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Saturday, 1 December 2012

Theatrical evening

Thursday, December 1st., Paris.

I worked yesterday. I had been searching for two days for the idea for my next chapter, and found it towards evening on Tuesday.

In the evening 'L'Escalade' by Maurice Donnay, at the Renaissance. This is quite a minor piece, with insufficient material, and what material there is, not too well arranged. It is surprising to me how a man like Donnay could let such work go out of the manufactory. Guitry and Brandes were magnificent, full of distinction; Guitry's son had also his father's distinction.

(Charles) Maurice Donnay (1859 – 1945) was born of middle-class parents in Paris. His father was a railway engineer and initially Donnay followed a similar profession, studying at the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures in 1882. With Alphonse Allais, Donnay started by writing material for the celebrated cabaret le Chat Noir. Donnay made his serious debut as a dramatist on the little stage of the Chat Noir with Phryne (1891), a series of Greek scenes. This was followed by Lysistrata, a four-act comedy, which was produced at the Grand Théâtre in 1892 with Mme Rejane in the title part. With Amants in 1895 he won a great success, and the play was hailed by Jules Lemaître as the Berenice of contemporary French drama. His plays were performed by famous actors including Cécile Sorel, Réjane et Lucien Guitry.

Lucien Germain Guitry (1860 – 1925) was a French actor. In 1885, while living in Saint Petersburg, he appeared at the French (or Mikhaylovsky) Theatre. His son, the future actor, writer and director Sacha Guitry, was born in Saint Petersburg and named in honour of Tsar Alexander III. Lucien met the composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and his brother Modest, and became good friends with them. 
He became prominent on the French stage at the Renaissance theatre in 1897, then at Porte Saint-Martin theatre in 1900, and the Variétés in 1901. He was a member of the Comédie-Française, but resigned in order to become director of the Renaissance, where he was principally associated with the actress Marthe Brandès, who had also left the Comédie. Here, in a number of plays, he established his reputation as one of the greatest contemporary French actors in the drama of modern reality.

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