What Canada has Done for the Stage

No. 1 Margaret Anglin

MARGARET BELL April 1 1914

What Canada has Done for the Stage

No. 1 Margaret Anglin

MARGARET BELL April 1 1914

What Canada has Done for the Stage

No. 1 Margaret Anglin


SOMEONE was dodging the photographers. Someone in a prosperity coat and luxury furs.

The place of dodging was the Toronto Horse Show. The photographers paid their respective rents by salary envelopes extracted from six daily papers.

From which it may be judged that the someone was Someone, with a great S.

Otherwise, Margaret Anglin.

She had arrived. Which is to say that there were scores of people under the roof of the Armories, that very afternoon, who were proud to allude to her as “Mary Anglin, who used to go to school with me,” or “The girl who was chosen to read the address at the annual distribution of prizes.

Ahead of all the graduates, too, mind!”

There are always plenty of people who are anxious to call themselves early associates of Great Acbievment. Which characteristic is most commendable. For it may be the nearest a|> proach they will ever make to the goal of Having - Done - Some-

Consequently, Margaret Anglin was mayonnaised and saladed and wined and teaed, as no one else had ever been.

The beginning of it all was this. A brain was put into the head of a child, who first saw the light of day in the Speaker's Chambers of the Dominion Parliament Buildings.

Evidences of it began to be noticed when the child was quite young. She would write playlets and rehearse them, and all that sort of thing. She would deliver the mercy speech to the trees and stones and babbling brooks. And to babbling boys and girls, too.

And then, when her mother and father went to Toronto to live, her audiences grew. The whole of Loretto Abbey listened to her, and listening, wondered.

Which fact alone showed that Mary Anglin was making an impression. For, in this age of progression and doubt, it

Canada has contributed her share of stars to the mimic world. Many of the most illustrious names on the American stage to-day belong to sons and daughters of the Dominion. To sketch the careers of the best known of Canadian theatrical stars will be the object of the series starting with the accompanying article and which will be continued in subsequent issues of Mac Lean'8 Magazine. That Margaret Anglin should be selected for the first article of the series was logical and inevitable.

is a compliment for one’s actions to be noticed by others. The poor, old world is so busy focusing the rays of public opinion on itself, that there is no room in the spotlight for anyone else.

One day, there was a slight upheaval in the Anglin household. Mary decided to go to New York, to study singing. She had graduated from Loretto Abbey, with flying colors, and there seemed nothing more for her to do than continue her studies. Of course, she might have remained in Toronto, for she had been received into Toronto society, with all the pomp and ceremony which usually announces that another bud has opened to the world. But this life did not appeal particularly to Mary Anglin. She had

other ambitions. A perpetual round of tea-drinking is bound to produce a sort of social nausea, providing the partaker thereof has other ambitions. Needless to say, Mary Anglin had other ambitions. She left Toronto. She registered at a school in New York. Her friends looked for a musical paragon to emerge, in the course of a few months. For it’s the way of human nature, to expect a genius to blossom forth without a moment’s warning. Music takes longer than that.

But Mary Anglin smiled to herself, and went her way. And the school she registered at was not a school of music.

Probably the happiest moment in her life was when she registered in the Nelson Wheatcroft School of Dramatic Art in New York. Next to that, perhaps, came the day she moved her trunk into her first hall bedroom.

Hall bedrooms all have the same characteristics. Plenty of heat in summer, and a great deal of unnecessary cold in winter. Mary Anglin ’s boasted more : a cracked

pitcher and springless bed. Oh, what a coming off was this! But a welcome one, nevertheless. For a hall bedroom of indepen-

dence must needs be more desirable than a palace of conventional suffocation.

Whoever has stood outside the door of an elocutionary hall, knows how Mary

Anglin’s days were spent. In the shouting of lines, and breaking of sentences; in deep breathing and fencing and the waving of Indian clubs; in declaiming and imploring, in denouncing and coquetting; in short, learning how to put the

etceteras on natural “play actin’.”

But she never forgot her Toronto

training. The foundation had been laid by Jessie Alexander. And the foundation stood the test.

