Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sir Arthur Pinero, knighted for drama

Sir Arthur Wing Pinero
It is the birthday of English dramatist Sir Arthur Wing Pinero (1855), who wrote 59 plays (mostly social dramas), including His House in Order, The Enchanted Cottage, Dandy Dick, The Actress, and The Magistrate, all of which were adapted as films in the 1920s. One of his plays, Sweet Lavender, contained the famous line, "While there is tea, there is hope." Before he started writing plays and directing them, Pinero was a successful actor, playing at the Theatre Royal in Edinburgh, the Lyceum Theatre and the Haymarket Theatre in London. He and William S. Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan) were the only two Englishmen ever to be knighted because of their services to drama alone. Pinero wrote strong parts for leading ladies but often found that headstrong actresses would play scenes far differently than he had imagined them. Over time, he found a solution for the problem. At the beginning of rehearsal he explained quite loudly how we intended a scene to be played. Then he watched as the actress played it her own way. He'd interrupt the scene and shout "Perfect Perfect! Play it exactly like that on the night." Invariably, during the performance the actress would play it his way instead.

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