Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Horny Men

A new banner, just for fun. Ellie & her very first fish.
I've been doing more pouring and Dremel'ing lately than sculpting...

Only a few times does the "masquers" ensemble appear with specifically described masks in the text. One of those times is the following, in Act I, scene ii:

[Two Men drest all over with Horns of several sorts, making Grimaces at one another, with Papers pinn'd on their Backs, advance from the farther end of the Scene.]
BELVILE. Oh the fantastical Rogues, how they are dress'd! 'tis a Satir against the whole Sex.
WILLMORE. Is this a Fruit that grows in this warm Country?
BELVILE. Yes: 'Tis pretty to see these Italian start, swell, and stab at the Word Cuckold, and yet stumble at Horns on every Threshold.
WILLMORE. See what's on their Back -- Flowers for every Night. [Reads.] -- Ah Rogue! And more sweet than Roses of ev'ry Month! This is a Gardiner of Adam's own breeding.
[They dance.]

The Horny Men, as we've been calling them, are representatives of the cuckolds made by the revelries during carnival. We've just seen women dressed as courtesans go by ("Roses for every Month"), and now we see the results of women having fun during carnival: cuckolded husbands.

I was intrigued by the challenge of making horns for a mask (TWO masks!), so I claimed the Horny Men for my first design for the show. But what horns to make? Liz wasn't entirely sure where she wanted to go with the Horny Men -- are they cuckolds? Or are they some other sort of revelers? Where to start? I decided to put together some research to show Liz.

My main question: what kind of horns do cuckolds have?

Answer: Eh, it depends.

Option 1: Ram Horns

Classical Greek satyr in dramatic scene

17th-century illustration with curled-type horns

Prague sculptor, Dmitriy Vitte's, The Cuckold

Ram horns as a representation of cuckoldry (or at least sexual desire) spans Greek drama to the Renaissance and even to the contemporary consciousness. There's also something about rams that seems to evoke sexuality more than other horns. Rather than just serving as a sign of cuckoldry, ram horns have a lasciviousness about them that could offer more to the director and actors than other types of horns.

Option 2: Stag Horns

A 1638 broadsheet, Cuckold's Haven.
Note the deer-like horns on the tavern's sign.

An 1815 French satire print.
Very long stag horns.

Emil Kazaz's The Cuckold (Room), 1996

Silvia Karkut's Gehörnter Ehemann ("Horned Husband"), i.e. a cuckold, 2010.
I love the expression on this one. I'd be angry too if I were a cuckold.

From the 17th-century to last year, we have depictions of cuckolds bearing cervine horns. (How often do you get to say "cervine"?) It seems that deer horns are more traditionally specific to representations of the cuckold. However, stag horns would likely be difficult to construct and cumbersome to wear on a mask or headdress. In terms of practicality, it seems an unwise design choice.

Option 3: Devil Horns

"Diavolo" from Visions of Venice

While devil horns would move the Horny Men away from the image of cuckoldry and more towards something generally mischievous and lascivious. Also, our director, Liz, has considered presenting the Horny Men as homosexuals rather than cuckolds. Just before the Horny Men appear, we see a band of women dressed as courtesans -- an example of female deviance freed by carnival. What about male deviance? And it's specified that there are only two of the Horny Men, rather than a band of three (like the rose courtesans), so perhaps they could be lovers. Devil horns might lend themselves better to this image of sexual deviance than traditional cuckold horns.

"Diavolo Grande", also from Visions of Venice

While still devilish, these horns are a bit more elaborate -- and not as easy to construct. The smaller devil horns would be quite easy. The easiest of all options listed, likely. But these Diavolo Grande horns are the most phallic of the group, which has its benefits.

Things to consider: atmosphere created by the horns, traditional representations, and sexual deviance.

The base of the mask has been made -- the neoprene poured and pulled, the mask trimmed and Dremel'ed. Now it just needs paint and horns, though if Liz decides that she wants larger horns the mask may need a separate headdress to hold the weight. The construction of the horns themselves has been put off until Liz decides exactly what she'd like from the interlude; it may bear waiting until rehearsal, to see what kind of physical movement the interlude requires. Can't very well have four-foot stag horns if the two actors are romping about the stage.

Still many things to consider, but at least we have the research to work from. It's somewhere to start.