Elizabethan Theater: A Brief History

elizabethan theatreIn the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, English theater blossomed in London. Elizabethan theater – or more properly, English Renaissance theater – flourished between the years of 1562 and 1642. (This spanned the reign of three monarchs, in fact, and not just that of Queen Elizabeth the First – hence the broader term is more accurate.) This is the time when William Shakespeare was writing and performing, along with other legendary playwrights of the era.

The era of early modern theater begins with “Gorboduc,” a play about civil war and succession to the throne of a kingdom. (These were topical and sensitive issues at the time, coming on the heels of the English Reformation brought about by Elizabeth’s father, Henry VIII.) “Gorboduc”, which was written by both Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville, is significant for being the first dramatic work to be written in blank verse. Blank verse is metric poetry that uses unrhymed iambic pentameter. An iamb is a chunk of a line that contains an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. There are five of them in each line of iambic pentameter blank verse. (The meter gives it poetic structure and makes it easier to memorize, as well.) As a natural extension of this writing, playwrights like Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare were also known for writing poetry, such as their well-known sonnets.

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Contemporary Plays: Understanding Life Today

Contemporary PlaysContemporary plays tackle 21st century issues and present them on stage. From the uniqueness of ordinary lives to the wonder and horror of extraordinary events, modern playwrights seek to express what it means to be alive at this time. These different contemporary plays – as with all creative writing – spring forth from the different perspectives and voices of these authors. Whether read on the page or seen on the stage, you can learn more about life today and the craft of playwriting by experiencing these works.

Writing for the stage can unleash your own creative soul. It can explore imaginary worlds, or historical times. It can speak universal truths or heal your own life. But most of all playwriting speaks to the time in which it was written.

The following plays explore everything from the Iraq War to dysfunctional families. The Internet and technology function as a medium for the characters to interact, but so too do fantastical imaginings of the underworld. In short, there is no limit to the imaginations of stage worlds that explore our own time.

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Makeup Ideas: Make Halloween Amazing

makeup ideasMakeup ideas can inspire you to choose a daring Halloween costume. They can inspire you to take your look to the next level. Forget the pre-made masks and think of some fabulous ways to use makeup to bump up your dress-up to the next level! The history of makeup is filled with classic themes and innovative new ideas. From enhancing your own natural look to turning you into another creature entirely, makeup transforms you.

Fabulous Lids and Lashes

Perhaps you do not have a particular costume or theme in mind. You can just give yourself extraordinary eye makeup that you could never pull off on an average day. There are many wild variations for exceptional eye makeup, from colors, to patterns, to themes. And there are fabulous false eyelashes to complete any look, from feathers to metallic. Just pair your stellar lids with a daring outfit and you’re all set for the party.

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Memoir Examples: The Personal Writing Genre

memoir examplesMemoir examples run the gamut of styles. From classics of literature that tell you about history to popular tell-alls to tear through while sunning yourself on the beach, these books provide something to inform you and delight you. All memoirs are autobiographical tomes that tell someone’s life story from her or his own unique perspective. The voice of the author shines through as you read about difficult upbringings, amazing deeds, and wars fought.

Everyone has a story to tell – maybe writing your own life story is something that interests you, too. Learning more about writing and the genre through online classes is a great place to start. And you will only broaden your perspective by reading some of the classics of memoir genre. If you are having trouble kickstarting your own writing then reading some of these great memoirs could be the inspiration you need! You might even – once properly educated and inspired – be able to write your memoir in a weekend. [Read more…]

Quotes on Relationships: Thoughts on Love, Friendship, and Heartbreak

quotesonrelationshipsQuotes on relationships can inform and instruct us. In times of distress, in times of happiness, in times of uncertainty, we often turn to wise words to help us.

The Nature of Love

The Ancient Greek philosopher Plato, in his work “The Symposium,” set forth a mythology that humans originally had four arms, four legs, and a head with two faces. Afraid of rivalry, Zeus split them apart with lightning. But these two separate bodies still shared but one soul. [Read more…]

The History of Soap

History of SoapThe history of soap is nearly as long as that of human civilization itself. It took people centuries to learn and uncover the many uses of soap and perfect the process of making it.

