Source File: cat.j00065.xml

Page Image

Nebraska State Journal


September 16, 1894
page 13

Utterly Irrelevant.

It looks as though in stage matters the day of wrath has come, when barely the elect shall be saved. Not all of the elect even, for half the best leading men and women in New York have been obliged to confess through the Mirror, that they are "at liberty." Every actor who has an engagement feels contented with his humble lot, realizing that he is fortunate to have any lot at all. Several proud and haughty prima donnas have been forced to accept positions as chorus girls and more than one ambitious young star has drawn in his horns and gone meekly back into leading business. It is a good thing to clip the aspiring wings of genius once in a while; their flight is all the swifter and stronger for it.

          

What would happen in this world if a state fair should ever rise to the lofty dignity of hanging only original paintings in the art department? That state of things will probably never come about, but if people will exhibit studies they might at least give in the study itself first hand and spare us their copy. Now and then you can find a copy that has merit in it. One of the best pictures at the fair was a copy of a Corot by Miss Parker . Sympathy with a great master means something, but the better one imitates a chromo "study" the worse painter he is. The fact is that half of the crazy stuff that is sent about to state and county fairs is just a kind of fancy work on canvas, with which dear old ladies are wont to console their loneliness, when they had far better employ themselves with poodle dogs and parrots. The fact must be forced upon the dear people some day that a man who can't draw can't paint, and a man who has not had good instruction can't do either.

          

During the very successful week which the Royal Entertainers have had at the Funke no one has been more successful than Mr. William Zanetti, the magician. Mr. William Zanetti (O'Shea) has for a long time been a resident of Lincoln, and although he has been well known as a man of business, a musician and a social favorite, he has all the while been constantly working at legerdemain. In that quiet and unobtrusive way in which most good work is done he has attained wonderful skill and dexterity in his line.

          

"Yes," said Mr. Zanetti, with a more affable air than interview victims generally have, "I have always wanted and expected to be a magician. When I was quite a lad and was attending a military school near Boston, I always took charge of the magic of the school entertainments. Ever since then I have worked at it more or less. I have given the subject a great deal of study and practice and Mr. Hermann has helped me a good deal by his suggestions. Of course when I was very young I had to resort to mechanical tricks, but now I use almost no prepared apparatus at all. My dress suit is just an ordinary dress suit and I could do any of my tricks in tights. I depend on mere skill and nimbleness of hand. The key to all honest work in magic is in the training of the muscles of the hand. A magician should take the greatest care of his hands and avoid all work that would strain or stiffen them. When he performs they should always be warm and soft, in good form, so to speak, like a singer's voice. Many magicians wear woollen mittens until they go on for their act. The trick in which I shoot a ladies' watch into a box at the rear of the hall and the one in which I take a cabbage and a dozen fresh roses from a stiff hat are both my own tricks. I invented them. My two little goldfish and my rabbit I have had for two years and they traveled thousands of miles with me this summer on our western tour. What do I consider most essential in a magician? Practice, coolness and self-confidence. The magician who hesitates is lost.

"Have I done anything with hypnotism? Yes, a good deal, but in that line my ability exceeds my taste. I have been very successful in it, but I don't like it. There is something uncanny about hypnotism and something rather vulgar about a professional hypnotist. I prefer to amuse people by magic rather than frighten them by hypnotism."

          

Sometimes, after all, water does seek its own level and people fall into their proper places. An instance of this kind has recently happened apropos of Mr. Ulric Collins , the young man of whom we have painful memories from the suffering he caused us by his impersonation of Faust in Mr. "Ado" Church's "Faust" company last spring. We can all recall how this milk and water youth trotted about after that ungainly Amazon Olive Martin , with his mouth open and generally with his tongue out, and how in the ardorous passages of his wooing he jumped up and down like a pleased child or a sportive calf when the spring stirs in its blood. Well, Mr. Collins has found his mission at last. He is playing the nigger in Jim Corbett's "Gentleman Jack" company . From Faust to a negro pugilist is enough to make Goethe have a chill in hades , but Mr. Ulric Collins probably makes a very fair negro and he makes a very poor Faust.