And, one day, her opportunity came. Tt was during an amateur performance, given by the pupils of the school.

Out in the audience sat a lion. A lion of Thespianism, ready to pounce on any talent which might be lurking in that jungle of elocution.

That lion was Charles Frohman!

He came into the jungle, frankly bored. And soon, he forgot the plans which were going through his head. He had chosen that hour to work out some scheme, just the same as many business men use the sermon hour in church.

He looked up, he listened. He became interested. There was a girl with a voice, a brain, a personality !

The result of it all was that Mary Anglin, the amateur, passed beyond the gates. And there evolved Margaret Anglin, the professional. In the theatre programmes of the Academy of Music, New York, in 1894, opposite the name Madeline West apeared the name Margaret Anglin.

A new name in theatricalism!

Soon, the broken pitcher and springless mattress, likewise, passed beyond the pale. And the second floor front became the recipient of Margaret Anglin’s secrets. An evolution of abodes was taking place.

And the first rung of the theatrical ladder was about to be followed by others. The “Shenandoah” rung in which Miss Anglin played Madeline West, was followed by one on which perched an engagement with James O’Neill. Miss Anglin appeared as Ophelia and Virginia in “Virginius.”

One morning, conventional Toronto, who sat sipping French chocolate from Dresden cups, received a shock. The prattlesome, little bird which whispers Grundyisms into the ears of its listeners, brought a choice morsel of news. Mary Anglin was on the stage! No doubt about it. Someone had seen her picture in a group outside the Academy of Music, illustrating the scenes from “Shenandoah.” To make sure that she had not been mistaken, the someone w«nt to the theatre that very night. It was true!

Mary Anglin had played a joke on conventional Toronto. She had not been studying music at all. She had been studying for the stage! And now she was a full-fledged actress !

And conventional society let fall a Dresden cup, or two, and dismissed the prattlesome, little bird without crumb or comment.

In short, conventional society was shocked !

As a matter of fact,

Mary Anglin had been studying, for some time, with Jessie Alexander, the clever Toronto reader and teacher of elocution. She knew the young girl’s ambition, even before the little newsbird had hopped up to the window to listen. And she knew, that, eventually, the decision would come.

So what was conventional Toronto to •do, but sit quietly by and watch?

After the engagement with James O’Neill, E. H. Sothern engaged Miss Anglin to appear with him in Lord Cnolmondely.

The evolution in living apartments was on the way. The second floor front was followed by a season in a first floor front. This boasted a bow window and Brussels rug. Also a fireplace, for the sustenance of which the tenant was obliged to pay extra.

And then, the bliss of October the third, 1898!

She appeared with Richard Mansfield, as Roxane in “Cyrano de Bergerac.” That was a sudden leap, up three or four rungs. Then, came a long list of parts, including Constance in “The Musketeers,” Heloise Tison in “Citizen Pierre,” and Mimi in “The Only Way.”

At that time Charles Frohman had a company playing at the Empire Theatre. This, Miss Anglin joined, to play leading parts. Probably this engagement did more than any other heretofore, to remove any defects which might have been noticed in her performances. For there was a long list jotted down opposite her name in the book of Achievements.

Most important of all, perhaps, was the part of Mrs. Dane in “Mrs. Dane’s Defence.” Blase New York woke up, at this performance, and New York’s sheets of black and white announced the news that Margaret Anglin had made a tremendous hit.

But all engagements must come to an end, even theatrical ones. Miss Anglin

next joined forces with Henry Miller, and in the autumn of 1903, toured in a repertoire including “Camille,” “The Taming of Helena,” “The Aftermath,” and “Cynthia.” Two years later, the board above the Garrick Theatre in Chicago glittered and scintillated with a new announcement. An important announcement, too. The finding of a new satellite. The discovery of a new astronomical body, the bursting forth of a brilliant star. Anything you will.

Crowds thronged to the Garrick Theatre. The new star was Margaret Anglin The canopy which mirrored the star was “Zira,” a play of the South African war.

New laurels. Long press notices Much to-do.

