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Front Page » March 29, 2005 » Local News » A Step Back
Published 4,354 days ago

A Step Back

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Staff Writer

Renaissance costume ball and banquet in Green River

Danielle and Christine Monroe pose for a photo at the ball in their period costumes.

Old England paid a visit to Green River during the month of March. The theme at the Green River Community Center has been the Renaissance, and many activities were held surrounding this theme.

Medieval times were studied, lived, and watched as the month progressed. On March 1, everyone was welcome to come into the Green River Community Center and create a medieval banner like the type seen in movies and stage production depictions of this era. Then on March 3 and 11, everyone learned about and constructed period costumes, followed on March 16 with a lesson in Renaissance headdresses.

On March 4, the town was given the opportunity to see a live production of William Shakespeare's play, The Taming of the Shrew. Green River High School drama department performed and enlightened the town as to the popular theater available during the Renaissance period.

Sky Dinkins came into the community center on March 7 and she taught about catapults, how they worked and their construction. Then on March 10, the group built and painted models of castles from everyday items such as paper cups, boxes and paper towel rolls.

To culminate the events at the community center, on March 18, a dinner, costume ball and lecture was given at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum. At 5 p.m., Diane Spencer, of the Utah Humanities Council, gave a talk concerning the dietary habits and medical theories during Shakespeare's time in Old England.

Shakespeare died seven years before the discovery of how the circulatory system worked, by means of the heart pumping blood throughout the body. Before that discovery, people thought that the four humours (liquids in the body), were the predominant elements in the human body. Today the periodic table contains more than 100 known elements.

Ling Lee, Bill Adams, performs magic tricks at the ball.

In the days of Shakespeare, the four elements thought to control a person were blood, yellow bile, phlegm and black bile. These four bodily fluids governed the condition and temperament of each human. Many of his written works contain references to these four humours that would have been found to be very comical in those days. Today, a person would be required to know the meaning of those theories to find Shakespeare's works humorous.

The medical thought in those days was that one of the humours was predominant in each person. People with blood as the dominant element were thought to be very sanguine. They were cheerful, optimistic, confident and hopeful. Those with predominant yellow bile were choleric, or easily angered and extremely irritable. If phlegm was the predominant element, a person was considered phlegmatic, or not easily excited, calm and apathetic. For those with black bile as the controlling element, they were considered melancholic, with the personality traits as gloomy and depressive.

These four humours were entered into a chart that was a square divided into four parts. Each humour was listed as to moistness and temperature: moist and hot-blood; dry and hot-yellow bile; moist and cold-phlegm; and dry and cold-black bile. On the chart were foods that were thought to correct the undesirable conditions of the humour. To change a person's disposition, all one need do was to feed them the foods from another humour.

Another word that is commonly used today which had a different meaning during the Renaissance, was complexion. Today we think of complexion as the trait or condition of a persons skin. During Shakespeare's time, complexion was the total of the traits of a person. His body type, hair color, and personality, were all taken into consideration when talking about a person's complexion.

Spencer read through many lines of the play, The Taming of the Shrew, and explained how the meanings of the words and phrases have changed through the years, and how the audiences in Shakespeare's day would have taken them.

When Spencer finished her presentation about the dis-ease during the Renaissance, the group proceeded to the dinner and ball that was held downstairs at the museum. Dinner was served on wooden boards, much like in the days of the Renaissance. Dinner consisted entirely of finger foods, loaves of bread (which a person broke a chunk from), chicken, vegetables, and fruits.

The children in attendance were treated to Ling Lee, the magician, a fortune teller, face painting, games, and jousting contests. Music and dancing followed dinner.

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