Brecht on theatre : the development of an aesthete by translation and notes by John Willett.

By translation and notes by John Willett.

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Sample text

After that she didn’t ask. 5. Clifton Webb and Jacob Hollenbeck, circa 1895. The John and Betsy Neylon Collection. found it a great deal simpler to sneak out the back door after bribing the cook to reply to all inquiries that she had gone for a spiritual stroll. As Mabelle had often been heard to remark that feet were made for dancing, not walking, this subterfuge should have deceived nobody. Such was the gullibility of the age, however, so great the disinclination to believe that anybody of gentle birth might take the stage seriously, that it did deceive everybody.

This was my first experience with an emotion which has never left me. On the stage my ad libs are fluent, but pathological terror overcomes me at the thought of having to rise before an assembly of people without footlights between us, and to start cold: “Ladies and Gentlemen . ” One night at Reisenweber’s, where it was the habit of the master of ceremonies to pick out people in the room and ask them to “say something,” I saw the spotlight moving towards me. I ducked down and under the tables and made my way out the door.

She reveled in the swishing silken trains, the exquisite long white gloves, the veils and frills and fluttering furbelows of the Elegant Era. She waved an ostrich feather fan and tried to regard life with the fashionable ennui of a Wilde heroine—and failed utterly. She was having the time of her life. To conceal the fact beneath an affectedly blasé exterior could not possibly have seemed more stupid. My stepfather and I disliked each other on sight. Whether, as psychoanalysts maintain, it was owing to my childish resentment at his having usurped what I took to be my place with Mabelle, I do not know.

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