The Masque of Blackness


The sets, costumes, and stage effects were designed by Inigo Jones; Blackness was the first of many masques for the Stuart Court on which Jonson and Jones would collaborate. The music for Blackness was composed by Alfonso Ferrabosco.

Jones designed a raised and mobile stage for the masque, forty feet square and four feet off the floor; this was employed for many subsequent masques. The stage contained inner space for the machines that produced stage effects and the technicians who operated them. Blackness introduced effects that Jones would repeat with variation throughout his career as a stage designer: it opened with a tempestuous seascape, simulated by flowing and billowing cloths.

The opening stormy sea was populated with six blue-haired merman-like tritons. The gods Oceanus ("blue") and Niger (black) entered, mounted upon giant seahorses. The twelve daughters of Niger, played by the Queen and her ladies in waiting, entered in the company of a dozen nymphs of Oceanus as torchbearers; the ladies of the Court were dressed in silver and azure, with pearls and feathers in their hair, while the torchbearers, in green doublets with gold puffed sleeves, had their faces, hands, and hair dyed blue. The ladies rode in a great hollow seashell, which seemed to float upon and move with the waves, and was accompanied by six large sea monsters carrying more torchbearers.[2] (With Blackness as with many subsequent masques designed by Jones, one of the aspects of the show most commented upon by witnesses was the dazzling intensity of light involved...which inevitably says something about the normal conditions of life in the Jacobean era.)

This content is from Wikipedia. GradeSaver is providing this content as a courtesy until we can offer a professionally written study guide by one of our staff editors. We do not consider this content professional or citable. Please use your discretion when relying on it.