At the Grand Guignol they once played a sketch which was very idyllic for this haunt of horrors, yet imbued with a queer heartbreak. A young queen looked down from her turreted castle on the shepherd-maiden in the valley and envied the girl’s freedom, her peace, her swains, and the untroubled quietness of her days. And the shepherd-maiden in return looked up to the castle, wishing fervently she were queen, dressed in gorgeous rainment, wearing priceless jewels, wielding an intoxicating power, and waiting for a glorious prince to come and woo her. The destiny of the other one, the little sketch proclaimed, is always full of allurement.
Many a woman, sitting in the orchestra and admiring Francine Larrimore, one of the most fascinating, the most successful and most talented of our young actresses, must have felt like the shepherd-maiden full of envious admiration, and must have thought it the greatest happiness to be the glamorous figure on the stage
CALLS IT WORK
Strange to say, Francine Larrimore herself takes no such romantic view of her destiny, her art.
“It is hard work,” she says, “nothing but hard, relentless work. More relentless than the work of the writer, the painter, or the composer, for they, at least, keep their person inviolate and let the book, the picture, the composition stand by themselves. But the actors or actresses must use their own personality as their material; they are creator and creation, clay and spirit, at the same time, and one can hardly imagine how wearying that is. And we can never let private feelings, indispositions, nerves, interfere with our work. We can not, like other artists, wait for the inspirational moment. The play has to go on and, whether ill or well, we have to take our part.”
She sits in her dressing room while talking thus, sipping a cup of tea and crumbling a bit of toast, her simple meal before her performance.
NEW START DAILY
“Perhaps the most bitter thing of all,” she says, “is that we have to start every evening all over again, practically from scratch. Each performance is much like a surgeon’s operation. One stands always before a new case, a new problem, and has to succeed, or one fails completely and all former successes are forgotten. The public is pitiless and has a short memory. At least here it is so. In England one may live for a while on past performances, on yesterday’s glory, but here you have to conquer each evening anew if you do not wish to be vanquished.”
Undoubtedly Francine Larrimore possesses the talent, the personality and the power to accomplish this trying feat to conquer each evening anew. Lovely to look at with her golden red hair, her beautiful eyes, her expressive mouth, her voice has a haunting timbre and her gestures have a grace and ease that come only as the result of tireless training.
Coming from a theatrical familyâ€”she is the niece of the famous Jewish actor, Jacob Adlerâ€”she went on the stage when she was but fifteen years old. A few years on the road added to her natural gifts the necessary experience, and then came Broadway and stardom.
Surely a wonderful career, culminating now in her playing the lead in Spring Song, the new, successful venture of the Spevacks.
Miss Larrimore, however, shakes her head. “It is hard work,” she says, “nothing but hard, relentless work.” But she cannot convince her audience. The admiring public will always look up with breathless envy to this beautiful, glamorous queen of the stage.