Christmas Days : Chanticler and friends

No Christmas is complete without a show so here’s ours. Cast your minds back to earlier this year when I wrote a piece on the Chelsea Arts Club Ball. The first picture shows a man in a giant chicken costume. This I discovered must have been inspired by the 1910 production of a play about birds by Edmond Rostand called Chanticler. It was apparently the sensation of the Paris stage. The name Chanticler, or Chanticleer will be familiar to anyone who ever had to study the Canterbury Tales. The Nun’s Priest’s tale is a mock heroic story featuring farmyard fowls. Rostand’s play is inhabited by a whole host of birds, including the title character, a rooster.


These pictures come from the Illustrated London News, in which I was looking for pictures of the Arts Club Ball.


[Act 1 – a farmyard]


Act 2 –  owls. A parliament of owls, as you might expect. Pls knk if an answr is reqird etc.

Act 3 – some kind of peacock business.


Act 4 – Chanticler and his pheasant paramour.


With a pretty decent spider’s web, but unfortunately no giant spider.

There is a perfectly good synopsis on Wikipedia so I won’t trouble you with the story. The same trawl through the year 1910 also found that picture of the Michelin man on a carnival float which you’ll find at the end of the Arts Ball post. But it wasn’t the last of Chanticler.


There he is again at the Nice Carnival, flanked by some fearsome beasts. More grotesque characters followed.


And odd other characters. This might all fit with the Edwardian penchant for dressing up, pageants and carnivals which I’ve written about before. (Not to mention costume balls).


The first decade of the 20th century is full of surprises.

A quick postscript

I recently spotted a post on another blog featuring images of Chanticler. I was momentarily taken aback but decided to proceed anyway. These pictures are of the original Paris production, which makes all the difference I think. This version was apparently not a great success, critically or in box office terms. I can’t think why.



Today’s monkeys caught on film paying a clandestine visit to the archives, are Mina, Lucy and Bill.


You can work that one out.


See you tomorrow.


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