into a "Ring" for the Exhibition of Summersets and Sawdust.
Theatricals Again – A Night at the Bowery
Not satisfied with having seen the place of amusement referred to in the last chapter, I also desired to go over to the twenty-five cent side of the town, and behold the splendors of their dramatic world. Accordingly, I've been to the Bowery Theatre – the realm of orange-peel and peanuts – the legitimate home of the unadulterated, undiluted sanguinary drama – the school of juvenile Jack-Sheppardism, where adolescent "shoulder hitters" and politicians in future take their first lessons in rowdyism.
Where the seeds of evil are often first planted in the rough bosom of the uncared-for boy, and, developed by the atmosphere of this moral hot-house, soon blossom into crime.
Where, by perverted dramatic skill, wickedness is clothed in the robes of romance and pseudo-heroism so enticingly as to captivate the young imagination, and many a mistaught youth goes hence into the world with the firm belief that to rival Dick Turpin or Sixteen-String Jack is the climax of earthly honor.
A place where they announce a grand "benefit" five nights in the week, for the purpose of cutting off the free-list, on which occasions the performance lasts till the afternoon of the next day.
Where the newsboys congregate to see the play, and stimulate, with their discriminating plaudits, the "star" of the evening.
For this is the spawning-ground of theatrical luminaries unheard-of in other spheres; men who having so far succeeded in extravagant buffoonery, or in that peculiar kind of serious playing which may be termed mad-dog tragedy, as to win the favor of this audience, forthwith claim celestial honors, and set up as "stars."
And a star benefit-night at this establishment is a treat; the beneficiary feasts the whole company after the performance, and they hurry up their work as fast as possible so as to begin their jollification at the nearest tavern; they have a preliminary good time behind the scenes with such viands and potables as admit of hurried consumption.
So that while the curtain is down, Lady Macbeth and the witches may be seen together drinking strong-beer, and devouring crackers and cheese; and after Macbeth has murdered Duncan, and Macduff has finished Macbeth, they all three take a "whisky skin," and agree to go fishing next Sunday.
The "Stranger" plays a pathetic scene, rushes from the stage in a passion of tears, and is discovered the next minute eating ham sandwiches and drinking Scotch ale out of the bottle – or Hamlet, after his suicidal soliloquy, steps off, and, as the curtain descends upon the act, dances a hornpipe with a ballet-girl, while the Ghost whistles the tune and beats time with an oyster-knife.
But the Bowery audiences are, in their own fashion, critical, and will have everything, before the curtain, done to suit their taste.
An actor must do his utmost, and make things ring again; and woe be to him who dares, in a ferocious struggle, a bloody combat, or a violent death, to abate one single yell, to leave out one bitter curse, or omit the tithe of a customary contortion. He will surely rue his presumption, for many a combatant has been forced to renew an easily won broadsword combat, adding fiercer blows, and harder stamps – and many a performer who has died too comfortably, and too much at his ease to suit his exacting audience, has been obliged to do it all over again, with the addition of extra jerks, writhings, flounderings, and high-pressure spasms, until he has "died the death" set down for him.
An actress, to be popular at this theatre, must be willing to play any part, from Lady Macbeth to Betsey Baker – sing a song, dance a jig, swallow a sword, ride a bare-backed horse, fight with guns, lances, pistols, broadswords, and single-sticks – walk the tight-rope, balance a ladder on her nose, stand on her head, and even throw a back-summerset. She must upon occasion play male parts, wear pantaloons, smoke cigars, swear, swagger, and drink raw-whiskey without making faces.
The refined taste which approbates these qualifications is also displayed in the selection of dramas suitable for their display. Shakspeare, as a general thing, is too slow. Richard III. might be endured, if they would bring him a horse when he calls for it, and let him fight Richmond and his army single-handed, and finally shoot himself with a revolver, rather than give up beat.
Macbeth could only expect an enthusiastic welcome, if all the characters were omitted but the three witches and the ghost of Banquo; but usually nothing but the most slaughterous tragedies and melodramas of the most mysterious and sanguinary stamp, give satisfaction.
