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with the personage, and uncertain memory of the things to be repeated.
On the contrary, how much does Mr. Ryan owe to his long familiarity with the parts he plays, in the applause he receives from his manner of executing many of them. An inattention and absence of mind too frequent with him, hurt his reputation in many characters; but where he throws off this indolence, how much the person he represents does he appear in many very capital parts. In the Prince of Wales, in the first part of Henry the Fourth, every thing is so ready to his memory, and every article of his deportment fo perfect in his thoughts, that he is no longer Mr. Ryan, but the Prince, as soon as he enters on the character. With how much true fpirit, with how great justice to the author, does he repeat his vindication and promise of services to his father, to whom, when he upbraids him with his degenerate vices, and tells him what he expects from them, he answers,
Do not think so, you shall not find it so ;
that I am your son,
For every honour fitting on his helm,
The applause the audience always gives this performer on his delivering this speech, is far from being more than he deserves. We fee nothing of the player in it: 'Tis nature itself. The contrition, the resolution, the gallantry, and the folemnity express'd in it, all succeed one another as they wou'd do in real life; and we are ready to believe ourselves carry'd back to old times, and hearing the first sentiments of that noble daring that afterwards carry'd Harry the Fifth thro' the conquest of Francr, breathing themselves out of his own full heart.
To return. The matter the player is to deliver, presents itself much too slowly, even when it occurs just at the instant he is to speak it. His memory ought to take in at one instant, not only every thing that he is to say at the present moment, but in some degree every thing that he will have to repeat in the whole scene : By this means, and by none but this, he will be able to regulate his gestures and deportment, not only so as to make them proper for the present occafion, but for the conduct of the whole fucceeding part of the scene.
We may even go a great deal farther, without exceeding the bounds of justice in this article. The player ought not only to remember in generat his own part in the whole scene, nay and in the whole play, but he shou'd remember also, at least in a general way, the parts of the other actors who are, or at any succeeding time are, to be on the stage with him. On almost all occafions, the actor, before he begins to speak, ought to prepare his audience for what he is going to deliver, by some proper action; and the beginning of this action ought, according to the circumstances, to precede the speech by a longer or shorter time.
The players, especially the young ones, have a way of mechanically recollecting when they are to speak next, by getting off, together with their own parts, what they call the Cues, that is, the last line of the speech of the person next after whom they are to speak. But when the performer knows no more of what is to be said to him than the last line, it is hardly to be imagin'd that he can give his speech the proper tone at its setting out; and 'tis utterly impossible that he shou'd introduce it with that kind of action we have just now mention'd the neceflity of.
CH A P. IX.
Containing a Digression concerning cerlain Articles,
which in themselves are foreign to theatrical Representation ; yet without which the Truth of acting is never to be arrived at.
THEN the players are thoroughly perfect
in the remembrance of their parts, and have study'd so carefully their different circumstances, that they are ready to bestow on each that sort of expression which is adapted to it ; we find the most necessary appearances are already all prepared to keep up the illusion in the representation, and to persuade us into an opinion of its being a reality. We have nothing now left us then to enquire into, but such things as are independent both of the action and the delivery.
If we wou'd have the representation perfect in its kind, all that now remains, is to join these requisites of the latter kind with those of the first.
If these connections are in some degree necessary to us in plays, they are infinitely more so in the Italian operas. appearance of reality is neglected in the very nature of performances, the more neceffity there is that the delusion of our senses shou'd take us off from all thoughts of using our reason. This kind of theatrical entertainment invented by the Italians, a nation fonder of thew than of reality, and intended to amuse the eyes and to entertain the ears, rather than to affect the heart, to
The more every
rouse the passions, or in any degree to employ the understanding, keeps up to this day the spirit of its original nature : Even when there have been people who have understood the language, and have insisted upon meaning in the words, it has still been left in poffeffion of all that gewgaw splendour which was intended originally to make sense unnecessary to it; and stage monsters and pompous scenery are yet allow'd among the things of greatest merit in it.
Our imagination is conducted by these kind of theatrical representations from prodigy to prodigy; and at every instant we are expected to prepare oufelves for seeing scenes, each more extraordinary than the last. A magnificent palace changes in a moment into a frightful desart; and in a few minutes more, a fhepherd's cottage becomes a majestick temple.
A conjurer in one scene determin’d to plague a couple of unhappy lovers, ransacks all the elements for means to execute his purpose; furies, fiends and discord arise from the gaping ground, which presents all hell to our view; and the next scene shews us Venus and Cupid attended by the Graces, descending from the clouds to crown the constancy of the tender pair. We are hurry'd to the utmost bounds of imaginary worlds at the shifting of a scene, and are in one moment in the Idalian groves, in the next, in caves and grottos at the bottom of the fea, the resort of Nereids, and in a third we are seated on the top of Olympus in the midst of a council of the gods.
The art of the mechanick and decorator are no less essential in these performances, than the genius of the poet, the skill of the composer, or