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GEORGE SAND'S THEATRE CAREER by Gay Manifold (UMI Research, 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48106: $39.95, illustrated).

February 23, 1986|SARA E. MELZER

Despite the fact that George Sand (pseudonym for Aurora Dupin Dudevant) tried to camouflage her female qualities by adopting a male name, donning men's clothes and smoking cigars, she is unfortunately known to Americans by the quality most stereotypically associated with females: Sexuality. Her fame and fascination for us rests largely on her "female charms," which succeeded in seducing some of the greatest male artists of the 19th Century: Frederic Chopin and Alfred de Musset.

Yet Sand was a highly prolific and fascinating artist in her own right. The range and depth of her accomplishments are just recently coming to light. Only in the last decade have her novels begun to receive much attention. Sand's remarkable theater career has been buried in oblivion until Gay Manifold's beautifully written book, which is the first study in English to focus on Sand's involvement in theater.

Sand wrote numerous plays, 25 of which were performed in major theaters in Paris. She wrote essays on acting theory and theater practice; she produced and directed plays, made costumes and even performed in her plays. Sand's theatrical production is impressive in quality as well as quantity. Her theater dramatizes important social and political issues of her time such as marriage and the education of women. Manifold argues that Sand's ultimate goal was to create a people's theater, an ambition spawned by her participation in the 1848 Revolution.

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