          

She has come to us at last in book form— Trilby the much talked of, Trilby the well-beloved. There has not been a heroine made for years that people have taken into their hearts and lives and loved as they have Trilby. Critics say "Thackeray, Thackeray," but Thackeray's heroines are not lovable, though his heroes are. Thackeray never made a woman whom one could love. Of course there have been noble women enough in fiction, indeed almost too many "noble women." There is even Charles Dudley Warner's "Edith of the Golden Home," concerning whom we are all anxiously awaiting further intelligence. O yes! there are plenty of admirable heroines, perfect Minervas and Hermiones , but some way poor little Trilby seemed to need love so and everybody gave it to her. The merchant in his country home, the broker at his desk, the painter at his easel, the actor in the flies, we all of us loved her so dearly that she was an experience in our lives. The strange part of it was that it was the good people who loved her the most. The people who were really and greatly good like little Billee loved her just as he did. The world has been just to Trilby; it has loved her and not been ashamed to say so. For six months the English-speaking peoples have talked of little else. It may be unreasonable, but it is true that this little studio girl, who posed for the "altogether," with her pretty foot, her army coat and taint of Bohemia. will go to her place in literature and on our book shelves more beloved than all the righteous and cultured Evadnes and Bernardines and Marcellas which these fretful times have called forth.

          

It looks as though Puck had been scattering his magic herb juice pretty freely among theatrical people this year and every actor is courting the wrong muse. During this season Alexander Salvini is going to try tragedy, James O'Neill is going to play "Hamlet," Julia Marlowe is going to play "Lady Macbeth," and Lillian Lewis "Cleopatra." Such diversions from nature must result in a number of pitiable fiascos. Nature put herself to a great deal of trouble to make the young Salvini a romantic actor. She made him dashing, handsome and buoyant and very much a man, and he is doing a rash thing in turning his back upon the old lady. In tragedy he will necessarily fail and the reputation of a failure is not a pleasant thing for an actor to carry. As for Mr. James O'Neill , it is too late for him to return to his first love. There was a time when Mr. O'Neill could play tragedy, but he has given his youth and strength and enthusiasm to the world and the tastes of the world, and it is not fair to tragedy to bestow on her at last the talents that have so long served baser ends. It is safe to guess that out of all these preverted people Lillian Lewis , the poorest actress and most uncultured woman of them all, comes nearest to success. Lillian won't gauge her success by press comments, but by box office statements. She has thoroughly up-to-date ideas and a sharp eye for business and she is going to play "Cleopatra" with twelve carloads of special scenery, electricity, calcium lights, living pictures and a ballet. Thus adorned—and thus unadorned—tragedy ought to take with the American public.

          

As for Miss Marlowe , she has surprised her best friends. Marriage seems to have unsettled her artistic repose. She insists upon taking her husband's name, Puritan fashion, and upon playing tragedy—and it is all too probable that she will do that Puritan fashion as well. The limits of Miss Marlowe's power are so clearly defined; her every success in comedy bars her from success in tragedy. Miss Marlowe is as cold as she is bewitching, as heartless as she is dainty. She knows nothing of the stronger, coarser emotions, "the ungovernable fury of the blood," with which high tragedy deals. If Miss Marlowe goes to England in those rare old comedies in which we love to see her, her sweetness, her charm, the exquisite perfume of her acting must win for her unqualified success. The English like those delicate interpretations of classic comedy; it goes with their green meadows and hawthorne hedges. But if she goes to London, that is still all a throb with the tragedy of Duse, of Bernhardt and of Olga Nethersole , she will not make a ripple in the troubled tide. Her classic tones will be literally drowned by the great passions that have surged over the London stage as by the roar of a torrent.

          

Miss Delia Stacy , who is playing leading business with the "Charley's Aunt" company in Omaha, was one of the "high contracting parties" in the recent sensational Stacy-Burchell divorce suit. It is simply another illustration of the fact that actresses should never marry, and that a husband and wife can't live peaceably together in New Rochelle. The trouble is said to have begun over some neglect of Miss Stacy's mother by Mr. Burchell. Miss Stacy took her mother's part and solemnly delivered an epigram which will long be remembered in stage annals: "An actress can have just as many husbands as she likes, but she can only have one mother."

          

The many friends Miss Electa Gifford made while she was singing at Crete last summer will be pleased to learn of her brilliant success at the Toledo sangerfest. She received the most favorable press notices from the New York and Boston papers and made several important concert engagements in the east.

