Annajanska, the Bolshevik Empress by George Bernard Shaw
ANNAJANSKA is frankly a bravura piece. The modern variety theatre
demands for its "turns" little plays called sketches, to last
twenty minutes or so, and to enable some favorite performer to
make a brief but dazzling appearance on some barely passable
dramatic pretext.

Miss Lillah McCarthy and I, as author and
actress, have helped to make one another famous on many serious
occasions, from Man and Superman to Androcles; and Mr Charles
Ricketts has not disdained to snatch moments from his painting
and sculpture to design some wonderful dresses for us. We three
unbent as Mrs Siddons, Sir Joshua Reynolds and Dr Johnson might
have unbent, to devise a turn for the Coliseum variety theatre.
Not that we would set down the art of the variety theatre as
something to be condescended to, or our own art as elephantine.
We should rather crave indulgence as three novices fresh from the
awful legitimacy of the highbrow theatre.

Well, Miss McCarthy and Mr Ricketts justified themselves easily
in the glamor of the footlights, to the strains of Tchaikovsky's
1812. I fear I did not. I have received only one compliment on my
share; and that was from a friend who said, "It is the only one
of your works that is not too long." So I have made it a page or
two longer, according to my own precept: EMBRACE YOUR REPROACHES:
THEY ARE OFTEN GLORIES IN DISGUISE.

Annajanska was first performed at the Coliseum Theatre in
London on the 21st January, 1918, with Lillah McCarthy as
the Grand Duchess, Henry Miller as Schneidekind, and Randle
Ayrton as General Strammfest.
 
 
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