Press Clippings for the week ending
Saturday, 26 April 2008

A random selection of clippings
from newspapers and magazines

Polaire in a rage,
USA, 1913


Polaire (1879-1939), French actress and singer

(photo: unknown, circa 1912)

'Washington theatregoers who witnesses the Hoffmann-Polaire-Richardson entertainment at the Belasco a few weeks ago, will be keenly interested in a description of some off-stage acting by Polaire, which was witnesses by Archie Bell, dramatic editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Mr. Bell give a graphic description of the artistic exhibition by the visitor from that dear Paris, whom he terms ''Polaire, the Wildest.''
'''Polaire,'' writes Mr. Bell, ''the most untamed thing of our day and generation, felt wounded. Her art had suffered. She had been misrepresented to the people of Elizabeth. She, Polaire, the greatest actress in the world - for she loudly proclaimed the fact hereself, Polaire, who had the record of bringing $32,000 into a theater in one week - she, Polaire, had been insulted. When she was in a great scene of her play, when she was showing Americans what real acting was like, he - the ninny, the worse than ninny - had held his baton gently in hand, and catching nothing of her inspiration, he had permitted his fiddles and horns to go 'thump, thump, thump,' when they should have gone 'thump, crash, bang!' Polaire was insulted. She was mad. And like some crazy witch in the African jungle, her hair streaming out straight from her head fully twelve inches, a long dagger held firmly in hand and held high in air, she was dashing madly about the room, jumping to the top of her trunk, then to the floor, then to a chair, and then around the room like a hyena in a cage.
'''I could hear her snapping, snarling and whining, but my 'date' with her was at precisely the moment indicated by the watch which I held in hand. Therefore I tapped gently on the door. She threw it open and I beheld the little musical director cowering before her. Perhaps he was 'explaining,' but it looked to me as if he thanks heaven that I had arrived.
'''The then began again. She snatched a big Turkish towel from her dressing table and, crumpling it into a wad, she aimed it at the window. She grabbed grease pots and rouge jars and threw them to the floor. She picked up the knife again and made for him. Had it not been for my consuming desire to once in my life behold real acting I would ave make a quick escape and attempted to drag the music director with me. A mad tigress is no fit thing for a companion. But, ah, how I enjoyed it!
'''Polaire realized what she was doing. But she was too mad to stop. In reality she was waving the knife in a manner that she seemed to think would tell the man how she wanted him to wave the baton. But she made lunges at him, she screeched and jumped around like a tortured creature in the bull ring.
'''Turning to me at irregular intervals, in almost a sane and quiet voice, she would say: 'Excuse me, monsieur - mais Dieu! how I have been made to suffer!' After another cannonade she would turn and explain; 'Pardon, monsieur, but I have been insulted; my art, he had been dragged into the dust. I am angry.'''
'The director eventually escaped.'
(The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Sunday, 19 October 1913, Magazine Section, p.2b)

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© John Culme, 2008