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Tableaux Vivants

from The Barwicker No.79
Sept. 2005

The following account of an evening's entertainment in Barwick is taken from the Parish Magazine of March 1902, and was probably written by the Rector, Rev Frederick Selincourt Colman.

"Tableaux Vivants", literally "living pictures", were motionless representations by living persons in costume. The term "Mrs Jarley's Waxworks" comes from "The Old Curiosity Shop" by Charles Dickens. "Lime-light" was the intense white light produced when a piece of quick-lime was heated strongly using a blowlamp and was widely used in the theatre. Was the piano the same instrument that in 1905 was repossessed by a hire purchase company after a disagreement between the West Yorkshire County Council and the school managers over who should pay the premiums?

"Following on the success of the 'Mrs Jarley's Waxworks', another very admirable entertainment was given on Shrove Tuesday by practically the same company. Good as was the former entertainment, this latter was even better, not so amusing but certainly more artistic. It took the form of a number of Tableaux Vivants, the representations being given entirely by members of our branch of the Church of England Women's Help Society, assisted by a few male friends.

In the first part we had 'The Four Seasons', a really beautiful set of groups; 'Where Ignorance is Bliss'; 'Courtship and Matrimony'; 'The Three Graces - and Three Disgraces'. The second part comprised 'The Doctor', a most excellent reproduction of the scene given in the well-known picture by Luke Fildes, RA; 'The Three Maids of Lee'; 'High Life below Stairs'; and a grand set of scenes in the story of 'Blue Beard', which were tremendously realistic and thrilling.

Between the two parts we had some delightful music. Mrs Fred Brown gave us 'The Songs my Mother Sang'; Mrs Alec Hay sang 'Needles and Pins'; and Mr Edward Wilson 'The Soldier's Song' and 'Hybrias the Cretan', a special delight to us. Mrs Fred Brown also sang 'The Three Maids of Lee' during the exhibition of that Tableau. The music was a very great treat, and we felt a real gratitude to Mrs Brown, who, besides helping Mrs Colman with the Tableaux, most kindly provided it for us. We shall always look forward eagerly to another such visit, and a warm welcome will be ready when it is paid.

We must also gratefully acknowledge the kindness of Dr Abbott who brought his lime-light apparatus, and of Mr Moore of Aberford, who assisted him. The lime-light added enormously to the beauty of the scenes, and was very highly appreciated.

The evening's entertainment was most successful, and there is every encouragement for Mrs Colman to arrange others at some future time. The profits were not quite so large as for the 'Waxworks', as the expenses were heavier; they realised nearly 4. Of this the sum of 2.10s. was paid as the first quarterly instalment of the new piano which the Rector has taken on the hire purchase system for these parochial entertainments, the balance was given to the Provident Society."


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