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Chains of Consequences: How 17th Century Candles Ruined American Television

Redolegna

Champagne Socialist
Published by SLP
Location
Paris
Pronouns
he/him
Not only were there chandlers, there were also people in charge of capping candles which had not finished burning during the intermission (entracte, intermezzo, etc.), and be carefully not to have them produce smoke, as it would make the atmosphere in a closed theatre unbreathable. In French, the name for the profession was "moucheur de chandelle", quite literally candle-blower. In the nineteenth century play Cyrano de Bergerac, it's a sign of how low on the totem pole the former successful baker Ragueneau has fallen that he is employed by Molière's acting company as one of those candle-blowers. Of course, electric lighting changed the format possible for acts, which Cyrano's playwright Edmond Rostand took full advantage of: Cyrano's acts are long and other plays of his have six or even seven acts, of very varied (but long) lengths.

(from the French word for tallow candle, chandelle, interestingly French has an entirely different word for the historically more expensive wax candle, bougie)
It's an interesting etymology. Beeswax candles were produced in Béjaïa. Old French transliterations got it as Bougie, and it was known under this name during the colonisation of Algeria.

Similar fun toponymical names: "maroquinerie", leather-working usually for bags, comes from Maroc, French for Morocco. Probably linked to the leather working on shoes, "cordonnerie", which was done in Cordoba.

And finally, candles were lit in big, big, huge clusters to have a chance to give enough light to make what happened on the scene somewhat discernable. If they had been lit stuck on a single metal stick, that would be the humble (but possibly lethal when applied to the head of Dr. Black) candlestick. But in such array, that gave us a magnificent "lustre". In the classier places, those lustres would have a lot of silver and glass, and if it comes crashing down, well that's the end of your first act, let the hunt for the Phantom begin!
 

Thande

Conſiderable Perſon
Published by SLP
Not only were there chandlers, there were also people in charge of capping candles which had not finished burning during the intermission (entracte, intermezzo, etc.), and be carefully not to have them produce smoke, as it would make the atmosphere in a closed theatre unbreathable. In French, the name for the profession was "moucheur de chandelle", quite literally candle-blower. In the nineteenth century play Cyrano de Bergerac, it's a sign of how low on the totem pole the former successful baker Ragueneau has fallen that he is employed by Molière's acting company as one of those candle-blowers. Of course, electric lighting changed the format possible for acts, which Cyrano's playwright Edmond Rostand took full advantage of: Cyrano's acts are long and other plays of his have six or even seven acts, of very varied (but long) lengths.



It's an interesting etymology. Beeswax candles were produced in Béjaïa. Old French transliterations got it as Bougie, and it was known under this name during the colonisation of Algeria.

Similar fun toponymical names: "maroquinerie", leather-working usually for bags, comes from Maroc, French for Morocco. Probably linked to the leather working on shoes, "cordonnerie", which was done in Cordoba.

And finally, candles were lit in big, big, huge clusters to have a chance to give enough light to make what happened on the scene somewhat discernable. If they had been lit stuck on a single metal stick, that would be the humble (but possibly lethal when applied to the head of Dr. Black) candlestick. But in such array, that gave us a magnificent "lustre". In the classier places, those lustres would have a lot of silver and glass, and if it comes crashing down, well that's the end of your first act, let the hunt for the Phantom begin!
Thanks for the extra info. One thing I forgot to mention is that said lustre is also the reason for there being lots of reflective surfaces, gold leaf, etc. in traditional theatres. One example of which is the Lyceum in Sheffield, which has been restored to its Victorian looks - it even has a safety curtain (sponsored by my university, oddly enough) with the Commedia dell' Arte members on it, which I remember seeing since childhood and not knowing what they were until recently.

One interesting thing I came across reading books from the 1910s and 1920s was that there was a brief fad for referring to chandelier with lightbulbs in as 'electroliers', before the original candle version disappeared so quickly that the old term was just kept for the electric version.
 

RyanF

Fought in the Millennial Wars
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
NYC (né Falkirk)
Pronouns
he/him
Interesting thing the radio aspect of this, though it's true in the past audio drama was a dead art in the US as compared with the UK I'd argue today we're seeing a lot more interesting things done with the format across the pond. These have arisen out of podcasts rather than radio, but even here the tendency toward storytelling with these little breaks crops up. What differs though seems to be a reversion to the entr’acte format - with mini-stories, fictitious advertisements or news, or even non-diagetic music.
 

Alex Richards

A musical Hubble Space Telescope
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Derbyshire
And finally, candles were lit in big, big, huge clusters to have a chance to give enough light to make what happened on the scene somewhat discernable. If they had been lit stuck on a single metal stick, that would be the humble (but possibly lethal when applied to the head of Dr. Black) candlestick. But in such array, that gave us a magnificent "lustre". In the classier places, those lustres would have a lot of silver and glass, and if it comes crashing down, well that's the end of your first act, let the hunt for the Phantom begin!
And of course how better to boost the amount of light you get than to surround the 'inner' faces of the candle with mirrors to reflect that otherwise wasted light back.

Obviously it requires more cleaning, so that's another servant or two required for upkeep.
 
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