A tragedy hero is a milk-sop, unless he rescues some forlorn maiden from an impregnable castle, carries her down a forty-foot ladder in his arms, holds her with one hand, while with the other he annihilates a score or so of pursuers, by picking up one by the heels, and with him knocking out the brains of all the rest, then springs upon his horse, leaps him over a precipice, rushes him up a mountain, and finally makes his escape with his prize amid a tempest of bullets, Congreve rockets, Greek fire and bomb-shells.
Thus it may be supposed that no ordinary materials will furnish stock for a successful Bowery play. Probabilities, or even improbable possibilities, are too tame. Even a single ghost to enter in a glare of blue light, with his throat cut, and a bloody dagger in his breast, and clanking a dragging chain, would be too common-place.
When the boys are in the chivalric vein, and disposed to relish a hero, to content them he must be able, in defence of distressed maidens, (the Bowery boys are ragged knights-errant in their way, and greatly compassionate forlorn damsels,) to circumvent and destroy a small-sized army, and eat the captain for luncheon.
If they are in a murderous mood, nothing less than a full-grown battle, with a big list of killed and wounded, will satisfy their thirst for blood; and if they fancy a touch of the ghastly, nothing will do but new-made graves, coffins, corpses, gibbering ghosts, and grinning skeletons.
I went by the old, damaged, "spout-shop" the other day – saw a big bill for the evening, and stopped to read – magnificent entertainment – to commence with a five-act tragedy, in which the hero is pursued to the top of a high mountain, and after slaying multitudes of enemies, he is swallowed up by an earthquake, mountain and all, just in time to save his life.
Professor Somebody was to go from the floor to the ceiling on a tight rope, having an anvil tied to each foot, and a barrel of salt in his teeth – then the interesting and bloody drama, "the Red Revenging Ruffian Robber, or Bold Blueblazo of the Bloody Bradawl" – after which, a solo on the violin, half a dozen comic songs, three fancy dances, and a recitation of the "Sailor Boy's Dream," with a real hammock to "spring from," three farces, and a comic opera – then Bullhead's Bugle Band would give a concert, assisted by the Ethiopian Minstrel Doves – then an amateur would dance the Shanghae Rigadoon on a barrel-head – after which Madame Jumpli Theo. Skratch would display her agility by leaping through a balloon over a pyramid, composed of a hose truck, two beer barrels, and a mountain of green fire.
Numberless other things were promised, in the shape of Firemen's addresses, songs, legerdemain, acrobatic exercises, ventriloquism, &c., the whole to conclude with an original Extravaganza, in which the whole company would appear.
I paid my money, and got inside. A great many straight-up-and-down red-faced ladies were in the boxes, with cotton gloves on, and bonnets so small you couldn't tell they had any at all unless you went behind and took a rear view – and a multitude of men who chewed a great deal of tobacco, and sat with their hats on; a policeman stood in front of the stage, and made a great deal of noise with a cane, and constituted himself a nuisance generally.
The Pit, the dominion of the newsboys, was full of these young gentlemen, in their shirt-sleeves, with boots too big, and caps perched on the extreme supporting point of the head (the New York news-boy always puts his cap on the back of his neck, and pulls all his hair over his eyes), who were remarkably familiar and easy in their manners, and all had bobtailed appellations; no boy had a whole name any more than a whole suit of clothes; nothing more than Bob or Bill, with an adjective prefixed, which transformed it into "Cross-eyed Bob," or "Stub-legged Bill."
They enjoyed the performances much; they cheered the tragedy man when he howled like a mad-bull, and hammered his stomach with both hands; applauded the injured maiden when she told the "villain," "another step, and she would lay him a corpse at her feet," at the same time showing a dagger about as big as a darning-needle, and also, when in despair at being deserted by the fellow in the yellow boots, in a spangled night-gown, she poisoned herself with something out of a junk-bottle, and expired in satisfactory convulsions.
They threw apples at the man who walked up the rope, and tossed peanuts on the stage when the girl with the foggy dress was going to dance; they called the actors by their names as they came on the stage, audibly criticising their dress and manner, the performers often joining in the conversation – one instant talking heroic poetry to some personage of the scene, and the next inquiring of Jake, in the pit, how he would trade his bull-terrier for a fighting-cock and a pair of pistols.
