Applaudity

I wish lichtenbergian.org were up and running, because this entry really belongs there. (Noah received his weekly reminder yesterday; I have heard nothing from the man. My lips are pursed and eyebrows raised.)

My old-word-of-the-day calendar provided us this weekend with applaudity: clapping hands for joy, from Henry Cockeram’s 1623 Interpreter of Hard English Words. One can imagine the wheels already turning in Lichtenbergian brains.

Anyway, the main Lichtenbergian aspect of the word is the attached historical trivia:

On February 9, 1810, long before the plot for The Producers was conceived, arguably the world’s worst actor, Robert Coates (1772-1848), made his English stage debut in Bath. His portrayal of star-crossed Romeo in a flowing Charles II wig got the crowd tittering, and soon afterward they roared uncontrollably at the sound of the seat of his tight red pantaloons splitting. He changed dialog outrageously, used inappropriate cadence, whispered soliloquies inaudibly, conversed with spectators, and greatly exaggerated Romeo’s death throes. Afterward the audience demanded an encore, shouting, “Die again, Romeo!” Coates obligingly repeated his ridiculous routine, and would have done so again had his furious Juliet not exited in disgust. Soon thereafter, Coates was playing to royalty and packed houses in London, where he developed a loyal following and corresponding prosperity. He enjoyed being seen in his gaudy, kettle-shaped carraige adorned with his trademark cock and his motto, “While I live I crow.” [ed: shame on you all!!!] Ironically, he died under the wheels of a more modest hansom cab.

An inspiration for us all.

4 thoughts on “Applaudity

  1. As I used to say to the little thespian GHP’lets in my care: as actors, you will be loved by audiences for those things you have absolutely no control over.

    Never stopped them from stealing glances our way while working, of course…as actors, that, too, was something they had no control over.

  2. Great story. Is that editor’s note yours or the editor of the calendar’s? Either way, I was indeed guilty of the shame. I must admit I giggled.

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