The Halloween Tableaux of Fortune: 1894

Bonhams Auctions

HALLOWEEN GAMES.

Tableaux of Fortune, Cupids Dream and the Years Forecast By Electricity

A very new Halloween play and one which will be carried out most beautifully even to its most minute detail in a very fashionable set of New York young people is a “game” called the tableau of fortune. And let it be stated right here that all entertainments on Halloween night are called “games,” although l they may not partake of the nature of play nor yet be intended for the juvenile members of the family.

 After the audience is seated, little tickets are distributed until each has a slip of pasteboard. Upon the slip there is the date, the initials of the hostess, a blank space, some little ornamentation like a bit of hand decoration, and a number.

In front of the audience hangs a curtain, while palms at either side, and just visible rearing their heads behind it, prepare the guests for something very fine to come.

There is a tinkle of a bell and number one appears with a big figure, mysteriously lowered over the upper edge of the curtain.

“Who holds number one?” asks the mistress of ceremonies.

“My card is number one,” replies some one–say Miss Brown.

“Well, Miss Brown, I have the honor to announce that the coming tableaux will reveal your fortune for the coming year. Note carefully the picture. It will be repeated in your own life within a twelvemonth. Let the curtain rise!”

As the curtain is pulled away there stands revealed a bride, in full bridal costume. There is the trailing high-necked gown of white, the veil, the orange blossoms, the prayer book—nothing is lacking. Of course the bride is very beautiful and the tableau is a pretty one, without considering the joy which must have been experienced by Miss Brown at the thought of herself so beautifully arrayed “within a year.”

When number two is called and the owner of the number has responded to it, the curtain again is drawn aside. This time the owner of the tableau is less fortunate, for the picture is that of a Cinderella seated by the fireplace in rags. Her shoes show the need of a fairy godmother and adown her tear-stained face the tears are still falling. A little histrionic talent and some knowledge of stage effects might not be disadvantageous here.

The next tableau, number three, may show the fairy godmother with her arms filled with finery for Cinderella, while that young lady with her back to the audience, leans toward her godmother. This would typify that young lady No. 3 will have trouble the beginning of ’95, but that love will clear a way before the year is ended.

The curtain rolls back and number four sees herself seated before a mirror giving the last touches to her face with powder puff and rouge pad. There are tiny half-moon patches upon her face, and her hair is piled high, powdered and stuck full of ornaments. She has ear-rings and is laden with jewels. If the mirror faces the audience there will be the very pretty effect of the face reflected in the glass. This tableau is extremely taking and typifies growing vanity.

CUPID’S DREAM.

Cupid’s Dream Is the sentimental title of a Halloween game which is to be produced in a large gathering of young people with tremendous effect. The cupid In a marble figure about two feet in height with an arrow in its hand. The bow is drawn and Cupid shoots his dart apparently straight at the heart of the victim.

If desired a small child could act as Cupid, or a terra cotta figure be substituted for the marble. Or, indeed, any Cupid at all might be used.

The game begins with a dialogue.

“Miss A’s love affair will now be decided. Is Miss A present?”

“I am here,” replies Miss A.

“Are you ready to know your fate in love?”

“I am ready.”

“Cupid, reveal your knowledge!”

Instantly to a musical tinkle of a silver bell, or a chime if it can be arranged, the curtain goes back–and there stands the marble Cupid. Upon him plays a clear blue light, and the audience is hushed with admiration, while all the time the bells tinkle most sweetly.

“Miss A, you will be very fortunate in love, and before the year Is ended you will have become engaged to the man of your choice, who will be a paragon of manly perfections.”

The bells tinkle until the curtain has closed. Then comes the dialogue over again. This time it is addressed to Miss B.

When the curtain goes back it is to the sound of a thin, shrill bell that rings in a monotonous way. There is no music in the light, and Cupid is bathed in a green light. The bell continues until the curtain is drawn over the unhappy sight.

“Miss B., you will love a man who adores you as well, but who is extremely jealous. His jealousy will mar your happiness.”

While Miss B’s friends are advising her what to do with a jealous man, Miss C is called, and Cupid appears again. This time there is a tolling of the bell—a very deep tolling—and poor Cupid is flooded with a deep yellow light.

“Unrequited love!” announces the master of ceremonies.

A lovely white light plays upon Cupid at Miss D’s name. And the interpretation is, “Will remain heart and quite fancy free.”

All the shades of color are shown, according to their meanings, and the delighted audience openly regret when no more Cupid Dreams are to be seen. To arrange the colored lights the room must be darkened. A gas jet back of the audience must be supplied with a pipe with a large gas burner upon it. In front of the burner there are regular calcium light slides of all colors easily taken out and replaced.

All Halloween games must have the element of luck introduced. Nor can they possibly be without love. But by the skilful blending of these two qualities a Halloween entertainment may be interesting to all–even to those with this world’s love affairs already decided. In the affair of this kind surprises are always in order and the more of these the merrier.

A. P.

The Salt Lake [UT] Herald 28 October 1894; p. 13

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: It is quite curious how a religious festival celebrating the spirits of the dead returning to roam the earth for a night became so entangled with amorous divination rituals. We have seen this before in the fancies of “Nut Crack Night.”

One wonders if the mistress or master of ceremonies sent out spies beforehand to ascertain romantic entanglements or aversions before so blithely predicting unrequited love for a party guest. It seems as though the result would inevitably be the unhappy young woman rushing from the room in floods of tears and when next heard of, taking solemn vows in some austere convent. Surprises are not always in order….

Mrs Daffodil feels that such artistic tableaux should be on the order of “Twenty Questions,” where the guests have to guess the identity of the gentleman seen leaving the apartments of the young bride recently wed to the aged financier. Alternately, the “game” might expose a well-known gentleman as a card-cheat and a cad, at which he would quietly take his hat, and then flee the country before the ports could be watched. Hours of wholesome amusement and one needn’t enlist a child or a terra cotta cupid.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

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