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Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Politics of Beauty

The 1920s were a time of significant upheaval the world over; World War I disrupted daily life, gender roles, and economics. While some countries adapted more readily to the new social climate, British society worked hard to re-establish Victorianism as a national identity. This meant pushing British women from the workplace back into the home and attempting to control the aesthetics of what a desirable and proper British woman could be.

The major media push shifted from celebrating women doing their duty for the nation by taking on factory jobs to celebrating them for returning to their kitchens to care for their children and menfolk at the end of the war. Take this cocoa ad, for example: between January and March of 1919, the British woman moves from manual laborer to doting wife and mother.

Alongside the mainstream media preference for housebound homemaker, though, a culture surrounding beauty and femininity sprouted up. Makeup became a necessity for the vast majority of women, rather than for just the very wealthy or the prostitute. A slim body became the expectation, and women took a new interest exercise and outdoor activity. Keeping yourself beautiful and polished became a duty rather than an expression of vanity. This shifted expectation was another way of reminding women what their place was: the pretty, feminine, heterosexual ideal.

In this climate, fashion became politicized, most notably in this question: to bob, or not to bob?

Long hair was the standard for much of modern British history. However, the 1920s witnessed the rise of the bob, the now-ubiquitous chin-or-higher length haircut. The introduction of this cut in the early part of the decade caused a flurry of controversy; the bob was immediately associated with flappers, and flappers were associated with the sexually uninhibited. Women’s magazines, which also rose to prominence during this decade, ran constant stories on whether the bob should be attempted, and employers would think twice before hiring a woman with the style. To bob was to mark yourself as a Modern Woman, a positive figure for us and for those who embraced it at the time, but an anti-Victorian troublemaker for a society invested in keeping women home and accounted for.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

FALLEN ANGELS Inspired Cocktails!

Want to be as classy as the characters in Noël Coward's Fallen Angels?  Drink the cocktails below and . . . well, at least you'll be feeling pretty cool!  The characters of Villanova Theatre's upcoming (boozy) production of Fallen Angels were gracious enough to share their favorite cocktails with their loyal audiences.

Fred's Recommendation: The Dandy

This complex variant on the Manhattan includes all of Fred's favorite things: booze and pretension.

Make it yourself!

1 1/2 Ounces of Rye Whiskey

1 1/2 Ounces of Dubonnet Rouge

1 Dash Angostura Bitters

1 Teaspoon Cointreau

1 Piece Orange Peel

1 Piece Lemon Peel

Measure ingredients into mixing glass, express peels, and drop in.  Fill with ice.  Stir until well chilled and strain into a chilled glass.  Serve without a garnish or with a lemon peel.

Willy's Recommendation: Whiskey and Soda

Just like Willy, this classic drink is straightforward and stiff.

Make it yourself!

2 Ounces Scotch

Club Soda

Pour Scotch in a highball glass over ice. Top with club soda.

Jane's Recommendation: Blood Orange Bellini

Jane often longs for her time in Italy, and this cocktail brings her right back to that romantic and beautiful place - and the blood oranges are the reminiscent of the blood she draws when the talons come out!

Make it Yourself!

4 Blood Oranges or 1/2 Cup Blood Orange Juice

1 Bottle of Prosecco, chilled

In a measuring glass, juice the blood oranges. Evenly distribute the juice in 4 champagne glasses. Fill the rest of the glass with Prosecco.

Julia's Recommendation: Dirty Gin Martini

Classic, sophisticated, restrained, and just the littlest bit naughty, no other cocktail could more aptly speak to Julia's nature.

Make it Yourself!

1 Tablespoon Dry Vermouth

2 Ounces Gin

2 Tablespoons Olive Juice

4 Olives

Swirl water in a martini glass and place in the freezer for 2-3 minutes.  Meanwhile, fill a shaker with gin, vermouth, and olive juice and shake over ice.  Shake hard 3-4 times.  Remove chilled martini glass from freezer and strain martini in.  Garnish with 4 olives on a skewer of your choice.

Saunder's Recommendation: The Painkiller

Julia and Fred's incredibly well-travelled maid learned this recipe while she was serving as a concubine for an Island king in the Caribbean.

Make it yourself!

2 Ounces Spiced Navy Rum

4 Ounces Pineapple Juice

1 Ounce Coconut Cream

1 Ounce Orange Juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice.  Shake hard 3-4 times.  Fill a halved coconut with crushed ice and pour over.  Garnish with nutmeg and a sprig of mint.  Enjoy!

Maurice's Recommendation:  French 75

Very French.  Very sexy.  Nothing else to say.

Make it Yourself!

1 Ounce Gin

1/2 Ounce Simple Syrup

1/2 Ounce Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

Brut Champagne

Lemon twist to garnish

Combine gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker over ice.  Shake until well-chilled and strain into a glass.  Top with champagne.  Garnish with lemon peel and try to keep your panties on.

Mix away friends, and make Noël Coward proud!  And just remember: there is nothing classy about over-drinking!

Enjoy your happy hour at home before joining us for Fallen Angels, running September 23rd-October 5th at Villanova Theatre!  Call 610-519-7474 or visit our website for tickets!