This photo album contained more indications of named productions. The first piece of evidence is a photo labeled “King Robert of Sicily 1904-05.” There are actors are labeled in the photos by what appears to be their own names. The costumes of the actors suggest they are dressed as a King, a Jester, a Friar, and an Angel. I researched “King Robert of Sicily” and found a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called “The Sicilian’s Tale, King Robert of Sicily.” The poem is about a selfish and arrogant King Robert who from his chambers hears priests chanting,”He has put down the mighty from their seat, And has exalted them of low degree.” King Robert has a dream where no one believes he is king, an angel watches from afar, and when King Robert wakes up, the angel dresses him as a jester and his nightmare comes true. Once King Robert has “exalted them of low degree” by being mistaken as a jester and falling into acceptance, the angel returns him to the throne, where he now takes the time for silent prayer. Given the costumes in the photo album, it is possible to discern that the poem was dramatized. This broadens the variety of dramatic performances at St. Ignatius College from 1890-1910 that we have previously identified to include poetry.
There was another photo of costumed students, who are mostly wearing gladiatorial garments. The actors are labeled, but there are no indications of a performance title. Given our understanding that “Ion,” the Euripidean play, was performed, and that poetry was performed as well, it is possible to imagine that the recitation of a classical epic or a classical play could have been the production behind these photographs.
One photograph, among a few others of costumed students, is labeled “James Griffin as Prince Hal.” This seems to suggest, in some aspect, a performance of Shakespeare’s “Henry IV, Part I.” One actor, that appears younger, has a costume that could be considered consistent with the costume on James Griffin, but the other seems to be wearing a roman or greek costume like actors we have seen costumed similarly. This seems to suggest that James Griffin might have performed a monologue as Prince Hal. A presentation of a monologue in costume is a new form of theatre we have not identified previously. I suggest a performance of a Shakespearean monologue could have been done for a year five, poetry class.
A final piece of evidence of theatre production I found in this album was of four photographs of students in costume next to the label “Telemachus or The Last of the Gladiators 1905.” It was difficult to uncover anything about the title of this play, which, given the small cast, I imagine could have been a short masque or one act. When students are acting as classical figures, such as in the “Ion” picture or in other photos of students dressed as gladiators, they wear strapped shoes to resemble the short of sandals we associate with ancient Greece and ancient Rome. A few of the students wear these shoes and that consistency seems to suggest they were a cast rather than students performing monologues. In “The Story of Telemachus” an article published by a Professor S. M. Hopkins in “The Independent …Devoted to the Consideration of Politics, Social and Economic Tendencies, History, Literature, and the Arts (1848-1921),” I learned that Telemachus was a monk who tried to stop a gladiator battle in a Roman amphitheater around 404-408 CE, but he was stoned to death. I imagine this background could have be related to the play although I can find nothing on the script itself. For St. Ignatius College to be performing a play like this means the lives of saints were dramatized by students, as yet another variation of theatrical presentation at the school.
In this photo album, I found more evidence of the performance of plays than in the Loyola Academy album, though it is dated earlier, and so there could be more photos in these earlier albums to draw from. There are specific titles of plays mentioned in this album and more to be gathered about the different types of performance at St. Ignatius College. There even appear to be sets designed for the plays and different theatre spaces (in the proscenium arch as would be expected of realism). The photos are interspersed among other pictures of sports teams and students.
The first photographs that suggest theatre performance are of a play labeled as “Elma” and dated “1895-96.” The two photos are a cast shot and an action shot (appearing to be a death scene) of the show, which has exactly thirty members of various ages. In the cast shot there appears to be soldiers, choir boy characters, and others which can be gathered from the costumes. The costumes on younger, choir boy, actors are fully white. Other actors are dressed in elaborate costumes (resembling renaissance soldiers) with facial hair pieces and spears. Supposedly the “main” characters include a wizened man with a large beard and a staff and a centrally located character in a dark, elaborate costume, who seems to be delivering last words in the “death scene” photograph (possibly Elma?). The set design seems to be a backboard decorated to look like foliage, or a forest scene. In the death scene, all the choir boy characters stage left and look down at the central character on the ground being consoled by a mustached soldier character. It was difficult to uncover anything substantial about this production.
The next suggestions of performance in this photo album were of figures (various ages again) painted all white and posing in different ways so that they resembled statues. Pictures of the figures are featured throughout the photo album and are labeled as “1996-97.” One of the photographs is labeled “Classic Models 1896-97 Mr. J Sullivan.” In exploring the blogs of my peers that have done research for the JLPP, Sarah Muenzer, in her blog post of January 2014, said she found a book in the Cudahy library main stacks entitled “An Elementary Treatise on Natural Philosophy’ by A. Privat-Deschanel.” Muenzer says that ” Inside the cover was a personal signature of a man named James P. Sullivan, who I would guess was a student at the original college, as an Ignatius Book plate was also present.” She did find that James Sullivan was in a fact a student at the college. It might be a stretch, since the name Sullivan is popular, but maybe the Mr. Sullivan who instructed the statue performers might be related to the Sullivan Muenzer discovered because it was common for family legacies to attend the college, but there are no dates to throughly suggest this. Dr. Roberts suggests the figures could be an example of “Tableau Vivant,” defined by the internet as “a silent and motionless group of people arranged to represent a scene or incident.” I am curious as to what scenes or concepts might be represented by these figures.
