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Nebraska State Journal


February 25, 1894
page 9

WITH PLAYS AND PLAYERS

Article headline reading "With Plays and Players" with sketch of dancing actress on stage

It was, perhaps, but natural that the scenes from the Greek and Latin plays interested only a small public, and interested them but little. Detailed scenes, even from Shakespeare, are usually pretty dull affairs, and detailed scenes in a foreign language are, to the ordinary mortal, still duller. It is true that great actors can overcome the obstacle of speaking in a foreign tongue—that we can feel the fire and pathos of Bernhardt's French, or the majesty of Salvini's Italian. But, in spite of the very good work that the students did, they were very far from actors of this surpassing type, and could not quite reach us through the unfamiliar medium of the dead languages.

One thing that the scenes from the Greek plays did bring out was the immense distance, not only of time, but of nature, of emotional habit, that divides us from the Greeks. The Latin comedy was a little nearer to us. Comedy is universal and eternal. But in tragedy ideals have changed. We cannot appreciate the Hellenic love for calm, for dignity, for sorrow that is majestically self-contained. We want people to weep, to sob, to throw their arms about, and to faint gracefully backwards. It is true, people in real life go through very considerable griefs without doing these things, but we are determined that, whatever real people may persist in doing, our actors shall be sorrowful or despairing according to our own traditional expectations.

But then, too, in real life we are a little more emotional, some of us, than those old peoples, who set up for their ideal a calm, contemplative self development to an absolute human perfection. "In nothing go too far," that was their motto. They went through the world—the philosophers among them—grandly self-restrained, every passion in vain, every ardency subdued. But that is not the way with us, at least not with most of us. We like enthusiasm, and like it most where the Greek liked it least, in our religion—and in our theatres. We have prayer meetings, we have the Salvation army and we have the "emotional actress." And all these are very well, but they set us infinitely far from the old majesty of the classic drama—as far as the modern waltz is from the minuet that our stately great-grandfathers danced.

So Greek tragedy does not move us much, especially when presented in disconnected scenes by people we know in a place we know. To a few of us, to those that have imagination it may speak more. Some may forget the cushioned seats of the Lansing, and the horrible figures on the curtain, and see in fancy the white curving seats of the Greek theatre, the marble stage beyond with blue sky blazing above it—and there, in such majestic setting of open nature, our heated drama would be out of place as the antique is behind our glaring footlights.

As it was, the antique was exhibited only as a curiosity like the whale that is carried about in a freight car, and it was just as much out of element. It is not our day or generation. Whether for better or for worse the world has changed, and changed irrevocably.

          

Lillian Lewis has grown weary of dragging herself across the stage on her knees and of falling down stairs and deftly lighting her cigarette by striking a match on her pink satin shoe. Probably it is as as much physical weariness as anything else, for she has diligently kneed her way across most stages in the country and has fallen down stairs steadily for years. She has decided to drop "As in a Looking Glass" and "Article 47" and will next year stage a magnificent spectacular production of "Cymbeline," in which she will play Imogen . She intends to vary the monotony of the play and will introduce repeating rifle specialties in the cave scene. When one knows Lillian, hdr nose and her emotion, one hopes that they dug Shakespeare's grave very deep. If it were only some other Shakespearean play, but Imogen is familiar to so few people and has been played by so few actresses, that she is rather uncontaminated as yet, and seems almost like a dream which is so much Shakespeare's own that it hardly belongs to the world yet. She is so cold and sad and remote from all the raving, ranting women of France whom Lillian loves that it seems a pity. Lillian thinks she will be Shakesperean , but she won't, habit is too strong. She will probably faint and fall down stairs when she parts with the hero, and she will surely introduce her celebrated knee act somewhere. I hope I shall never see Lillian play it, I can stand most things but I would rather not be called upon to test my powers of endurance in that way.

          

Apropos of managers, Mrs. Jennie Kimball , has a genius in that line. She has taken the "Charming Corinne," who cannot do any one of the many things which are necessary in an actress and by sheer force of bills and advertising and sublime cheek has made her famous. Corinne is certainly fortunate in her "heavy mother." When Mrs. Jennie Kimball can do so much with such a sad stick as Sweetie, what couldn't she do if she had an actress of ordinary beauty or ability to manage!

          

It is with great joy that we learn that Julia Marlowe is going to play one of Sheridan Knowles' comedies instead of one of the immortal Shakespeare's. It is the greatest compliment that has been paid Lincoln intelligence for some time. Heretofore a great actor has seldom dared play anything but Shakespeare in Lincoln for the sake of his pocketbook. In all western provincial towns there is an idea that an actor can't be worth the price of admission when he plays either blood curdling melo-drama or Shakespeare. The same class of people whose favorite authors are Louisa M. Alcott and Browning go to the theatre only to see "Hamlet" or "In Old Kentucky." Of course the provincial audience complimented Shakespeare but the same people who applaud when Juliet takes the potion, fairly stand on their heads with delight when the spirited Queen Bess , whose last engagement was with a street car company, limps meekly out of the great conflagration scene. The great uneducated public have a sort of idea that Mr. Shakespeare was a great playwright, and as he is the only playwright they know anything about they admire him very much. Now the fact is there have been several other playwrights, and it is time Lincoln found it out. It is rather promising if an actress dares to appear here in any other role than Rosalind or Viola .

          

It is not enough that Ibsen's plays have been thrilling and chilling us for so long, the professional people are threatening to run in a Russian social ethics drama upon us, written in the most blood-curdling style of the most blood-curdling Russian. The play, "The Thunderstorm" was written by Ostrovosky . Katherine, the heroine, is a girl of a sensative and enthusiastic temperament, and is tyrannized over by her mother-in-law, who even forbids her to kiss her husband. Finding no sympathy in her own home Katherine seeks it outside. In her husband's absence she yields to her lover, Boris. During a terrible thunderstorm she confesses to her husband, whose only care is as to what his mother will say. When she tells Boris that they are discovered, he also trembles at the thought of the mother-in-law. Finally Katherine drowns herself in the river. We have stood the awfulness of French realism very patiently, but we must draw a line at the Russian. French anguish isn't so bad after all, its such a self-satisfied intentional, stagey kind of anguish, while the anguish of the northern people is such a dumb, brutal, helpless sort of suffering. When the French lover commits suicide he does it artistically and dramatically with a fan in his pocket, a neat epigram on his lips and a rose in his button-hole. The northern man does it in an awful disgusting manner like Ibsen's Loveborg . When Frenchmen go insane it is always a beautiful, fanciful insanity like that of Guy de Maupassant , who in his madness thought his fancies were big red and white butterflies and spent his time catching them. When a man of the north goes mad it is the madman of Brand . It doesn't pain one to see the French heroes die, because they either die to the flourish of trumpets or smothered with kisses, while Ibsen's heroes crawl off and die disgustingly like beasts. Ibsen has already sent a shiver over the bare shoulders of the theatrical world. When Mr. Ostrovosky's plays are staged we will have to go to see them muffled in furs like Greenlanders.

