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Continuing in the same vein as yesterday, here is the inimitable English actress Dame Ellen Terry [1847-1928] in Much Ado About Nothing at the Lyceum Theatre in 1883.

Size: Greeting Card

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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Originally posted on WildeTimes.net.

A Private View at the Royal Academy, with captions pointing out Anthony Trollope, Prime Minister William Gladstone, Robert Browning, the Countess of Lonsdale, Lord Leighton, Lillie Langtry, Oscar Wilde, Ellen Terry and Henry Irving, and John Everett Millais

The opening of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London on the first Monday in May marked the beginning of ‘the Season’ for the élite of Victorian Society. This set in play three hectic months of balls, concerts, dinner parties, operas, horse riding in Hyde Park, the Derby and races at Royal Ascot, the Henley Royal Regatta and cricket at Lord’s. Young women pinned their hopes on getting engaged before the debutante balls, parties and concerts came to an end on 12 August, when fashionable people abandoned London and headed north to shoot grouse, partridges and pheasants as a prelude to fox-hunting.Whatever Oscar Wilde may have thought of fox-hunting (“the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable” as he called it in A Woman of No Importance), his social success is reflected in his appearance at the Royal Academy’s Private Viewing day in May 1881, an invitation-only event. At only 26 years of age, Wilde was a celebrity moving in the best circles, despite being an Irishman in xenophobic London.Wilde’s achievement is remarkable because in 1881 he had little writing to his name (his first and largely forgotten play, Vera, and a volume of poetry), yet he had made himself conspicuous enough as…

via The Apostle of the beautiful and the Season | WildeTimes.net.


ONE FROM THE ARCHIVE. In view of my recent posts about Maude Fealy, I thought it was time to reblog this article from 2012, partly because I have nothing else prepared!

First Night Design

As I have recently said on Facebook, whenever I sell a theatre-related design on whatever product, my heart leaps. Theatre is in my blood, partly because I spent over 30 years as an actress and partly because I was, as the saying goes, ‘born in a trunk’.  This theatre term used to mean that you were born on tour of theatrical parents and that while other babies spent their days and nights in cribs and prams, you spent yours sustained by the smell of greasepaint and curled up in the theatre’s wardrobe skip, either in the wings or one of  the dressing rooms.  Now it has the more general meaning of having theatrical parentage. I am reminded of another phrase, which was coined by the playwright Tom Robertson, as revealed by Clement Scott in The Drama of Yesterday and Today [Vol. I] (pub. Macmillan & Co, 1899), and of…

View original post 335 more words


Miss Ellen Terry as Beatrice Throw Pillow
Miss Ellen Terry as Beatrice Throw Pillows

It is such a treat to have sold a greeting card of Ellen Terry as Beatrice in Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing alongside a matching cushion. I have lived with this theatrical postcard all my life. It was given to my mother by an actress friend and my mother handed it on to me.

In her memoir, The Story of My Life: Recollections and Reflections, Dame Ellen writes:

‘When Henry Irving put on “Much Ado About Nothing”—a play which he may be said to have done for me, as he never really liked the part of Benedick—I was not the same Beatrice at all. A great actor can do nothing badly, and there was so very much to admire in Henry Irving’s Benedick. But he gave me little help. Beatrice must be swift, swift, swift! Owing to Henry’s rather finicking, deliberate method as Benedick, I could never put the right pace into my part. I was also feeling unhappy about it, because I had been compelled to give way about a traditional “gag” in the church scene, with which we ended the fourth act. In my own production we had scorned this gag, and let the curtain come down on Benedick’s line: “Go, comfort your cousin; I must say she is dead, and so farewell.” When I was told that we were to descend to the buffoonery of:

Beatrice: Benedick, kill him—kill him if you can.
Benedick: As sure as I’m alive, I will!