          

Manager Ed Church is becoming such an expansive feature in the theatrical world that Lincoln is not large enough to hold him any more. He has donned tanned shoes and checked trousers and diamonds and gone into the business with a vengeance. He has taken his "Faust" company to fill an engagement at Havlin's theatre in Chicago. Mr. Church naturally thinks he has one of the best companies on earth, and he knows he has as good electricity as Irving himself. We are a little curious to know what Chicago will think about it. One thing is sure, the devil is bound to be roasted a little in his own fire and it will do him good, as it may help him to cultivate some repose of manner and to have some mercy on his throat. Mr. Church will be out with his company about eight months and during his absence the Lansing will be under the management of Mr. John Dowden and Mr. "Johnny" Church , who by the way, is a young man well up in theatrical affairs and bids fair to follow the career of his father. Although the season looks rather dark for most companies, Mr. Church is confident of success. Last season he proved his tact and talent as a manager and in spite of floods and trikes played his season out, and it is understood that he made money.



Notes

Go back The Dramatic Mirror: The New York Dramatic Mirror began as the New York Mirror in 1879 and assumed this name in 1889; millionaire Harrison Grey Fiske (1861-1942) became editor at the age of 18, and sold it in 1918. By then it had become the Dramatic Mirror of Stage and Motion Pictures and survived under variants of that name until 1922.

Go back At liberty: "At liberty" is a stage euphemism for unemployed.

Go back to clip the aspiring wings of genius: "The wings of genius" was a common metaphor in the nineteenth century, along with the related image of clipping a bird's wings to make it unable to fly. In John Keats' Lamia, part 2, he wrote, "Philosophy will clip an angel's wings." Kant said, "taste clips the wings of genius."

Go back State Fair: The Nebraska State Fair was primarily a setting for agricultural exhibits and competitions, but the women's department exhibited domestic items, including art work by women in the state.

Go back Corot: French painter Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875) was born in Paris; he was apprenticed to a shopkeeper until about 1820, when his father consented to his making art his profession. He began to exhibit at the Salon in Paris from 1827 on, but he had his first success in the 1840s as a history painter with such works as Hagar in the Wilderness. He subsequently became known as a landscape painter (sometimes considered a precursor to Impressionism), and the younger generation of painters such as Degas, Van Gogh, and Cézanne considered him a master figure painter. His work became popular with the public later in his life; to his fellow painters, to whom he was always generous, he was known as "Père Corot."

Go back Miss Cora Parker: American painter Cora Parker (1859-1944) was born in Kentucky, and studied in Cincinnati and at the Academie-Julian in Paris and in the U.S. with William Merritt Chase. She taught art at the University of Nebraska from 1893-1899, succeeding Sarah Wool Moore. Parker was head of the Haydon Art Club, which encouraged art and interest in art and artists in Nebraska.

Go back chromo: Short for chromolithograph, a nineteenth-century method of printing colored pictures by means of engraving with stones, sometimes using one stone for each color. The process made cheap color reproduction of paintings possible.

Go back Royal Entertainers: The Royal Entertainers, who called themselves a "High Class Vaudeville" troupe, advertised musical acts, the "Black Arts," dancing, and specialty numbers (advertisement, the Nebraska State Journal, 14 September 1894, p. 6). At least three members of the troupe were from Lincoln: magician Zanetti (Will O'Shea), and (Joseph H.) Wittman and (Edward R.) Bing, an acrobatic duo. Other members listed in the ad were Barr and Carlton, the Kenwick sisters, Maddon and Crees, Rose Baker, and Lillian Carl.

Go back The Funke: The Funke Opera House was built in 1885 by Fred Funke (d. 1890), a Lincoln wholesale cigar, wine, and liquor dealer, on the southwest corner of 12th and O St. Until the Lansing Theatre was built it was the largest and finest theater in town. The first manager was Ed A. Church (d. 1927), followed by Robert McReynolds; Frank Zehrung managed it briefly, from July 1889 to January 1890, when L. M. Crawford took over. Zehrung resumed management in 1894. The building housed shops on the ground floor and offices in parts of the upper floors, as well as the theater itself. The Funke Opera House, Lincoln, Nebraska, late nineteenth century.

Go back William "Zanetti" O'Shea: There are two William O'Sheas listed in the Lincoln city directories, but the most likely is the O'Shea who was a "traveler" (traveling salesman) in the early 1890s for the N. P. Curtice Co., a piano and music store.

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 Mr. Ulric Collins: An Ulric B. Collins appeared in half a dozen productions on Broadway stages between 1903 and 1933. He may also be the Ulric Collins who wrote a play, Hearts of Tennessee (1906).

