Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Lady Godiva Twice Daily

The theatrical tradition of 'tableaux vivants' (living pictures) or "poses plastiques" is a long one. They could be perfectly wholesome, with everyone attired in period costumes or tastefully draped in robes or togas -- or, if everyone stood still, one could do without the drapery. Since no-one moved, it was technically not theatre, and therefore outside the legal purview of the Master of the Revels (later the Lord Chamberlain) -- a detail which was used, many years later, by Mrs. Henderson to launch her "Windmill Theatre," a history lovingly re-created for the film Mrs. Henderson Presents starring Judi Dench. This handbill dates back to the 1830's, at which time Mrs. Henderson's pre-Victorian precedent, Madame Warton, was offering her personations of Lady Godiva (not to mention Venus, Sappho, and Diana!) in her own exhibition hall, dubbed "Walhalla," in Savile House in Leicester Square.

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