Monday, April 23, 2012

Shakespeare at Ford's Theatre

Heading down the stairs into the Ford's Theatre Museum I was wondering how much Shakespeare I'd see.  Turns out, quite a bit!  They have a whole kiosk (if you can call it that) dedicated to the subject.

First up we have Miss Charlotte Cushman, performing "3 of her most artistic impressions", including Hamlet!  This is curious to me.  I'm sure I've heard the name Charlotte Cushman before.  In fact, I heard it just today in the same story where I read about Edwin Booth's grave (in a separate post).  Somebody tell us more about her?  I thought Sarah Bernhardt (late 1800's) was the first great female Hamlet?  Or, rather, that's what I always assumed, I suppose.

If you want Hamlet at this time period, though, I'm thinking you wanted the master himself - here is the card for an Edwin Booth performance.

We know the story of Edwin already, so there's not too much I can say here (especially given the next card).  There's a curiosity on this poster, though - does anybody know who S.K. Chester might have been?  I find that name curious because he's playing Claudius, while "Mrs. S.K. Chester" is listed as well, playing "An Actress."  So it sounds like Mr. Chester was important enough to request a role for his wife. They each have a page on the Internet Broadway Database, but it provides no information that's not already on this poster.

But, I've got one more very cool poster to show....

Look at that.  The whole Booth family, starring in Julius Caesar.  Junius Brutus Booth, the father, as Julius Caesar.  Edwin as Brutus.  John Wilkes as Marc Antony.  Insert some sort of clever observation here about how maybe "the bad one" should have played Brutus?  Also of note, there's a "Mr. C.K. Chester" in the credits - I wonder the relation to S K Chester above?

The poster clearly shows this performance as some sort of special occasion.  I'll bet it was!  Does this show mark a historic event of some sort?  That is, do we know more about it?  When was the date relative to Lincoln's assassination?  Was it a travelling show, or a one time event?  Were Edwin and his brother rotating parts?

I have one more picture of the Shakespeare booth (ha!  get it?  booth?) from Ford's Theatre, but I'm saving that for another post...

This posting marathon, in celebration of Shakespeare Day, is brought to you by nothing but my time, my resources, and my love for the subject. While we'll always be the original Shakespeare blog, it takes a significant amount of effort to make us the best in the digital universe.  If you've not yet seen how you can show your support, now's a great opportunity.  If you've already done so, thanks very much!

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