The next evidence of a performance was from a production labeled as “The Upstart” and it is dated December of 1898. One of the photographs appears to be taken during performance. The actors are dancing and violins are being played by musicians in costume. The costumes resemble clothes of the 18th century, powdered wigs and pants tucked into socks at the knee. The set design has three large curtains on each side of the walls of a room open to the audience, resembling a domestic drama in a proscenium. The audience section has wooden chairs placed in rows for seating. The actors are labeled by their last names and there are roughly thirty cast members in the cast shot.I initially could not find any resources online about a production or performance called “The Upstart.” After looking at the Loyola University library catalog, I found an online database, Gale Cengage Learning, that had an Eighteenth Century Collections resource for a production called “The Upstart,” which was a satyr play printed in London in 1710. The script was written in what I identified to be middle English and it is only seven pages long.
The final piece of evidence of theatre from this album was from a show labeled “Ion” and it is dated 1894 98. There are only six actors featured in this photo and they wear gladiatorial helmets. One actor wears a very large beard and robes. The markings on the robe and the shoes worn by the actors seem Grecian, as would be appropriate for the play. It is difficult to decipher which characters would be Apollo, Hermes, and Ion. An interesting detail (that could also be coincidental) is that an actor’s last name is Cudahy, the name of our main Library complex at Loyola University. I imagine this production is, in fact, the Euripidean play.
The evidence of these performances suggests that the students of St. Ignatius College performed a wide range of historical plays from classical antiquity to the eighteenth century. I imagine there might have been a pedagogical aspect to the performance of these plays as well. Theatrical exercises such as Tableau Vivant suggests the college was interested in exploring alternative dramatic styles. From my research so far, I’ve gathered that the early schools that are now Loyola University gave a great variety of theatre performance.
Stay tuned for volume iv!
The first course of action to be made for this research was to look through photo album evidence of theatre performance and see what could be suggested about theatre this early at the university. The past few weeks have been spent sorting through the photo albums, pursuing the course catalogs, and preparing a game plan for the course of the research.These first few posts will be my categorized findings. There is much to be found in the photo albums and a few conclusions that can be drawn! It will be interesting to see what avenues this research can open up. The photo albums are accessible online at the links in each of their descriptions.
The first photo album I looked through belonged to the Loyola Academy, established in 1909 and housed in what is now Dumbach Hall on campus (it’s exciting to think I study literature in the same building!). The photo album contains pictures of the entire student population, as an all-boys school, which seems consist of about fifty students. It haspictures of both a basketball and football team, maybe there could have been a theatre troupe organized by an instructor?
This photo album also contains evidence of theatre performance and has a photo labeled as an “unidentified play” taken outside of Dumbach hall. There are a few assumptions we can make because of the photo. The most we can tell about the production comes from the costumes of the actors- there are three variations of a costume on the actors- and possibly the size of the cast, which is forty-two people. The production features actors dressed in uniform (resembling soldiers) that are each holding swords. Since the production is most probably only featuring the students of Loyola Academy, some of the actors seem to be practicing one of the oldest theatre conventions of cross-dressing as women. These actors seem to be wearing wigs that are buns on their heads and they appear to be in makeup as well. The actors in front seem to be wearing bald caps that cover the hair on the tops of their head and leave a little strip of hair down the center. Most of these actors are wearing robes, except for one actor on the far left who wears a black uniform. The actors in the front row also have fans and there is a very large battle axe laid in front of the entire configuration of actors.
I brought these finding to Dr. Roberts and claimed these features could suggest the piece is a musical- it makes sense that the “soldiers” and female characters make up the chorus and the actors along the front are the primary characters of the show. Dr. Roberts was able to claim the production could be the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, “The Mikado.” W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan wrote other operas such as “H.M.S. Pinafore” and “The Pirates of Penzance,” that you might recognize. “The Mikado or The Town of Titipu” premiered in 1885, and so we can imagine the production was a fairly contemporary piece to perform. The operetta is about the son of the Mikado in Japan escaping an arranged marriage by pretending to be a pauper musician in the Town of Titipu, where he meets a young woman betrothed to her guardian, a flirtatious tailor, and falls in love. There is an executioner, a group of school girls, love triangles, and loopholes in the law that allow everyone to marry an appropriate partner. What does it mean for the young men of Loyola Academy to have performed this show? My follow up questions to the conclusion this performance is “The Mikado” would include; where was this performed? Who attended the performance? Are there problematic elements to this production that mean something different to a modern audience? My primary take aways from this identification is that it suggests the theatre produced by the school was both contemporary, popular, and large scale-the school was not concerned with only performing historical pieces.
