These cookies will be stored in your browser only with your consent. Ber… Still a great star, the operation made front-page news. Please click below to consent to the use of this technology while browsing our site. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); At one time, the name Sarah Bernhardt was synonymous with melodramatic self-presentation. Contributor Names Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. Where Beerbohm saw in Bernhardt’s performance a mere “aping of virility,” Robins, unhampered by Beerbohm’s ugly misogyny, observed the great actress in vivid detail, in an essay that brings Bernhardt’s Hamlet to life with descriptions of her, for example, “appealing dumbly for another sign” after seeing her father’s ghost (on painted gauze), “and passing pathetic fluttering hands over the unresponsive surface, groping piteously like a child in the dark.”, The pathos of Bernhardt’s performance was undercut, Robins felt, by some clumsy moments, such as her  mistreatment of poor Yorick’s skull. The title of this article is deeply misleading. Reactions to her stage performance by contemporaries were mixed. The French stage actress performed in classic plays of the time, made theatrical tours around the world, including across the U.S., and owned her own theater in Paris. He led her up the aisle to the choir stalls, his black cassock brushing the pews as he went. SARAH BERNHARDT ON HAMLET On June 12, I899, Sarah Bernhardt began what proved to be a short' run of her production of Hamlet at the Adelphi in London. Sarah-Bernhardt (Hamlet) Title: Sarah-Bernhardt (Hamlet) / Lafayette - photo - London. In 1899, legendary leading lady Sarah Bernhardt’s decision to assume the title role of Shakespeare’s Hamlet left critics and patriarchs aghast and indignant. Off the top of my head, I know that Charlotte Cushman played the role nearly four decades earlier, and Sarah Siddons well over a century earlier, in 1775. Directed by Clément Maurice. Sarah Bernhardt (1844 – 1923) as Hamlet. What’s more, she boldly undertook the role in London, then again in Stratford at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. ©2006-2021 Open Culture, LLC. All rights reserved. Hamlet. She is shown here in 1896. The final duel in 'Hamlet', in the first film of the play. After performing in London, Bernhardt and her company gave one performance at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford, a matinee on Thursday 29 June 1899. Sarah Bernhardt was a towering figure in world theater. (A real human skull, by the way, given to her by Victor Hugo). We find the free courses and audio books you need, the language lessons & educational videos you want, and plenty of enlightenment in between. Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet Names Mucha, Alphonse, 1860-1939 (Artist) Collection. This is not to say that she gives us a man, but rather Sarah Bernhardt playing, with amazing skill, a spirited boy; doing it with an impetuosity, a youthfulness, almost childish. Performed in London in 1874 it was triumphantly revived with Ellen Terry as his Ophelia in 1878. Institution: U.S. Library of Congress. Sprawling and stuffed at 150 minutes, Theresa Rebeck’s multi-focused 2018 drama Bernhardt/Hamlet takes a quizzical look at a bizarre … Topics. He is not mad, but maddened”. Which brings us to this day in 1899, when Bernhardt’s Hamlet premièred at the aforementioned Théâtre Sarah-Bernhardt. Hamlet. A strong cast presents an excellent Unicorn production of a very new play, "Bernhardt/Hamlet, A Woman Unbound" by Theresa Rebeck. It was directed by Clément Maurice. The London critics, how-ever, … Really amazing video scenes Sylvia, thanks. Posters. Open Culture scours the web for the best educational media. Ink drawing by Reginald Cleaver. Lucky for us, there’s a recording of Bernhardt’s performance from 1900, making her the first female Hamlet ever … Bernhardt, Europe ke stage me 1870s me acting suruu karis, aur kuchh din baad me Europe aur United States me kaam kare lagi. Summary Print shows Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet, full-length portrait, standing, facing left, holding and looking at skull. These are well-documented performances with many easily accessible sources. We will … Or as Mark Twain put it, “there are five kinds of actresses: bad actresses, fair