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Julie Jesneck as Lady Reveller. Photo ©Carol Pratt.

Hello, friends! Emily Townley (Alpiew) here. The Gaming Table is now in the third week of its six-week run, and we’re having lots of fun with it!

As a little addendum to my most recent entry, I thought I’d mention a bit about the wonderful fans that our costume designer, Jessica Ford, created, matched to the costumes, and hand-painted for the wealthier female characters in the play. It’s also time for another contest and giveaway!

Fans have a pretty fascinating history. Early civilizations used them as cooling devices and as a way to thresh grain. Through their connection to the Staff of Life, fans in Egypt became something of a religious artifact (two beautiful fans were found in the tomb of Tutankhamun).

Christopher Columbus presented a feather fan to Queen Isabella of Spain and fans were widely used throughout Europe. The Japanese, however, are credited with creating the folding fan. Legend has it that a Japanese animal-lover rescued a bat and became fascinated by how the bat’s large wings were able to fold into a compact space, but when open could create a tremendous breeze.

In the 18th century, the French viewed the fan as a work of art. Fans were painted by artisans on vellum and silk and embellished with expensive materials like ivory, tortoise shell, and mother of pearl. Fans were sought after status symbols and became a very desired accessory.

For wealthy women of the period, a fan eventually became an extension of the woman’s body and an extremely effective means of communication. An entire language of codes and gestures was created around the fan… which brings us to our little contest!

The first person to correctly match the fan gesture with its intended message wins TWO TICKETS TO THE GAMING TABLE (space available) and an fabulous Folger Theatre water bottle. We’ll post the correct answers soon. Have at it, you gamers!

The Gesture

1. Drawing the fan across the cheek
2. Drawing the fan across the eyes
3. Half-opened fan pressed to the lips
4. Drawing the fan through the hand
5. Opening and closing the fan several times

The intended message

A. “You may kiss me”
B. “I hate you”
C. “I love you”
D. “You are cruel”
E. “I am sorry”

Post your responses in the comments section below.