Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My High School Drama Career

Our work with Shakespeare’s Macbeth

                Mr. Kenneth Parker was the English teacher when I was a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School in Port Arthur, Texas.   He was a very prim and proper gentleman, always wearing a suit and a bow tie. He was quite serious in his approach to English… and to the world, I believe.
We were studying Shakespeare, and Macbeth came up for our studious exploration. My friend Bill McDougal and I decided we’d do a little skit featuring the famous scene of the Witches around the cauldron.
            We dressed in black, and jammed mops down the back of our costumes so we could let the mop ends serve as wigs.
            We had procured a large cauldron and Bill, always the mad scientist in our class, had brought some nitric acid, which made a nice, smoking effect. 
We circled around the cauldron, droning our incantations and chanting:
“Thrice the brinded cat hath mewed
Thrice, and once the hedge-pig whined.  
 Harpier cries “‘Tis time, ‘tis time!”     
Round about the cauldron go;   
 In the poisoned entrails throw.   
Toad, that under cold stone    
 Days and nights has thirty-one    
 Sweltered venom sleeping got    
 Boil thou first i’ th’ charmèd pot.   
 Double, double toil and trouble;     
 Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.   
 Fillet of a fenny snake     
  In the cauldron boil and bake.    

In my incantation,  I bent over, the mop handle somehow caught the cauldron and upset it, splashing nitric acid all over the place.  I looked down at my pants—my best trousers—and they were full of little holes, and my legs were burning like the devil!  Bill was also burned. This created general pandemonium in the classroom.
We raced to the boys’ rest room and splashed our legs with water.
Mr. Parker, ever the gentleman, was trying to maintain order. When he was exasperated, he’d clamp his lips together and his face turned red. You could see from the look on his face that this was really, really stressful to him. 
            I think that was the end of my Shakespeare work in high school.

Photo of me with my beloved Jeepster

Now, here are some books and papers from The Personal Navigator:

American Mercury, The,  A Monthly Review Edited by H.L. Mencken & George Jean Nathan, January 1924; Vol. I No. 1, First Issue Mencken, H.L., Editor 1924 New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf. With Mencken as editor one might expect brilliance, and this inaugural  issue has it. The Editorial announces the intent of the new magazine to devote itself pleasantly to exposing the nonsensicality of hallucinations of utopianism and the lot.  The lead article "The Lincoln Legend" by Isaac R. Pennypacker, gives a new and more robust look at the life of President Abraham Lincoln.  His forefathers were iron-masters, capable leaders in their communities, giving a lie to the myth of the simple railsplitter.  As a war leader, Pennypacker compares him with Jefferson Davis, and Lincoln comes up far superior. "The Drool Method in History" by Harry E. Barnes is a humorous attack on purveyors of "pure history" --- the superiority of the Aryans, the discovery of America was by well-meaning religious people; the sole cause of our ancestors' embarking upon wintry seas to come to the New World was religious freedom; Loyalists in the Revolution were a gang of degenerate drunkards and perverts, etc.  "The Tragic Hiram" by John W. Owens is contemporary political commentary, about Borah, La Follette, Hoover and Harding-- but skewering Johnson.  144 pp. 17 x 25 cm. Magazine, writing on advertisement, first page of magazine: "Ruth Schliveh's shower Jan. 19, 1924"… and "Bill Paxton Brown U. 1924."  Very good. (7663) $76.00. Literature/History