          

It has been announced that Madame Modjeska will retire from the stage next year and return to Poland. The announcement has sant a feeling of apprehension over the American public. All the others have retired so many times, and we have so often wept at their farewell performances and paid outrageous prices to see them the last time, and we are aware that our own sons and daughters will do just the same over those same actresses. Ordinarily a rumored retirement does not excite us much. But this is Modjeska's first treat, and we are almost afraid of it. In the matters of retirement and marriages the great Pole has always been singularly unlike other actresses. It is to be hoped that this is only one of the many lies of a world of lies, for we can ill afford to lose either that sweet womanly woman or that great and delicate artist who has done more to raise the standard of the American stage and the taste of the American people than any other actress who ever lived.

          

Whoever else may retire, Sara we have always with us. She is like the sphinx to which she has so often been likened, and time has no effect upon her. In two years she will be with us again, and she will be with us a year. She has concieved a philanthropic scheme which is rather foolish at her time of life, and has decided that it is her duty to give all the world a glimpse of her ethereal self. She will play in all the smaller cities of America and will, of course, include Lincoln in her dates. It only remains for us to pray that our lives may be spared for two years, for there is no danger of anything happening to Sara.

          
Stage Notes.

Mr. Frohman has revived "Wilkinson's Widows."

James O'Neill is writing a new play in blank verse.

Madeline Merli will close her season May 12, and will have covered over 16,000 miles.

"A Fashionable Girl" is the latest drama presented by Frohman's Lyceum Theatre company .

Rose Coghlan has engaged Clarence Flemming , Rosina Voke's manager, for the rest of the season.

Florence Gerald has been engaged by Hilliard and Arthur for their production of "The Sleep Walker."

A dramatized version of Palmer Cox's "Brownies" will be staged under the management of Ben Teal .

E. R. Salter , the manager of "Ole Oleson" says he has a new Swede dialect play called "The Scandanavian" for next season.

Mrs. James Brown Potter and Mr. Bellew are playing "Fedora" to the good Brahmins over in India with great success. They will not return to America before next autumn.

Liltian Lewis is doing well in the line of un-birthday presents. She has a new shotgun, a new play, and a new husband. Miss Lewis now ranks as the second best lady shot in America.

Gordon Craig , the son of Ellen Terry, whose marriage a few weeks prior to the departure of the Irving-Terry combination for this country prevented him from accompanying them, has been engaged by Augustin Daly to appear in his London theatre.

Odette Tyler had the misfortune to break her right arm in falling, during the third act of "Poor Girls," at the American theatre, New York, a short time ago. She finished the performance, though in great pain, and continued to play her part while carrying her injured limb in a plaster cast. Such heroism is very much more than a play like "Poor Girls" deserves.

In the universal contest to write wicked plays, several plays have been written of which satan himself was the hero, but they have been more or less failures. It has very naturally been reserved for the great French people to produce the wickedest play in the world, and to do it they have had to put a new character in Hades. The name of the play is "Madam Satan" and deals with his majesty's wife.

"Prince Kam" has had a great run in New York. The plot is certainly light enough to please the light opera lovers. Prince becomes worn out with ennui, which is characteristic of eastern princes in books. He can't find charms enough in the world and has his court electrician make a flying machine and starts for Mars in search of the original Venus. This light opera Tannhauser arrives at Venusberg and with many spangled variations he finds and weds the goddess.

Steele Mackaye has been sent to California on the Mackaye fund raised by Wilson Barrett's benefit performance at Hooley's. Hermann, the magician, paid Mackaye's bills out of his own pocket. Little is known of Mr. Mackaye's present condition, but it is feared that he will not live long. Mr. Mackaye is an actor of note and also a playwright. "Hazel Kirke" is one of his best known dramas. His career has been a sad and stormy one, but certainly his brothers of the profession are doing everything in their power to make him at present free from care and suffering.

Wilson Barrett's Othello is a greater failure than his Hamlet . His Hamlet got on very well, as it had no glaring faults, but Othello cannot be negatively good. He makes his Othello a quiet, melancholy, well behaved gentleman from Morocco, with a somewhat tanned complexion. He does not seem to comprehend the race study there is in the Moor. Every other play may be enacted on the repressed feelings plan, but "Othello" is a play of great emotion and must be acted with a certain degree of violence. Mr. Barrett kills Desdemona as quietly and artistically as a jealous Italian would have done.

Manager John T. Ford of Baltimore is arranging a series of grand Shakespearean revivals to be given in his theatre during the week of April 23 in celebration of the 330th anniversary of the birth of Shakespeare . He has arranged with Creston Clark , a son of John Sleeper Clarke and nephew of the late Edwin Booth , to play the leading parts of the tragedies to be performed, and a select company of artists of acknowledged ability will furnish the support. A notable feature will be the debut of Miss Martha Ford , a daughter of the manager, who has been diligently studying for three years to fit herself for the impersonation of Shakespearean characters, and who is said to give much promise of a brilliant stage career. She is to play the leading feminine parts in the works to be presented.

"The Amazons" has been produced at the Lyceum theatre, New York, with great success. "The Amazons" has already had a great run in London and seems likely to have just as great a success in this country. The play is novel in theme and treatment. An English lord and his wife are very anxious to have a son, but instead have three daughters. At the birth of the third daughter my lord is disgusted and says wearily to his wife, "Damn it, my dear, here you have lost another hunting season for nothing." They decide to make the best of a bad thing, and they have their three daughters educated and dressed as boys. Of course in due time the three charming Amazons meet gentlemen whom they think make better men than they and they are very glad to become women.

The success of Mr. John Drew in Carleton's "Butterflies" seems to be due rather to the delightful personality of of the actor rather than any particular merit in the drama. The plot is very commonplace and conventional, but those who have seen it played affirm the play well written and has plenty of breezy action in it. The plot runs about as follows: Frederick Ossian, an extravagant young blood, has wasted his own substance and that of his mother, when he saves a young lady from drowning and falls in love with her. The young lady is "in society" and has a scheming mamma who objects to Freddie, as any prudent mamma would have good grounds for doing, and arranges a marriage between her daughter and another man. Frederick takes to business and of course succeeds tremendously, is taken back into the fold and finally overcomes the prejudices of the heavy mother.



Notes

Go back Greek and Latin plays: As part of the celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the University of Nebraska's founding, scenes from Electra and one of Plautus' comedies were performed by some of the students.

Almost all students at the university were required to take Greek and Latin. A number of Cather's friends were involved in the production, and Cather herself was supposed to have been one of the actors; two photographs of her in a sort of classical costume survive. However, she is not listed in the cast in newspaper accounts, and she does not seem to be in the group picture of the cast that appeared in the 1895 Sombrero yearbook. She may have intended to be in the play, but not had the time: as managing editor of the student paper, the Hesperian, she was also busy getting out a special Charter Day issue of the student paper.

