Press Clippings for the week ending
Saturday, 25 September 2004

A random selection of cuttings
from newspapers and magazines

Tom Cannam's Company in Adam Bede
Prince's Theatre, Manchester, 31 May 1886,
starring William Rignold

William Rignold

William Rignold (1836-1904), English actor,
as Sir George Wilson in Robert Buchanan's Joseph's Sweetheart,
based on the novel Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding,
Vaudeville Theatre, London, 8 March 1888

(photo: London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, 1888)

'Mr. Tom Cannam's company began a short engagement at this theatre last night in a play by Mr. Howell Poole founded on George Eliot's Adam Bede, produced under the superintendence of Mr. William Rignold. The practice of dramatising novels has become so common and among those so converted there are so many one would have deemed unlikely for the process, that we can no long be surprised at a new instance. Tom Jones has even provided a recently written comedy, and if a story of such subtle and delicate workmanship as Silas Marner could be made acceptable on the stage it was scarcely to be expected that one so fertile in incident as Adam Bede would escape the adapter. Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickens gave the warrant of their encouragement to the custom, which in fact has now become so common that the very form of the novel itself has in some cases been influenced by it, and not a few stories have been written with the evident intention of arrangement for the stage. There are, of course, some novels which more readily lend themselves to dramatic treatment than others; those, for example, which depend on stirring incident are easy subjects, and the stories of the elder Dumas have seldom failed in plays; and scarcely less available are the tales as which caricature takes the place of character, and where the most striking characters are eccentric oddities. Adam Bede, however, is something far greater than a novel of acting, and we have no hesitation in saying that it would be impossible to convey its essential charm in a stage play. The four acts of the drama performed last night are severally entitled The Coming of Age, The Hall Far, Lost in the Snow, and Prison. These will give to those who know the story a general idea of the dramatic treatment, which includes the leading incidents of the novel. But these who delight in George Eliot's masterpiece for its marvellous insight into character, for its literary finish, its vivid descriptions and serious speculations, will wish the playwright had touched meaner material. And while the drama only faintly illustrates the spirit of the novel it must be confessed that the new version of Adam Bede is a very dull play. In some cases where there is an approach to fidelity in situations, exicting enough in the play, the absence of the connecting link of narrative deprives them of nearly all their interest. Nor is it likely that the admirers of the novel will be satisfied with any of the impersonations of its leading characters. There is vigour and breadth in Mr. [Rignold]'s acting, but it lacks the native refinement and the manly dignity of George Eliot's Adam Bede. Mr. Cannam's Bartle Massey is not more successful, and no one would recognise honest farmer Poyser in the clown portrayed by Mr. David Collins. Mr. Leslie Tyler (Arthur Donnithorne) has none of the frank and graceful courtesy which made him so dangerously fascinating; and Mr. Meynell was not equal to all we have a right to look for in a representative of Parson Irwin. Venerable rustics are always prominent in rural drama, but the senility of the smock-frocked pantaloons with high-pitched trembling voices in this play is much too obtrusive. Nor are the ladies much more fortunate in their efforts. Miss Marie Braham's Mrs. Poyser has little resemblance to the inimitable domestic philosopher of the novel, and the adapter has not taken much trouble to make Dinah's position easily understood. As Hetty Miss Sophia Fane was more impressive in the pathetic scene than in those in which her careless vanity and arch gaiety do such mischief. The author may perhaps have intended to construct a play on independent lines, but it is impossible to avoid comparing the personages of his play with those of the novel, and the contrast is not favourable for Mr. Howell Poole's "great and powerful drama" [produced at the Holborn Theatre, London, 2 June 1884]. The actors are, however, all familiar with their parts, and many of them act with spirit. In the first scene Mr. Rignold displays considerable skill as a violinist, but we fear his selection was not altogether in keeping with the taste of the villagers for whom it was intended. The scenery is pretty, and the winter scene in the third act especially effective.'
(The Manchester Guardian, Manchester, Tuesday, 1 June 1886, p.6f)

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Stars from the Seaside:
Jimmy Godden, Stanley Kirby and Harry Hudson,
formerly in Margate concert parties,
Now in London, April 1917

Stars from the Seaside 'Eastertide is the time when seaside concert parties and pierrot troupes usually make their appearance, but this year they will be fewer than ever in numbers owing to war conditions. Most of the young humorists are in khaki, and when not in the trenches are entertaining their comrades behind the lines. The superior person often sneers at the "pierrotters," as he offensively terms them, forgetting that not a few of the vaudeville "stars" have been recruited from the seaside troupes. Three of the merriest entertainers to-day Jimmy Godden (the principal comedian of the London Pavilion revue [Cheerio!, 21 February 1917]), and Stanley Kirby and Harry Hudson (the English ragtime duo) were all members of the Margate concert parties. And, of course, there are others.' (The Weekly Dispatch, London, Sunday, 8 April 1917, p.6b)

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Famous for 50 Years;
Kate Bateman buried, London, 11 April 1917

Kate Bateman

Kate Bateman (1842-1917) as Leah in Augustin Daly's Leah the Forsaken

(photo: Charles D. Fredricks & Co, New York, circa 1863)

'Miss Bateman whose name has been associated with "Leah" for something like fifty years, was buried on Wednesday in Old Hendon Churchyard. Her father was an American and was associated with Henry Irving in his first days of management at the Lyceum. His daughter Kate was born in Baltimore, and was only 21 when she appeared as the heroine in the tearful drama Leah at the Adelphi Theatre in 1863 [October 1]. She was married two years later to an American, George Crowe, but this is not keep her from the theatre. She played many parts during her career, but it is with Leah that her name is linked with Our American Cousin and as the name of many another actor and actress is linked with the outstanding success of his or her professional career. Her stage life came to a tragic close. A facial disfigurement, due to incurable disease, led to her withdrawal.' (The Weekly Dispatch, London, Sunday, 15 April 1917, p.6b)

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John Culme, 2004