The main character in our next show is a fascinating woman known only as "The Duchess." As we approach the show's opening in October, we'll be sharing some carefully selected excerpts from her 6,000+ page biography/memoir. We begin with this description of one of her first exposures to the theatre:
When I was a child of seven or eight years of age, I was staying in Lancashire with my mother and father, the latter having an engagement to perform in the orchestra. It was there that the line of heroines was filled by rather an antique belle; the tragic hero was too stiff to fall; and there was not a dancer; so they performed very steady comedies; or very quiet tragedies, with dances and deaths omitted by particular desire. But, fortunately for the exchequer, a remarkably pretty young actress, trying her strength during a provincial tour, arrived, and was engaged to perform for a few nights. She could scream, dance, faint, scream, fall, or stab herself, to perfection: better still, in mad scenes she could let loose a profusion of long golden hair which nearly reached the ground, and carried away all hearts within its sunny meshes. She had the pink and white complexion of early girlhood; bright blue eyes, and a fine commanding figure. Indeed, the beauty and grace of this young actress quite turned my head. I attended every rehearsal, and at length came the grand evening, when I was allowed a place in the pit. How I was awed by this stranger in tragedy and black velvet, and enchanted by her gaiety in comedy and white muslin. It was my first serious notion of what could be done in the profession.