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Annajanska the Bolshevik Empress

Annajanska, the Bolshevik Empress
ANNAJANSKA is frankly a bravura piece. The modern variety theatre demands
for its "turns" little plays called sketches, to last twenty minutes or so, and to
enable some favorite performer to make a brief but dazzling appearance on
some barely passable dramatic pretext. Miss Lillah McCarthy and I, as author
and actress, have helped to make one another famous on many serious
occasions, from Man and Superman to Androcles; and Mr Charles Ricketts has
not disdained to snatch moments from his painting and sculpture to design some
wonderful dresses for us. We three unbent as Mrs Siddons, Sir Joshua Reynolds
and Dr Johnson might have unbent, to devise a turn for the Coliseum variety
theatre. Not that we would set down the art of the variety theatre as something to
be condescended to, or our own art as elephantine. We should rather crave
indulgence as three novices fresh from the awful legitimacy of the highbrow
theatre.
Well, Miss McCarthy and Mr Ricketts justified themselves easily in the glamor of
the footlights, to the strains of Tchaikovsky's 1812. I fear I did not. I have
received only one compliment on my share; and that was from a friend who said,
"It is the only one of your works that is not too long." So I have made it a page or
two longer, according to my own precept: EMBRACE YOUR REPROACHES:
THEY ARE OFTEN GLORIES IN DISGUISE.
Annajanska was first performed at the Coliseum Theatre in London on the 21st
January, 1918, with Lillah McCarthy as the Grand Duchess, Henry Miller as
Schneidekind, and Randle Ayrton as General Strammfest.
ANNAJANSKA, THE BOLSHEVIK EMPRESS
The General's office in a military station on the east front in Beotia. An office
table with a telephone, writing materials, official papers, etc., is set across the
room. At the end of the table, a comfortable chair for the General. Behind the
chair, a window. Facing it at the other end of the table, a plain wooden bench. At
the side of the table, with its back to the door, a common chair, with a typewriter
before it. Beside the door, which is opposite the end of the bench, a rack for caps
and coats. There is nobody in the room.
General Strammfest enters, followed by Lieutenant Schneidekind. They hang up
their cloaks and caps. Schneidekind takes a little longer than Strammfest, who
comes to the table.
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