Faculty Book: Bettina Knapp
Marie Dorval: France’s theatrical wonder. A Book for Actors
(Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2007)
To trace the life of Marie Dorval through her turbulent times is to engage with a rare theatrical genius and the teeming literary, emotional, economic, and material dramas in which she was embroiled. Dumas, Vigny, Hugo, Sand, Gautier and many others mingle their creative and affective energies with Dorval's in a ceaseless dynamic interplay. This story also discloses the life in Marie Dorval's times: the poverty, the need to will one's survival, and the unimaginably trying circumstances in which theatre was performed, whether in the provinces or in Paris. The author also seeks to give us some real insight into the uniqueness of Dorval's acting techniques, simultaneously instinctive, viscerally natural, and studied, though more from life than instruction. A book for actors, yes; but a book, too, for lovers of the theatre and, beyond that, of the sheer improbable drama of existence. Bettina Knapp is a professor emerita of French at the Graduate Center and Hunter College.
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Submitted on: DEC 20, 2007