[ Ernest Elton, New York actor. ] Prompt copies with manuscript additions from his directing of the women students of the University of Vermont in the Shakespeare plays 'Romeo and Juliet', 'Much Ado about Nothing', 'Twelfth Night', 'As you like It'.

Ernest Elton (fl. 1900-1922), New York actor [ William Shakespeare; University of Vermont; Syracuse University ]
Publication details: 
Two of the plays with Elton's address given as '131 West 40th St. | New York City', and one with it as ''A.S.A. 114 W. 40th St''. University of Vermont. 1900 [ 1902 ].
SKU: 17461

The four items present here are the prompt books for performances of Shakespeare plays by the 'Young Ladies of the University of Vermont', under the direction of New York actor Ernest Elton. BACKGROUND: Professor George B. Bryan, in a 'History of Theatre at the University of Vermont' writes that around the turn of the century 'The women students launched their own dramatic activities. If the men could stage their frivolities at the Howard Opera House, the ladies would perform classical plays on the lawn of Grasse Mount. Their efforts, staged by a New York professional who seems to have left no other tracks in the sands of time, Ernest Elton, included 'Much Ado about Nothing' (1900), 'Twelfth Night' (1902), 'The Tempest' (1904) [...] The women's productions received such favorable attention that the men's club was prompted to mount a substantial presentation to uphold its assaulted dignity. The men's play was Nicholas Udall's 'Ralph Roister Doister' (1552), presented May 9, 1900, and staged by Elton with the inspiration and advice of Prof. Frederick Tupper of the English Department.' Pace Professor Bryan, Elton has left a faint trace of his professional activities. In 1903 an otherwise-negative New York Times review of Augustus Thomas's play 'The Earl of Pawtucket' singled Elton out as 'legitimate and distinctly comic'. Thomas himself, in his 1922 memoir 'The Print of My Remembrance', describes Elton as 'an actor of experience and ability', who had been together with leading man Lawrence D'Orsay 'in an English company some fifteen years before in the provinces, and met now for the first time since'. In 1904, the University of Vermont yearbook 'The Ariel' refers to 'the veteran actor and trainer Mr. Ernest Elton'. In 1922 Rollo Anson Tallcot's 'Art of Acting and Public Reading' names 'Ernest Elton of New York' as one of two men 'whose instruction in acting gave me the actor's point of view and first led me to see the true relationship that acting bears to public speaking and public'. And Vermont was not the only educational institution to engage Elton's services. In 'Syracuse University: The Growing Years', Galpin, Wilson and Barck describe how 'Ernest Elton, a professional actor of New York City', followed Professor Frederick D. Losey as director of Shakespeare Plays for the English Club. Elton is also credited as the author of a 1919 'comedy sketch' titled 'Obliging a Friend'. PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: All four volumes in good internal condition, with light age and wear, in heavily-worn remains of paper wraps. Each of the four consists of cuttings of the printed text of the play laid down in a blank volume, mainly on the rectos, with extensive manuscript stage directions to the text and around it, and other annotations throughout including alterations to text and simple diagrams of sets. 'Much Ado about Nothing' and 'As you like it' are inscribed by Elton with his address as '131 West 40th St. | New York City'. 'Romeo and Juliet' similarly-inscribed, with the address 'A.S.A. [i.e. Actors' Society of America] 114 W. 40th St'. 'Twelfth Night' has no inscription or address. ONE: 'Much Ado about Nothing'. Undated (production of 1900). Landscape 8vo, with leaves numbered by Elton to 67. Paper of volume made up of blank ASA letterheads. Printed title of play states: 'As produced by Henry Irving'. Loosely inserted in the volume is a printed card for 'Shakspere's Comedy of Much Ado about Nothing. Presented by the Young Ladies of the University of Vermont Tuesday, June 12, 1900 8.15 p.m.' On the reverse, the dramatis personae give the names of the actresses, beginning with 'Miss Batchelder' as Don Pedro and 'Miss Goodhue' as his brother. TWO: 'As you like it'. Undated. Landscape 8vo, with leaves numbered by Elton to 50. Extensively annotated. Some sections with detailed stage directions, for example: 'Flourish. Guards form a ring, kneeling & crossing their halberds. Charles leaves throne & leaps into ring - walking round it, posturing, etc: while peasants & guards shout - "A Charles - A Charles"! until Duke silences them by raising his hand. Meanwhile Orlando is with Adam L. who is instructing him. Flourish & shouts cease as Duke raises his hand. & says "You shall try but are full."' A whole manuscript page of directions hehaded 'Business of wrestling scene'. THREE: 'Twelfth Night'. Undated (production dated by Bryan to 1902). 8vo, with leaves numbered by Elton to 26. First three acts only. With extensive manuscript insertion of text (all by Shakespeare). FOUR: 'Romeo and Juliet'. Undated. Small 4to, with leaves numbered by Elton to 52. Extensive stage directions, for example: 'Transparency arch in C of cell drop - (bit of black calico behind transparency) for discovery of wedding tableau'.