Go back Faust: Part one of Goethe's verse drama was published in 1808, the second shortly before his death in 1832. In it Goethe presents Faust as a romantic hero, a seeker after knowledge who is ultimately purified and saved from damnation. Goethe's Faust inspired many other 19th century versions, including a cantata by Hector Berlioz (1846) and an opera by Charles Gounod (1859). Later versions tended to focus more on the love story between Faust and Marguerite.

Lawrence Fossler, professor of German at the University of Nebraska, presented a series of lectures, "Goethe and Faust," in the fall of 1891 which Cather, then a freshman, may have attended. In "Old Mrs. Harris," the young Vickie Templeton looks at a German edition of Goethe's Faust and wishes she could read it (Obscure Destinies 90).

Go back Mr. Ed "Ado" Church: Ed A. Church (d. 1927) was manager of the Lansing Theater in Lincoln.

Go back Faust company: In 1894 Lansing Theater manager Ed Church organized a touring company to perform Goethe's Faust. George Baker of Beatrice, Nebraska, played the role of Faust, according to the Nebraska State Journal (18 December 1894). The company had an engagement in Chicago.

Cather referred to this company in her September 13 and 16, 1894 columns.

Go back Olive Martin: An actress of this name is not listed in the indexes of the New York Times drama reviews or in Odell's Annals of the New York Stage. She presumably played with regional theater companies. Cather called her "that ungainly Amazon" in a September 16, 1894 column.

Go back James J. Corbett: American boxer James J. Corbett (1866-1933) was born in San Francisco, where he began to make his name as a boxer, first as an amateur middleweight. He became heavyweight champion in 1892, when he knocked out champion John L. Sullivan in the twenty-first round, in the first championship fight under Marquess of Queensbury rules, with three-minute rounds and padded leather gloves. He made his first defense of his world heavyweight boxing title on January 25, 1894, against Charles Mitchell, the English champion. Corbett, using his speed and knowledge of his opponent, helped to make boxing a 'scientific' contest, instead of a brute force fight. However, he lost his championship in 1897 to Bob Fitzsimmons. Several of his fights were filmed, including an exhibition match for Thomas Edison's kinetograph in 1894.

Corbett was known as "Gentleman Jim" because of his good looks, education, and manners; he used his fame to go on stage, playing the lead in Shaw's Cashel Byron's Profession, and later into films. He divorced his first wife, Olive Lake, in 1895 and married actress Vera Stanwood (born Jessie Taylor) that same year. His autobiography, The Roar of the Crowd, was published in 1924; Hollywood made a movie of his life, Gentleman Jim, starring Errol Flynn, in 1942.

James J. Corbett

Go back Gentleman Jack company: Charles T. Vincent's play, Gentleman Jack (1894), capitalized on the fame of its star, boxer "Gentleman Jim" Corbett. A poster for the play shows the hero in evening dress, having knocked down another man, presumably in defense of the pretty girl clinging to him; the hero proclaims "I will defend the championship of America against the world."

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

Go back Trilby: George Du Maurier's novel of Parisian artistic life, Trilby, was serialized in the U.S. in Harper's Weekly in early 1894. The book version, illustrated by Du Maurier himself, appeared later that year. Trilby is an artist's model who loves Little Billee, an artist of a higher social class. Some years later, Little Billee sees her singing on the stage, though she had never been able to carry a tune before. Her voice is the result of hypnotism by the evil Svengali; when he dies, Trilby dies also.

The book was immensely popular; it helped shape the image of the bohemian artistic life in Paris, gave the name of trilby to a kind of hat, and the name of Svengali to hypnotists and sinister star-makers. It was made into a play by Paul Potter (1895) and into movies—shorts in 1896 and 1898—and feature films in 1914 (Britain), 1915 and 1923 (U.S.), 1927 (Germany, as Svengali), 1931 (U.S., with John Barrymore), and 1954 (Britain, as Svengali).

Go back Thackeray: William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863), English novelist and essayist, was born in India, and educated in England. He lost the fortune he had inherited from his father as a young man, and became a professional journalist. The serial publication of his most famous novel, Vanity Fair (1847-48), set in Regency England during the Napoleonic wars, established him as an author. It was followed by another historical novel, Henry Esmond (1852), the semi-autobiographical Pendennis (1848), and The Newcomes (1855). He was also a successful lecturer, touring the United States with talks that would later become The English Humorists of the Eighteenth Century (1853) and The Four Georges (1860). He founded the Cornhill Magazine in 1860 and was its editor until his death.

