Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Edwardian Scandal: The Markham Mistress

I've been dying to make a Titanic era dress for some time. When my friend Liz asked for volunteers for the Plymouth Historical Museum Charity Night, I just had to sign up! I was to play the role of Blanche Markham, mistress to William "Phil" Markham. A night of scandalous behavior ensued!
Photo by Elizabeth Kerstens

This also meant I needed a 1910-12 era corset to achieve the right look. I used the pattern from Festive Attyre; I am within one inch of the original corset! That project took only a week. It was the layers of airy chiffon that baffled me in the dress. I also finished that project in about a week (with help from some of the best seamstresses/reenactors in Michigan). It was worth every moment!
The morning of the event, my friends Nicole and Anna worked on my hair and makeup. Both were inspired by Downton Abbey pictures! I also had a full supply of jewelry to finish off the look. It seemed appropriate to wear the peacock and jewels as the mistress of the event!
 Photo by Heidi Nielsen

Ken Giorlando played my husband, the adulterous owner of Markham Air Rifle, while Darlene Lum was his hardworking, suffragette wife Carrie. Phil built a mansion for Blanche right across the park from the home he shared with Carrie, a grand house that still exists today. Blanche was at one time his secretary...workplace romance anyone? Carrie wouldn't agree to a divorce (scandal!) so Phil went between the two houses until Carrie's death. Blanche and Phil married and moved to Hollywood after she died, profiting from their real estate business.
 Photo by Heidi Nielsen

The event itself was absolutely lovely! We ate, drank, and mingled with the people who helped to support the Plymouth Historical Museum. Of course Carrie shot both Phil and I nasty looks throughout the event. And Phil made sure to point out to the crowd that he preferred his "younger, modern woman." I walked around looking beautiful, as per usual!
 Photo by Heidi Nielsen

While I am not accustomed to scripts/acting, I'd say our little group did a fine job. The audience laughed when appropriate, and any line mix-ups went unnoticed. The museum volunteers were amazing, though I'm not sure yet of the fundraising total. Altogether a fine event! I wish I had more time to spend on this post...the upcoming Kalamazoo History Show has been on my mind. I'm slightly overwhelmed with orders/jewelry making...


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