I protested, and implored Henry not to do it. He said that it was necessary: otherwise the “curtain” would be received in dead silence. I assured him that we had often had seven and eight calls without it. I used every argument, artistic and otherwise. Henry, according to his custom, was gentle, would not discuss it much, but remained obdurate. After holding out for a week, I gave in. “It’s my duty to obey your orders, and do it,” I said, “but I do it under protest.” Then I burst into tears. It was really for his sake just as much as for mine. I thought it must bring such disgrace on him! Looking back on the incident, I find that the most humorous thing in connection with it was that the critics, never reluctant to accuse Henry of “monkeying” with Shakespeare if they could find cause, never noticed the gag at all!


Ellen Terry  drawn from photographs  by  Albert Sterner

Ellen Terry drawn from photographs by Albert Sterner and included in her memoir.


“This mutable woman, all instinct, sympathy and sensation, is as painstaking a student and as careful of the dignity of her art as Flaubert himself.” Virginia Woolf

“[Her name] rings like a chime through the last quarter of the 19th century.” George Bernard Shaw

“Blow that word charm! There is more to my acting than charm!” Ellen Terry

These three quotes are taken from a Lynne Truss article in The Guardian.


Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


First Night Design

This advertisement for Collinson & Lock is from a D’Oyly Carte programme for Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Yeoman of the Guard at the Savoy Theatre in 1888. Collinson & Lock was a prominent furniture company, founded in the 1860s by F G Collinson and G J Lock, which concentrated on Art Nouveau and Aesthetic designs.

The company’s theatrical links are fascinating. Amongst other work, Collinson & Lock were responsible for decorating the new Savoy Theatre in 1881, while their most famous designer was the architect Edward William Godwin (1833-1886) who was inspired to design for the theatre by his affair with the actress Ellen Terry when she was still married to her first husband, the artist George Frederick Watts.

The union produced two children, the distinguished theatre designer, Edward Gordon Craig (1872–1966) and the theatre director, producer, costume designer and sometime actress Edith…

View original post 24 more words


Rogues & Vagabonds

Re-blogged from Kimberly Eve Musings of a Writer

watts_image

Watts Gallery a museum in the heart of Surrey in England is the location of this Ellen Terry exhibit. The gallery was built upon the request of the artist himself, G.F. Watts to serve as a work space for fellow artists. G.F. Watts was the husband of a young teenage British nineteenth century theatre actress Ellen Terry who is depicted in Watts’ painting above, ‘choosing.’  The gallery describes this exhibit, ‘Ellen Terry: The Painter’s Actress will be the first exhibition to explore how the influence of Britain’s most famous Victorian actress reached beyond the stage to inspire generations of visual artists. Bringing together paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography and film – including material rarely or never previously exhibited – the show will trace Ellen Terry’s journey from emerging teenage starlet to cultural icon.’ I wish they would have decided upon a more apt…

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What a fabulous introduction that old rogue, Seumas Gallacher, has given me! I say rogue when I’ve known him all of three days! Do visit his blog – it’s great fun. Thanks again, Seumas, for your kindness.

Comfort in a Cotton Frock Day 2
Comfort in a Cotton Frock Day 3

Seumas Gallacher

…when this ol’ Jurassic asked for Guest Posts from yeez Lads and Lassies of Blog Land, I expected nowt but the highest quality of off’rings… the wonderful Sarah Vernon serves up the following gem… yeez’ll note the first step back in time is to a quite recent date… last November to be precise… her ‘go’ at the NaNoWriMo’s fiction produces the second step back in time, to her infancy, and simultaneously brands her as a NoNoWriMo Rebel inasmuch as it’s a personal true piece… I’m glad she did, and delighted with the content… yeez’ll see what I mean… read and enjoy… thanks, m’Lady Sarah…

#NANOWRIMO DAY 1

This is the start…

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For You A Rose Greeting Card
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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


#NaNoWriMo Day 1

This is the start of a memoir that is being submitted as part of National Novel Writing Month. That it’s not fiction makes me, I’ve learned, a NaNo Rebel for they are asking for fiction in any genre. I care not since I’ve always been a bit of a rebel in my way.  Fifty thousand words is required which is doubtless beyond me as life has a predictable way of flipping me upside down and inside out, especially when I need to concentrate most.  Why? This memoir will explain all.  Eventually!  I can’t quite believe I’m opening myself up by posting my progress on this blog but I know it is what I need to get back to writing.  Constructive criticism is positively welcomed.  All such posts are drafts; with that in mind, read on…

Prologue

My father has died. I think I did not greatly care for him but I cannot stop crying. And when I have placed a few letters and photographs into my bag, I want to ring my mother and cry in her arms and wail, ‘He’s dead, my Daddy is dead. My Daddy!’ But how can I?