The next evidence of theatre featured in this album are two photographs of a group of costumed actors, labeled as “Missing Bonds.” I have tried to track down evidence of this label as the title of a play, but I could find nothing on the internet, so the search will continue! The photos are very enthusiastic and less posed than the actors in the unidentified performance. In one photo (consisting of ten actors) the actors are mostly dressed in suits, one is dressed as a gladiator in both photos- complete with white robes and helmet, one resembles a police man because he is brandishing a police baton in both photos, and another looks like a war admiral in a decorated uniform. Two actors wear matching costumes with black, high collars that resemble priests. The other photo doesn’t feature as many actors as the first but contains a different actor in a new costume with a pointed hat. Since the photo still contains the costumes and people who appear to be the same actors as in the first photo I mentioned (and if the first photo were of the full cast), then we could guess that the group could be a comedy troupe or variety show performers or some other kind of organization. The differences in period of the costumes could suggest this as well (or maybe “Missing Bonds” is a very vibrant show).
The names of the students are listed in the larger group photo. One that particularly interests me is “Perry Quinlan” because that family name seems to be common in these photos- maybe these students are related? Maybe some research can be done to learn more about them!
The next post will be about the findings in the even earlier St. Ignatius photo album of 1885-1907!
Hello readers, my name is Katherine Ziobro, and for the Spring 2017 semester, I am working with the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project at Loyola University Chicago! I am being supervised by the director of the project, Dr. Kyle Roberts. The objective of my research is to try to uncover more about the theatre performed, read, and purchased by the university’s constituents during the 1870s-1890s, as Loyola was founded in 1870. We know there wasn’t a theatre department at the university during this time but our university has Special Collections and Archives that might contain a bit more on the subject. More records of the university’s theatre do not appear until the 1920s and even more substantial evidence doesn’t date until the 1960s and 1970s. But we will still persevere in our research! The plan is to start by looking through the photo albums, scrapbooks, course catalogs, articles, and programs we do have from the 1890s to see what evidence of theatre performance and purchase appear. After the documents have been reviewed at the university, we might take a field trip to Marquette University (founded 1881) or St. Ignatius College Prep to see about the documents on Jesuit theatre performance in their archives as well. Another avenue for research can be to explore the documents posted from archives of the Catholic Resource Research Alliance.
So what are we looking for in our library? It is first important to ask, what constitutes, for the purposes of this research, as theatre?
Peter Brook, a renowned British director, in his book The Empty Space has said he can “take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space while someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged.”
While I do agree all of the physical and spatial relationships in this definition of theatre are accurate, I believe something else is also at work-elements like narrative, dialogue, conflict, and resolution all create a sort of interaction and investment between actor and audience. The interaction is that an actor who engages in theatre making is capable of creating change within the audience or even more simplistically; influencing the intellectual or emotional experience of the audience. Theatre is interdisciplinary, and it can represent any range of human experience: domestic, psychological, etc.
The 1877 Webster’s Handy Dictionary, more true to the time of our research, defines “Theatre” as a physical space, “a play-house, a place of action or exhibition.” The word “Exhibition” is defined as “a setting forth, a public show.” These definitions bring rise to other questions we can ask our evidence: Where were these shows performed? Who would have been the audience? Would they have been a public audience?
A theatre movement beginning around the 1870s would have been the genre of Realism, but it is important to consider periodization, that former theatre traditions would not have just stopped at the rise of a new genre. Realism established a new set of theatrical conventions such as the fourth wall in the proscenium arch and method acting (Konstantin Stanislavsky- emoting from genuine experience). Realism was a movement set to capture a portrait of life; they were often domestic dramas, and the actors’ world of the play is meant to be interpreted as separate from the world of the audience. The audience looks at the characters on the stage as if through a window. This movement was appealed to by developments in science and photography. Are we going to find conventions of realism practiced by students involved in Loyola’s early theatre?
Perhaps the most important consideration to bear in mind while conducting this research is the Jesuit education that prompted the purchase, performance, or study of these plays. The entirety of Jesuit education at this time was a religious one, the whole person is to be formed for God, and it consisted of eight years of study (which today would look like high school and a continuation into a four year college). Dr. Roberts informed me the first four years would be specialized study and the fifth was called “Poetry.” Maybe we will find more on performance from students enrolled in this year during the 1890s? It is also important to consider what playwrights are being performed. Do they perform and study both classical plays and plays contemporary to the 1890s? Is there a preference for Jesuit playwrights? Is there evidence to suggest any of the plays student original compositions? And who are the students performing these works of theatre? Did any of them become professional actors or playwrights? With all of these questions in mind, let’s begin!