Go back Charles Dudley Warner: Editor and writer Charles Dudley Warner (1829-1900) was born in Massachusetts. After careers in law and journalism, he joined the editorial staff of Harper's Magazine in 1884, becoming editor in 1892. He published a number of essays and sketches on travel and literature, and edited the American Men of Letters series. He published several novels, but he is perhaps best known as Mark Twain's collaborator on The Gilded Age (1873).

Go back Edith of the Golden Home: The Golden House, Charles Dudley Warner's novel, was serialized in Harper's July-November 1894 and published in 1894. The novel deals with the marriage of the idealistic Edith and her good-hearted but dilettante husband, Jack.

Go back Minervas: Minerva is probably the heroine of one of the novels of the "New Woman" controversy of the 1880s and 1890s, but the novel has not yet been identified.

Go back Hermiones: Cather may mean the title character of Dr. Hermione (1890), a novel by Henry Curwin.

Go back Little Billee: Little Billee, in George Du Maurier's novel Trilby (1894) is a young English artist in Paris; he loves the artists' model, Trilby O'Farrell, but social class divides them. Years later, a successful artist, he sees Trilby onstage as a singer. When her hypnotist-manager Svengali dies, Billee takes her to his rooms, where she dies.

Go back Evadnes: Evadne Frayling is one of the major characters in Sarah Grand's The Heavenly Twins (1893); she marries an aristocratic man who has syphilis.

Go back Bernardines: Bernardine Holme is the heroine of Beatrice Harraden's popular novel Ships that Pass in the Night (1894). A plain London schoolteacher, she falls ill and goes to a German sanatorium, where she falls in love with the Disagreeable Man, another patient there—a love based on companionship. Before they can be married, however, Bernardine is killed in a carriage accident.

Go back Marcellas: Marcella is the heroine of Mrs. Humphrey Ward's novel, Marcella (1894), a social problems novel. Marcella's early school days are based on Mrs. Ward's own experiences. Marcella turns to socialism to help the poor.

Go back Puck: Puck is the mischievous fairy in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. His love potion mixes up all the lovers, causing the fairy queen Titania to fall in love with Bottom, the rustic with an ass's head.

Go back his magic herb juice: In Act II, scene I of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Oberon tells Puck to find a certain flower to be the means of his revenge upon Titania: Yet mark'd I where the bolt of Cupid fell:It fell upon a little western flower,Before milk-white, now purple with love's wound,And maidens call it love-in-idleness.Fetch me that flower; the herb I shew'd thee once:The juice of it on sleeping eye-lids laidWill make or man or woman madly doteUpon the next live creature that it sees.Fetch me this herb; and be thou here againEre the leviathan can swim a league.

Go back Alexander Salvini: Alessandro (usually anglicized to Alexander in the U.S.) Salvini (1860-1896) was the son of the great actor Tommaso Salvini. He was born in Italy but came to America with his father's troupe. His New York debut was in 1882; he earned a reputation as a romantic actor in such roles as D'Artagnan in The Three Guardsmen. He married Maud Dixon, also a member of the troupe. He formed his own company and began to earn a reputation as a tragedian, especially as Hamlet.

Clara Morris, in her My Life as a Star (1906), discusses the young Salvini's preparations for his New York debut.

Go back Lady Macbeth: In Shakespeare's Macbeth (c. 1606), Lady Macbeth, ambitious for her husband, prods him to commit the murders necessary before he can become king of Scotland. Her most famous scene is in Act V, where, sleep-walking, she reveals her crimes.

Go back Cleopatra: The role of the Egyptian queen, Cleopatra, may have been in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra (c. 1607) or in Sardou's Cleopatra (1890).

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 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 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 Marlowe's husband's name: Julia Marlowe married actor Robert Tabor in 1894, appearing afterwards as Julia Marlowe-Tabor. They were divorced in 1900.

Go back Puritans: The Puritans were English reformers who were given the name because they sought to purify the Anglican church from the Catholic practices that had remained in it. They emphasized knowledge of the scriptures and self-examination.

Go back the ungovernable fury of the blood: The source of this quotation has not been found.

