Original Document
Original Document
A. Frank Stull on Louisa Drew and the Arch Street Theatre, 1905

Nearly every member of the company was constantly in apprehension of the Duchess [Louisa Lane Drew]. She used to sit in a box and watch the performance with a hawk's eye that nothing escaped...

Mrs. Drew had a way of putting up for a long time with things that she felt should be remedied; but, little by little, as her patience ebbed, her silence would become more pronounced, like the lull before the storm; then, some day, upon arriving at the theatre, she would walk into the box office and don a certain red Paisley shawl which...fittingly reflected her mood. So long as that shawl was in evidence, all the people of the Arch, from stage carpenter to leading man, realized that perfection in the performance of duty was the smallest return they could give for their salaries...

The season at the Arch lasted from the first Saturday in September until the Fourth of July. For the first thirteen nights Mrs. Drew appeared in some role for which she was famous.... She had an erudite trick of hunting up old comedies and dramas that made new members of the company memory-sore and heartsick.

... An actor who did not happen to know [these old plays] had to learn and be able to reel off his part perfectly, with a change for every night.

After the thirteen introductory performances a star usually descended from somewhere out of nowhere, about every two weeks, and we were expected to support him. It was quite customary to put on three and four pieces a night....

Credit: A. Frank Stull, "Where Famous Actors Learned Their Art," Lippincott's Monthly, 75 (March 1905), 372-79.
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