freud and antiques at the arden theatre

Good morning!  For the last couple of years, I have been on a committee for “The Scene” at Arden Theatre in the old city section of Philadelphia.  “The Scene” is an event where professionals get together for an hour of networking, mingling, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres before select performances at a reduced ticket price.  The party continues with the cast at a local hotspot.

It is really a great time and I’ve decided to share this little extra curricular of mine today because I thought you may have an interest in the current production.

Plus, I’m giving away a FREE pair of tickets!

First let me tell you about the show and why you’ll want to see it…

On the day England enters World War II, Sigmund Freud invites a young C.S. Lewis to his London flat. Here, the father of modern psychology challenges a little known professor on the brink of literary fame. Freud’s Last Session imagines a collision of these two brilliant minds over love, God, and life.

The entire set is filled with artifacts and antiques to replicate Freud’s actual study which is now The Freud Museum in London.  You can read more about how the set evolved on the Arden’s blog.  Here’s a picture of the actual set as it looks today.


There are over 200 “artifacts” on the stage of Freud’s Last Session at the Arden. Of those, 18 are from the Penn Museum. The largest bulk of the remaining artifacts were donated by members of the Arden’s Sylvan Society.  However, that still didn’t complete the set so the props team had to do a little antiquing and DIYing of their own.

Is it just me or did you too always wonder how theater sets evolved?  I’ve learned that it can be quite similar to staging the rooms in your own home.  These professionals are creative and on a budget so they start by shopping their own stock.  Chris Haig, the Prop Master at Arden Theatre, shared a few of the behind the scenes secrets on how the set of Freud’s Last Session evolved.   

Two items specifically mentioned in the script and picked up by the characters needed to be built from scratch as finding them online or elsewhere proved impossible or too costly according to Chris. They are the Eros statue and the mummy bandages with markings from the Book of the Dead.

The replica Eros statue was modeled out of clay and painted to look like terra cotta.  The leg and hands were broke off just as Freud’s statue had been.

To create the mummy bandage, Chris’s team cut a muslin strip into a 4” width, aged them with a wash of brown paint and distressed them with darker brown tones along the frayed edges. It was also necessary to give them “embalming fluid stains” with watered down yellow paint as this is directly referred to in the script. Chris then copied the hieroglyphs and figures seen on the original using a fine point archival ink pen. After drying, the bandage was wrapped around a stained wooden dowel and placed in the center of a vintage mason jar. Did somebody say mason jar?

As for the antique furniture, there is a unique corner chair next to Freud’s desk that the team was absolutely dedicated to getting just right.  Chris scoured the internet, every prop rental house in the area and reached out to fellow prop masters nationwide with no luck. He came across a close match while antiquing in Lancaster however the chair exceeded the budget.  They wouldn’t settle for just any chair.  Finally, Chris found the correct chair right in Philadelphia from a local dealer’s personal collection!

It took 2-3 months to put the set for Freud’s Last Session together.  It sounds like Chris has an awesome job…antiquing, DIYing, staging!  I can’t wait to personally view the set and performance next Friday.

 I hope you’ll join us for “The Scene” where we’ll view Freud’s Last Session on Friday evening, November 16th. 

  • Leave a comment letting me know that you’d like to win a free pair of tickets to “The Scene” and the performance of Freud’s Last Session ($60 value). 
  • There will be an extra entry for you if you post a link to this giveaway on facebook or twitter. 
  • You have until Sunday, November 11th at midnight EST to enter. 
  • The winner will be announced on Monday, November 12th and your pair of tickets will be held at the Arden’s box office for Friday’s performance.

Good luck!  Who will you take if you win?

P.S. Sorry that this giveaway only pertains to my local friends.  I will make it up to you.  Promise.

(All images borrowed from Arden Theatre.)

all American

Hello!  Hello!  For all of my American readers, did you vote yet today?  Don’t forget, mmm kay?  It is your right!  Here at casa di Circa Dee we always vote Beagle.

How could we not?  Everyone knows Wilson is the boss around here.

I found that great beagle political poster at cafepress.  They have a few other breeds as well but you’ll probably just want to obey the beagle.

No, this isn’t a sponsored post by beagles around the nation.  Or cafepress.  I am getting to the project here…

The posters come in different sizes but none are your standard frame size.  Ours was 11×16.  As you probably know, having a custom frame made costs oodles of dollars.  So Ryan made one for us.

Out of…ready for it…chestnut wood!

Why am I so excited about a chestnut frame?  Oh because the horticultural nerd in me is about to come out.  Have you ever heard of the American chestnut blight?

Back in the day, a.k.a. like 100 years ago, nearly all chestnut trees in North America were wiped out.  They’re practically extinct now because of a fungus that was introduced to the trees.  If you’re so inclined, you can read more about the chestnut blight here.

