Thursday 6th July. 11.30 AM – ‘A’ Stage, Shepperton Studios. Raleigh tempts the queen with tales of the open ocean – a place she knows she will never see but can imagine in the pages of the books and charts that lie scattered on the floor..
For this scene we find Queen, Raleigh and Bess in the reading and music area of the private chambers set. The art department have dressed this area with floor cushions, replica musical instruments, music and books. Of course finding period books is not easy and many of ours, on closer examination, are 17th and 18th century texts rather than Elizabethan. However the keen eyed viewer might notice that the books open on the floor reflect the queen’s own interest particularly at this time, including works on comparative religion and even a ‘banned’ Spanish text. But perhaps the most interesting thing about the books (and this is also true of the furniture) is that they look like Elizabethan books and furniture look today (i.e. 500 years old). At the time all this would actually have looked new but to the modern eye this reads wrongly – we expect Elizabethan oak to be age-darkened even though it was much lighter then and we imagine Elizabeth books in old warped leather bindings. If we made Elizabeth’s dress look 500 year old however it would clearly be ludicrous – that has to look brand new – so what is it about objects that we require some to look old and some new?