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ANNAJANSKA, THE BOLSHEVIK EMPRESS
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW
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.
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