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PADDING AND STUFFING.
stage, except when compelled to exhibit their legs, either in silk stockings or pantaloons. Now, where it happens the leg is what is termed bandy or buck-shinned, no method can be devised for totally concealing the defect, although I have heard that there are means of decreasing even this eyesore; but it requires an ingenuity beyond any that has ever fallen under my observation. When the leg is straight and thin, the most approved method is to use the feet and legs of as many pair of old silk stockings as may produce the required increase of size, carefully leaving a little less on each succeeding stocking, both at the top and bottom; and having thus made the leg perfectly shapely, lastly put on the stocking that is to face the audience, unmindful of the shabby scoundrels that it covers."
In these days of the triumph of human inventive genius, such shifts are no longer needed. In the grand march of progress, the mowing machine and the sewing machine have been invented; the Atlantic ocean has been spanned with the telegraphic cable, and-padding has come to the rescue of bandy-legged and buck-shinned mortals.
One of those high-toned and polished gentlemen who edit newspapers which defend the indecencies of the legbusiness, lately broke forth in this brilliant strain : “One thing is sure,” he wrote, “when a woman has bad pins, when she is either bandy or knock-kneed, a well-shaped woman on the stage, 'in ten-inch satin breeches,' as Miss Olive Logan says, excites her most virtuous horror; but, when she happens to be one of the bending statues' who can enchant the world by furtive glimpses of a well-turned ankle, she not only takes pity on the world, but has a complete charity for her professional sisters behind the footlights.”
This would be a crushing sarcasm but for the fact that it is ridiculous to suppose there are any women nowadays who are “bandy or knock-kneed.”
The woman-or the man either—who cannot exhibit a shapely figure on the stage, has certainly not learned the way to the shop of the padmaker.
There are quite a number of these “professors of symmetry" in this country, but they are most numerous in Philadelphia. They advertise quite freely in the theatrical journals, and no one need be in ignorance of their whereabouts. They do not boldly advertise the unpleasant word "padding," of course the popular term for padding is “Symmetrical Goods."
Much need not here be said with regard to the modus operandi of the padmaker. The science lies in weaving leggings, or “ tights,” as they are called in theatrical parlance, in such a way that they shall increase the thickness of the calf, the thigh, etc., add woven silk or cotton in the place where flesh is wanted, and thus conceal leanness or deformity.
Thus a tragedian with lower limbs like pipe-stems, can pull on his “tights," and stand before an admiring audience with the sturdy legs of an athlete.
No such means of concealing an undue development of fatty matter have yet been devised—and the probability is that none ever will be, in spite of the prayers of many a jolly waddler that this “too, too solid flesh would melt."
How Salaries are Paid.-The Etiquette of Actors regarding Salaries.
Exaggerated Ideas of the Pay of Actors.—The Truth in the Matter.Salaries of Leading Performers, Walking People, Old People, Utility People and Supernumeraries.—Why the Day of Actors seems Larger than it Really is.—Their Expenses for Dress.—The Cost of Running a Theatre.—The Pay of Stars.-Salaries in Old Times. — An Actor who Regulated his Acting by his Salary.
“Salary-day" is an interesting point in the actor's weekly life, as may easily be imagined; and in view of the exaggerated ideas which prevail, regarding the pay of actors, it may be well to furnish some reliable information on this head.
The salaries of actors, scene-painters, stage-hands, and all the hundred employees of a theatre, are paid by the treasurer of the house, who has a large book in which every member of the company registers his or her name as a weekly receipt. The amount of salary, neatly done up in a sealed envelope, with the name inscribed outside, is then handed over to each person as he passes. These envelopes are all prepared before “salary-day" arrives; and in this manner each member of the company is ignorant of the amount of all salaries but his own. And it is a point of etiquette among these people always to remain in such ignorance.
Unless the recipient of a salary chooses to say what he is paid for his services, it would be quite possible for two or more people to dress in the same room and be cast in the same plays for ten years in the same theatre, and yet none ever know the amount of each other's salary.
“What do you get a week ?” would be considered a
WHAT ACTORS ARE PAID.
very rude question indeed, and one which, with all my experience, I never yet heard asked.
It is this fact which has caused so many wild rumors to fly about relative to the extent of this or that actor or actress's salary. For the most part these reports are grossly exaggerated; and though, of course, there are no absolutely fixed rates for the different players in a theatre, there is an estimate to be made by one who knows the routine thoroughly, which will be found pretty nearly accurate.
The salary of a leading actor or actress ranges from $40 to $60 a week. But I know one leading actress in New York who gets $100 a week, and two who get $75 each.
These, however, are peculiar cases ; all three being actresses specially attractive for youth, beauty and talent.
Walking gentleman" or lady will get from $20 to $35 a week; “old man" or "old woman" from $25 to $40; while other players of a lower grade of talent than these will get all the way from $25 down to $10 a week. I should say there would be no lower salary than $10 a week in a theatre for any one who appears on the stage, even for members of the ballet or “supes,” though it is true that sometimes extra men are engaged from the streets for some special purpose, who receive no more than $3 or $4 a week.
I know the above figures will seem large to persons of intellect, culture and talent who work hard all day for perhaps one tenth of the sum gained, let us say, by a leading actress. But even setting aside the fact that special talent brings special reward, and that the stage has always been a fine lucrative field for woman's employment (and this fact is my chief reason for wishing to keep it as pure as possible), there are many other causes why an actress should receive a large weekly salary. The principal of these is that an actress's outlay for dress must be very large.
say it must be, for if it be not she cannot keep her position.
In the “good old days” (which everybody on the stage and off seems to unite in lamenting), a black velvet dress (as often as not cotton velvet), a white satin dress (as often as not a soiled, second-hand article), and a sweet-simplicity white muslin were considered quite a sufficient basis for an actress to do what is called “lead the business” in that is, to play Juliet and Lady Macbeth, Julia, in the “Hunchback,” and any other standard parts which she might be called upon to play.
But nous avons change tout cela. A leading actress nowa-days in a large city, must lead the fashions, as well as the “business ;” with every new play she must come out in a number of elegant new dresses; and I have more than once heard the remark: “Let's go to the theatre this evening to see what Mrs. wears.”
This being the case, an actress seldom manages to save much of her salary for the proverbial rainy day which comes to all.
The dress question also affects the male players. The modern comedies now so generally played require a bewildering quantity of elegant morning suits, dress suits, overcoats, shooting-jackets, hats, gloves, canes and boots. These must all be purchased by the actor; and when they go out of fashion, must be discarded.
Stage-carpenters and scene-shifters are pretty well paid, from $10 to $50, according to their abilities. Their work is hard, and their hours of labor long. They are at the theatre at about nine in the morning, and must be there till the performance is over at night-generally not far from midnight. They are paid by the week like the actors, and also, like them, when a play is on for a run, they have quite easy times. That is, easy so far as hard labor is concerned—they must always be around the scenesnever absent,