Opere Scelte di Metastasio, seconda edizione, con aggiunte, Seven volumes, in Italian. [Second volume lacking title page.], 1819, Avignone, France: Presso Fr. Seguin Aîné, stampatore e librajo. (1594 pp.)
Tomo I. Siroe, Artaserse, Adriano. (243 pp.)
Tomo II.  Demetrio, Issipile, Olympiade. (242 pp.)
Tomo III. Demofoonte, La Clermenza di Tito, Achille in Sciro. (243 pp.) .
Tomo IV. Ciro Riconosciuto, Temistocle, Zenobia (239 pp.) .
Tomo V. Ipermestra, Antigono, Attilio Regolo. (200 pp.)
Tomo VI. La Morte d’Abel, Isacco Figura del Redentore, Giuseppe Roconosciuto, Betulia Liberata, Gioas Re di Giuda, La Passione di Gesù Cristo. (187 pp.)
Tomo VII. L’Isola Disabitata, Il Sogno de Scipione, Alcide al Bivio, Il Trionfo d’Amore, ec. Also: Poesia diverse e sonetti. (240 pp.)
Seven-volume set of collected works by the celebrated 18th-century poet and librettist, with six volumes dedicated to his historical plays. Seven vols., Green leather with gilt border design, edges worn. Marbled endpapers, bookplates belonging to “Wm. J. Rotch” with Roche family crest in front of each volume. Vol. II missing title page. Some title pages have small penciled name “E.R. Arnold” at top.  Most pages show very slight foxing, very good.  (6903) $111.00. Literature/Italian.

Title Page and Frontispiece for The Royal Convert (see below)

Robertson’s Theatre: Three Tragedies and One Comedy: London Merchant, The, or the History of George Barnwell by George Lillo; Royal  Convert, The, by Nicholas Rowe; The Spanish Fryar; or the Double Discovery, by John Dryden; and Douglas, by John Home 1774-1776. Edinburgh, Scotland: J. Robertson. Collection of three tragedies by Lillo, Rowe and Home, and comedy, by Dryden, all bound in one book. Lillo's tragedy is an 18th century morality play about a young apprentice who falls in love with a lovely, but wicked courtesan. Royal Convert takes place in Kent, England about 20 years after the first invasion of Britain by the Saxons. Dryden's comedy pokes fun at the Spanish and Roman Catholics, at a time when Britain was very conflicted about Catholicism. Home's tragedy, Douglas, stirred up a hornet's nest in Edinburgh, between Presbyterians and supporters of the stage. Each play includes a frontispiece illustration. 273 pp. 10 x 17 cm. Calf on board, front cover detached.  Title on spine is "Robertson's Theatre".  Both front and back calf is cracked and quite worn, and  spine shows unsuccessful efforts to hold front board on with tape. Text block good. Overall poor. (2722) $90.00. Literature/Drama

Frontispiece and Title Page, Scelta di Favole

Scelta Di Favole; Raccolte da' più celebri Autori Francesi, e Rese in Italiano Da Maria Raffaela Caracciolo de' Duchi di Rodi Per uso de' suoi Fratelli, coll' Aggiunta 1816 Napoli, Italia: A. Garruccio Stampatore. 110 pp. 14 x 21.5cm. Collection of Stories chosen from the work of the most celebrated Author, Signor de la Motte Fenelon (1671-1715). François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon was a French Roman Catholic Archbishop, theologian, poet and writer.  Booklet by Raffaele Caracciolo de Duchi di Rodi is dedicated to his parents, and is for the edification of his younger brothers.  Stories are: La Vigna ed il Vignjuolo; Il Cane colpevole; Il Zoppo, il Gobbo, il Cieco; Il Pazzo, Socrate, ed un suo Scolare; La Pecora, ed il Cane; I Pastori; La Pernice ed i suoi Figli; La Morte; Giove e Minosse; Il Cardellino; L'Orso giovine ed il di lui padre; I topi giovini, ed il lor padre; and One-hundred six  Massime scelte (Selected Maxims), rendered in both French and Italian. Includes frontispiece engraving, "La Tranquillità" showing young woman seated beneath a tree with three lambs nearby. Truly a delightful little booklet.  Fair condition, paper bound, very rough cut. Engraved illustration as frontispiece. At top left of frontispiece page is small pasted stamp with library information. (0184)  $185.00. Literature/Morality   

 Contact me at scoulbourn1@verizon.net

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