actresses, good actresses, great actresses—and then there is Sarah Bernhardt.”, Admired and beloved by Victor Hugo and playwright Edmond Rostand, who called her “the queen of the pose and the princess of the gesture,” Bernhardt commanded attention in every role, and became infamous as “a canny self-promoter,” as Hannah Manktelow writes. Even though Sarah Bernhardt — the grande dame of the fin de siècle French stage, around whom Rebeck’s play spins — is certainly intriguing, I can get that much from her Wikipedia page. But Sarah Bernhardt — a whopping international celebrity actress in her day — was already doing the depressed Dane in 1899. The name of her father is not recorded. Born in France, she's hailed as one of the greatest actresses of all time. Broadway Review: ‘Bernhardt/Hamlet’ Starring Janet McTeer The sublime Janet McTeer plays the divine Sarah Bernhardt, who plays the immortal Hamlet in Theresa Rebeck’s new play. Sarah Bernhardt, jon ki 22 October 1844 ke Paris, France me paida bhais aur 26 March 1923 me maris, France ke ek stage ke aur iske dunia ke sab se jaada famous actress jaana jaawat rahaa. “Madame, bon apres-midi,” said Tompkins, with an elegant gesture of the hand which he supposed also to be French.”, “Sarah Bernhardt greeted him with an almost embarrassing exuberance. The divine Sarah replies, “I want you to rewrite Hamlet,” and Act One of Bernhardt/Hamlet ends with the audience sharing the playwright’s plight and in awe both of Sarah’s chutzpah and Delaney Driscoll’s performance. On 16 June the Stratford Herald reported that she was performing in Stratford “to gratify her desire to play here”, and had made an advance visit. Although she made her name in her native France playing roles such as Phedre in Racine’s intense drama, she loved Shakespeare and appeared as Cordelia in King Lear and Lady Macbeth. Then, coming to a standstill, again he waved his hands. Bernhardt’s Hamlet was very different from what English theatregoers were familiar with. You also have the option to opt-out of these cookies. But opting out of some of these cookies may affect your browsing experience. ART Box C623.5 no.1 (size S) The real-life Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) performed as Hamlet in 1899. Bernhardt as Hamlet with Marthe Mellot as Ophelia. Rare 1910 Audio: Sarah Bernhardt, ‘The Most Famous Actress the World Has Ever Known,’ in Racine’s Phèdre, When Ira Aldridge Became the First Black Actor to Perform Shakespeare in England (1824), What Shakespeare’s English Sounded Like, and How We Know It, Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Washington, DC. He had not a clue as to what she said, but there seemed to be a great deal of it. Sarah Bernhardt in Hamlet (1900), a Phono- Cinema-Théâtre production. Finally, she became the first woman to portray Hamlet on film (see a short clip above). Folger Shakespeare Library. Although she made her name in her native France playing roles such as Phedre in Racine’s intense drama, she loved Shakespeare and appeared as Cordelia in King Lear and Lady Macbeth. French actress Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), called the "Divine Sarah" by her many fans and recognized as the first international stage star, remained proud of her Jewish identity. It is believed to have been the earliest film adaptation of the play, and starred actress Sarah Bernhardt in the lead role. She claimed to sleep in a coffin and encouraged the circulation of outlandish rumors about her eccentric behavior.”. We never spam. The events in Bernhardt/Hamlet took place shortly after Bernhardt had opened her own theatre in Paris. Follow him at @jdmagness, by Josh Jones | Permalink | Comments (2) |. Bernhardt “cultivated her image as a mysterious, exotic outsider. In 1899 she played Hamlet in a French adaptation of the … The production of Hamlet was brought to the Adelphi Theatre in London during 1899. She also was one of the first actresses to make sound recordings and to act in films. in Gender, Theatre | July 17th, 2018 2 Comments. Medium: 1 photomechanical print (postcard). In her review, actress and writer Elizabeth Robins praised Bernhardt’s “amazing skill” in playing “a spirited boy… with impetuosity, a youthfulness, almost childish.” But Robins issued a qualification at the outset: “for a woman to play at being a man is, surely, a tremendous handicap,” she writes, a criticism echoed by English essayist Max Beerbohm, who went so far as to deny women the power to create art. He must always be a gentleman..”