Ernest Thesiger’s



On dating

“In these days young folk treat many matters far different from our fathers and mothers, so that I see little reason why young ladies should not be willing and ready to share some, if not all, of the expenses attaching to their courtship.  It does not seem fair that all the expenses of a summer holiday should fall on the young man.  Most young fellows are willing to talk confidentially with their lady friend, and this question of paying expenses of a theatre visit, a day in the country, or a holiday by the sea is just the subject for mutual agreement.”

Sunday Post, Lanarkshire, Scotland, March 27, 1927

On young people of today

“‘Some piteous things’ among young people were discussed by Mr. Ernest Thesiger, the actor, speaking yesterday at the annual meeting of the Ladies’ Association of St. Peter’s Hospital, Covent Garden, London.

‘Some people,’ he said, ‘have nothing but praise for our young people, but in my opinion there is a great deal to be said against the youth of today. They have some extremely bad qualities, or, rather, they have got into extremely bad ways. It seems to me that they have gone adrift since war. Only this week two awful things happened.  I was at a party at which a young man, who had had a certain number of cocktails, suddenly exclaimed; “If you dare me, I will cut my throat.” Another young fellow dared him, and he did it.  This sort of thing is too terrible to think about.

On another occasion a young girl of my acquaintance rushed up to me and said, “What do you think? The day before yesterday I was married to a millionaire,” and before I had time to congratulate her she added, “and I hate him like hell.”

‘The reason our young people do these mad and terrible things is, I believe, because they have nothing to do and are bored.  Deep down they have the right qualities.  They only want to be got at.  If you could only get at them in the right way you would not only find their help useful in the sort of work you are doing for this hospital, but you would be doing a great service for these piteous young things of today.’”

Western Morning News, Devon, May 8, 1931

“Those were the days of Prohibition and in consequence there was more drunkenness in New York than ever before.  There was nothing easier than to get unlimited drink.  If you didn’t know the address of a speak-easy, you just asked the nearest policeman.  On arrival at a hotel it was usual to be rung up by a voice which said ‘I am your bootlegger and am coming round with my price-list.’  Most people made their own gin - bathtub gin it was called.  Apparently juniper berries were bought at the chemist (I beg pardon, drugstore) and the bootlegger provided the raw alcohol.  It wasn’t nasty or dangerous and was quite cheap.  But there was also a lot of most poisonous liquor to be met with and avoided. I remember being invited to a cocktail party and was taken by elevator to the 30th floor and told by the boy that my party was in the apartment just round the bend of the corridor.  But just round the corner I nearly tripped over the prostrate form of a smartly dressed woman who was lying across the passage.  When I reached my friends’ rooms I explained that there was a lady prone in the passage who was evidently dead or drunk.  ‘Oh, she is not one of ours’ they assured me quite casually.  Americans are not good drinkers - they don’t really enjoy good wine and their chief object is to mix their drinks so as to get as drunk as they can in as short a time as possible. They used to laugh at me because I always left a party the moment the first person collapsed on the floor. ‘Why leave?’ they cried ‘we are just getting high!’ ‘You are just beginning to get boring’ I always answered.”

from Ernest Thesiger’s unpublished memoir, I Was

On American drinking habits

Forward to Practical Make-up For The Stage by T. W. Bamford

First published 1940

“In spite of a mistaken movement in the direction of naturalism on the stage, which encourages actors to speak in a ‘drawing-room’ voice, almost inaudible to any one farther from the stage than the front row of the stalls, and to appear on the scenes with hardly any make-up on their face, it is generally recognized that a certain amount of over-emphasis is essential on a stage divided from the audience by the proscenium frame and flooded with a light of intense brilliance.

Just as the voice of the actor must be pitched in such a way as to carry to the farthest seat-holder in the house, so must his face and features be accentuated if his expression is not to be lost.

This then is the primary object of make-up, for a face in which the eyes and mouth had not been defined would appear flat and featureless under the glare of modern stage lighting.

Make-up is a help, too, though not such a help as is sometimes imagined, in the expression of character. (The real expression of character comes from within and cannot be a merely surface application.)

I have heard amateur water-colourists ask professional painters what green they use for trees, and I have known amateur actors and actresses state that before players appear on the stage they must put blue on their eyelids.  Unfortunately for the painter, whether it is to his face or to the sketching-block that he is applying the paint, there is no such short-cutting formula which can be taught in half a dozen words.  The art of painting requires knowledge and practice, and the best way to acquire this knowledge is to watch an expert at work.  But since the ideal method is not always available to the student, the textbook is the next best thing.

Here is a textbook on the art of painting your face written by an expert in the simplest and most easily digested terms.  Mr. Bamford knows his subject thoroughly and has pointed out the pitfalls as well as the essentials of stage make-up.  He has told the amateur what to avoid as well as what to aim at; more it is not possible for the writer of any textbook to do, except to add, as our author has done, diagrams to illustrate and to clarify his instructions.  Practice alone can supply the rest.”