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Characters which he has acquired in a more deliberate manner he never forgets, but can perform them without a moment's preparation; but in the character now mentioned there was the further and very singular fact that, though he has repeatedly performed it since then, he has been obliged each time to prepare it anew, and has never acquired in regard to it that facility which is familiar to him in other instances. When questioned respecting the mental process which he employed the first time he performed this part, he says that he lost sight entirely of the audience, and seemed to have nothing before him but the pages of the book from which he had learned it; and that if anything had occurred to interrupt this illusion, he should have stopped instantly."

There are great numbers of interesting stories afloat concerning feats of memory of actors, in taking parts at short notice, and performing them. A year or two since, it is said, Mr. J. W. Wallack, Jr., went on at a theatre in Washington entirely perfect in the part of Brierly, in the “ Ticket-of-Leave Man," having acquired the words in thirty minutes. It is related that Mr. Edwin Booth once, when a boy, got through Richard 111, in the illness of his father, without having studied it.

One evening, when my father was playing in a Canadian city, several years ago, he was suddenly called upon to take the powerful part of Black Ralph. The performer who was expected to enact this part was taken ill at six o'clock in the evening, and some one must play his part, or the performance could not go on. Black Ralph is a very long tragic part, and my father was the “funny actor” of the company; yet, in spite of this fact, he agreed to take it and do his best with it.

It was six o'clock when the part was placed in his hands. At half-past-seven o'clock the curtain rang up. In this short interval my father memorized the part from



beginning to end, besides changing his dress, and making up his laughter-provoking and genial face into the aspect of fierce and brutal villainy.

He went on the stage, and proceeded for some time with perfect ease, while a gentleman who sat in the audience followed him, word by word, by means of a printed copy of the play, which he held in his hand.

Suddenly father caught sight of this gentleman with the play-book. He stopped short, stammered, and was barely able to proceed.

As soon as he got behind the scenes, he sent word round to the gentleman in the audience, requesting him to put the book out of sight, for it so confused and annoyed him that he could not go on with his part.

The gentleman very obligingly did as he was desired, and my father played the part to the end without making a single mistake. To this the prompter testified, he having, of course, followed the part through, word by word.

Few people realize what little things can throw an actor off his guard at times, and make him forget his part, or so stumble through it as to make it a hopeless mess. The rustling of a newspaper, the crying of a baby, the getting up and going out of a squeak-booted man,these and other such trifles have at times had the effect of disconcerting the performer completely.




Erroneous Ideas of the Gayety and Ease of Life Behind the Scenes.-An

Actor's Daily Duties. — Studying Parts, attending Rehearsals, and Performing at Night.—The Mental Labor.—The Physical Labor.The Mockery of Stage Glitter.–False Jewels and Flaring Gaslight.How Actors Go Astray.—The Stern Rules which Govern Life Behind the Scenes.- Waiting for the Cue.-A Curious Incident in the Life of a Celebrated Actress.—Asleep on the Stage.

I have met a great many people who had a fixed idea that theatrical life was an idle life; one in which there was positively nothing to do but to carouse away the time in frivolous nonsense, in chatting and merrymaking, if not in actual debauchery! Nothing can be farther from the truth.

Recreation is the incident in the life of an actor or ar. actress; work-hard work is the rule.

“Work! an actor work?” I hear you say, as I have heard many say.

Ay, and hard work. Read what the American Cyclopedia says on this point:

“The profession of the stage is perhaps the most laborious of all crafts, requiring an almost unceasing mental and physical effort.”

Both mental and physical, you observe. The lawyer works hard with his brain, so does the editor, the bankclerk, the book-keeper; but all of these are nearly free from physical labor.

On the other hand, the carpenter, the mason, the hodcarrier, earn their bread by sweating brow and fatigued limbs; but every one knows that this is the heaviest part of a mechanic's toil. There is little or no brain-work to torture him.



“Well, if an actor works, what in the name of goodness does he work at?"

“The duties of an actor comprise a study of new parts, and recovery of old ones, occupying, on an average, from two to four hours a day; an attendance at rehearsal in the morning, occupying, on an average, two hours a day; and a performance each evening, occupying in winter four, and in summer about three hours."

This, you perceive, gives an average of six hours' daily labor, and four hours' evening labor for the actor, the year round. But even this conveys little idea of the specially fatiguing character of his work.

If any of my readers would like to test it somewhat, in the privacy of their own homes, let them draw down a volume of Shakspeare, and try to commit to memory in a hurry any one of his important male or female characters,

-Richard the Third, or Queen Catharine, Othello, Lady Macbeth, Juliet, or Hamlet.

Every word must be exact, remember; the interpolation or dropping out of a single syllable is enough to lay an actor open to the charge of inexcusable ignorance, or impertinent singularity.

This will give you an idea of an actor's daily mental labor; for, except in the larger cities, where plays frequently have long “runs," (that is, are repeated night after night for weeks, or even months,) it is the rule in theatres for the play to be changed every night, and consequently for every actor or actress to study each night a new part—long or short, as the case may be.

So much for the mental labor of the actor. Now for the physical.

This includes standing up the most of the time he is in the theatre. On the stage, of course, he must never sit down, except when it is so indicated in the play. Fancy



Hamlet sitting down comfortably while talking to the ghost of his father; or Macbeth inquiring

"Is this a dagger that I see before me,

The handle towards my hand ?” from amidst the soft cushions of a parlor sofa!

A great many male tragic parts require the actor to fence, and that this is hard work for a slender man (or a stout one either, for that matter,) any one will testify who has seen Edwin Booth in Hamlet, or Romeo, or Richard the Third, or Forrest in the Gladiator or Jack Cade.

The frequent changes of dress made while the actor is off the stage, and many perhaps suppose him to be resting, also tend to increase his physical fatigue. The rushing up and down of delineated fury, the stamping of feet, the loud and hurried speaking,—all this is what goes to make up the physical fatigue of the actor's life.

It is strictly forbidden to place chairs in the “wings,” as the space at the side of the theatre, between the scenery, is called.

Obliged thus to be standing up waiting for their “cue,” it is no uncommon thing to hear the poor players moaning with sad lamentations of weariness.

I have seen tears in the eyes of actresses, wrung from them entirely by physical fatigue.

If human machinery always worked well, there would be less cause for this standing about the wings; for it is the prompter's duty to prepare notes for the call-boy, with which to notify the players during the evening, a few minutes previous to the time they are wanted; and it is the call-boy's duty to call out these written notes at the door of the green-room at stated intervals; thus enabling the players, who leave the green-room directly they are “called,” to arrive at the wing in good season for their cue to go on the stage, without unnecessary fatigue of waiting

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