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Theatre costume

Theatre costume

  • Date:

    ca. 1920-1929 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Leather uppers with wooden soles and metal toe caps

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Patric Judge in memory of his grandfather Will Judge (1883-1960).

  • Museum number:

    S.108:1 to 2-2004

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Will Judge (1883-1960), The Norfolk Comedian, was as his title indicates, a well-known performer in East Anglia in the early 20th century, performing in variety and as a pantomime dame. In the days before radio and television, comedians were often famous within a fairly restricted area and humour, too, showed many local variations - there were many comedians famous in the north of England who never performed in the south, and vice versa.
Most comedians included song and dance in their acts and these shoes, with their elongated feet, were known as 'flaps'. The technique of dancing in flaps was developed by the great music hall performer, Little Titch, and many other performers tried to develop their own routines wearing flaps of varying lengths. It would have taken hours of practice to develop the skill to learn to control the exaggerated length until the shoes became an integral part of the foot.

Date

ca. 1920-1929 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Leather uppers with wooden soles and metal toe caps

Object history note

Will Judge (1883-1960), billed as The Norfolk Comedian, was a well-known comedy- variety and pantomime artist for thirty years in the first half of the 20th century. Although he performed all over the British Isles, occasionally in London, he was best known in East Anglia and the North of England; at this period, before the spread of radio and the invention of television, comedians were often 'local' and humour in the North could be very different from that in the South (for example, Max Miller was never as popular in the North of England, while Jimmy Learmouth was most popular in his native Lancashire). He played Dame in pantomime and married Gertrude Orchard, who played Principal Boy. His Dame characters, while obviously exaggerated, inclined towards the 'elegant' or homely rather than the grotesque.
The technique of dancing in flaps, shoes with elongated feet, was developed especially by Little Titch, but taken up by many other comedians. The Museum has several examples of flaps in its collection, but these are the longest and most exaggerated.

Descriptive line

Dance shoe worn by Will Judge, ca.1920s. Light brown lace-up leather flaps, with elongated toes with metal toe caps and wooden soles

Materials

Leather; Wood; Metal

Techniques

Stitching; Glueing; Nailing

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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