Chapter One

I’m up so high sitting on the sofa and yet the porthole’s even higher. Mummy’s soft brown calves and the hem of her cotton frock are all that’s visible. She’s forgotten something. She’s forgotten to say goodbye to me.

She wants her sunglasses and Daddy is doing something in the bows of the barge and won’t get them for her.

‘Darling,’ she says.

I swivel round on my bottom to find her stroking my brother Tom’s brow as he lies grizzling in his cot. ‘He’s so pretty, even when he’s mewling,’ she says. Mewling? Why can’t she use ordinary words?

She picks up the glasses from the shelf and goes back up on deck. I don’t know if she’s coming back; I don’t even know where she’s gone but she looks very happy.

With my hand I trace the stripes of the ticking that covers the sofa, and I press my lips together. Mummy can’t see me but I’m here. I know I’m still here because I can feel the stinging in my eyes.

*

“Quickly, quick!”  The black and white television shows the long, narrow boats skimming along with Cambridge ahead. “Come on, Oxford, come on!”

“Why on earth do you support Oxford? Think of your great-grandfather rowing for Cambridge.” Mummy makes one of her disparaging faces at me and turns away.

“But, darl…,” Daddy starts to say and then thinks better of it.

“But Daddy went to Oxford,” I say, “and he’s closer to me than great-great whatever he is.”

“Dear lord,” she says. Tom and I look at Daddy and Daddy looks at me and Tom. It’s an early conspiracy.

I picture my father in a brown, monk-like cell studying clever books even though I have never in my life seen him reading a book. After that, he and Winnie went off to fight the Jerries. I know about Winnie because there’s a huge picture of him on the wall at school, and I can see the two of them crouching behind a fence, twizzling their guns, cocking their hats. How proud I am that it was my Daddy and Winnie who beat the baddies single-handed. Are they aliens? I’m not sure because there’s a Jerry at school and he says he’s English.

Wait! Here they come, here come the boats, and we rush to the telly in the sun house on deck to see ourselves but the cameras are facing the opposite bank. Oh. Well.

*

It’s hot outside and I don’t want to go up on deck because Mummy and Daddy are fighting about Tom. He’s been stung by a bee and he’s screaming his head off. I feel sorry for him but not that sorry. How can you tell when it’s ‘bee sting’ screaming or ‘I want’ screaming?

I wish Anne would come. Wednesday Anne. I want to help her today: I want to use the dustpan and brush. She’s broken her arm again so she can’t do any cleaning without me. I love her. How pretty you are, she says. I couldn’t do any of this without your help, she says. How I love her. She’s been around for ages and is even older than Mummy and Daddy. She used to clean for Ellen Terry and Ellen Terry was very famous and from very, very long ago. Charles-Who-Had-His-Head-Chopped-Off was around then. I think. I want to be Ellen Terry.

There’s lots I want to be. I want to be grown. I want to be able to wash my hair. I want to be a girl who Mummy and Daddy find lovely and pretty. I don’t want Tom to be the only one everyone goes ga-ga over.

*

I’m screaming now. My knee hurts like billyo and there’s blood all over the grass. No one comes rushing down the gangplank because Daddy’s gone down below to call Mummy. And then she’s there and everything’s all right. She strokes me and wipes away the blood and cleans it with something that stings and I try not to scream again because I know she doesn’t like it. And then she puts a plaster on and cuddles me and tells me I’m a brave little thing and I love her. A brave Mam’selle Michelin. I don’t know why she calls me that but it makes everyone laugh so I think it’s good. I’m going to have a ‘normous scar.

*

We’re doing a test. Sums. I wish Mummy had kept me and my knee on the barge. I’ve managed to copy most of Jerry’s answers but he’s got his hand over the last one.