Cather as Electra at the University of Nebraska, 1894.

Go back Sarah Bernhardt: Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), generally acknowledged as the greatest actress of her time, was born Rosine Bernard. She made her debut at the Comédie Française in 1862. By the mid 1870s her position was secure; though critics were divided as to her beauty, they agreed on the power of her golden voice, her realism, and her magnetic personality, which she cultivated off-stage as well. She owned her own theater in Paris and toured throughout the world in the 1880s and 1890s; Cather saw her in Omaha in 1892. Bernhardt played most of the great roles of the 19th century theater, and American and English emotional actresses such as Morris and Fanny Davenport frequently followed her lead, since a role Bernhardt made popular had a good chance of success elsewhere. University of Pennsylvania Library Sarah Bernhardt Sarah Bernhardt Sarah Bernhardt Sarah Bernhardt

Go back Tommaso Salvini: Tommaso Salvini (1829-1916) was the best-known Italian actor of the nineteenth century. He was born in Milan of a family of actors, beginning his career at the age of fourteen. He excelled at tragic heroes, and was most famous in English-speaking countries for his Othello and other Shakespearean heroes. He made his first tour in America in 1873 with an Italian company (including his brother Alessandro, who became almost as famous). On his second tour in America in 1880-81, he played with an American company, playing his roles in Italian to their English with great success. He made three more American tours, the last in 1889 before his retirement in 1890.Leaves from the Autobiography of Salvini appeared in parts in The Century magazine from December 1892 to October 1893; an article, "Accidents of the Tragic Stage," appeared in the February 1894 issue. Tommaso Salvini

Go back Salvation army: Methodist minister William Booth made it his mission to minister to the poorest and most hardened people in the slums of London; the mission took on a quasi-military organization and was named the Salvation Army in 1878, with Booth as the general. Work in the United States began officially in 1880. Street corner bands and singers attracted the attention of passers-by and encouraged their attendance at revival meetings.

Go back emotional actress: Cather refers to such actresses as Clara Morris and Fanny Davenport, and possibly Sarah Bernhardt, who all played highly charged dramatic heroines.

Go back Lansing Theatre: The Lansing Theater, on the southwest corner of 13th and P Streets, was built in 1891, displacing the Funke Opera House as the largest and finest theater in Lincoln. The owners were J.F. Lansing (b. 1842), a Lincoln real estate man, and his brother-in-law Henry Oliver (b. 1857); Edward A. Church was the manager. According to the program of the opening week (November 23-28, 1891) the auditorium consisted of the orchestra and parquet seating on the main level, with dress circle at the rear and sides; three tiers of five boxes each and six loges were at the sides. Above were the balcony and the gallery. With standing room, about 2500 people could be present.

The building also housed offices, including that of Cather's friend and fellow reviewer, Dr. Julius H. Tyndale. It was renamed the Oliver Theater in 1898.

The Oliver Theater, Lincoln, Nebraska. The theater was originally named The Lansing Theater.

Go back Lillian Lewis: By the 1880s Lillian Lewis was touring with her own company, performing in such standard favorites as The Lady of Lyons, Article 47, and Camille. A review of her in Lady Lil noted her beautiful clothes, but was dismissive of her acting skills (New York Times, 17 August 1892). Lewis retired from the stage in 1896 because of ill health—probably tuberculosis—and died in 1899. Lillian Lewis

Go back "As in a Looking Glass": A play (c. 1887) based on the novel by Frances Charles Phillips (1885). Lily Langtry, who included the play in her 1887 tour in America, described the heroine as a society woman and adventuress .

Go back Article 47: The English version of L'Article 47, a French play by Belot, in which Bernhardt had starred in France; it became a vehicle for Clara Morris also, premiering in America as Article 47 in 1872. The lead role is that of Cora, a beautiful Creole woman disfigured by a scar, who goes insane.

Go back Cymbeline: Cymbeline (c. 1610) is a romance or tragicomedy from Shakespeare's late period. Cymbeline, king of Roman Britain, marries a second time; the new queen has a loutish son, Cloten, by her first marriage, whom she plans to marry to Cymbeline's daughter and heiress, Imogen (Cymbeline's twin sons had been kidnapped as very young children and are believed dead.) However, Imogen has secretly married her childhood sweetheart, Posthumus, and she warns him to flee to Rome. There he makes a bet with Iachimo on Imogen's fidelity. When Iachimo brings him false proofs, Posthumus joins the Roman army then invading Britain, but helps to rescue Cymbeline before being taken prisoner. When he and the other Romans are brought before Cymbeline, villains confess, disguises and false identities are discarded, and truths are revealed; Imogen and Posthumus are reunited and her missing brothers are restored to their father.

Go back Imogen: Imogen, the daughter of Britain's king, Cymbeline, secretly marries Posthumus, the son of a soldier. They exchange tokens of fidelity (a ring and a bracelet) before he flees to Rome to avoid the wrath of the king and queen. There he makes a bet with Iachimo that Imogen is faithful. Iachimo, failing to seduce Imogen, steals the bracelet and convinces Posthumus, who writes his old servant, Pisano, commanding him to kill Imogen. Instead, Pisano takes her to Wales, where she disguises herself as a boy and unknowingly encounters her lost brothers. She inadvertently takes a drug that causes a deathlike sleep; her brothers lay out his/her body and that of the queen's son, Cloten, whom they had beheaded when he came to rape Imogen while wearing Posthumus's clothes. When Imogen wakes she thinks the body is that of Posthumus. She joins the invading Romans and is captured by Cymbeline, who grants him/her a boon. She commands Iachimo to confess how he won Posthumus's wager, and she is finally recognized and reunited with Posthumus.

Go back raving, ranting women of France: Many of the emotional dramas featuring passionate, betrayed, or fallen women such as Camille, Tosca, Zaza, or L'Article 47 were French in origin, Sardou being one of the most popular playwrights.

Go back Julia Marlowe: Marlowe (born Sarah Frost in England in 1866) made her stage debut in 1878 and first appeared in New York in 1887. Her beauty and refinement made her immensely popular with audiences, and she toured frequently with her own company, with both her first husband, Robert Taber (married 1894, divorced 1900), and her second, the almost equally well-known actor, E. H. Sothern (married 1911). She was considered a romantic rather than an emotional actress, especially famous in Shakespearean roles. She retired in 1924 and died in 1950. Julia Marlowe Julia Marlowe Julia Marlowe Julia Marlowe

Go back Sheridan Knowles: James Sheridan Knowles (1784-1862), a cousin of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, was born in Ireland and came to London as a boy. His literary talents were recognized early, but after a brief military career he became a physician before going on the stage. His first play appeared in 1810; Virginius, one of his longest-lasting plays, premiered in 1820 with the famed Edmund Kean; William Tell, in 1825, starred another famous actor, Macready. Other favorite plays were The Hunchback (1832), The Wife (1833), and The Love Chase (1837). Knowles later became a Baptist minister.

