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What a fine Bank Holiday treat — I’ve sold 50 of these invitations!

Source: At the Circus Card | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


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

Birthdays or holidays, good days or hard days, Zazzle’s customized greeting cards are the perfect way to convey your wishes on any occasion. Add a photo or pick a design and brighten someone’s day with a simple “hi”!

  • Dimensions: 5″ x 7″ (portrait) or 7″ x 5″ (landscape)
  • Full color CMYK print process
  • All-sided printing for no additional cost
  • Printable area on the back of the card is 3″ x 4″ (portrait) or 4″ x 3″ (landscape)

Standard white envelopes included

Paper Type: Matte

The most popular paper choice, Matte’s eggshell texture is soft to the touch with a smooth finish that provides the perfect backdrop for your chosen designs.

  • Light white, uncoated matte finish with an eggshell texture
  • Paper is easy to write on and won’t smudge
  • Made and printed in the USA

Source: Dame Ellen Terry Card | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


I’m feeling less than divine at the moment but I hope you enjoy this exquisite image of my namesake which you can buy as cards, postcards and posters.

The great French stage actress of the late 19th century, Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923).

Orientation: Postcard

Create your own vacation-worthy postcards right here. Any view you’ve seen, any monument you’ve fallen in love with, can all be added to our postcards with our personalization tool. Craft touching, hand-written correspondence while on your next road trip!

  • Dimensions: 4.25″ x 5.6″ (portrait) or 5.6″ x 4.25″ (landscape)
  • Full colour CMYK print process
  • Double sided printing for no additional cost
  • Postage rate: $0.34

Paper Type: Matte

The most popular paper choice, Matte’s eggshell texture is soft to the touch with a smooth finish that provides the perfect backdrop for your chosen designs.

  • Light white, uncoated matte finish with an eggshell texture
  • Paper is easy to write on and won’t smudge
  • Made and printed in the USA

Source: The Divine Sarah Postcard | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Size: Standard Size Business Card, 3.5″ x 2.0″

When it comes to your business, don’t wait for opportunity, create it! Make a lasting impression with quality cards that WOW.

  • Dimensions: 3.5″ x 2.0″
  • Full color CMYK print process
  • Double sided printing for no additional cost
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee

Paper Type: Signature UV Matte

An upgrade from our Standard Matte, Signature UV Matte features a thicker and stiffer paper coated with a protective finish that can be written on. It provides the perfect base for creating long-lasting, high-quality designs with robust color and detail.

  • 18 pt thickness/ 325 GSM
  • Bright white, matte finish
  • UV coating adds an additional layer of protection
  • Made and printed in the USA

Source: Vesta Tilley Business Card | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Size: Greeting Card

Birthdays or holidays, good days or bad days, Zazzle’s customized greeting cards are the perfect way to convey your well-wishes and salutations on any occasion. Add a photo or pick a design and brighten someone’s day with a simple “hi”!

  • Dimensions: 5″l x 7″w (portrait) or 7″l x 5″w (landscape)
  • Printed on 110 lb, 12.5 point thick, semi-gloss paper
  • Matte finish inside for smudge-free writing
  • Add photos and text to all sides of this folded card at no extra charge
  • Printable area on the back of the card is 3″l x 4″w (portrait) or 4″l x 3″w (landscape)
  • Standard white envelopes included

Source: Twelfth Night Greeting Card | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Vision and Bite Update; No great fall-out from the removal of the wisdom (apart from the actual tooth) but my left eye is not as good as it was over the weekend. Hey, diddle diddle! Onwards, upwards.

Size: Greeting Card

Birthdays or holidays, good days or bad days, Zazzle’s customized greeting cards are the perfect way to convey your well-wishes and salutations on any occasion. Add a photo or pick a design and brighten someone’s day with a simple “hi”!

  • Dimensions: 5″l x 7″w (portrait) or 7″l x 5″w (landscape)
  • Printed on 110 lb, 12.5 point thick, semi-gloss paper
  • Matte finish inside for smudge-free writing
  • Add photos and text to all sides of this folded card at no extra charge
  • Printable area on the back of the card is 3″l x 4″w (portrait) or 4″l x 3″w (landscape)
  • Standard white envelopes included

Source: Punch & Judy Story Plate I Greeting Card | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


I present Miss Lily Elsie (1886-1962) and Mr Joseph Coyne (1861-1947) in The Merry Widow in 1907

This Edwardian production in which Lily Elsie made her name, was the beginning of a glittering career for the actress on the musical stage. Everyone wanted to see the show which had music by Franz Lehar and lyrics by Adrian Ross. Based on the Viennese operetta Die Lustige Witwe by Victor Leon and Leo Stein, it was adapted from Henri Meilhae’s play L’Attaché d’Ambassade. Apparently, King Edward VII saw it four times.   LilyElsie.com

Joseph Coyne was an American-born musical actor who started his career in Vaudeville. He first went to London to appear in 1901 and spent most of his career on the British stage. “It is no good their pretending to be any one else. We go to see themselves, and all we ask is that the authors and others shall give them every chance of being themselves in the most pronounced and personal fashion,” said one critic about Coyne. Wikipedia

The Merry Widow Bicycle Playing Cards
The Merry Widow Bicycle Playing Cards by FirstNightDesign

I’m particularly fond of the image because I love the damage that age has wrought and was not inclined to repair it digitally when I first added to my Zazzle store a few years ago.

