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Know before you go!

We’re almost ready for our grand opening of our first show of 2010 – What the Butler Saw. Tonight is our final tech, tomorrow is our preview (sold out!) and we open on Thursday.

Since the show has a bit of a double-whammy in regards to being both in dialect (British) and period (late ’60s), we’ve decided to offer a bit of a glossary in the program for words and phrases that are not familiar to an American or modern audience.

Since we have it ready, we figured we might as well share it now. Blog readers just get a little leg up and will come in more in the know. 🙂 It’s certainly not necessary to know these things to ‘get’ the show, but this advanced knowledge can’t hurt, either.

What the Butler Saw: The title of a popular pornographic film made for viewing in the Mutoscope machine, later referred to as a “What the Butler Saw Machine”.

Winston Churchill: Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1940 to 1945, and again from 1951 to 1955. Led the British war effort against the Nazis.

The George Medal: A British award for courageous behavior, comparable to the Congressional Medal of Honor.

20 words a minute: An obscenely slow shorthand speed. Beginning secretaries were often required to meet a speed of at least 80 w.p.m.

Febrile: Of or pertaining to fever. (Dr. Prentice’s line “You’ve a febrile condition of the calves” means “Your legs are hot.”)

Tess of the D’Urbevilles: 1891 novel by Thomas Hardy, which was censored for its challenging of Victorian sexual morality.

Lobelia: A flowering plant which has been used as a sedative by various cultures. It can be inferred that the “lobelia-growing classes” are the idle rich with a taste for narcotics.

Christmas cracker: A popular holiday novelty in England, consisting of a paper-wrapped cardboard tube which, when pulled apart, produces a small bang and contains a cheap prize.

Yardley’s: A popular perfume.

Alfa Romeo: An Italian manufacturer of luxury automobiles.

Nom-de-folie: A French expression meaning ‘madness name.’

BMA: British Medical Association.

OBE: Order of the British Empire (a minor knighthood)

Golliwog: A character from children’s literature inspired by a blackface minstrel doll. Later used to describe any such doll, and also as a racial slur.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme: Award for personal achievement that can be won by anyone aged 14 to 25. Established 1956.

WH Smith and Sons: British bookshop chain founded in 1790. Notable for a profound sense of upper-class entitlement in shop appearance, personnel attitude, and marketing tone.

Neuritis: General inflammation of the peripheral nervous system located outside the brain and spinal cord). Symptoms include pain, numbness, and paralysis of a given area of the body. One can guess in which areas Mrs. Prentice’s occurs.

Peccadilloes: A very minor or slight sin or offense; a trifling fault.



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