Go back Louisa M. Alcott: Alcott (1832-1888), though she had a wide and varied output, was by the 1890s best known for Little Women (1868) and her other books for girls.

Go back Robert Browning: Robert Browning (1809-1889). His poems were favorites of intellectuals and would-be intellectuals; in America many people, especially women, joined Browning Clubs to study his work in social settings.

Image available at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

Go back Hamlet: Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (written 1599-1601), a five act tragedy, is widely considered the greatest play in English. It was apparently based on a 12th century history, or on a preceding play on the same subject, possibly by Thomas Kyd. The play deals with murder, revenge, madness, and man's will. It contains some of the most famous lines in English, especially Hamlet's soliloquy, "To be or not to be" as well as such famous scenes as Ophelia's mad scene, and Hamlet with Yorkick's skull.

Go back In Old Kentucky: This popular play by Charles T. Dazey (1855-1938) premiered in New York October 23, 1893. Set in the bluegrass and mountain areas of Kentucky, the plot featured feuding families and climaxed in a horse race. The play was made into a novel by Edward Marshall, and several films using this title were made—one in 1909 by D.W. Griffith, others in 1919 and 1927, and another in 1935 with Will Rogers and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.

Go back Juliet: The heroine of Shakespeare's early romantic tragedy, Romeo and Juliet (c. 1594-95), the part was considered one of the great roles for an actress. Romeo and Juliet come from families feuding with each other, the Montagues and Capulets, but fall immediately in love. They are forced to meet in secret—the balcony scene being the most famous in all of Shakespeare—and try to marry in secret. The friar gives Juliet a potion that simulates death, and Romeo, in despair, kills himself. When Juliet awakes to find Romeo dead, she kills herself.

Go back Queen Bess: "Good Queen Bess" was a common nickname for Queen Elizabeth I of England, who reigned from 1558-1603. The conflagration scene that Cather refers to is unknown.

Go back Rosalind or Viola: Two of the most popular of Shakespeare's heroines are Rosalind, in As You Like It, and Viola, in Twelfth Night. Both characters disguise themselves as men.

Go back Ibsen: Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906), Norwegian playwright, wrote his first play, a classical drama, Catiline, in 1850. At the age of twenty-three he became director and resident playwright of a theater in Bergen, with the understanding that he would write a play each year, developing a national drama. These early plays were unpopular, and he left Norway in 1864. Two poetic dramas in rhyming couplets, a tragedy, Brand (1866), and a fantasy Peer Gynt (1867) brought him some attention. However, by the late 1870s, Ibsen had developed the powerful realist dramas of middle-class life that brought him the praise of serious students of literature and the condemnation of conventional critics. A Doll's House (1879), Ghosts (1881), An Enemy of the People (1882), The Wild Duck (1884), and other plays explored subjects seemingly unthinkable to conventional 19th century drama. In the 1890s Ibsen entered a new phase in his drama with works such as Hedda Gabler (1890), The Master Builder (1892), and Little Eyolf (1894). Ibsen returned to live in Norway in 1891; he suffered a stroke in 1900.

Image available at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

Go back Russian social ethics drama: Among Russian playwrights who examined the social conditions of their times were Nikolay Gogol (1809-1852), whose The Government Inspector (1836) comically exposed bureaucratic corruption, Ivan Turgenev (1818-83), whose theater masterpiece is considered to be A Month in the Country (1855; first performed 1872), Ostrovsky (q.v.), and Leo Tolstoi (1828-1910) who wrote the plays Power of Darkness (1886) and Redemption. The plays of Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), already known as a short-story writer, did not appear until after 1896.

Go back "The Thunderstorm": A five act drama (Groza) by Aleksandr Ostrovsky.

Go back Ostrovosky: Aleksandr Nikolayev Ostrovsky (1823-1886) wrote forty-seven plays that established realistic drama in Russia. His second play, The Bankrupt (1850), was banned for thirteen years for its exposure of fraud among merchants in Moscow. His masterpiece is considered to be the comedy, Poverty is No Disgrace (1853). His plays are still widely read and performed.

Go back Ibsen's Loveborg: Eilert Loveborg, in Hedda Gabler (1890, translated and performed in English in 1891), who had an affair with Hedda, had been a friend of Hedda's husband Jorge Tesman, before competing with him for a professorship.

Go back Guy de Maupassant: De Maupassant (1850-1893), one of France's greatest writers of naturalistic short stories. Afflicted with an advanced form of syphilis, he tried to commit suicide in 1892 and was taken to a private asylum where he died in July 1893.

Image available at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

Go back Brand: Ibsen's Brand, in the play of the same name (1866) is a minister of such heroic and uncompromising moral integrity that he becomes inhuman in his demands on his family and others. In the end, before he is crushed in an avalanche, a voice from on high repudiates his life.

Go back Greenlanders: Eighty-five percent of the island of Greenland in covered with an ice sheet an average of 5,000 feet thick; two-thirds of the island lies above the Arctic Circle. Most settlements are along the southern coasts; the population is mostly Inuit, with some Danish immigrants, as the island, though granted home rule in 1979, is a part of Denmark.

Go back Modjeska: Helena Modjeska (1840 or 1844—sources differ) was born in Cracow, Poland, and went on stage in 1861; the name by which she is best known is a simplified version of her Polish stage name. She was acclaimed as the greatest Polish actress, but emigrated to a ranch in Orange County, California, in 1876 with her husband, Karol Chlapowski, a minor Polish nobleman; the titles of Count and Countess appear to have been bestowed on them later. Modjeska learned English quickly enough to make her American stage debut in 1877 and soon became one of the best known and most respected actresses in the country, known for her historical and Shakespearean roles as well as the modern emotional dramas. She retired in 1907 and died in 1909.

Modjeska appears in Cather's My Mortal Enemy (1926).

Image available at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery and the University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections.

