Director’s Note: Blithe Spirit
I’m an enormously talented man and there’s no use pretending that I’m not.
Noël Coward is one of the wittiest, funniest, and most outrageous playwrights of the British theatre. Somehow, it doesn’t matter that his plays take place in another country, that they present outlandish situations with equally outlandish characters, or that they were written three-quarters of a century ago. They still work.
Noël Peirce Coward was born in 1899 and made his professional stage debut as Prince Mussel in The Goldfish at the age of 12, leading to many child actor appearances over the next few years. During the frenzied 1920s and the more sedate 1930s, Coward wrote a string of successful plays, musicals and intimate revues. He remained a successful playwright, screenwriter and director throughout the World War II years, as well as entertaining the troops and even acting as an unofficial spy for the Foreign Office. His plays during these years included Blithe Spirit which ran for 1,997 performances and outlasted the War.
The post-war years were more difficult for him. Austere Britain – the London critics determined – was out of tune with the brittle Coward wit. In response, Coward re-invented himself as a cabaret and TV star, particularly in America, and in 1955 he played a sell-out season in Las Vegas featuring many of his most famous songs. In the mid-1950s he settled in Jamaica and Switzerland, and enjoyed a renaissance in the early 1960s becoming the first living playwright to be performed by the National Theatre.
Writer, actor, director, film producer, painter, songwriter, cabaret artist as well as an author of a novel, verse, essays and autobiographies, he was called by close friends “The Master.” Coward was knighted in 1970 and died peacefully in 1973 in his beloved Jamaica.
There is nothing deep about this play. There are no symbols, hidden meanings, or secret situations. What we have is the amazingly creative mind of a writer whose sole purpose seems to be to give us enjoyment. So – please laugh. Please enjoy. Please leave your worries behind. This is what Noël Coward would have wished. And so do I.
Posted on February 1, 2017, in Waukesha Civic Theatre and tagged 2016-2017, 60th season, Blithe Spirit, British theatre, Carol Dolphin, Cindy Velcheck, comedy, Jeff Smerz, Keith Handy, Noel Coward, Pam Seccombe, Scott Fudali, Scott Prox, Sharon Sohner. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.