By Bettina Knapp

To track the lifetime of Marie Dorval throughout the turbulences and exhilarations of her epoch is to have interaction not only with the genesis and the complete flowering of a unprecedented theatrical genius but in addition with the teeming literary, emotional, financial and fabric dramas during which this kind of genius is implacably embroiled. Dumas, Vigny, Hugo, Sand, Gautier and so on mingle their inventive and affective energies with Dorval's in a ceaseless dynamic interaction. yet to learn Bettina Knapp's unprecedented tale is to achieve too the so simply ignored backcloth to lifestyles in Marie Dorval's occasions: poverty, the necessity to will one's survival, unimaginably making an attempt situations within which theatre is played, even if within the provinces or in Paris. And the account that follows extra seeks, upon this right now intimate and societal canvas, to offer us a few genuine perception into the individuality of Dorval's performing ideas, concurrently instinctive, viscerally normal, and discovered, studied, notwithstanding extra from lifestyles than guide. A booklet for actors, certainly; yet a ebook, too, for fans of the theatre and, past that, of the sheer inconceivable drama of life.

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Additional resources for Marie Dorval: France's Theatrical Wonder. A Book for Actors (Chiasma 21)

Sample text

He was a stranger amidst his family. By the age of fifteen, he was on his own. He wandered about in search of work. He sorrowed in loneliness and poverty, many a day going without food. As the months and years passed, the emotionally scarred Deburau worked at perfecting a circus routine: somersaults, cartwheels, back somersaults, among other stunts. Although poverty, rejection, and physical discomforts were his daily fare, one great happening comforted the despondent Deburau. During the course of his peregrinations, he not only met Emperor Napoleon, but had been invited by him to ride in his carriage.

No longer singing director of the royal Academy of Music, he found himself destitute and alone (Ambrière, 123). In Piccini’s riposte to Dorval, he not only denied the allegations, but asked her how she could play the prude? Merle had already inserted himself into her life! Jean Toussaint Merle, both handsome and distinguished, succumbed to her charms. He was called “Le Merle Blanc,” the white flag having always been that of the monarchy. When he asked her to marry him, although hesitant at first – he was sixteen years her senior – she soon realized it would be to her advantage to accept.

Not that her own ideas had not yet coalesced. They had to some degree. Fortunately, they had not become rigid. Her technique to a great extent consisted of personalizing and emotionalizing the characters she brought to life, by pointing up their foibles, failures, and fortes. She would continue along this path, adding new and pertinent elements to her personifications. Nuances of mood, namely, agitation, defiance, determination, anger, love, and a whole range of subtle passions had endowed her characters with depth and life.

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