. Mark Twain wrote: “There are five kinds of actresses: bad actresses, fair actresses, good actresses, great actresses – and then there is Sarah Bernhardt.” In 1899, the international stage celebrity set out to tackle her most ambitious role yet: Hamlet. Eccentric, inimitable, and oh so boho, Sarah Bernhardt was the world's first international stage star. She was also known for playing male characters, including Hamlet. Bernhardt was born in 1844 and made her stage debut in 1862. Most of the extensive news coverage concentrated on her reception more than her performance, but the Birmingham Post commented on Bernhardt’s “intense dramatic power” while complaining that the prose of the French version “seemed out of character in the poet’s Birthplace”. The world-famous actor Sarah Bernhardt (1844–1923) cross-dressed to play the role of Hamlet in 1899. [Recipients of the blog by email may need to go to the blog itself to view film clips. Some information on it is here:, Shakespeare, Sir Thomas More, and the refugee migrants, Pinning down the Butterfly: the It Factor,, The end of “churlish winter’s tyranny”: February in Shakespeare’s Stratford, The Shakespeare Club’s latest President: Sir Stanley Wells, The Shakespeare Club of Stratford-upon-Avon goes virtual, Sally Jacobs and A Midsummer Night’s Dream after 50 years, #SaluteToStratford: Shakespeare and Welcombe. It was my grandfather, William Tompkins, sub-sacristan at the church, who “came to the rescue” with schoolboy French. For the role, she used a human skull which had been given to her by the French novelist Victor Hugo. Sarah-Bernhardt (Hamlet) / Lafayette - photo - London. Actress Elizabeth Robins published a full account of Bernhardt’s performance the following year. It similarly enjoyed success, helping to open the market for legitimate motion picture exhibition in the U.S. Queen Elizabeth thereby provided audiences with their first experience of the longer-playing narrative feature film (Quinn 2001, 48). This week in Pinning down the Butterfly: the It Factor, she looked at an actress whose fame spread across Europe and North America, the divine Sarah Bernhardt. Madame Bernhardt's assumption of masculinity is so cleverly carried out that one loses sight of Hamlet in one's admiration for the tour de force of the actress. Some missed Hamlet’s wildness, but Forbes-Robertson has gone down as one of the greatest of Hamlets, though perhaps without Sarah Bernhardt’s undoubted charisma. The appearance of the great star who spoke no English threw some of the staff into a panic. Sarah Bernhardt plays Hamlet in a condensed version of the fatal fencing bout/duel between Hamlet and Laertes made for this film in 1899. Her version, a new prose" translation by Marcel Schwob and Paul Morand, had been received in Paris with considerable enthusiasm. “The imperturbable Tompkins…stepped forward and bowed deeply to the lady. To misquote Hamlet, ’tis a repeatable consummation devoutly to be wished. In addition, we will not be moving forward with our future production of Bernhardt/Hamlet, which was scheduled to begin previews Tuesday, April 7, 2020. We thank you! These cookies do not store any personal information. According to some sources, he was probably the son of a wealthy merchant from Le Havre. The French actor and theatre manager Sarah Bernhardt played Hamlet on stage in Paris and London in 1899, and then in a 1900 film. When he has surprised the guilty terror there, this Hamlet actually bursts out into peal on peal of laughter. Bernhardt was born in 1844 and made her stage debut in 1862. London, circa 1890. In one notable example, she played Hamlet in 1899, at age 55, in a French adaptation of Shakespeare’s play. Open Culture ( and our trusted partners use technology such as cookies on our website to personalise ads, support social media features, and analyze our traffic. Bernhardt almost certainly was the first female actor to play Hamlet *on film,* as Jones notes in his article, but the title makes a much broader—and deeply historically inaccurate—assertion. Out of these, the cookies that are categorized as necessary are stored on your browser as they are essential for the working of basic functionalities of the website. Unsubscribe at any time. Uske ek gambhir actress jaana jaawat rahaa aur uske kuchh log "The Divine Sarah … Billy Rose Theatre Collection photograph file. In one notable example, she played Hamlet in 1899, at age 55, in a French adaptation of Shakespeare’s play. Our annual Backstage at the Geffen fundraiser, originally scheduled for April 20, 2020, has also been postponed and will be rescheduled for a later date. Londoners of the 1890s would probably have had most in mind Johnston Forbes-Robertson’s “heaven-born Hamlet”. A link is at the end of the post.]