Tuesday, April 21, 2009

RIP Eleonora Duse, a mystic in the theatre.

I couldn't sleep during this LA heat wave so spent most of last night reading. I finally cracked open a book that has been on my shelf for at least fifteen years, Eva Le Gallienne's famous biography of Eleonora Duse, The Mystic in the Theatre. I picked it up and couldn't put it down. When I started reading it was 11pm Monday April 20th, and at around 3am this morning, Tuesday April 21st, I read about Duse's death:

"That afternoon in Pittsburgh forty-five hundred people saw Duse play with a magical power, a spiritual intensity which even Desiree
(Duse's companion of thirty years) had never seen in her before. It was her last performance. The play was La Porta Chiusa--The Closed Door.

She developed pneumonia afterwards.)

In those days there were no "wonder drugs", and for two weeks Duse, attended by two doctors, battled for her life...her strength gave out, and she died in Desiree's arms. Her last words were: "Pack the Trunks. We must move on!"
It was April 21st, 1924."
__Eva Le Gallienne

I didn't know the date of Ms. Duse's death until I read those words. Eleonora Duse, a mystic indeed...


Lally said...

I love the connections inspired by creativity that transcends the boundaries of time and place and unites us all. What I mean is, it gave me a chill (the thrill kind) to read the date of her death in your post and realize that there is more that goes on in hevane and on earth than...

Jamie Rose said...

I know right? Gave me chills too.

Steve said...

Terrific book. It inspired me tremendously when I read it as a young actor some 26 years ago. Duse's approach won't work for everyone, but every actor can certainly benefit from reading "A Mystic in the Theatre." And Duse could not have had a better biographer/interpreter than Eva Le Gallienne --