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[BARKER, Granville] COFFIN, C. Hayden

Cuttings Scrapbook for the 1912 Savoy Theatre Production of Twelfth Night

V.p.: N.p., 1912



Scrapbook in half leather and green boards, gold bands to black spine. First third of the album filled with production photographic illustrations and press clippings, and a 1p. TLS from Granville Barker to the scrapbook's creator, C. Hayden Griffin.



CUTTINGS SCRAPBOOK OF THE ACTOR HAYDEN C. COFFIN, WHO PLAYED FESTE IN GRANVILLE BARKER'S 1912 PRODUCTION OF TWELFTH NIGHT. TLS BY GRANVILLE-BARKER TO COFFIN TIPPED IN, COMMISERATING WITH COFFIN FOR HIS ON-STAGE GAFFE WHICH RESULTED IN CRITICAL OPPROBRIUM.

Granville Barker's production of Twelfth Night opened at the Savoy Theatre, London, on 15 November 1912, and for C. Hayden Coffin, playing Feste, the first night was less than perfect. Coffin, primarily a singer, had been hired for his celebrated baritone voice; in the early performances his grasp of the text was still a work in progress. Barker's sympathetic letter to Coffin, dated 20 November and tipped in to this volume, tells the story:

'My Dear Coffin,

So sorry to hear you are feeling seedy, but struggle through, for though you are a martyr, believe me no one in the audience notices unless they're told. [...]

Never mind the two or three people saying that you didn't know your words. Do you know how it was? If you had not said "ravages" of time instead of "whirligig" they would never have thought of it, but this being one of the half dozen lines of Shakespeare that the blighters know, they flashed their clever little daggers on you. But it is just an air bubble, and burst by now. I hope you feel, as we all do, how much you have contributed to what I trust is to be a success: I bless you for coming to see me that morning. I would not have been without your "Feste" for anything.

Yours always, [sgd.] H.G. Barker'.

Some of the critics had indeed mentioned Coffin's textual waywardness, and he's man enough to include those cuttings in this scrapbook. '... Mr. Hayden Coffin sings, of course, with perfect taste -- sings, indeed, rather better than he talks; for Mr. Coffin is not yet quite word perfect,' said The Times, while The Star noted that Coffin '...managed exceedingly well -- though his memory at times played him false....'. But most of his notices were warm and supportive, and the show itself was a resounding success.







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