They’re all wrong. Jerry got them all wrong so Miss Burns knows what I did. I wish I could be on my own and could read all by myself. I still need help with reading.  But it’s okay now because we’re having an end-of-term pressie-giving. We’ve all had to bring something wrapped up in pretty paper to put in the Christmas bin and we’re all going to go up in turn to choose a surprise package. I’m the last to go up and there’s only one thing left. I bend over to look into the bin and there it is. And I recognise the paper, and I recognise the shape, and I know what it is. I don’t cry.  I just pick it up and go back to my place on the floor.

*

The most magical thing has happened, the best present ever. It’s so beautiful I can hardly bear to put anything in it. The sides of the bag are matt plastic tartan and the handles a sludgy beige. I’m holding it by my side and looking at it and me in the mirror. It’s the most beautiful thing in the whole wide universe. Oh thank you, I say, oh thank you. Look, Mummy, the handles match my shorts!

No-one’s listening.

“Neeeeeeaaaooooammm!”

“No, no, Tom, it’s a boat, not a car,” says Daddy excitedly, and pushes the tiller on the model yacht from side to side.

“Leave him alone,” says Mummy.

Tom tries to pick up the boat but it’s too big.

“I don’t know why you bought him that. We don’t want another bloody sailor in the family.”

“Why not?” says Daddy, perplexed.

Later, when it’s low tide, we’re allowed to trudge through the Christmas mud in our wellies. They tell me not to take the bag but now I’m not listening. I clasp it to my chest and breathe easily as I push the tips of my gumboots through the giant turds of the river.

Tom is chanting tunelessly. “Updiddle diddle, down diddle diddle—” He lifts up his arms and swoops towards me. But his feet can’t keep up and before I can shout or move, he falls splat! into the mud. Serves him right.

My bag is covered in muck. I don’t care about the mess on my clothes but Mummy does. “I told you not to take that bag,” she says, hauling me out of the bath and scrubbing me up and down with a white towel. It hurts when she rubs between my legs because my legs are podgy and they chafe when I walk.

Tom is tucked up in his cot now. He’s too old for it these days but there isn’t anywhere else. I’ve got the built-in bunk beside him. When I come in he’s lying in the cot, his bright blue eyes following me as I go up the wooden steps and flop onto the mattress.

“I-told-you-not-to-take-that-bag-I-told-you-not-to-take-that-bag—”

‘Shuddup!” I want to punch him but I don’t.

“Be quiet!” shouts Mummy. “Don’t wake him up.”

*

“But can’t I stay and help you? Please?”

“No, dear, I have to take you to school. You have to be at Miss Gwynne’s this morning for all your school work.”

“But you won’t be here later and I won’t be able to help you.”

Wednesday Anne holds my hand as we walk along the street with all the big houses with tall windows where other people live.

“I tell you what, I’ll leave a little bit for you to do this afternoon. How’s that? You can get out your dustpan and brush when you get back.”

“Yes, please.” I rest my head against her. “Of course it won’t be the same with you not there,” I add gravely. And mean it.

“Never you mind, dear, I’ll be back next week, and the week after and the week after that. Now just be careful,” she says, taking a tighter hold of my hand as we reach the main road.

*

Wednesday Anne didn’t come last week because she’s broken her arm again but she’s here now for my birthday party. She’s right behind me when I blow out the candles on the pink-ribboned cake. Her arm is swollen with plaster and hung in a sling. I’m wrapped in the frock that Mummy made, the red one with squiggles of black; it’s got white knitted cuffs and a white knitted collar and matching red knickers which itch. The girl opposite is wearing silver ballet pumps and a pink dress and she’s got frilly blonde hair and a little upturned nose but I don’t care because Anne doesn’t think she’s a little darling: I heard her say ‘no manners that one’.

“I want cake,” Tom cries and reaches out to get another sausage from the hedgehog.

“There, there, little darling, you’ll get some soon enough, there’s a good boy,” says Anne and strokes his hair.

I turn my face towards her. “Am I a little darling?”

“Of course, poppet,” says Anne. I don’t think I can be a little darling because Mummy cuts my fringe and it’s very short and woggly and she only calls Tom a little darling.  Not me.