So if you come across anything truly made of chestnut you can A.) pretty much guarantee that it is an antique and B.) buy it because it is a little piece of American history.  We had the opportunity to buy a few chestnut hardwood floor boards recently.  Honestly, they sat in the garage for a few months.  Until Ryan put together this custom frame for our beagle propaganda.  I ordered a piece of glass and we added some hardware and foam core board to the back.

Of course I love the wear and tear the hardwoods show from a previous life of being walked all over.

Our new to us frame coordinates nicely with an antique chestnut chest we just got to use as a media console.  I will share that in a future post as this room is not quite finished yet.

As for custom frames, I love them!  The look and feel of reclaimed hardwoods, painted floorboards and molding being given a new life as a frame is just so cool.

We have a few open frames on our mantel right now.

We just completed a set of 3 layered frames for our friend’s wedding photos.  They came out really cool too.  Also, another photo I will have to share at a future date.

And you may remember our original floorboard frame.  Still my fave.

However, we are moving away from creating our own reclaimed wood frames due to time constraints.  But we’ve found a great US-based company who does just that!  We’ve started stocking them in our shop.  Part of growing a business, I’ve quickly learned, is figuring out what to outsource and what to keep in-house.

They make unique gifts!  And we can still have custom colors and sizes made.  In fact, they have a stellar selection of colors!  I’m so happy to have found this artisan.  I’m pretty sure Ryan is too since frame making sort of fell under him.

In honor of election day, I kept this post all American for you – voting, American history and outsourcing in America. Now go vote!

old savannah

A few weeks ago (actually more like over a month ago) we went on a road trip to Savannah and I promised some antiquing highlights.  I went to a ton of stores as the area is swarming with all types of antique, vintage & decor  shops.  I snapped a few pics as I oohed and ahhed my way through the region.  So here are my top 5 based on the shops I visited…

Where:  As the name implies, 37th at Abercorn in Savannah

Style: Designer House Co-op

What to expect:  A huge Southern house transformed into a cooperative of antiques and designer vintage.  You will flow from room to room discovering a different style in each (and not knowing how to get out).  This house is seriously huge.  There is also original art and jewelry and and vintage clothes and a garden area and I could go on.  You can easily decorate your entire home from this store.

What to love about it:  37th & Abercorn has partnered with the Humane Society of Greater Savannah devoting an entire room to the cause.  Treasures sold in the room where donated to the Society.

Where:  The Paris Market is in downtown Savannah at 36 W. Broughton St.

Style:  Ok so this store is not really an antique store at all but more of a retail store with a lot of cool reproduction pieces mixed in with original collections.  Think Anthropologie or Terrain with a Parisian spin.

What to expect:  Two floors of treasures styled just perfectly.  Exposed beams and stone walls create the perfect backdrop for changing displays.  Of course I loved the French coastal thing they had going on when I was there.

What to love about it: You feel like you’re in Paris yet you haven’t left the East Coast.

Where:  Take a day trip over to Tybee Island and don’t miss Seaside Sisters on the way in at 1207 Highway 80 East.

Style: Part gift shop, part antique co-op

What to expect:  Vintage coastal decor probably right out of old Tybee Island cottages or Florida before Disney.  Lots of bright colors, wicker, bark cloth and other linens.  Do I dare say shabby chic?  You’ll want to buy a beach house just so you have a place to put all of your new, brightly colored treasures.

What to love about it: My favorite author, Mary Kay Andrews, sells her found treasures (and books) here.  In fact, you’re looking at her space above.  She does book signings and other events at the shop.  The owner was so sweet to offer to have Mary Kay sign my book for me.  Side note, I can’t wait for her new book Spring Fever to come out next month!

Where:  Pinch of the Past is located at 2603 Whitaker Street in Savannah and they’ve got 2nd & 3rd locations in Greensboro, GA & Madison, GA

Style:  Architectural salvage & restoration

What to expect:  I love a good salvage yard but that is only the beginning.  The building is a huge old factory with a few levels.  It is neatly organized with everything from plumbing fixtures to lumber to hardware.  Expect to restore your home from this shop.

What to love about it:  Surprise!  There is a mezzanine level filled with unexpected vintage housewares organized in an antique co-op store way.

Where:  As the name implies Habersham Antiques is located at 2502 Habersham St. in Savannah.

Style:  Traditional antique mall with endless rows of booths

What to expect:  Find a great mix of vintage and antiques covering the genres.  Each of the 70 vendors seems to have their own specialty so there is something for everyone.

What to love about it:  It is not often in antique malls that you find neatly staged booths where vendors have an eye for display.  I was also very pleased with the prices here.

Writing this post has made me want to revisit the area and explore the nearly 40 antique and vintage shops.  I know I only scratched the surface in the 3 days we were in the region.  On our way back home we visited the famed Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke, VA.  Check out that post if you missed it!

What is your favorite region for treasure hunting?