'The dramatic profession across the water possesses no such thing as a distinctive club. It has, that is to say, no professional club-house. Paris can show nothing in the nature of the London Garrick, and provides nothing in the shape of the Beefsteak, or a Green Room, or a Savage. The clubability of ''thé' profession has never extended to anything of this kind. Its individual members appear to find quite sufficient everyday accommodation in the café of their predilection. Still, there are actors' clubs of sorts in Paris, and the hieroglyphic seeming rubric above is, or rather was, the name of one of them.
'This particular society meets in the good old Johnsonian fashion, at a tavern, and there, once a month, it dines. The tavern lies outside the ruck of restaurants, in a quiet and sequestered quarter, whither the feet of the roysterer never stray. But the dinners to be had there are none the worse for that, and the liquors all the better.
'When the ''Gym-Co-Vau-Dé-Pa-O'' was started a decade or so ago its members numbered thirty. The method of election was eclectic, and the original name of the club implies as much. Writ long in means, ''Gymnasc, Comédie Franc,aise, Vaudeville, Déjazet, Palais Royal, Odéon.'' Not, however, that members of the companies of these theatres only are eligible.
'The original designation of the Club, however, has been changed, and more than once. It became first the ''Petites Vedettes,'' then the ''Mentons-Bleus,'' or Blue Chins. To-day it is known fondly as the ''Guignot,'' and the monthly symposium is thus a monthly Punch Dinner. But once a year, in this present month of January, the Punch dinner takes the form of supper; and, on these occasions, the Punchmen have a pretty custom of asking a lady - of course, a member of the profession - to preside. The first lady president was Mdme. Blanche Pierson, of the Gymnase. One of her successors was Mdme. Alice Lavigne, the désopilante soubrette of the Palais Royal. Last year Mdlle. Cheirel took the chair and the other night the revels were ruled by Mlle. Mariette Sully, the bewtiching heroine of Audran's Poupée, who found under her serviette a counterfeit presentment of herself as she appears upon the stage of the Gai:té - a Doll of Dolls, which a floral tribute in her wooden hands, the offering of the gallant Guignol.
'After reflection, and with the cigarettes, comes the literary portion of the entertainment. This habitually takes the peculiarly Parisian form of a ''revue,'' or rhymed skit upon things in general, as wicked and as witty as the club pens can make it. Sarah in excelsis, Sarcey in his critic's seat, and M. Antoine in the shades, formed its features on this occasion.
'The whole concluded with a tombola, conducted on professional lines, and lasting till the traditional baked apples had all given out.'
(The Pall Mall Gazette, London, Tuesday, 12 January 1897, p. 3c)
* * * * * * * *
Rita Barrington dances in
In Gay Piccadilly,
Grand Theatre, Birmingham, 1899