Thursday, March 6, 2008

VICTORIAN MEN AND THE TEAPOT STANCE









The "teapot" stance was a basic posture, for men. The actor would stand, one foot slightly forward, one arm forming the handle, and the other arm gesturing widely (see my earlier posts) to communicate emotions and attitudes. Placing one's feet slightly apart helped him move his body backward and forward gracefully. The practice dated far back, even to Elizabethans. You can see Laurence Olivier imitate a teapot in the film Henry V, where he emulated Shakespearean practice.

The pictures above show popular actor Charles Fechter as Hamlet, two unnamed actors (adult and child) and Fechter's friend Charles Dickens, a gifted amateur actor and novelist who dramatized his novels in public readings.

The teapot posture is a dynamic one. Placing one foot slightly forward was a social posture understood outside of drama, taken when one was introduced to another person, approached for conversation, or prepared to recite or discourse. Young boys learned this in classes with the dancing master and the elocutionist. The hand on hip tells us that a reserve of emotion and information is ready to be expressed. In non-dramatic life, this signals an awareness of a mutuality of communication and a readiness to give as well as take. On the stage, we can detect players dominant in plot or dialogue.

The self-awareness and self-confidence of this pose marked it as masculine and privileged. Women and lower classes carried themselves quite differently.

2 comments:

RBC said...

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http://sanduskyhistory.blogspot.com/search?q=aspiring