*

We’re moving. We’re going to a house, a proper house like normal people. I don’t know if I’m going to like it.

My parents [c1955]

My parents

Comfort in a Cotton Frock Day 2
Comfort in a Cotton Frock Day 3

Sarah Vernon © 1st November 2013

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


With thanks to Sue of Messie Jessie – Assemblage Art, whose Wordless Wednesday posts I have always envied.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


As I have recently said on Facebook, whenever I sell a theatre-related design on whatever product, my heart leaps. Theatre is in my blood, partly because I spent over 30 years as an actress and partly because I was, as the saying goes, ‘born in a trunk’.  This theatre term used to mean that you were born on tour of theatrical parents and that while other babies spent their days and nights in cribs and prams, you spent yours sustained by the smell of greasepaint and curled up in the theatre’s wardrobe skip, either in the wings or one of  the dressing rooms.  Now it has the more general meaning of having theatrical parentage. I am reminded of another phrase, which was coined by the playwright Tom Robertson, as revealed by Clement Scott in The Drama of Yesterday and Today [Vol. I] (pub. Macmillan & Co, 1899), and of which I am very fond.  Robertson tells a story about a theatre child who has been “nursed on rose-pink and cradled in properties”.*  Aaah!

Imagine my delight, then, when a customer from the U.S. bought a collection of theatrical greeting cards,  which I created from my archive of vintage postcards.  Yesterday, I was thrilled anew by a slew of similar images selling to a British customer. Palace Theatre of Varieties Greeting Cards

Palace Theatre of Varieties

Varieties & Novelties Greeting Card 

Varieties & Novelties
Both the above are from original late 19th century music hall playbills for the Palace Theatre of Varieties, ‘The Handsomest Music Hall in Europe’. It was originally built as a venue for opera by Richard D’Oyly Carte but only one opera – Arthur Sullivan’s Ivanhoe – was ever produced. The theatre was renamed the Palace Theatre in 1911, a name it retains to this day.

Dame Gladys Cooper (1888-1971), mother of the actor Robert Morley and grandmother of the late theatre critic and writer, Sheridan Morley.
Sir Henry Irving (1838-1905), the first actor to be knighted.
Dame Ellen Terry (1847-1928) as Queen Guinevere in King Arthur at the Lyceum Theatre in 1895
Montage of several late 19th century and early 20th century British actresses.
Top row: Ellen Terry (1847-1928), Irene Vanbrugh (1872-1949), Gladys Cooper (1888-1971), Gabrielle Ray (1883-1973)
Middle Row: Ellaline Terris (1872-1971), Mary Moore (1861-1931), Ellen Terry (1847-1928), Ellen Terry (1847-1928)
Bottom Row: Pauline Chase (1885-1962), Phyllis Broughton (1862 -1926), Phyllis Neilson-Terry (1892-1977), Isabel Jay (1879 – 1927)
Julia Neilson (1863-1957) and Mr Henry Ainley (1879-1945) in Henry of Navarre (1908). Taken from Play Pictorial, an early 20th century equivalent of today’s Theatregoer.

Take care and keep laughing.

About Sarah & First Night Design

*Rose-pink is a lighting gel for the stage; properties are the ‘props’ used by the actors in a production such as a newspaper, a table lighter or a book.


This advertisement for Collinson & Lock is from a D’Oyly Carte programme for Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Yeoman of the Guard at the Savoy Theatre in 1888. Collinson & Lock was a prominent furniture company, founded in the 1860s by F G Collinson and G J Lock, which concentrated on Art Nouveau and Aesthetic designs.

The company’s theatrical links are fascinating. Amongst other work, Collinson & Lock were responsible for decorating the new Savoy Theatre in 1881, while their most famous designer was the architect Edward William Godwin (1833-1886) who was inspired to design for the theatre by his affair with the actress Ellen Terry when she was still married to her first husband, the artist George Frederick Watts.

The union produced two children, the distinguished theatre designer, Edward Gordon Craig (1872–1966) and the theatre director, producer, costume designer and sometime actress Edith Craig (1869-1947). Some of Collinson & Lock’s pieces are on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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