After all, for soap to exist some daring inventor first had to realize that mixing fatty substances with ashes would make a new substance that is itself really great at washing away – wait for it – fatty substances and ashes. This is counterintuitive, to say the least. But human ingenuity knows no bounds and observational skills and experimentation led to developments.

The Ancient Babylonians

Some five thousand years ago, the Ancient Babylonians used the first soap that we know of. How did we learn such a fact? An engraved urn was found during an archaeological dig. This urn is lined with traces of a combination of fats and ashes – the most basic building blocks of soap – and dates back to 2800 BCE. People have been making soap for some time as this evidence shows.  But this is just one piece of the archaeological record.

The Ancient Chinese

There is evidence that Ancient China, around 1300 BCE, made and used soaps as well. A bronze vat was found with traces of what could be soap material in it during an archaeological dig in China. It is unknown if this soap was used for personal use or more for manufacturing.

The Ancient Egyptians

An Ancient Egyptian papyrus – the Ebers Papyrus – dates from over a millennium after the Babylonian urn. This medical treatise detailed how to make a soaplike substance for cleansing and medicinal use. This is the first recorded use suggesting that soap be used on the human body for any purpose.

The Ancient Greeks

Around 200 CE, an Ancient Greek physician named Galen described soap as well. He recommended soap from Germany or France to wash away impurities on the body and in clothing. It was prescribed for medicinal purposes, as well.

The Ancient Romans

In fact, the original use of soap was not to leave the human body smelling fresh. The first soaps were most likely used to cleanse clothing more so than the human bodies that worse those clothes. Other methods were used to clean human skin. In Ancient Rome, for instance, the body was cleaned with oils and a strigil, a curved tool to scrape the dirt away. Baths in cold and hot water washed away the impurities.

Soap for Textile Manufacturing

But wool, on the other hand, needed something like soap to clean the oils out of it before it could be dyed, so soaps were used. Soap molecules act by attracting oils and fats to one end and water to the other. One end is hydrophobic and the other hydrophilic. As a result of this process, the sebaceous substance (like lanolin for example) is diluted into the water and then easily washed away with more water. A Sumerian tablet from 2500 BCE is the first written mention of soap, and it only mentions it in reference to the washing of wool – not the wearers of wool.

The first soaps were made from a combination of fats or oils, like tallow, and an alkali element, like ashes. (It is not so hard to imagine, then, why people were not especially interested in rubbing this smelly substance all over their bodies. You might smell sweeter using plain old water.)

The Ancient Arabs

It was the Arabs who first experimented with soaps that smell pleasant in the seventh century CE. Nabulsi soap was made using olive oil, which is an unscented Castile soap. (That is a soap made in the Castilian fashion.) Aleppo soap is similar but adds in the ingredient of bay laurel leaves. Arabic experimentation lead to a variety of soaps with scented ingredients, like rosemary and lavender, and soap with dedicated purposes, like one especially dedicated to shaving.

Soap in Europe

Soaps in Europe at that time were made either from animal fats, like the tallow made from goats, or vegetable substances, like olive oil. Marseilles, France and Savona, Italy were soap-making centers in Europe.

In the 12th century CE, soap production began in earnest in England. But the soap itself was a heavily taxed item, a true luxury, and was out of reach for the average consumer.

Thanks to the continued tax precious soap was not commonly used by regular folks for bathing even though scientific advances had made its manufacture easier. Discoveries by Nicolas LeBlanc and Michel Eugene Chevreul made the making of soap easier and cheaper. Understanding the process of using salts and fats made soap a regular commodity.

In 1853, the punitive British tax on soap was abolished. The government lost out on a sizeable source of income, – apparently over the equivalent of $100 million a year. But now, mercifully, the common English citizen was now able to afford soap for home use. Bathing increased in popularity as a result.

Soap in the United States

The popularity of soap only increased from that moment. The United States became a major soap manufacturing power in the 19th century. For instance, in 1806, William Colgate opened a starch, candle, and soap store in New York City after emigrating from England. In the 1840s, Colgate introduced a soap cake of uniform size and weight to sell to the consumer. (Other innovations, like the scented soap Cashmere Bouquet, were yet to come.) Sales of this predictable and useful soap boomed.

