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THE STAGING OF PATIENCE
ED GLAZIER: I have always been a bit puzzled by how the lottery in the Act I finale is meant to be conducted. The ladies buy tickets. They blindfold themselves and are supposed to draw from the bag (or the solicitor's hat, as it may be). What are the mechanics? Are they buying two part tickets, of which one part is put in the hat? Why are they blindfolded and what are they to draw from the hat? Are they buying a chance to draw from the hat and is there a ticket representing Bunthorne in the hat? If they are just purchasing chances, what else is in the hat? This may be obvious to others who have done Patience, but I would appreciate the wisdom of your experience.
GEORGE TIMSON: I think these are excellent questions. The production of the South Anglia Patience that we saw here in Berkeley last Tuesday offered a partial answer that I had not seen before: it seemed to me that each Maiden's ticket was a different color (colour). Thus, when the winning ticket was drawn, there would be no need of 'two parts' in order to ascertain the winner. Of course this leaves mysterious why all are blindfolded. But it did enable some funny business that was new to me: Bunthorne grabbed Lady Jane's distinctively green ticket, turned aside, and proceeded to try to eat it! A dragoon tapped his shoulder severely, and he was forced to cease his munching, replace the ticket in the bag, and shake it in amongst the others very uncertainly.
ED GLAZIER: One bit of business that I am quite fond of. I carried a small book and a quill pen and wrote in the book frequently. In the scene with Patience, I read "Heartfoam", then tore the page out of the book, crumpled it up and tossed it on the floor while declaring, "I shall not publish it!" I started to leave on "Farewell, Patience", then suddenly stopped. I walked over to where the crumpled page rested, picked it up, smoothed it out, stuck it back in the book, said "Patience, farewell" and then left. I thought that Bunthorne would feel this poem was too good to waste on such a dramatic gesture, since Patience was not impressed.
SARAH MANKOWSKI: The song says, "Twenty lovesick maidens we." Am I wrong in thinking that it would be highly unusual to have a chorus this large? How do you compensate?
BRUCE I. MILLER: It's hard to say how "unusual" it is to have this large a chorus; there are certainly many amateur companies which field choruses this size or larger; there are many who do not.
JANICE DALLAS: It's always possible that quite a few were "out sick" on any day. Of the four productions I've been in, the first (MIT Community Players) had 7, the second (North Shore Light Opera) had 9, the third (Savoyard Light Opera Co.) had 20, and the fourth (Sudbury Savoyards) had 24! Obviously, some of the dragoons often get more than one maiden!
MARC SHEPHERD: While the typical amateur company, on average, fields a smaller chorus than twenty, there certainly are some notable exceptions. Philadelphia's Savoy Company puts far more than twenty of each gender on stage. At Interlochen, the women's chorus is generally over a hundred. In one production of The Gondoliers, the director had the women say, "Ten dozen we, and ye are four and twenty." At Interlochen, there is a large disparity between men and women's chorus sizes, so this statement was very nearly literally correct.
Besides Patience and The Gondoliers, the only other example that comes to mind where the chorus size is stated in the text in Princess Ida, where the heroine refers to "full a hundred girls." Interlochen is probably the only place that follows the author's instructions here.
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