Go back Olga Nethersole: British actress Olga Nethersole (1863-1951) was born in London. Her stage debut was at Brighton in 1887, where her talent was recognized; she joined John Hare's company at the Garrick Theatre in London in 1888. She toured in Australia for nearly a year in the early 1890s. By 1894 she was a star, with her own theater in London. She made her debut in New York on October 15th, 1894, where she was an immediate success; she divided her subsequent career between London and the U.S. Nethersole was noted for emotional roles such as Camille, and particularly for those in modern plays, such as Pinero's The Second Mrs. Tanqueray. She created a sensation in 1897 with "the Nethersole kiss" in her production of Carmen, then again in 1900 when she was arrested (and acquitted) for corrupting public morals in her role in Clyde Fitch's Sapho. Nethersole retired from the stage in 1912, but served as a nurse in London during World War I; thereafter she worked for the improvement of health care in Britain, and was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1936.

Picture at the University of Pennsylvania Library

Go back Miss Delia Stacy: Actress Delia Stacy played in the minor theaters in the New York City area in the early 1890s; she appeared in James T. Powers' company in A Straight Tip in 1891, at Col. Sinn's Park Theater in Brooklyn (Odell Annals of the New York Stage XV, 206), and in Powers' production of A Modern Bargain in 1893 (XV, 338). She appeared on the Broadway stage in The Lady Slavey in 1896.

Go back Omaha: The largest city in Nebraska, Omaha is about fifty miles east of Lincoln, on the western bank of the Missouri River. There was always some jealousy between the two cities: Omaha felt it ought to have been the capital.

Go back high contracting parties: The phrase "high contracting parties" is typically used to refer to nations entering into treaties, alliances, or other international agreements.

Go back Stacy-Burchell divorce: Delia Stacy and Thomas H. Burchell were married in July 1893; she filed for divorce in July 1894. Burchell was apparently not an actor, or at least, not a prominent one: he is not listed in the New York Times drama review index or in Odell's Annals of the New York Stage.

Go back New Rochelle: New Rochelle, NY (named presumably for La Rochelle in France), is in Westchester County, across Long Island Sound from New York City. It was a resort area in the nineteenth century, when many people were drawn to the Glen Island amusement park (1879).

Go back Miss Electa Gifford: Singer Electa Gifford was born in Ohio about 1866. She studied music in Chicago, singing professionally in church choirs; she sang for the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago in 1895-96. She went to Paris to study, then sang with the Royal Opera in Amsterdam. She returned to the U. S. in 1900, settling in New York, and sang with many of the notable orchestras of the country, including that of Theodore Thomas. She continued to sing professionally with church choirs.

Go back Crete: Crete, Nebraska, southwest of Lincoln, was founded in 1870 by the Burlington and Missouri Railroad, which crossed the Big Blue River there. In 1872 the Congregational Church established Nebraska's first liberal arts college in Crete, named Doane College after Thomas Doane, chief civil engineer for the Burlington. The town grew quickly, and in the summer of 1882 the first Chautauqua in Nebraska was held there; in the following years the Chatauqua attracted 3,000 to 5,000 people for the ten-day event. The last Crete Chautauqua was held in 1897.

Cather reported on the 1894 Chautauqua for the Lincoln Evening News.

Go back Toledo: Toledo, in northern Ohio, is a manufacturing city on the western edge of Lake Erie. Permanently established by 1820, it had a population of about 81,000 in 1890. It had a large population of German descent, as well as a large immigrant population from eastern Europe in the late nineteenth century.

Go back sangerfect: A Sængerfest, sometimes called a sangfest, is a festival of choral music, usually with a number of choirs and soloists performing. They were a popular attraction in many U.S. cities in the nineteenth century, especially those with German populations

Go back Havlin's theatre in Chicago: Havlin's Theatre, at 1838 S. Wabash Avenue in Chicago's South Side, opened in 1887 as Baker's Theatre; it became Havlin's Theatre from 1889 to 1896, and several other names thereafter. Havlin's specialized in melodrama in the early 1890s. The theater closed in 1909 and reopened as a movie theater, the Wabash Theater, in 1914, finally closing in 1943.

Go back Irving: 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. Henry Irving Henry Irving as Matthais in "The Bells"

Go back Mr. John Dowden: John A. E. Dowden (b. 1866) was the son of Joseph N. and Elizabeth Dowden of Lincoln, according to the 1880 census. The Lincoln city directories list him as being in charge of the Funke Theatre's gallery box office in 1890, and as treasurer of the Lansing Theater in 1893 and for several years thereafter. The Dowden family lived at 428 N. 12th Street.

Go back Mr. "Johnny" Church: John B. Church was the son of theater manager Edward A Church. The Lincoln city directories list him as a ticket agent in 1894 and as assistant treasurer of the Lansing Theatre in 1895. The Church family lived at 1145 R Street.


RETURN TO TOP