At the same time, the B.J. Johnson Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin had created their own proprietary soap made of palm oil and olive oil towards the end of the 19th century. The company took on the name of the product – Palmolive – and it became a bestseller. (Even ancient methods have modern applications, as is apparent.) These two soap-making companies would later merge to form the household cleansing product giant known as Colgate-Palmolive. (Toothpaste came after soap – people have their priorities, it seems.)

Procter and Gamble was founded by brothers-in-law who married sisters.  (William Procter was born in England, and James Gamble hailed from Northern Ireland.) In the 1850s, their business blossomed and they won a contract to supply the Union Army with candles and soap. In the 1880s, they developed their famous floating soap bar, Ivory. (This invention apparently arose from a happy industrial accident. A worker left a machine on too long and the bars were filled with more air bubbles than intended, leading to the floating feature.)

The scarcity of materials needed to make soap during World War I lead to new innovations. Detergents act much like a soap but do not leave the infamous soap scum behind. German scientists perfected a process that used synthetic and petroleum elements to make cleansing agents – that is, detergents – to replace the soaps that were so very hard to come by during the time of war. Although the two – soaps and detergents – may act the same to clean you and your clothes and home, their compsition is different. Soaps are, in fact, made of all natural ingredients. Detergents are composed of various synthetic elements. (Ever notice how your favorite body wash or liquid hand wash is labeled as something other than “soap”? There is a legal reason behind that.)

Soap making has become a popular hobby now that people have learned the importance of natural ingredients. Fewer people are willing to use synthetic cleansing agents – that is, detergents. Making your own soap is a hobby that combines elements of chemistry, gastronomy, and art to create cleansing bars that are effective, pleasant, and beautiful.

Learning French Online: Speaking, Reading, and Vocabulary

Learning French OnlineLearning French online is an easy way to introduce yourself to a new language. Whether you are learning French for fun, travel, or business, using the Internet is a great tool to make the process productive and enjoyable. It can be difficult to teach yourself a foreign language, but online tools make it easier. By taking some online courses and doing some real life practice, soon you can ask “Parlez-vous Français?” with confidence!

Benefits of Learning French

French is a language spoken around the world. Although English may have replaced it in many respects as the international lingua franca, French still has its value. (Indeed, “lingua franca” means Frankish language – the word itself refers to French.)

There are nearly 70 million native French speakers in the world, and nearly 200 million total who speak it with fluency. It remains one of the official languages of the United Nations, and you will even find messages for international travelers written in French on the inside of an American passport.

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How to Draw a Shark: Step by Step

how to draw a sharkMaybe you are taking your first steps towards developing your artistic skills. Maybe you love marine life and want to learn more. Or maybe you just can’t get the theme music to “Jaws” out of your head! Whatever the reason, you want to learn how to draw a shark step by step.

Learning to draw a shark is a fun way to develop your artistic skills. It could be you just picked up a pencil for the first time – or possibly you are already doodling like Leonardo da Vinci. No matter what your skill level, you can learn to draw a shark in a number of steps. [Read more…]

Something Easy To Draw: Develop Your Skills

something easy to drawYou do not need to be doodling like Leonardo Da Vinci from the moment you pick up a pencil. Just start by finding something easy to draw! Learning to draw takes dedication but is something we all can learn.

Developing Your Drawing Skills

It might seem like drawing is an artistic talent that is beyond your reach. Perhaps the best you have ever managed are stick figures and smiley faces. But have no fear! If you learn some basics, and practice your new techniques, you might surprise yourself. You, too, can learn to draw with confidence.

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Subconscious Mind Power Techniques To Reframe Your Perspective

Subconscious Mind PowerDo you feel stuck? Are you overwhelmed by pessimistic thoughts? Do you want to achieve more? Tapping into subconscious mind power can transform your life. It can help you overcome negative thinking and drive for success.

What is the subconscious mind? This is the part of your thinking that you are not fully aware of, yet it still influences your actions and feelings. If your brain is a computer, this is the operating system – the automatic way your experiences, beliefs, and thoughts are stored and interpreted. It whirrs along in the background without your ever thinking about how it works.  But as with any system, there can be glitches or malfunctions. To achieve your full potential, overcome self-defeating behaviors, and achieve success, you can learn more about harnessing the power of your subconscious mind. [Read more…]