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Le Gallienne
Talbot
Eva Le Gallienne as Hedda Tesman in the Civic Repertory Theatre production of Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler
1926
Theatre Guild Records

A woman of many talents, Eva Le Gallienne founded the Civic Repertory Theatre to fulfill her ambition of creating a noncommercial theater company dedicated to producing plays of the highest quality regardless of their commercial practicality. Le Gallienne produced, directed, and acted in many of the company’s shows, including this production of Hedda Gabler.

 

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In 1926 Eva Le Gallienne founded a nonprofit theater group known as the Civic Repertory Theatre. With Le Gallienne as their premiere actress, director, and producer, the Civic Repertory Theatre was a major force in the thriving off-Broadway, noncommercial theater movement of the early twentieth century. “The theater is important only in proportion to the need it fills in the lives of the people,” Le Gallienne wrote. “It should be a source of mental and spiritual stimulation to the community....The theater should be an instrument for giving not a machinery for getting.”1 The company’s major productions included revivals of Chekhov’s Three Sisters (1926) and Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler (1928). Their performance of Peter Pan (1928) featured Le Gallienne as the first Peter Pan to fly over the audience on a wire. Of Le Gallienne’s performance of the lead in Romeo and Juliet, New York Times critic Brooks Atkinson wrote: “Her Juliet reveals her as an actress, not merely of intelligence which she has always been, but of scope and resilience....Ardently girlish in the balcony scene, her Juliet grows steadily in dignity and command as the tragedy unfolds, and takes the terror and resolutions of the potion scene with a new fullness of emotion.”2

1 Eva Le Gallienne, Civic Repertory Theatre playbill, vol. 1.2, 24 October 1927.
2 Brooks Atkinson, “The Play: Eva Le Gallienne as Juliet,” New York Times, 22 April 1930.

 

 

 

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