The Dreadnought hoax reactivated

When making her famous pronouncement that in or about December, 1910, human character changed, in the seminal essay Mr Bennet and Mrs Brown, Virginia Woolf might have meant three events: the death of  Edward VII whose reign ceased in May that year, the first Post-Impressionistic exhibition that opened in London around the time or the Dreadnaught Hoax which is considered one of the most notorious happenings organized by the members of the Bloomsbury set.

If we were to opt for the third of the occurrences, then the practical joke performed by Woolf and her collaborators would become one of the most important turning points of the late Victorian era, which, of course, at least by some might be regarded as a far-fetched assumption. Regardless of our subjective choices, one thing is certain: by being deeply involved in the hoax, Virginia Woolf revealed her unknown jocular face.

On February 10, 1910, Woolf, her brother Adrian Stephen, Anthony Buxton, Horace Cole, Duncan Grant and Guy Ridley took a train to Weymouth and stepped on board the HMS Dreadnought, one of the flagship vessels of the British Navy. The hoaxers, dressed in caftans and turbans with their faces painted black and adorned with artificial beards and mustaches, enacted an official visit of the fake Emperor of Abyssinia and his retinue. Speaking a mixture of Swahili and Latin, of which the phrase Bunga Bunga became an infamous catchphrase, the Bloomsburians managed to outwit the British naval authorities and took a guided tour on the deck of the navy’s most secret warship. The event in question ended up in a great scandal and was commented on both in press and by the public, earning its perpetrators an outrageous reputation .

The exhibition "British Bohemia. The Bloomsbury Circle of Virginia Woolf" organized by International Cultural Centre in Kraków in 2010/11, was an ideal opportunity for Marek and his students to reactivate the hoax in its contemporary version. The event under the title of "The Dreadnought Hoax Reactivated" took place in the premises of the Jan Noworolski’s café in Sukiennice, Rynek Główny 1 in Kraków on Ocober 22nd, 2010. The happening metaphysically coincided with the café’s bicentenary. To attract both the adults and the youth, the thread of the Bloomsbury project included the monodrama of Marek’s authorship, based on the events under discussion, the two mini-lectures delivered by Tomasz Grabowski, PhD of the Institute of Ancient History UJ and Marek himself as well as the gig performed by the amateur school rock band Violent Pleasure. The ancient café survived and the fun continued until the small Friday hours.


Realizacja: HEXADE.COM (Grafik, projektant, webdesigner)