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February 10, 2011 / jmeuropeana

The Merchant of Venice, General Tom Thumb, De Zeven Provinciën

On the 10th of February –

Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice premieres at the court of King James I in 1605. I was in a school production/adaptation of this work. This was all rather embarrassing: we did not have enough volunteers to man all the roles (did anyone follow Glee? – school plays apparantly are so not cool), so we all had to do doubles. As I am quite tall, and not a very good actor, people were unable to distinguish between my two characters. Very confusing. 🙂

Shylock to Antonio 'Merchant of Venice' (Shakespeare) spoken by;nicht bespielt

General Tom Thumb (Charles Sherwood Stratton), a small person performing in P.T. Barnums circus, marrries another small person, Lavinia Warren. Apparantly this was quite a media-event at the time: the song for which the score is shown below, was written for the occasion:
Fairy bride polka VADS Collection: Spellman Collection of Victorian Music Covers
Advert for General Tom Thumb

In 1933 the Dutch Naval Air Command bombs its own cruiser ‘De Zeven Provinciën’ in order to sqaush a 5-day mutiny, killing 23 of the crew. The mutiny was caused by lowering for the third time the already appalling low wages of the crew and cutting down on the crew rations. The murder of the 23 crew members sparked great indignation in Dutch society, leading, among other factors to the anti-militarist trend that left the Dutch army largely unprepared for WWII.


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