Great War Theatre

Examiner of Plays' Summary:

The idea of this masque is extremely ambitious and it cannot be said that Mr Parker’s verses invariably rise to the occasion, but the effect is good and no doubt the staging will be impressive. Nature summons the Earth and the elements and each indicts War for the havoc going on in it. Frightfulness then appears and glories in the shame and horror, but War affirms that Frightfulness is a vile counterfeit and points to the good which comes of himself as well as the evil, and so we have Valour typified by our soldiers and sailors and Pity by a Nurse and Courage by a Wife who stays at home and friendship by the different countries of the Alliance. There is also, of course, the devotion of the Empire to England. Finally the coming of Peace is heralded and the Golden Age and general rejoicings. Recommended for license. G. S. Street.

Researcher's Summary:

There were two previous entertainments called The Masque of War and Peace. The first, also by Louis Napoleon Parker, was performed by society ladies at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London, on 13 February 1900 in aid of the widows and orphans of Her Majesty’s Household Troops. Newspaper descriptions of the masque show it to be different from the one staged on 27 April 1915 (e.g. Pall Mall Gazette, 2 January 1900; Morning Post, 24 January 1900; and Pall Mall Gazette and St James’s Gazette, both 14 February 1900). A few years later Lady Maitland wrote a Masque of War and Peace, performed at the Scala Theatre, London, on 28 and 29 May 1908, to raise funds for the purchase of a riding school for the City of London Roughriders Imperial Yeomanry (Daily Mirror, 25 May 1908). Louis N. Parker's 1915 Masque of War and Peace, which was performed once only, was written specially for a charity matinée in aid of the American Women’s War Hospital at Paignton, Devon. Later entertainments described as Masques of War and Peace were certainly neither of Louis N. Parker’s works (Cheshire Observer, 5 July 1919, and the Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 7 July 1922).

