Gabrielle Rejane (1856-1920)

rejane-g000.jpg - 20kb

Gabrielle Rejane (1856-1920)

Click here for:  Biography  Press Page

Scroll down for Gallery

Some known facts:
Born 5th June, 1856 - Paris (France)
Died 15th June, 1920 - Paris (France)
Married Monsieur Porel, Director of Vaudeville Theatre, Paris
Real Name Gabrielle Charlotte Reju.

ss_gemini cy_dragon   Star Signs: Gemini (Air) / Year of the Dragon

Click any image for a larger view
rejane-g001.gif - 5kb
rejane-g003.gif - 5kb

By .
Produced at the Lyric Theatre, London.
Reviewed in the Morning Post (London) - 2nd July, 1897.

Madame Rejane and her company yesterday evening gave her an admirable performance of "Frou-Frou", a play of which we only yesterday had occasion to extol the great merits and to point out what we venture to think are the defects. Madame Rejane's performance has the very great merit of sincerity, rewarded last night by the not less sincere interest of the audience, which was aroused at the beginning, and kept with increase to the end. It is a simple rather than a subtle effect, each situation being naturally rendered, and the general result being due rather to the succession of situations than to a profound link between them all. Madame Rejane, with great tact, avoids over acting, and produces her best successes by not attempting too much. The scene in the third act in which Brigard tries to soothe his daughter's nerves, and she finds herself thrown upon her own resources, was an excellent example of this. Madame Rejane sits still on the sofa and looks straight before her till her eyes fill with tears. This is natural, simple, and convincing. In quite excellent taste was the opening part of the fourth act, where Valreas and Gilberte are at breakfast in Venice and read the Figaro. The stormier scenes, too, Madame Rejane takes in moderation, notably the outburst with Louise at the end of the third act. Very good, indeed, was the interview in the same act at which Valreas says goodbye. We care less for the passage in which Sartorys appears (at Venice) to bring back his money and to say brutal things to Gilberte. The compulsive struggle with him which follows his declaration that he will kill Valreas is not to our taste; but the authors, not the actress, are to blame for this, as well as for the death scene, with its overdone sentimentality and its deus ex machina ending by a convenient, if unnatural, happy dispatch, a scene in which, as in the whole play, there is no fault to be found with Madame Rejane's acting. Madame Rejane was unusually well supported by a good company, in which the Brigard of M. Nertann, the Louise of Madame Avril, the Valreas of Mr. Magnier, the Sartorys of M. Calmettes, the Baronne of Madame Sorel, and the Pauline of Madame Cecile Caron all deserve to be specially mentioned.

By Birton and Simon.
Produced at the Lyric Theatre, New York.
Reviewed in the New York Times - 22nd November, 1904.

M. Dumeny, M. Kelm, M. Renoir, M. Monti, M. Gorieux, M. Berthier, M. Bosman, M. Duc, M. Thamin, M. Dufroy, Mme. Rejane, Mlle. Suzanne Avril, Mlle. Jeannin-Kelm, Mlle. Clery, Mlle. Rose Lion, Mlle. Deylia, Mlle. Bernou, Mlle. Edmond, La Petite Baudry.

In Birton and Simon's original version of "Zaza," in which Rejane appeared last night at the Lyric, there were a few speeches of the last act which were lacking in the version in which David Belasco presented Mrs. Leslie Carter - and their presence made a vast difference for the better in both the veracity, and the essential morality of the whole, but aside from this, as far as one can say from a memory of some six years, the two versions were identical. The methods of the two actresses, however, were as far apart as the poles. With Mrs. Carter's underlined and obvious acting in memory, it was a minute or two before the eye could become accustomed, so to speak, to the optics of this finely modulated and artistically suggestive rendering.

But before the first curtain it was fairly evident, if it had not been before, why Rejane is reputed supreme in the portrayal of the naturalistic comedy and emotion essential to the piece. One must confess to utmost sympathy with the central idea of the play, in spite of the frank picturing of vulgar and immoral surroundings which pervades it. Granted, a woman - potentially a great artist in her way - of depraved ancestry and utterly demoralized environment, who is yet at heart sincere, what will be the result when she falls truly in love? Up from the sink of the life she springs from, and which is a part of her, will rise certain emotions, ugly and grotesque on the surface, yet all the more deeply touching to all frank and native human sympathies.

That they should end by reclaiming her to a conventially proper life, as Mr. Belasco's version made believe, is shocking alike to the sense of fact and to immutable moral truth. Once a cocotte, always a cocotte. But that they should create in the woman a new self-respect and raise her to her own highest plane is in accord both with fact and morality. This is the difference which was made last night by the restoration of a few lines in the fifth act.

A similar gain was evident throughout in Rejane's performance. It is possible that it lacked the breadth of appeal Mrs. Carter gave to the emotional crises. The French actress shed no real tears over Toto, and everywhere stopped well short of hysterics. But, by the same token, she saved the passages of sensual appeal from any suggestion of animality. The undressing scene in the first act, in which Zaza seduces Dufrene, she carried off with the air of infantile fun, full of Gallic salt, which saves so many a Parisian scene from the coarseness we Anglo-Saxons read into them. She played it in a spirit of comedy that can fairly be called pure. It was so throughout. The best dressed actress in Paris, it is said, Rejane evinced in every thread of her costume the crude taste of the cocotte. She illumined her conception of the character with an infinitude of deliciously grotesque light and shade. Her walk, none too graceful at best, because at times not a little like the stride of a dromedary. With a masque that grows fresh and young in smiling, and wan and old in agony, she wrenched every pulse of emotion out of the part. With a voice that can sing in caressing like the tones of a violin, she became at need as raucous as a peacock. All this detracted from the salience of theatric effect perhaps, yet infused into the whole a reality, an atmosphere of general comprehensibility that threw the inner meaning into the vision of every seeing eye. Laughter mingled with tears, as in all true comedy; pity with reprehension, as in all true drama. With her role in "La Parisienne," her Zaza ranks at the top of her achievement thus far.

The work of the company as a whole was of the highest order, and especially the Dufrene of Dumeny. Of the production it is enough to say that it was the shabbiest and crudest of the many monstrosities with which Rejane has afflicted a patient public.

New York Times - 22nd Noveber, 1904.

Movie Credits (source
1900 - Madame Sans-Gêne [Madame Sans-Gêne]
1908 - Britannicus
1911 - Madame Sans-Gêne [Madame Sans-Gêne]
1916 - Alsace [Madame Obey]
1920 - Miarka, la fille à l'ourse

Biography   Press Page