Helena Modjeska as Ophelia Helena Modjeska

Go back Sarah Bernhardt: Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), generally acknowledged as the greatest actress of her time, was born Rosine Bernard. She made her debut at the Comédie Française in 1862. By the mid 1870s her position was secure; though critics were divided as to her beauty, they agreed on the power of her golden voice, her realism, and her magnetic personality, which she cultivated off-stage as well. She owned her own theater in Paris and toured throughout the world in the 1880s and 1890s; Cather saw her in Omaha in 1892. Bernhardt played most of the great roles of the 19th century theater, and American and English emotional actresses such as Morris and Fanny Davenport frequently followed her lead, since a role Bernhardt made popular had a good chance of success elsewhere. University of Pennsylvania Library Sarah Bernhardt Sarah Bernhardt Sarah Bernhardt Sarah Bernhardt

Go back Mr. Charles Frohman: Charles Frohman (1860-1915) became the most important theatrical manager of his time; he was one of the founders of the Theatrical Syndicate which for a time controlled U.S. theaters. His first big success was with Bronson Howard's Shenandaoh in 1889. He developed the star system when he engaged John Drew in 1892 for his Empire Stock Company, and later managed many other of the top stars; he encouraged many playwrights such as Clyde Fitch and David Belasco. Frohman died in the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. Charles Frohman

Go back "Wilkinson's Widows": This may be the play by actor-playwright William Gillette (1855-1957), Mr. Wilkinson's Widows, which had opened at Proctor's 23rd Street Theater on 30 March 1891.

Go back James O'Neill: James O'Neill (1849-1920 was born in Ireland and came to the U.S. as a child. He first appeared on the stage in Cincinnati in 1867, and soon was playing in stock companies in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. In 1882 he played Dantès in a stage version of The Count of Monte Cristo to immense popular success. Although he was also successful in Shakespearean and other historical roles, his public wanted to see him as Monte Cristo, and he played the role over 6,000 times over thirty years. Cather remembered him as one of the best Monte Cristos she had seen ("Willa Cather Mourns Old Opera House"). O'Neill was the father of playwright Eugene O'Neill, who portrayed his father as James Tyrone in A Long Day's Journey Into Night. James O'Neill James O'Neill as Hamlet James O'Neill

Go back Madeline Merli: Madeline Merli, billed as "the Italian star actress," but also said to be the daughter of aprominent New Yorker, toured in Canada and the US in the 1890s with Orson Clifford. Her mostoften-presented play was The Story of a Kiss, based on a story by Zola; she later appeared in a comedy, Mexico (1896). She is listed as co-author of two plays, The African King and The Mormon Wife, which were produced in New York in 1900 and 1901.

Images: New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

Go back A Fashionable Girl: Frohman's Lyceum company opened Herbert Hall Winslow's A Fashionable Girl in Boston on February 28, 1894. Before the action of the play begins, a young man had betrayed and deserted a maidservant, and subsequently died. When the play begins, Philip Berford loves Agnes, an heiress and the sister of the real seducer. Agnes is also wooed by Bernard Pendleton, who cheats her of her money. She and Berford are united after she learns of his nobility in protecting her brother's reputation by taking the blame himself.

Go back Frohman's Lyceum Theatre company: Frohman's New York theater was the Lyceum Theatre, perhaps named for Henry Irving's Lyceum Theatre in London.

Go back Rose Coghlan: Rose Coghlan (1853-1932) was born in England and began acting when she was still a child. Actor-manager E. H. Sothern brought her to America in 1871; she returned to England for four years, creating the role of Lady Mandan in All For Her, playing it for 400 nights at the St. James Theatre. Returning to New York in 1877, she became the leading woman in Lester Wallack's famous stock company, gaining fame as a player of emotional parts and adventuresses in such roles as Camille, Vere Herbert in Moths, Pauline in Lady of Lyons, and Nellie Denver in The Silver King. Her range extended into comedy also—she was considered one of the best Lady Teazles of her time, and a successful Rosalind. Critic Frederic E. McKay called her "Rose Coghlan, the wide-eyed, velvet-voiced, caressing, fascinating, divinely smiling." Coghlan formed her own company in 1888, when Wallack retired; she married actor John T. Sullivan, who was her leading man, in 1890; they divorced in 1893. She returned to England in 1892, then came back to America in 1894, playing in Wilde's A Woman of No Importance; other popular roles were in Our Joan, Princess Olga, Lady Barter, Diplomacy, and Forget-Me-Not. Jocelyn and Madonna were written for her by her brother, actor Charles Coghlan. Rose Coghlan became an American citizen in 1902. She appeared in three silent films before her retirement.

Image available at the University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections.

Rose Coghlan

Go back Clarence Flemming: former manager for Rosina Voke

Go back Rosina Voke: Rosina Vokes was one of the most popular of a large family of English comic players (nearly a dozen are listed in the New York Times dramatic index as playing on the New York stage between 1872 and 1917). Rosina Vokes appeared with them in their first New York production in 1872, in their often-revived The Belles of the Kitchen, and in many other productions through the years. Her last year on the New York stage was 1893, a year in which she performed in eight plays. The New York Times reviewer said of her in her last play, "Miss Vokes has been a popular star in light comedy and burletta" and "Miss Vokes retains her large share of popularity, and her unique powers have not diminished" (16 May, 1893).Image available at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

Go back Florence Gerald: Possibly the Florence Gerald who later wrote a play, The Woman Pays, which was made into a movie in 1915, and who still appeared on the New York stage in the 1920s in plays such as The Shame Woman (1923) and The Heaven Tappers (1927).

Go back Hilliard: American actor Robert Cochran Hilliard (1866-1926) was born in New York, where he made his debut as leading man in False Shame in 1886. He appeared in Daughters of Ireland and later, Mr. Barnes of New York, with Charles Frohman's company. In 1893 he teamed up with actor Paul Arthur to produce The Sleepwalker (1894). One of his most successful plays, which he wrote, was The Littlest Girl; he toured with it for some time. Another success was in Belasco's The Girl of the Golden West (1905). One of his best known plays was A Fool There Was, based on a Kipling poem based on a Burne-Jones painting, about a predatory woman, a role immortalized by Theda Bara in her silent film debut.

Go back Arthur: Paul Arthur was one of the producers of The Sleepwalker (1894) and played one of the supporting roles, that of a sporting parson.

Go back The Sleep Walker: The Sleepwalker (1894) was based on W. S. Gilbert's Wide Awake, as adapted by C. H. Abbott. The farce concerns a rich man, his daughter, his twin sons, his nephew, and the nephew's two friends. The nephew is engaged to his cousin but loves the charming widow who lives in the adjacent flat, which leads, as the New York Times reviewer said, to "amusing situations and horseplay, at times not altogether refined" (10 April 1894).

Go back Brownies: Either Palmer Cox's Brownies: A Spectacular Play in Three Acts (1894) or The Brownies in Fairyland, a Musical Cantata (1894). A production of Palmer Cox's Brownies in Boston in the week of March 23, 1896, was advertised as being "a truly wonderful production and is sure of an enthusiastic reception. The novel extravaganza presents a fairy realm with a wedding of the Brownie prince. There are marvelous scenic effects. An illuminated mandolin serenade to the moon, an oriental dance of slave girls, an exhibition of demon acrobats, in short, a rare and dazzling evening's entertainment."

