wedding masques

Ben and I got married on November 11. It was a truly joyous occasion, full of love and friendship and family. A perfect weekend–from the Chinese banquet and wild karaoke on Friday night, to bagels and coffee at the Gliderport overlooking the ocean on Saturday morning, to the delicious Israeli food and wonderful vibe of my parents’ house on Saturday night, to the Sunday morning ceremony and reception.

It ain’t bragging if it’s true, right? But I swear, I only bring it up to mention the brief wedding masque I put together for Ben.

The masque was a form of festive entertainment in 16th and 17th century Europe, short plays and spectacles presented to and performed for royalty on the occasion of a birth, marriage, or coronation. They often included pastoral settings, mythological fables and an allegory. One of my favorite wedding ones involved a giant castle being wheeled in, then stormed by knights. Once the knights had, ahem, breached the castle walls, beautiful young ladies emerged and they danced. Often the prince would be pulled in to participate–like, they would pull the prince up and make him gamble with loaded dice that had him win, over and over again.

I figured that since I’m not bringing much earning power to the marriage, this is something I can do. Everything about it, from the concept to the execution, was a complete surprise to Ben–he had no idea I had even been considering such a thing, and I’ve been talking about it with his friends for at least 6-8 months.

The masque went suchly:

Ben and I entered the reception hall and went right into our first dance (“You Can Have It All” as performed by Yo La Tengo). As we danced, very hug and sway, foam-core puppets started emerging and circling us, creating a wonderfully cheesy pastoral landscape. We (Nicky, Brian, Liz, Mike, my cousin Vered and Ben’s cousin Kathy) had made flowers and butterflies, a rainbow, a tree, stars, a sun/moon. Kathy created two incredible squirrels. Vered came into the craft-party late, heard about the pastoral, thought for a second and decided: “a mother duck and three baby ducks!” which were puppeted by my mom, Vered, her brother Arie and my brother Ron.

The puppets danced and swayed with us. Ben was already in shock at this point. Then, a blood-curdling scream.

And Evil emerged. Played by my friend Mike Jaros from UCSD, Evil wore a Mexican wrestler mask and a cape, stormed in, threatened the pastoral landscape, which all cowered in the corner. Evil and I faced off, began a ferocious thumb wrestling battle, but of course I couldn’t defeat Evil alone. Ben and I were then handed foam-core swords, and defeated Evil together, restoring the pastoral landscape.

Which then went into the simcha dancing, Jewish celebration dancing. I hadn’t known until we were putting this all together that after the married couple gets lifted on the chairs, they remain seated in the chairs and people entertain them as if they were king and queen–perfect for a masque. Actually, the tradition probably emerged as a response to the oppression of Jews in Europe–a burlesque of power, a way to celebrate the marriage.

So anyway, we broke into Hava Nagila, Ben and we got lifted up on chairs, and set down, and people performed for us. There was crazy hula hooping, from my mother and others (Shir hula hooped and danced–Sari put the hoop around her neck). Juggling. Acrobatics from my Clown Biblers. Jane had brought her clown nose and clowned for us. A kick line spontaneously formed. Rachel and Alex played matador and bull. It was insane.

I didn’t want anything about the ceremony to be a performance, but there’s nothing like perforamnce to kick off the party.

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