The Merry Widow iPhone 5 Case
The Merry Widow iPhone 5 Case by FirstNightDesign

Available at the following galleries:
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


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


FROM THE ARCHIVE

Originally posted on First Night Design.

Although this engraving by Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Charles Pugin is available online in the public domain, mine is actually a scan from an original print published as Plate 69 of Microcosm of London (1810) which my parents had bought from a local antique dealer in the 1960s.

I have not been able to discover what’s being performed but it looks something of a spectacular production what with the horse and carriage, the Boadicea-like figure and gigantic pillars! If anyone has any ideas, let me know.

While the following quote is not from the early 19th century, it describes what Sadler’s Wells had become by the 1840s:

‘Without, the theatre, by night, was like the worst part of the worst kind of Fair in the worst kind of town. Within, it was a bear-garden, resounding with foul language, oaths, catcalls, shrieks, yells, blasphemy, obscenity – a truly diabolical clamour. Fights took place anywhere, at any period of the performance… Sickly children in arms were squeezed…

via First Night Design | Sadler’s Wells Theatre by Rowlandson & Pugin | First Night Design.


Originally posted on First Night Design in 2013.

The origin of this image is unknown, which suggests it is rare.  At a guess, it dates from the late 1910s or early 1920s and was possibly the cover of a ballet and theatre periodical.  It is an image I fell in love with  a couple of years ago when I was exploring Vintage Art Download, an exquisite site full of vintage images — some very rare — offered for sale by Mindy Sommers of Color Bakery.

 

Click here for all other products with this image.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

via Just Because I Love this Cushion | First Night Design.


I can think of nothing new or funny to say about no computer so here’s a clown I made earlier! When I’m up and running again, I promise to reply to your comments. I have been able to read some of your posts but the like button fails to load most of the time.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah x

First Night Design

Buy Clown in the Mirror © First Night Design on prints & postersBuy—Clown in the Mirror © First Night Design on prints & posters

I have filched a painting from my late mother and made it my own. Benedicta painted her clown in her teens — not that they were known as such an entity when she was growing up in the 1920s and ’30s. I say filched but I inherited it!

Untitled Clown by Benedicta Leigh Untitled Clown by Benedicta Leigh

To create a different colour palette for him. I used several 2 Lil’ Owls textures from the Confetti series.

2-lil-owls-textures-confetti2-lil-owls-textures-confetti

To set the whole thing off, I used another 2 Lil’ Owls texture from the Distressed series for a background on which you can see the faint markings of a musical score.

2LO Distressed 52LO Distressed 5

My mother’s clown now looks as if he is checking himself in the mirror before going on stage, an effect that was coincidental but was pointed out to me by ‘him…

View original post 19 more words


The Palace Theatre of Varieties
The Palace Theatre of Varieties

Palace Theatre of Varieties Greeting Cards
Palace Theatre of Varieties Greeting Cards

Both of these designs are adapted from my original late 19th century music hall playbills for the Palace Theatre of Varieties, ‘The Handsomest Music Hall in Europe’.

This London theatre 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.

Varieties & Novelties Greeting Card
Varieties & Novelties Greeting Card


‘Without music life would be a mistake.’
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Although this engraving by Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Charles Pugin is available online in the public domain, mine is actually a scan from an original print published as Plate 69 of Microcosm of London (1810) which my parents had bought from a local antique dealer in the 1960s.

I have not been able to discover what’s being performed but it looks something of a spectacular production what with the horse and carriage, the Boadicea-like figure and gigantic pillars! If anyone has any ideas, let me know.

While the following quote is not from the early 19th century, it describes what Sadler’s Wells had become by the 1840s:

‘Without, the theatre, by night, was like the worst part of the worst kind of Fair in the worst kind of town. Within, it was a bear-garden, resounding with foul language, oaths, catcalls, shrieks, yells, blasphemy, obscenity – a truly diabolical clamour. Fights took place anywhere, at any period of the performance… Sickly children in arms were squeezed out of shape, in all parts of the house. Fish was fried at the entrance doors. Barricades of oyster shells encumbered the pavement. Expectant half-price visitors to the gallery, howled defiant impatience up the stairs, and danced a sort of Carmagnole all round the building.’

