William Gillette (1853-1937)
was a real person who was very
influential in early American theatre.
After being approached by Sir Arthur
Conan Doyle in the late 1890's he wrote
a play Sherlock Holmes, or The
Strange Case of Miss Faulkner. He
then played the part of Sherlock Holmes
more than 1300 times over a 30 year
period. It was Gillette who established
the deerstalker hat and curved pipe
which, because of this play, are forever
linked to Sherlock Holmes.
major contribution, though, was in the
actual staging of a play. He was raised
in the age of melodrama with its grand
gestures and ultr emphasized moments.
Gillette introduced realism into
theatrical sets, costumes, props, sound
effects and the concept of fade-in and
fade-out for scene changes. Just as
significantly, he introduced real
characters in real situations with
dramatic action achieved through
character development. He wrote an essay
on acting, Illusion of the First
Time, which is still quoted today. I
hope you enjoy this play which featuresone of the founders of modern theatre.