Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

his enemy. In King Henry's presence his actor, and his performance of Wolsey bearing was that of obsequious deference. made actual on the stage an ideal that His handling of the ruinous papers that rose to the full height of the poet's conthe king returns to Wolsey, combined ception. with changes of facial expression, a rumi- Henry Irving's impersonation of W'olnative pause, and then an utterance of sey commingled in one symmetrical idenhopeless surrender, was supremely elo- tity the stately aristocrat, the suave diploquent. In speaking the lines which in- matist, the commanding statesman, and

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

corporate the reference to the fall of the polished, elegant, highly intellectual Lucifer, he stretched his arms upward and prince of the church,-chimere, rochet, forward, conveying a grand image of the mantle, red hat, etc.,—and his tall figure, poet's thought, and then, upon the sad ascetic face, piercing eyes, authoritative cadence of the verse, completely collapsed, bearing, incisive speech, and incessant uttering the abject desolation of a broken earnestness of personification, combined spirit in the four simple words, "never to to make the performance impressively liferise again.” Kean's delivery was often like and deeply sympathetic. He emsomewhat marred by a certain nasality of ployed, as Kean had done, the traditional speech, and his performances were not business relative to Buckingham in the illumined by those flashes of lightning opening scene-a scene in which the Carwhich characterized the acting of his dis- dinal, sure of his ground, is perfectly comtinguished father; but he was a noble posed. In the trial scene his manner to

ward the king was profoundly respectful, Young's “Revenge.” Her embodiment of and toward the queen, bland, almost hum- Queen Katharine was admired by her ble, ingratiating, and ingenuous. Wolsey, contemporaries, and the dramatic chronuntil the moment of the catastrophe, is icles of her day commend it for royalty of almost continuously acting a part, and demeanor, depth of feeling, and grace of Irving's performance was remarkably in- sympathetic expression. Her voice is dicative of that condition-alert, vigilant, described as tremulous. She specially exfull of transitions from frankness to subtle celled in her delivery of the Queen's adartifice, revealed to the auditory by the juration to the King in the trial scene. In expedient of transparency. Touches of early life she had attended on the fascinatmordant sarcasm,

as when, replying to ing Elizabeth Barry, and it is probable Campeius, he said in a dry tone, “We live that she formed her style on the model of not to be grip'd by meaner persons," and that great actress. Mrs. Pritchard, who when, in the moody soliloquy about the succeeded her, was accounted majestic in king's marriage, he murmured, “I'll no deportment and natural in method of Anne Bullens for him," — here and there speech in this character, but less effective lit the performance with gleams of austere upon the feelings of the audience. Mrs. humor. There was, in the scene of defeat Porter and Mrs. Pritchard dressed Queen and ruin, and in the delivery of the fare- Katharine in imitation of the attire worn well, a touching simplicity of grief and by royal persons of their period. There is resignation, and a striking revelation of no specific stage account of the stage-busiprofound knowledge of human suffering. ness used in this part by those eminent

Before 1660, all characters in plays per- performers. formed in England, male and female, were It is not until Mrs. Siddons comes upon presented by males. Some one of the the scene that the investigator of the subtwenty-six persons named in the list pre- ject finds particular mention of expedients fixed to the first folio as “the principal that were employed in the acting of Queen actors in all these plays” was presumably Katharine. In 1788–89 John Philip the first performer of Queen Katharine. Kemble, at Drury Lane, revived "King The first woman who ever acted the part Henry VIII,” making a new stage version was Mary Betterton, wife of Thomas, she of it, - which was published in 1804,having coöperated with her husband in and giving special attention to scenery, the representation of "King Henry VIII” costumes, and processions. All was done which was given at Lincoln's Inn Fields that his sound scholarship could warrant in 1663. No account of her acting in it and his liberality of expenditure compass. is extant, but she was highly esteemed as Mrs. Siddons acted Queen Katharine. an actress, and it can be reasonably as- Robert Bensley appeared as Wolsey. sumed that she gave a competent perfor- Kemble "doubled" in the characters of

The vision scene, as it is usually Cromwell and Griffith (reserving his called (Act IV, Scene 2), in which the essay in Wolsey till a later time, when he death-stricken queen asks for music, and acted that part with distinguished success). presently lapses into slumber, was elabo- That was the occasion when Mrs. Siddons rately treated as a spectacle in the time of made her first appearance as the queen. The Mrs. Betterton, and that method, required peculiar, expressive business,- haughty, imby ample stage-direction in the folio, perious, and openly and grandly hostile,was followed in the time of her distin- of pointing at Wolsey and addressing him guished successors, Elizabeth Barry, 1706; without looking at him in the trial scene, Mary Porter, 1721; and Hannah Pritch- when Queen Katharine delivers the trenard, 1743

Mrs. Porter, tall, fair, not chant speech beginning, “Lord Cardinal, handsome, but impressive by reason of to you I speak," was invented by her, and great dignity, and winning by reason of her pause after the word “Cardinal,” and acute sensibility, is said to have acted to the marked emphasis, incisive and scornperfection such parts as Shakspere's Her- ful, that she placed on the word "you" mione, in “The Winter's Tale," Otway's were accounted wonderfully expressive. At Belvidera, in “Venice Preserved,” Queen a later period that point in the representaElizabeth, in John Banks's “The Un- tion was chosen by Mr. G. H. Harlow happy Favorite," and Leonora, in Dr. when he painted the spirited picture of the

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed]
[graphic]

was represented for Fanny Kemble's bene- - in her day was regarded as a prodigy of fit, that beautiful and brilliant woman, genius and beauty. In 1837 she became then only twenty-three years of age, acting the wife of Mr. James Mason, and soon Queen Katharine, and Charles Kemble afterward retired from the stage. In acting Wolsey. On that occasion the 1847, “King Henry VIII” was produced effect of the appearance of celestial phan- at the old Bowery Theater, New York, toms, in the vision scene, was heightened with Eliza Marian Trewar (Mrs. Shaw), by the vocalism of Emma Wheatley, who a remarkably beautiful woman and a fine sang the solemn song by Handel, “Angels actress, as the Queen. Among American Ever Bright and Fair," then for the first actors the most notable representative of time thus introduced. Four years later, at Wolsey was that superb comedian John the National Theater, in Church Street, Gilbert. A good performance of King Emma Wheatley (1822-1854) herself ap- Henry was given by John Jack. peared as Queen Katharine, John Vanden- The loveliest embodiments of Queen hoff being the Wolsey, and Henry Wal- Katharine that have been presented on our lack the King. Miss Wheatley, only six- stage within a remembrance ranging over teen years old when thus she ventured to a period of more than fifty years were assume one of the most majestic characters those of Helena Modjeska, 1892, and Ellen in Shakspere,-a character that no girl Terry, 1892-93. Madame Modjeska's ever did or ever could really impersonate, delicate features, dark, sad, dreamy eyes,

[graphic][merged small][merged small]
« AnkstesnisTęsti »