A description in Household Words, October 1851, of the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in the 1840s, cited by Claire Tomalin in her book,  The Invisible Woman. Tomalin writes of the theatre as being in a state of ‘Hogarthian brutishness’.

Incidentally, if you haven’t read The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens, it is a riveting read about the actress who became the mistress of Charles Dickens.

There is also a new film version starring Ralph Fiennes and Felicity Jones: The Invisible Woman [DVD] [2014].

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


I have filched a painting from my late mother and made it my own. Benedicta painted her clown in her teens — not that they were known as such an entity when she was growing up in the 1920s and ’30s. I say filched but I inherited it!

Untitled Clown by Benedicta Leigh

Untitled Clown by Benedicta Leigh

To create a different colour palette for him. I used several 2 Lil’ Owls textures from the Confetti series.

To set the whole thing off, I used another 2 Lil’ Owls texture from the Distressed series for a background on which you can see the faint markings of a musical score.

My mother’s clown now looks as if he is checking himself in the mirror before going on stage, an effect that was coincidental but was pointed out to me by ‘him indoors’, thus prompting the title.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

Related articles

A story is told that in 1806 a man goes to visit a doctor who is acclaimed for his ability to treat melancholia. “I can’t eat, I can’t sleep,” says the man. “I feel constantly miserable.  Please help me, doctor.”

“Laughter is the best medicine, my friend,” says the doctor. “Take yourself off to Covent Garden Theatre* where you will find The Great Grimaldi performing in Harlequin and Mother Goose; or the Golden Egg. It is exquisitely funny and will cure you of all your ills without any pills or potions from my cabinet.”

The man looks at the doctor for a moment.  “Ah,” he says. “That won’t help.”

“Why not, sir?”

The man shrugs. “I am Grimaldi.”

Grimaldi in 1819 by J.E.T. Robinson

Grimaldi in 1819 by J.E.T. Robinson

Apocryphal or no, I have little doubt the story’s origins go much further back. It would not surprise me if  it was first told in Ancient Greece about an actor performing in one of Aristotle’s comedies. It is a tale that has been attached to several comedians since, not least Dan Leno, whose depression was also legendary.

Joseph Grimaldi came from a line of Italian dancers and performers but was born and brought up in London. It is he we have to thank for the prominence of clowns in entertainment and for British pantomime existing in the form it does. A master craftsman when it came to performing in Commedia dell’Arte, an Italian style that became popular in the 16th century, Grimaldi’s antics in 19th century Harlequinades transformed the clowning to such an extent that the clown ended up replacing the character of Harlequin.

The It’s Behind You site says this about his performance in the doctor-recommended Harlequin and Mother Goose:

The lack of great theatrical scenes allowed Grimaldi to project himself to the fore ‘he shone with unimpeded brilliance’ once critic wrote. Another marveled at his performance ‘whether he robbed a pieman, opened an oyster, rode a giant carthorse, imitated a sweep, grasped a red-hot poker……. in all this he was extravagantly natural!’

Next time you go to a Christmas pantomime and sing along, think back to The Great Grimaldi for it was he whose comic songs were so popular that they became a permanent fixture in pantomime.  And if you’ve ever wondered why clowns are so often called Joey, think again of Grimaldi.

Grimaldi by John Cawse

Grimaldi by John Cawse

Andrew McConnell Stott, who has recently written a biography of Grimaldi — The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi: Laughter, Madness and the Story of Britain’s Greatest Comedian — writes:

The audience was in hysterics. Grimaldi had been their idol since he first came to prominence in 1806, having been thrust into the highest sphere of celebrity with a virtuoso comic performance in the original production of Mother Goose, a show that took record profits and ran for longer than any other pantomime in history. Its success brought him national recognition, enormous fees, and a social circle that included Lord Byron, Sarah Siddons, Edmund Kean, Matthew ‘Monk’ Lewis and the entire Kemble family. The critics Leigh Hunt and William Hazlitt sang his praises, the young Charles Dickens edited his Memoirs….”

Having retired in 1823 from ill-health and exhaustion — ‘I have overleaped myself’ — Grimaldi ran out of money in 1828, though he was  then helped by a yearly pension of £100 from the Drury Lane Theatrical Fund, and various benefit performances were staged to help him.  He spent his remaining years in great pain from a body that he had pushed to the limit.

When he died in 1837, The London Illustrated News despaired that audiences would ever look upon his like again. It’s Behind You quotes from the periodical:

Grimaldi is dead and hath left no peer… We fear with him the spirit of pantomime has disappeared.

Joseph Grimaldi's grave

Joseph Grimaldi’s grave

Joseph Grimaldi is buried in the courtyard of St James’s Chapel in Pentonville and is commemorated every year on the first Sunday in February at the Holy Trinity Church in Dalston, The Clowns’ Church, with the Joseph Grimaldi Memorial Service. Since 1967, clowns have been able to attend the service wearing their costumes.

*Now The Royal Opera House

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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