The Fays of the Abbey Theatre: An Autobiographical Record

By W. G. Fay; Catherine Carswell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II

SOON after our return to England the Stage Society produced Arnold Bennett What the Public Wants, in which I took the part of Holt St. John. Those who have seen the play will remember that St. John is an ultra-modern producer. I never enjoyed a part more. It is rare fun to get the chance of burlesquing oneself, and I took full advantage of it. Bennett had just finished working for one of the daily newspapers, and as he did not hold with their slick business methods, or their treatment of him, he wrote this play to give expression to his feelings. It is, in my opinion, one of his best plays, and if he had used any other theme but an attack on the "Third Estate" it would in all probability have had a long run. It still plays as well as it did then, and is a most useful addition to the list of any repertory theatre. When, some months later, the play was put on for a run, Charles Hawtrey gave a great performance in it as Holt St. John. How good he was I can best express by saying that I enjoyed seeing his performance even better than giving my own.

We had not been "testing" long before William Poel wrote to Frank asking him if he and I and Brigit would like to play in his forthcoming production of Macbeth at the Fulham Theatre. We had seen other productions of his, particularly his Merchant of Venice, in which he played Shylock as it was done in Shakespeare's own day -- as a red-headed Jew. It changed the values of the characters to an extraordinary degree,

-248-

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The Fays of the Abbey Theatre: An Autobiographical Record
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Foreword *
  • Postscript *
  • Contents *
  • List of Illustrations *
  • Part I - Before 1
  • Chapter I 3
  • Chapter II 10
  • Chapter III 25
  • Chapter IV 38
  • Chapter V 60
  • Chapter VI 81
  • Part II - The Abbey 103
  • Chapter I 105
  • Chapter II 122
  • Chapter III 136
  • Chapter IV 151
  • Chapter V 164
  • Chapter VI 173
  • Chapter VII 185
  • Chapter VIII 200
  • Chapter IX 211
  • Part III - After 233
  • Chapter I 235
  • Chapter II 248
  • Chapter III 270
  • Chapter IV 286
  • List of First Productions, with Casts 298
  • Index 311
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