Fashion, politics, witches and queens all featured in an amazing Jacobean court masque recently performed at New College, Oxford. The Masque of Queens, created in 1609 by Ben Jonson and Inigo Jones, was one of the most glamorous of its kind. Drama, music and dance were all combined to present evil (in the form of disruptive witches) being dispelled by regal authority (a group of majestic queens).
Capturing the performance was an opportunity to test our camera skills on shooting moving actors within a relatively confined space. All of the filming took place down the chapel’s central aisle, requiring us to shoot the action with severe space restrictions and without disrupting the audience experience. We overcame this complex shoot by using a GoPro as our second camera and recorded a separate 8 track audio mix to go onto the edit later. As there were lots of costume changes radio mics weren’t possible, so we rigged up the aisle with wireless mics on stands.
The story was brought to life in an edited production directed by Dr Emma Whipday, teaching fellow at King’s College London English and Literature department. The complexity of these productions means that they are rarely performed today, and its setting in the dramatic chapel at New College, Oxford made it a truly unique experience.
The performance was funded by the Ludwig Fund for the Humanities at New College, Oxford, the OUP John Fell Fund at the University of Oxford, and the Malone Society. It was filmed for Dr Daniel Starza Smith, British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellow in English Literature and Oakeshott Junior Research Fellow, Lincoln College, Oxford.
Dr Smith commented: “We are delighted with this amazing recording, both visually and aurally, and we think it will become an important teaching tool as well as a source of entertainment and theatrical interest in its own right.”