Go back Palmer Cox: Canadian-born Cox (1840-1924) grew up with Scottish folktales told by his mother, including those of mischievous but good-natured household sprites. He became an illustrator for the children's magazine, St. Nicholas, where his round-faced, round-bodied, and skinny-legged pictures first appeared. The first Brownie book, The Brownies: Their Story appeared in 1887, and is said to have sold over a million copies; it was followed by sixteen other Brownie books. The Brownies also appeared on all kinds of merchandise—toys, textiles, paper goods, dishes—and the name was supposedly borrowed by Eastman Kodak for his Brownie camera.

Go back Ben Teal: Teal became known for spectacular productions; he is credited with the staging of Lew Wallace's Ben Hur in 1900, and is mentioned in Kenneth McGaffey's The Sorrows of a Show Girl: A Story of the Great "White Way" (1908): "Alla . . . remarked that she was going to write an ode—past tense of IOU, I guess—entitled 'Thoughts on Hearing Ben Teal Conduct a Chorus Rehearsal.'"

Go back E. R. Salter, the manager of "Ole Oleson" says he has a new Swede dialect play: Humorous ethnic and racial dialect sketches, verse, books, and plays became popular in the 1870s and 1880s. Cather said in 1922 that O Pioneers! (1913) was different because it treated its Swedish-American characters seriously rather than comically ("Preface to Alexander's Bridge).

Go back Mrs. James Brown Potter: Cora Urquhart (1857-1936) was born in New Orleans; she married wealthy New Yorker James Brown Potter in 1877, and became a popular member of New York's social set, as well as London society after a visit there in 1886. Her first professional stage appearances were made in England in 1887; she returned to the U.S. and made her New York debut before a brilliant audience of socialites in October 1887. She co-starred with Kyrle Bellew until 1898, appearing in many of the standard nineteenth-century roles such as Camille and Pauline, as well as Shakespearean ones such as Juliet. Mrs. Potter and Bellew toured the Far East and Australia in the early 1890s; much of her career after the late 1890s was in Great Britain with Beerbohm Tree. She undertook the management of the Savoy Theatre in London in 1904, toured South Africa in 1907, and the British provinces thereafter. She retired in 1912; her last performance, at a benefit, was in 1919. In 1933 she published her memoirs, The Age of Innocence and I.

Go back Mr. Bellew: Harold Kyrle Bellew (1855-1911) was born in Lancashire, the son of a clergyman. He emigrated to Australia at a young age, where he worked as a miner and a reporter before making his stage debut there in 1874. He returned to England in 1875, acting in various companies, including Henry Irving's. He made his American debut in 1885, but returned to England in 1887, where he and Cora Brown Potter formed their partnership. They toured America, Australia, and the Far East until the dissolution of their partnership in 1898. In 1899 Bellew returned to Australia and reportedly made a fortune from gold-mining. He returned to the U.S. in 1901 and resumed his career on the stage, as well as starring in a short film, A Gentleman of France (1905). His son, Cosmo Kyrle Bellew, was also an actor.

Image available at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

Harold Kyrle Bellew Harold Kyrle Bellew

Go back Fedora: Victorien Sardou wrote this play for Sarah Bernhardt, who created the role in 1882. The plot concerns Fédora, a Russian princess who vows revenge on the man who killed her husband, but then falls in love with him, and at the end takes poison in order to save him. In the play, Bernhardt wore a soft-brimmed hat with a creased crown, which became known as a fedora. Sardou's play was immensely popular; it was made into an opera by Umberto Giordano, silent films (Princess Romanoff, 1915; Fedora, 1918; Woman from Moscow, 1928), and a 1946 Italian film.

Go back Brahmins over in India: Brahmans ("possessors of Brahma") are the highest social caste of Hinduism in India. They are the spiritual elite, required to study the sacred writings and observe the greatest ritual purity; priests are members of this caste.

Go back un-birthday presents: In chapter 6 of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass (1862-63), Humpty Dumpty tells Alice that his cravat was given him by the White King and Queen for an un-birthday present, adding that "there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents . . . And only one for birthday presents."

Go back Gordon Craig: Edward Henry Gordon Craig (1872-1966) was the son of Ellen Terry and architect William Godwin. He was an actor in the Irving-Terry Lyceum company and in touring companies from 1885-1897, but left the stage to pursue his interests in set design; he is best known for his poetic, symbolic, stylized stage designs and lighting. He married May Gibson in 1893; in 1906 he had an affair with Isadora Duncan, with whom he had a daughter.

Go back Irving and Terry: Henry Irving (1838-1905), the great British actor-manager, was born John Henry Brodribb, and after a long apprenticeship made his debut under the Irving name as the Duke of Orleans in Richelieu. His London debut followed in 1866, and he began a long association with the Lyceum Theatre in 1871, making it known for the quality of the acting (Ellen Terry was his leading lady) and for the rich production values of the staging. Irving was especially famous in Shakespearean roles, and in 1895 he was the first actor to be knighted.Ellen Terry (1847-1928), considered the greatest nineteenth century English actress, was born in a theatrical family and went on stage as a child, performing mostly in provincial theaters. She met painter George Frederick Watts, who painted her and her sister Kate as The Sisters in 1862; they were married in 1864, when she was sixteen. The marriage lasted less than a year; Terry returned to the stage, appearing for the first time with Henry Irving in The Taming of the Shrew in 1867. The following year she left the stage again to live with architect Edward Goodwin, by whom she had a daughter, Edith Craig, and a son, Edward Gordon Craig. The relationship with Goodwin was breaking up when Terry returned to the stage in 1874. She made a great success as Portia in The Merchant of Venice in 1875, and by 1878 she was the leading lady in Henry Irving's company at the Lyceum Theatre in London. Their partnership lasted over twenty years, and their productions were particularly noted for lavish, historically based productions of Shakespeare, as well as modern plays. The Lyceum company broke up in 1902; thereafter Terry managed her own theater for a time, then toured England and the U.S. doing lecture-recitals of Shakespeare. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1925. Terry published her memoirs, The Story of My Life, in 1908. She was married three times: to Watts; to actor Charles Kelly (Wardell) from 1878 until his death in 1885; and to an American actor, James Carew, twenty-three years her junior, from 1907-1909.The Irving and Terry partnership lasted from 1878-1902. Their company toured America in 1883. Henry Irving Henry Irving as Matthais in "The Bells"

Go back Augustin Daly: Augustin Daly (1838-1899) was interested in play production and creation from his youth, though he began his professional career at the age of twenty-one as a drama critic for various New York newspapers. His first play, Leah the Forsaken, the first of many adaptations of foreign plays, became a favorite vehicle for leading ladies for the rest of the nineteenth century. His first original play was Under the Gaslight (1867), which featured the hero tied to the tracks as a train approaches. In 1869 Daly became manager of the Fifth Avenue Theatre and built up a "company of stars," as he advertised. He was quick to spot talent and developed it through a rigorous system. Some of his stars, like Clara Morris, left to head their own companies, but many, like Ada Rehan and John Drew, stayed loyal to his troupe for many years.

