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Welcome to Prospero's Blog! My wife Mollie and I work together in our Rough Magic studio on the coast of Maine. I've always loved old books, memorabilia, curiosities and Americana (especially 19th century dramatic literature) and am happy to share my discoveries in my Etsy Shops. Please come by and browse ~ there's just no telling what you'll find!

July 7, 2012

The profound, the delightful and the fantastic   The Theater of Asia
Classic Dance Drama of Thailand

I would like to show you some books from the Bookshelf which may introduce you to the great beauty and strangeness of Asian theater as it is distinguished from the Broadway shows that have been part of your heritage.

First, let's look at a basic form of Chinese theater that you probably know by title but have never really enjoyed in particular.  On the cover of this book on Peking Opera  you will see Monkey, the God-King of Asian legend, who is featured in most theaters and can be clever beyond measure, powerful beyond imagination and a trickster beyond doubt.

Peking Opera

India has its profusion of festivals and sectional theater as well as serious playwrights such as Tagore who received the Nobel Prize for his literary accomplishments.

Rabindranath Tagore

Tagore's Red Orlanders
And festivals are a constant part of Indian culture.  And here are some suggestions when you plan your trip to India.

Festivals of India

Looking at puppets, one must never forget the Malaysian shadow puppets from whose performances children of traditional Malaysia learn about their history and culture as well as their manners and religious beliefs.  And here again is the Monkey King Hanuman that mythical and spiritual figure of Asian thought and literature.

And finally Japan where theater has always been a dominant part of culture: the serious and profound Noh drama, its comic relief in Kyogen and the popular Kabuki.  Today American politicians tend to flip that term kabuki around in a ridiculous manner.  Learn what Kabuki really is.


 Come visit the many shelves of Prosperosbookshelf,

©2012 ProsperosBookshelf.

July 6, 2012

Great Actors and Actresses

 American actresses--and all actresses for that matter--have been explaining themselves since forever.  Today whether in the movies or on the stage they do it with indifferent rapidity, and readers have a tendency to react in key.

But for a change let me introduce you to two real actresses from the 19th century American stage who had good reason to write about themselves and did it with considerable verve and style.  They were individuals and women of character when it took some daring and self reliance to escape the reputation that women in the theater had to contend with much of their careers.

Let's begin with an actress who has a major position for theater historians as she made a fascinating career for nearly half a century acting "dear old ladies and foolish virgins."  I wonder just what actresses today would say about this combination.

Mrs. Gilbert

Now here is another actresses from the 19th century whose name just might be familiar to you!

Mrs. Drew

 Am I right?  Check it out!

 ©2012 ProsperosBookshelf.

June 30, 2012

Down East Ballads

Down East Ballads

"This jolly old earth was made for mirth,
For song and laughter gay,
So keep a smile on your face the while
You journey on your way.
Just sing and be glad as though you had
No time for feeling blue.
If you can't do this there's something amiss --
It isn't the world, it's YOU."

 ©2012 ProsperosBookshelf.

March 4, 2012

Minnie Maddern Fiske - Print of Portrait by Ernest Haskell

Minnie Maddern Fiske - Print of Portrait by Ernest Haskell
Look who turned up!

Going through some of my theatrical memorabilia yesterday, I got a fine surprise when I saw what I thought was a plain piece of card stock peeking out from between two antiquarian books. Giving it a gentle tug, so as not to damage the adjacent book covers, I found myself holding something I'd long given up for lost - this beautiful vintage print from 1940!

The lovely lady shown in profile is Minnie Maddern Fiske, the fiery actress whose star blazed across the late 19th and early 20th century American stage.

With her luxuriant red hair and twinkling blue eyes, Mrs. Fiske (nee Marie Augusta Davey, 1865-1932) enchanted theatre audiences - from her debut in Little Rock at the age of three, playing the Duke of York in Richard III, through her last role in the 1930 production of It's a Grand Life.

A champion of Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906), she produced and performed in a number of his plays, including A Doll's HouseHedda Gabler and Ghosts

Always a fierce advocate for artistic freedom, the fought against the powerful monopoly of the Theatrical Syndicate and for several years performed in small venues including churches and skating rinks. 

Mrs. Fiske was also a crusader against cruelty to animals and a political activist, working against the Prohibition Amendment and for Alfred Smith's campaign in the Presidential Election of 1928.

Printed on sturdy cream colored card stock (13-1/2" tall  x 10" wide), the portrait is mostly black with hints of light pink and peach. The American artist Ernest Haskell (1876-1925) was a self taught illustrator and print maker, best known for his ornate drawings and landscapes.

Beneath Mrs. Fiske's face is a small logo and the words "Drawn by Ernest Haskel [sic]" with "1940" in tiny numbers beneath.

This collectible antiquarian print is in very good condition for its 72 years. The card stock is worn, with some discoloration at the edges and on the back. 

View Minnie in my shop:

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©2011 ProsperosBookshelf.
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