Licensed On: 24 Apr 1915

License Number: 3346

British Library Reference: LCP1915/10

British Library Classmark: Add MS 66096 E

Performances

DateTheatreType
27 Apr 1915 Theatre Royal Drury Lane, LondonUnknown Licensed Performance
27 Apr 1915 Theatre Royal Drury Lane, LondonProfessional
Read Narrative
‘Lady (Arthur) Paget, President of the American Women’s War Relief Fund, is arranging a matinée at Drury Lane Theatre (kindly lent Mr. Arthur Collins) towards the end of April, in aid of the American Women’s War Hospital at Paignton, South Devon. Mr. Louis N. Parker has written a new Masque of War and Peace specially for the occasion, and many well-known representative artists have already generously promised their services’ (Pall Mall Gazette, 19 March 1915; also other advance publicity in The Stage, 1 April 1915; Westminster Gazette, 5 and 9 April 1915; the People, 11 April 1915; Pall Mall Gazette, 13 April 1915; the Musselburgh News, 16 April 1915, which wrongly identified the masque as the one by Louis N. Parker that was performed in February 1900, as did the Kirkintilloch Herald, 28 April 1915; Liverpool Echo, 20 April 1915; The Globe, 23 April 1915). ‘The Queen, Queen Alexandra, Queen Amelia of Portugal, Princess Mary, Prince John, Prince Henry, Princess Victoria, Princess Christian, Princess Marie of Schleswig-Holstein, the Princess Royal, Princess Maud, the Due d’Orleans, the Grand Duke Michael of Russia, Countess Torby, and a large gathering of the members of the Corps Diplomatique honoured with their presence the matinee in aid of the American Women’s War Hospital (at Paignton), which took place at the Drury Lane Theatre this afternoon. The matinee was a huge success. Lady Arthur Paget, the organiser of the fête, paid all the out-of-pocket expenses, every penny taken for tickets being handed to the fund. The chief feature of the matinee was the “Masque of War and Peace,” specially written by Mr. Louis N. Parker, in which actresses representing all the Allied nations took part’ (The Globe, 27 April 1915). ‘The Drury-lane matinée yesterday, organised by Lady Paget in aid of the American Women’s War Hospital, that splendidly staffed retreat for our wounded soldiers at Paignton, in glorious Devon, realised £4,000 … The programme comprised the late Stanley Houghton’s “Pearls” and “The Masque of War and Peace,” specially written for the occasion by Mr. Louis N. Parker, the music being arranged from the works of English, French, and Russian composers. No seat was unoccupied’ (Liverpool Echo, 28 April 1915). ‘All the most famous and gifted actors and actresses of the day met together to help at the matinee. Britannia, beautifully portrayed by Miss Lilian Braithwaite, was the central, glittering figure in Mr Louis N. Parker’s “The Masque of War and Peace” - the chief item on the afternoon’s programme. Amid a weird scene of flying clouds, the Elements were first brought to life. Who so graceful and charming in the character of Water as Mrs. Langtry (Lady de Bathe) or Mlle Adeline Genée who floated on to the stage like a snowflake? Mme. Réjane was France, Mme. Lyuba Liskoff Russia, and a host of other famous actors and actresses were there in different parts. Hate (Miss Ethel Levey) and Frightfulness (Mr. Norman McKinnel) gave grimly realistic performances. The two characters were soon banished by all the Allies and the Elements, and then came Peace. First little Renee Mayer, a dainty, elfin figure in glittering white and gold - the Golden Age - came tripping in, spreading joy and gladness, and dancing wherever she went. A girl stepped forward bearing sheaves in her arms, and sang the National Anthem. The effect was electrical. The audience sprang to their feet and joined in’ (Daily Mirror, 28 April 1915). ‘The fact that Mr. Louis N. Parker had written a patriotic masque specially for the occasion largely added to the list of prominent artists on the programme, since its cast must have been something of a record one; but there were also numerous other single artists and items in the rest of the programme of scarcely less appeal and attraction … Louis N. Parker’s patriotic and symbolical masque, called The Masque of War and Peace, occupied a full half of the programme, and was given a cordial reception on account of its heart-stirring appropriateness, and fine spectacular effects. With the last-named result the impressive scenery (from Covent Garden and the Empire), and the picturesque costumes designed by Messrs. Purcell Jones, Byam Shaw, and C. Wilhelm had, of course, not a little to do, while the spectacle also gained greatly by a sympathetic and illustrative musical setting written and arranged by Mr. James M. Glover, and the well-known “Britannia” overture by Sir Alexander Mackenzie, who conducted it in person. As for the action itself, set forth in incisive and pithy rhymed couplets by the author, it may best be described as the lamentation of Nature (Lady Tree), and her sister elements of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire (Miss Kate Rorke, Mrs. Langtry, Mlle. Adeline Genée, and Miss Elsie Janis), over the great catastrophe that has overtaken mankind, and the final triumph of Peace (Miss Constance Collier), Hope (Miss Edna May), Pity (Miss Fay Davis), Courage (Miss Lily Elsie), and the Golden Age (Miss Renée Mayer) over Frightfulness (Mr. Norman McKinnell), and Hate (Miss Ethel Levey). The Spirit of War (also impersonated by Miss Constance Collier), is brought into sharp and effective contrast with Frightfulness, emphasising the fact that warfare is something quite different from the barbarous methods practised by Germany; while another successful illustration is that War, with all its horror and sadness, inspires and cements feelings of friendship, patriotism, and loyalty between the nations. These Nations, each with its respective standard-bearer, were represented by France (Madame Réjane), Russia (Madame Lyuba Liskoff), Japan (Madame Hanako), Belgium (Miss Dorothy Parker), Serbia (Miss Jessie Winter), Montenegro (Miss Vivien-Vivien) and Great Britain (Miss Lilian Braithwaite), all of whom had appropriate lines to deliver; while a clever touch of what may be called more homely sentiment was given by the appearances of a soldier (Mr. Owen Nares), a sailor (Mr. Langhorne Burton), an aviator (Mr. Basil Hallam) and a peasant, and his wife and child (Mr. E. W. Royce, and Misses J. Bloomfield and Walker). Miss Viola Tree as The Voice of the Winds; and others in the cast, including Madame Edvina as Canada, represented various British Colonies, Continental towns and rivers, standard-bearers, and the several arts of industry and peace. It is obviously impossible to give more than a mere outline of Mr. Parker’s masque, nor can any criticism be applied to its individual performances, all of which amply served their purpose; but it is certainly too to be altogether shelved, full, as it is, of inspiring moments, and virile and sane patriotism. Possibly further patriotic matinées may bring it again before the footlights. It brought the curtain down at Drury Lane on Tuesday afternoon mid scenes of great enthusiasm, the whole of the company and audience singing the National Anthem, led by Madame Edvina’ (The Stage, 29 April 1915). Also noticed in the Liverpool Echo, Daily Record and Western Morning News, all 28 April 1915; and the Sketch, 16 June 1915.