Otis Skinner, who joined his troupe in 1884, said, "Augustin Daly was a tall man who carried himself awkwardly and wore the same peculiar stiff black hat year after year, giving an annual order to his hatter for a new edition. No martinet was ever more strict in discipline and cast-iron rule. While he had able lieutenants, he left little but the veriest drudgery to them. He ran the entire establishment from the ticket office to the stage door. He was ubiquitous. . . . His capacity for work was limitless" (Footlights and Spotlights [1923] 135).

Image available at New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

Augustin Daly from the Collection of Miss Elizabeth Daly

Go back Odette Tyler: Tyler (1869-1936) was an actress and comedienne; in 1890 she was with Charles Frohman's company, appearing with the young Maude Adams. Later in life she played with Buster Keaton in his first starring role, in The Saphead (1921).

Go back "Poor Girls": According to the New York Times reviewer, this play was adapted from a German version of a story by Guy de Maupassant. The plot dealt with the two daughters of a workingman: "the attempt to deal with the labor problem was simply ludicrous." One of the daughters turns to prostitution; the review mentions her spectacular costumes. The reviewer adds, "There are four acts and forty thrills. Probability is altogether lacking in every one of them" (23 January 1894). Joseph Holland starred along with Odette Tyler.

Go back American theatre, New York: The American Theatre, at West 42nd and Eighth Avenue, was opened in May 1893. It could seat 2064 people. After 1908 it became a vaudeville house and renamed the American Music Hall. It became one of Loew's movie theaters in 1911 until a fire in 1930 led to its demolition.

Go back Hades: Hades is the underworld, the region of the dead, ruled over by Pluto in classical mythology.

Go back Madam Satan: Madam Satan (1893) was a new vaudeville show (by Bhum and Toche) at the Théatre des Varietés in Paris. In it, Satan's jealous wife follows him around the shops, boudoirs, and salons of Paris hoping to catch him with his new love. The reviewer in the New York Times said that the star, Mlle. Hender, is "very beautiful, very naughty, and very nice. She represents very delightfully that wicked fascinating Paris which everybody goes home to criticize-having seen and enjoyed it all" (15 October 1893).

Go back Prince Kam: Prince Kam, or A Trip to Venus, a comic opera in two acts with music by Gustave Adolph Kerker, libretto by Charles Byrne and Louis Harrison, opened at the Casino Theatre in New York on 29 January 1894 and played for twenty-eight performances.

Go back to Mars in search of the original Venus: The prince goes to Mars presumably because in Roman mythology, Venus was the wife of Mars, the god of war.

Go back Tannhauser arrives at Venusberg: Wagner's opera Tannhauser (1845) opens with the hero at the court of Venus, the home of sensual pleasure, in the mountain of Venusberg.

Go back Steel Mackaye: James Morrison Steel Mackaye (1842-1894) was an actor, director, and playwright, as well as an inventor who invented overhead stage lighting, folding seats, and movable stages (including two stages built into a giant elevator shaft so that elaborate scenes could be changed quickly); he incorporated many of these innovations in his Madison Square Theatre. He studied acting in Paris with François Delsartre in the 1860s and introduced his principles to America, founding the American Academy of Dramatic Art on Delsartrian principles in 1884. The long-running (486 performances) Hazel Kirke (1880) was the most famous of the nineteen plays he wrote or adapted. He died on February 25th, 1894.Otis Skinner wrote of him, "An afternoon at the Lambs [Club] would sometimes find Steele Mackaye, tall, spare, emotional and eloquent, looking like a more stalwart Edgar Allan Poe, holding forth to a knot of listeners on some theory destined never to be realized, some dream never to become articulate. He was always magnetic and compelling" (Footlights and Spotlights [1923, 1924] 162).

Image available at New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

Go back Wilson Barrett: English actor, manager, and playwright Wilson Barrett (1846-1904) began playing in the provinces in 1864. By 1880 he was manager of the Court Theatre in London, introducing Modjeska to London audiences. In 1881 he became manager of the Princess Theatre, the one most associated with him, producing and starring in emotional dramas and melodramas (including The Silver King, which ran for 300 nights). He also played Shakespeare, appearing as Hamlet and Othello, among other roles. His first visit to America was in 1886. His popularity was waning in the 1890s when he wrote and starred in The Sign of the Cross (1895), a religious drama that had a great success and was later (1932) made into a movie by Cecil B. DeMille, starring Charles Laughton as Nero.

Image available at New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

Wilson Barrett Wilson Barrett

Go back Mackaye fund raised by . . . benefit performance: When an actor fell on hard times, members of the profession might give a performance, forgoing salaries and dedicating the profits to the distressed member of the profession.

Go back Hooley's: Most likely Hooley's Opera House in Brooklyn, at Court and Remsen streets, although the same family also opened Hooley's Theater in Chicago in 1872.

Go back Herrmann: Alexander Herrmann (1844-1896)—known as "Herrmann the Great"—was born in Paris. As a boy he served his older brother, magician Carl Herrmann (d.1887), as an assistant, thus getting his own start. He became tremendously successful in Europe and the U.S., where he became a citizen, making as much as $100,000 a year, with a house on Long Island, a private railroad car, and a yacht. He married Adelaide Scarcez in 1875; she served as his assistant and after his death of a heart attack in 1896, continued the act with his nephew, Leon Herrmann. Herrmann, the Magician: His Life, His Secrets was published in 1896.

Go back Hazel Kirke: Steele Mackaye's play opened at his Madison Square Theatre in 1880, and ran for a record-setting 486 performances, then went on the road with Mackaye's new concept of multiple road companies. The play was considered realistic in 1880, since it dealt with middle-class characters and was partly set in a realistically portrayed mill, but the plot was romantic, even melodramatic. Hazel, who had been promised to her father's benefactor, Squire Rodney, falls in love with Arthur Carringford; her father, the miller, banishes her because she has broken his word (the play initially was called The Iron Will). In the second act, Hazel learns that the marriage, having taken place in Scotland, is invalid. In the third act, Hazel's father refuses to forgive her even though he is financially ruined and she is willing to fulfill the promise to Squire Rodney. She goes to throw herself into the river. In the fourth act, Arthur saves Hazel from drowning, the squire relinquishes his claim, and the miller forgives her.

Go back Othello: In Shakespeare's tragedy, Othello, The Moor of Venice (performed 1604-05), Othello the Moor, a great general for the Venetians, has married Desdemona, a Venetian lady. One of his lieutenants, Iago, angry at being passed over for promotion, plots to arouse Othello's jealousy. He obtains a handkerchief that had served as a token of fidelity between Othello and Desdemona and plants it in the room of his rival, Cassio. Enraged, Othello kills Desdemona. When the plot is revealed, Othello, contrite, kills himself.

