Few people were as obsessed with blood as the Ancient Romans. Their main form of entertainment, for instance, involved the violent, dramatic deaths of gladiators, and of course their empire was filled with the blood of enemies. These days, it’s a bit less acceptable to force people to fight for the death so you can eat a hot dog and cheer with your buddies. Our closest equivalent is probably pro-wrestling or boxing where people only die intermittently (I’m sure the Romans would call us wimps).
But do not despair! Blood has not disappeared from our culture. Simply think of your favorite TV show. Is it Dexter? Walking Dead? That miniseries Spartacus? Perhaps you’re more of a feature length film type person then. Well, American Psycho’s on Netflix now as well as Tucker and Dale vs Evil (no one said blood can’t be hilarious). Even theaters have taken up the trend so that productions of Titus Andronicus, for example, may resemble more of a Holi celebration where all the colors have been replaced with red. We know, it’s disappointing the deaths aren’t real, but thank goodness the buckets and buckets of specialized blood more than make up for it.
But wait. Specialized blood? Isn’t it all just corn syrup and food coloring? Hitchcock may have used chocolate syrup in Psycho, yes, but there have been some improvements since then. In order to get to the bottom of the now complex process of putting blood on the stage, Core’s very own Kyna Hamill interviewed a certified fight instructor Casey Kaleba of the SAFD asking questions that range from costume designers’ feelings about blood onstage to what has inspired his (Casey’s) use of blood these days. The interview is wonderfully macabre and also takes the reader behind the scenes where the shock of Lady Macbeth’s bloody hands becomes the decision the director, Casey, and the stage manager came to whether the blood will “spurt, drip, spatter, seep, smear, track, reveal, course, creep, pour, soak, leak, dry, crack, scab”. Yum.
So there you have it. We no longer watch the gladiators tear each other to pieces, but fortunately we have plenty of specialists to make sure our bloodlust doesn’t go unfulfilled. Thank goodness for that.
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