'Had any unsuspecting visitor entered the gymnasium of the Inns of court mission about noon Saturday, he might have thought that he had stumbled into one of the wards of an asylum for the feeble minded, says the London Express.
'A dozen men in lounge suits and as many women in ordinary colored blouses and dark skirts were assembled at that hour in the gymnasium, which was unfurnished except for a couple of plain desks and a few cheap wooden chairs.
'Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, a short, sturdily-built, black-eyed young woman, with wonderful eyes, dressed in a workday white cotton blouse and a dark skirt, rose from a corner of the room where she had been sitting quietly, and walked swiftly to the center of the room, carrying her little blue jacket on her arm.
'She sat down, folded one end of the jacket in the crook of her elbow, and began to rock it caressingly in both arms, crooning to it the while.
'Presently a tall, equally sturdy, but somewhat pale young man in an unobtrusive blue serge suit, rose in turn from his seat and crossing over to the woman began to tickle the black embroidery on the left cuff of the jacket in the woman's arm, calling it endearing names, and turning round for the approval of two other people in the room who shouted their approbation in a dozen different keys.
'The unassuming young woman was Miss Hutin Britton, or Kirry [sic] Cregeen. The young man in a blue reefer was Mr. Matheson Lang, the Romeo in the recent Lyceum production. The tiny jacket represented little Phil, Kirry's baby, and the scene was a rehearsal of Pete, the Manx play which is to be presented at the Lyceum on Saturday next.
'A promising young actor, aged seven weeks, will take the part of little Phil when the play is actually produced.
'Pete has now rehearsed for an average of six hours a day for the last six weeks, under the stage management of Mr. Ernest Carpenter, to whom Mr. Hall Caine has entrusted the entire preparation of the company.
'An Express representative was able to witness the rehearsal on Saturday. It may be taken as typical of dozens of rehearsals in progress this week all over London.
'Wooden Indian clubs and dumb bells were stacked up against the wall of the gymnasium where the rehearsal took place, while in the center of the room hanging rings had been slung together out of harm's way.
'Those who were not actually occupying the ''stage'' or waiting for their ''cues'' were seated unconcernedly near the walls, the men listening or chatting quietly, and several of the women engaged in knitting or crochet work.
'Mr. Ernest Carpenter, pencil in hand, sat at the head of the room before a desk litered with ''parts,'' and with the manuscript ''book'' of the play before him, now listening, now watching, now suggesting a deeper emphasis on certain words or passages, or a better interpretation, now illustrating himself how a bit of ''business'' out to be gone through to obtain a better effect.
'About the room were little groups of chairs, this one representing and entrance to the cottage, that one a dresser, that a sofa, another a window, and so on.
'So admirable was the acting, however, that the average visitor would go away half convinced, despite the evidence of his eyes, that the folded jacket was not a real baby but only ''make believe.''
'Rehearsals for the autumn theatrical season are now in full swing all over London. Actors and actresses have been hurrying back to town from the country and the various English and continental resorts to take part in them since the beginning of the month. Within three weeks from today more than a dozen theaters will have thrown open their doors to the public.
'The first play, Pete, will be produced on Saturday next, and The Early Worm [with A.E. Matthews, Weedon Grossmith, Muriel Beaumont, et al] at Wyndham's on Monday.
'Ten other London theaters will open their doors between then and September 10, when the season may be said to have begun in earnest.
'It is estimated that the production of each new play will require the services of a least -
'Twelve actors and actresses with ''speaking parts.''
'Twenty-three ''extra'' men and women.
'Twenty-five electricians and stage hands.
'Thirty-five attaches and others, such as ushers, program vendors, bar attendants and linkmen.
'Fifteen musicians for the orchestra.
'Thus would give an average of 110 performers and assistants for each production, or a total of 1,320 for the dozen plays. It is probably, however, that the number approaches 2,000, several of the larger theaters requiring an unusually large number of men and women as performers.
'The opening dates of the chief plays for which titles have been found are as follows:
'August 29. Pete, Lyceum (adaptation).
'August 31 [actually 7 September]. The Early Worm, Wyndham's.
'September 1. The Passing of the Third Floor Back, St. James' (adaptation).
'September 2. Idols, Garrick (adaptation).
'September 3. The King of Cadonia, Princes of Wales'.
'September 5. Faust, His Majesty's (adaptation).
'September 8. The Duke's Motto, Lyric (adaptation).
'September 8. Paid in Full, Aldwych (transferred from New York [with different cast].)
'September 9. The Corsican Brothers, Adelphi (adaptation).
'The essential details of some of the productions are set out in tabloid form as follows:
'Dramatized by Mr. Hall Caine and Mr. Louis N. Parker from Mr. Hall Caine's novel, The Manxman, Pete Quilliam (played by Mr. Matheson Lang) returns from Kimberley, where he has made a large fortune, to find and marry Kate or ''Kirry''Cregeen (played by Miss Hutin Britton, Mr. Lang's wife), to whom he was engaged before he went away. During Pete's absence abroad Philip Christian, his friend (played by Mr. Eric Mayne), falls in love with Kirry. Pete marries Kirry on his return, and eight months after Philip's son is born.
'A new play in four acts adapted from Mr. W.J. Lock's novel by Roy Horniman. It tells how Irene Merriman (played by Miss Evelyn Millard), by the sacrifice of her own honor, rescues from the scaffold Hugh Cotman (played by Mr. Allan Aynesworth), who saved the life of her husband, Gerard Merriman (played by Mr. Herbert Waring) while the two men were still bachelors. The feature of this play will undoubtedly be Act III, the assize court scene, where High is on trial for his life.'
(Sunday State Journal, Lincoln, Nebraska, Sunday, 13 September 1908, p. 17a/b)
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Jen Latona at home, London, 1910