Go back Morocco: Morocco, a rugged country on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts of Africa, lies across the Strait of Gibralter from Spain. It remained independent until the twentieth century.

Go back Manager John T. Ford: John Thompson Ford (1829-94), theatrical manager, came from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., and bought the former First Baptist Church and fitted it up as a theater, rebuilding it after a fire in 1863. After President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated there, Ford, a friend of the Booth family, was arrested and jailed until he was acquitted of conspiracy in John Wilkes Booth's plot. He was forced by Congress to sell the theatre, and he went back to Baltimore in the early 1870s. He managed Mary Anderson in a tour of the South in 1876.

Go back April 23 in celebration of the 380th anniversary of the birth of Shakespeare: Shakespeare was born in 1564. Cather made it a practice to write about Shakespeare on his birthday.

Go back Creston Clark: Clarke (1865-1910) was the son of actor John Sleeper Clarke (1833-1899) and Asia Booth Clarke, sister of Edwin Booth. Otis Skinner recalls him playing Hamlet in Chicago in 1895 (p. 240).

Go back John Sleeper Clarke: Clarke (1833-1899) was an actor-manager with his brother-in-law Edwin Booth--he had married Asia Booth in 1859. He went to London in 1867 and was so popular he settled there, except for brief visits to America, for the rest of his life. He retired from the stage in 1889.

Image available at the University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections.

John S. Clarke

Go back Edwin Booth: Edwin Booth (1833-1893) came from an acting family; his father, Junius Brutus Booth (1796-1852), who came to America in 1821, had been acclaimed in England as a rival of the great Thomas Kean. The elder Booth's other sons were Junius Brutus Booth, an actor-manager, and John Wilkes Booth. At first it seemed that Edwin had not inherited much of his father's talent, but he toured with his father's company in secondary roles. His father's death in 1852 while on tour in California left Edwin in charge, and he toured the West and Australia before returning to New York in triumph, where he was soon acknowledged as superior even to Edwin Forrest. He became manager of the Winter Garden Theatre in 1862, producing Shakespeare in productions notable for their magnificence and great acting; he became particularly identified with the role of Hamlet. The assassination of President Lincoln by his brother John caused Edwin Booth to retire briefly, but audiences welcomed him back. Booth built his own theater in 1868-69 and organized his own stock company. Although this enterprise was successful in many ways, Booth went bankrupt in 1874 and thereafter appeared under others' management—notably with Lawrence Barrett in the 1880s. He toured England, playing opposite Henry Irving, and Germany as well. His last performance was as Hamlet in 1891, when he retired to live in his apartment in the building he had given to the Players' Club when he founded that organization. He died June 7, 1893.

Otis Skinner played in his company in 1880; he says Booth "was in the flower of his artistry and at the height of his power. At the age of forty-seven he had not yet begun to exhibit that weariness of work that overcame him after his return from Europe. His ambition was dauntless; his body flexible and obedient to his will; his face, beautiful and melancholy, showed nothing of its later traces of lassitude, and the music of his voice which held to the very end, was never more harmonious. No actor of his time so completely filled the eye, the ear, and the mind with an ideal of romantic tragedy as Edwin Booth" (Footlights and Spotlights 91).

Edwin Booth, son of Junius Brutus Booth Edwin Booth at 45 Edwin Booth with his second wife and daughter Edwin Booth at age 25 Edwin Booth at age 30 Edwin Booth at age 35 Edwin Booth as Hamlet Edwin Booth as Hamlet Edwin Booth as Richelieu

Go back Martha Ford: The career of Martha Ford, daughter of manager John T. Ford of Baltimore, did not extend to New York city: she is not listed in the indexes to Odell's Annals of the New York Stage (XV) or the New York Times dramatic reviews.

Go back The Amazons: In The Amazons, a farce by Arthur Wing Pinero (1855-1934), three aristocratic English girls are brought up as boys; they discover their true natures when they meet the right men. Herbert Kelcey and Georgia Cayvan were two of the stars. The New York Times reviewer said, "Mr. Pinero gets all the fun that is possible out of his idea" (20 February 1894).

Go back Lyceum theatre, New York: Frohman's New York theater was the Lyceum Theatre, perhaps named for Henry Irving's Lyceum Theatre in London.

Go back Mr. John Drew: John Drew (junior) (1853-1927) was the leading man in Charles Frohman's stock company. He had been a leading man with Augustin Daly's stock company; with Frohman's production of A Masked Ball (October 1892), opposite Maude Adams, he became a major star. Drew came from an acting family, one that would go on to become even more famous as the Barrymore family of stage and screen. His father, John Drew senior (1827-1862) was an Irish-born actor who married Louisa Lane, who was of an acting family that dated back to the mid-eighteenth century. Louisa Drew managed the Arch Street Theatre in Philadelphia, the first woman manager of a major theater. Her daughter, Georgiana (known as Georgie) married Maurice Barrymore; their children were Ethel, Lionel, and John Barrymore.

Otis Skinner recalled John Drew as he knew him in the 1880s with Daly's company: "John was looked to always to furnish perfect light comedy, perfect manners, and perfect clothes, and he never failed in his duty. There was another perfection . . . perfect camaraderie, but that was for his fellows, not for the public. Accomplished, hospitable, generous, a good acquaintance, a splendid friend, a capital raconteur, there was no circle where John Drew did not find the warmest welcome" (Footlights and Spotlights 141)

John Drew John Drew, jr. as Belleville in "The Country Girl" John Drew. jr. as Charles Surface in "The School for Scandal" John Drew, jr. as King of Navarre in "Love's Labor's Lost"

Go back Carleton: Henry Guy Carleton (1856-1910) was one of the relatively few American writers of original plays, rather than adaptations of foreign ones. His Victor Durand had appeared in 1884, and he had some solid successes in the 1890s, including A Gilded Fool (1892), written for Nat Goodwin and made into a silent film in 1915, and Butterflies (1894); That Imprudent Young Couple (1895), however, ran for only two weeks. He was the son of General James Henry Carleton, commander of the Department of New Mexico during the Civil War, who forced the Navajos on the disastrous "Long Walk" to Bosque Redondo. Henry Guy Carleton married actress Effie Shannon in 1890; they were divorced in 1892; in 1894 he married actress Olive May, whose family lived in Beatrice, Nebraska, in the 1890s.

Cather devoted much of a 4 August 1895 column to discussing Carleton and his integrity as a playwright.

Go back "Butterflies": Henry Guy Carleton's The Butterflies opened at Palmer's Theater in New York on 5 February 1894, with John Drew as Frederick Ossian, the man-about-town whose love for Maude Adams causes him to try to earn his own living. The play ran for three months.

Actress Olive May, later Mrs. Henry Guy Carleton, won praise for her performance as Suzanne Elise, a bouncy ingénue.


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