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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Sunday, October 11, 2015

theatre luck, courtesy of a black cat and a pug

In her autobiography, the English actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell (Beatrice Stella Tanner) tells how a dreamed black kitten and her her pug's open sympathy helped her confidence.  She was portraying the challenging role of "Paula" in The Second Mrs. Tanqueray, and in great need of self-assurance after a subpar rehearsal:
. . . When I went back to my rooms in Devonshire Street I slipped into bed in misery, knowing that everyone was disappointed in me,. . .Towards morning I fell asleep and had a childish dream. There was a door opposite my bed, and I dreamed it was pushed slowly open, and, up near the top, a little black kitten put in its head. I awoke laughing, and when my two children came into my bed, I told them about my lucky dream. And, indeed, if a black cat walking across the stage, entirely ruining a scene, can be regarded by all actors as a most lucky event, how much more should a black kitten poking its head high up through a door in a dream on the morning of a "first night" augur success.
One other sign of good fortune had also come to me from my pet dog. I had a pug at the time called "She," a devoted creature. One day—while I was studying the part of the play, where "Paula" bursts into a fit of weeping, I could get neither shape nor form into my sobbing. . . After much striving I thought of "breaking up" the sounds by a natural blowing of my nose. This so affected poor "She" that she howled and howled, and I could not stop her for quite a long time—I felt perhaps I might move a human audience. Then came the first night. I put my children to bed, leaving them in the care of the landlady. They had covered me with their hugs and kisses and wishes for success, and remembering the black kitten and the pug's tribute, I went down to the theatre with "She" in my arms, and my nerves strung up with that glorious sense of a battle to fight.

-- Campbell, P. (1922). My life and some letters. New York: Dodd, Mead. 93-94.

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