Friday, April 23, 2010

The Rebel Maid

These photos of a theatrical production have "The Rebel Maid" written on the backs, in pencil. Stamped, "J.W. DEBENHAM Photographer 182, ROUNDWOOD RD., WILLESDEN, N.W. 10 PHONE; WILLESDEN 5718." Without a date, and with everyone in period costume, it's difficult to know when these were actually taken. The Rebel Maid was a light, romantic opera written by Montague Phillips with lyrics by Gerald Dodson. It made it's premier at The Empire Theater in London on March 12, 1921. I've found several references to J. W. Debenham on the web, the earliest is a credit for a photo taken of school children celebrating the silver jubilee of Queen Mary and King George V at the Chamberlayne Road School, May 1935. I looked up The Empire Theater in London, and it's still there, though now it's a movie theater. I looked up a site that gives movie listings and found a theater on Chamerlayne Road, listed as being 4.6 miles from the Empire. These photos could have been from a revival of the play, though the close locations of Willesden, Chamberlayne Rd. and The Empire increase the likelihood that these are from the 1921 production run. If these photos are from the original production, then The Rebel Maid is played by Clara Butterworth. I've gone to and ttakena quick look at a photo, from 1923, of Butterworth. The third image has a couple, standing in the rear, right in front of the painted backdrop. The lady looks like the British National Portrait Gallery photo of Butterworth, the same jaw line, at least, but I can't write, with certainty, that they are one and the same.

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