I stayed all night and watched the fun – began to get hungry – audience all tired, and actors asleep on the stage from sheer exhaustion – the noisy policeman was leaning against the orchestra railing fast asleep – the boys had blacked his face with a burnt cork, filled his boots full of peanut-shells, and cut a hole in his hat to put a candle in; those boys who were awake were pulling the boots off the sleepy ones, and putting them into the bass drum through a hole which they had punched with a crutch.
On the stage the Emperor was sleeping on his throne, with his mouth open like a fly-trap – the "injured lady" had sunk flat down upon the floor – a robber lay each side – she was using the "villain" as a pillow, and had her feet tangled in the hair of the "Amber Witch," who was sleeping near.
I noticed the short-skirted dancing-girl reposing upon a pile of "property" apple-dumplings, and the prompter was stretched on the top of a canvas volcano, with the bell-rope in his hand, and his hair full of resin from the "lightning-box."
Had enough theatre for once – went straight home, got a late breakfast, and went to bed just as the clock struck three-quarters past ten.
Mysterious Secrets of the K. N.'s – A Midnight Initiation. – Philander Fooled
Having of late heard a great deal about a mysterious individual known as "Sam," I felt a strong desire to become more intimately acquainted with a person of so much importance. Expressing a desire to that effect one day in presence of a young friend who wore a set of gold stars on the front entrance of his shirt, and had a star breast-pin, with the number 67 on it, he informed me that he knew the residence of the omnipresent Samuel, and that, if I desired, he would put me in the way to gain the like knowledge.
I snapped at his offer, and he told me to be at the foot of the Grand street Liberty-pole at 2 o'clock in the morning, singing "Hail Columbia," the "Star Spangled Banner," and "Yankee Doodle," in alternate verses. That I must have a copy of the constitution in my coat pocket, that at intervals I was to sing out "Yankee," and that when an individual replied "Doodle" I was to take him by the arm and go whither he should lead.
Bull Dogge accompanied me and we followed our directions to a dot.
After standing in the cold till our jaws rattled like a dice-box, a person in a long cloak appeared. I whispered "Yankee," Shanghae-like he responded "Doodle," and arm-in-arm we started.
We went through a long series of lanes, alleys, stair-cases, up ladders, and through cellars, and at last came to an out-of-the-way room which we could only enter by climbing up a two-inch rope and crawling on our hands and knees on the roof about half a block, then letting ourselves down through the garret-window.
Immediately on our entering the room, I was seized by several men, blind-folded by having a red liberty-cap pulled over my eyes, and gagged with the butt-end of a Yankee flag-staff.
Soon a gruff voice pronounced the mystic words, "off with the night-cap." The cap was hastily removed, when the same voice continued, "let there be light."
It was undoubtedly the intention to have a brilliant illumination immediately follow this command, that the opening scenes of the initiation might be grand and impressive.
The solemnity of the thing was, however, sadly interfered with by having bad lucifer matches which would not take fire, notwithstanding the active exertions and "curses not loud" but still audible, of the member who was striving to ignite the same by rubbing them on the sole of his boot, in which endeavor he broke them all in two, and split his finger nails on the pegs in his heels.
After some delay, however, "there was light," and then I discovered my situation.
In a long room, a wooden statue of the Goddess of Liberty, at one end; a picture of La Fayette, with a cocked hat on, at the other; and a man in a pulpit in the middle, dressed up to represent Washington, in a revolutionary uniform, with his hair powdered, and a sword in his hand. As I approached him he gave me a goblin wink with his left eye, shook his fist at me solemnly, and began to question me concerning my nativity. Told him I was a full born Yankee, that the sight of an Englishman makes me mad and fighty, that I wanted to kick every Frenchman who comes in my path, and to trip up every Dutchman, and that even the most distant glimpse of an Irishman makes me sick at the stomach.
Said he thought I'd do, and told the rest to put me through the sprouts.скачать книгу бесплатно
страницы: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16