The hall bedroom had disappeared Likewise the first floor front, fireplace and all. The one-time Loretto girl, who used to recite the mercy speech to babbling brooks, boys and girls, was mistress of a seven-room apartment, which froze its own ice !

But the lengthy press notices of praise did not have the usual effect. Miss Anglin did not shut herself up in a monument of awe, away from all future learning. She entered the great training school of stock.

That was in San Francisco. She played a variety of parts, light and heavy. The “Marriage of Kitty.” “Frou Frou,” “Mariana,” “The Crossways,” “The Second Mrs. Tanqueray.”

It was while she was appearing ÍD Chicago in “Zira,” that she found “The Great Divide.” William Vaughan Moody brought it to her under the title of “The Sabine Woman.”

The world knows the result. In October, 1906, just eight years after her appearance with Mansfield, Miss Anglin astounded New York for the third time Her acting of Ruth Jordan was the cause of this shock. And once more, blase New York chalked her name on the big board of greatness. This production ran for two straight seasons and showed a fickle public that the trump card in theatricalism is ingenuity.

Then to the conquering of other lands. Miss Anglin returned to her old love. To the heroines of Shakespeare. She took a run over to Australia, appearing in Shakespearean plays and one other, “The Awakening of Helena Ritchie.”

Her success in Australia was equaled only by the fuiore caused by her “Zira,” in Chicago, and her “Ruth Jordan” in New York and all over America.

About the time for her return, there was a rustle of anticipation going on in California. That State felt particularly friendly toward her, for it was there that

she gained her stock experience.

She arrived in New York. A wire awaited her from the West. Would she open their Greek Theatre for them1?

That meant work. But Margaret Anglin was on the best terms with it. She wired “Yes.”

Under the California skies, with the stars for lights and the Southern trees for a setting, she played “Electra” to five thousand people.

Five thousand people rose in a body at the end of the performance and cheered till the leaves on the trees shivered and the night birds shrieked an echo.

But their beloved Anglin had to leave them. Back to the seething turmoil of Broadway. For she had made arrangements for a season in “Green Stockings,” in which she toured during the season of ¿ L910-11.

That was when she was obliged to dodge the Toronto photographers. The little news-bird announced that she was at the Horse Show, and the news-recorders set their machines.

And Miss Anglin hid her head, and tan for her motor car!

Extraordinary that real genius should cloth itself in such modesty!

Her next invasion of Canada lasted for two months, and is still lasting. It was prefaced by a second performance at the Greek Theatre, at Berkley, California, more brilliant than the first. This time, ten thousand people assembled to look on and listen to the most consummate art in the history of the modern stage. Margaret Anglin’s performance of Sophocles’ “Electra.”

Then all through the Canadian West she went, as Viola, Rosalind, Katharina, and Cleopatra. And the people of the Western provinces, usually bored by a Shakespearean production, flocked to the

theatres to see her. For here were Shakespearean comedies played as comedies, with all the joy and merriment the ancient bard intended them to have.

Here was the regal Cleopatra, in all her splendor and majesty, all her petulance and intellectuality, the acting of which showed how mean had been all previous performances. It remained for Margaret Anglin to show the theatregoing public that the great courtesan could be portrayed.

If prophecies are safe—and even if they are not, they are pleasant, and quite universally indulged—next year and the succeeding years will find Margaret Anglin adding new plays to her Shakespearean repertoire. The next is likely to be “Much Ado About Nothing.”

The King and the Laborer

The King has set an admirable example in endeavoring to improve the conditions of the laborers on his Norfolk estate, and men of all parties will applaud. On the Royal farm itself the terms of employment have always been generous; but what has now been done is to fix certain relatively generous minima, and to arrange that these shall be observed not only on the King’s farm, but on all those of which he is the landlord. His tenants, it appears, have readily co-operated in this reform, and its establishment is now settled. It secures for every laborer on the estate a Saturday half-holiday, continuity of employment, rain or shine, and a minimum wage about fifty cents above what is a common wage in the neighborhood.

In this matter the King continues the policy of his father, who was never tired of trying to make Sandringham in all respects a model estate.