. When she died in 1923, her funeral procession, seen in this footage, brought Paris to a standstill. Sarah Bernhardt Becomes the First Woman to Play Hamlet (1899), Folger Shakespeare Library’s Shakespeare & Beyond, 100+ Online Degree & Mini-Degree Programs. Later, she became the first actress to play Hamlet … “Creative power,” wrote Beerbohm, “the power to conceive ideas and execute them, is an attribute of virility; women are denied it, in so far as they practice art at all, they are aping virility, exceeding their natural sphere. In her heyday, the actress created a category all her own—impossible to judge by the usual standards of the dramatic arts. Sarah Bernhardt had chutzpah. She carried on playing physically demanding roles until 1905 when she damaged a knee onstage, struggling on in increasing pain until having the leg amputated in 1915. She was the illegitimate daughter of Judith Bernard (also known as Julie and in France as Youle), a Dutch Jewish courtesan with a wealthy or upper-class clientele. He was a “sweet prince”, “affable” and “genial”, eminently sane but at times filled with a gentle melancholy. Dates / Origin Date Created: 1899 Library locations Billy Rose Theatre Division Topics Bernhardt, Sarah, 1844-1923 Genres Posters Type of Resource Still image Identifiers NYPL … Her Hamlet is a man in constant frenzy, possessed with the one thought of avenging his father’s death. Hamlet: Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) as Hamlet | Shakespeare's Staging. “Mme Bernhardt…puts his passion in the foreground, and every monologue becomes a diatribe. Read more about Bernhardt’s performance, and the attendant publicity, at the Shakespeare Blog, and learn about a new play based on Bernhardt’s Hamlet called “The Divine Sarah” at the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Shakespeare & Beyond. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website. Henriette-Rosine Bernard was born at 5 rue de L'École-de-Médicine in the Latin Quarter of Paris on 22 or 23 October 1844. For the famous graveyard scene, she used a skull given to her by the novelist Victor Hugo. Get the best cultural and educational resources on the web curated for you in a daily email. And there certainly *may* have been others even before Siddons. Marie Corelli met the train, presenting Mme Bernhardt with “a magnificent bouquet with tricolour ribbons, bearing greetings in French”. This postcard shows a photomechanical print of Bernhardt in the graveyard scene, giving the celebrated ‘Alas, poor Yorick’ speech. “It was not pleasant,” writes Robins, “to see the grinning object handled so callously…. Johnston Forbes-Robertson as Hamlet, 1897, Another famous Hamlet was that given by Henry Irving. if you like our Facebook fanpage, you'll receive more articles like the one you just read! Bernhardt’s worldwide fame rested not only on her public relations skill, but also on her willingness to take dramatic risks most actresses of the time would never dare. Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. Benson’s Hamlet, performed several times over the previous ten years or so, “had developed acute melancholia”, acted at “a tardy pace”. Janet McTeer stars as Sarah Bernhardt, then in her mid-50s and aging out of the dying courtesan roles that made her world-famous. In her book Rosemary for Stratford, Ursula Bloom tells what happened when Sarah Bernhardt visited Shakespeare’s tomb without any prior warning. This illegitimate daughter of a Dutch Jewish courtesan had already gained wide renown as the best actress of her day when she decided to take on an exceptionally high-profile, high-risk role: She wanted to play Hamlet. In 1893 Bernhardt became the manager of the Théâtre de la Renaissance, and in 1899 she relocated to the former Théâtre des Nations, which she renamed the Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt and managed until her death in 1923. Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. In Stratford, earlier in 1899, Frank Benson had given the entire Folio Hamlet, performed over an afternoon and evening in what came to be known as the “eternity” revival. Further up, see an ink drawing of Bernhardt as Hamlet by Reginal Cleaver and, just above, an 1899 postcard photograph (with Hugo’s gifted skull). To support Open Culture’s continued operation, please consider making a donation. The Birmingham Gazette ventured some criticism: “too short a time the philosopher and too much the man of wrath and vengeance”. Created / Published She was also one of the first women known to have performed the title role in Hamlet. And in the play scene, “with something a little reminiscent of an urchin swarming over an orchard wall, [Hamlet] crawls up to the throne, till his eyes, not sombre and horror-stricken, but keen and glittering, are on a level with the King’s. We also use third-party cookies that help us analyze and understand how you use this website. A special train brought the company up from London, and both the railway station and the principal streets were decorated with flags and streamers. On Radio 4 Francine Stock is currently investigating the concept of charisma. Irving’s biographer, Brereton, described his Hamlet as having a “troubled, wearied expression”, a man “of a highly nervous and sensitive disposition; The terrible events which occur have the effect of unhinging the man’s mind, but …nothing can alter the inherent disposition of Hamlet. to be or not to be sarah bernhardt Well, with “Bernhardt” and “Hamlet” sharing the marquee, Goodman Theatre’s season-opener must be larger than life if not literature. Never does one understand so well the failure of women in art as when one sees them deliberately impersonating men upon the stage.” Setting Beerbohm’s categorically sexist assertions aside (for the moment), we must mark the irony that both he and Robins are troubled by a woman playing a man, given that all of Shakespeare’s female characters were once played by men, a fact both critics somehow fail to mention. Summary: Print shows Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet, full-length portrait, standing, facing left, holding and looking at skull. Janet McTeer as Sarah Bernhardt in ‘Bernhardt/Hamlet’ (Photo: Joan Marcus) Born on October 22, 1844 in Paris, France, Sarah Bernhardt’s path to becoming the leading actress in the latter part of the 19th century was a … “A la tombe, a la monument,”, said he.”. She was the first female actor to play the part on film. Hamlet, also known as Le Duel d'Hamlet, is a 1900 French film adaptation of an excerpt from the William Shakespeare play Hamlet. In 1899 she played Hamlet in a French adaptation of the play in twelve scenes. Bernhardt’s worldwide fame rested not only on her public relations skill, but also on her willingness to take dramatic risks most actresses of the time would never dare. High humor and human drama collide in a rollicking comedy “so clever it uplifts, so timely it hurts” ( The New York Times ). With Sarah Bernhardt, Pierre Magnier, Suzanne Seylor. The day of performance was to be most exciting. We’re hoping to rely on our loyal readers rather than erratic ads. Indeed, I feel sure that Madame Bernhardt treats her lap-dog more considerately.” On the whole, however, Robins felt the performance a truly dramatic achievement through Bernhardt’s “mastery of sheer poise… of sparing, clean-cut gesture… the effect that the artist in her wanted to produce.”. The duel scene (heavily cut) was specially staged and filmed at the time. This website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate through the website. Even at the age of 55, “Madame Bernhardt’s assumption of masculinity is so cleverly carried out that one loses sight of Hamlet in one’s admiration for the tour de force of the actress… She gives us…a spirited boy; doing it with an impetuosity, a youthfulness, almost childish.” In giving advice to the players she was “a precocious young gentleman, who…thoroughly enjoys laying down the law to plodding professionals”.