martes, 13 de enero de 2015
From the Oxford Companion to English Literature, ed. Margaret Drabble:
COWARD, Noël. (1899-1973), actor, dramatist, and composer, born in Teddington, Middlesex, the son of a piano salesman and an ambitious mother who from an early age encouraged his theatrical aspirations. His first play was performed in 1917, but he achieved fame with The Vortex (1924), in which he himself appeared as Nicky Lancaster, a young drug addict tormented by his mother's adulteries. More characteristic of his talent were his comedies Fallen Angels (1925), Hay Fever (1925, about the the eccentric, theatrical, guest-confusing, self-regarding Bliss family), Private Lives (1933), about two disastrous interconnected second marriages), Design for Living (1933, about a successful ménage à trois), and Blithe Spirit (1941), which features the hearty medium, Madame Arcati, and Elvira, a predatory ghost. The smart sophistication, technical accomplishment, and convention-defying morality (or amorality) of these pieces captured the public of the day, but another and more sentimental side of Coward was revealed in his patriotic works (Cavalcade, 1931) and wartime screenplays such as Brief Encounter (1944) and This Happy Breed (1942). After the war Coward continued to write prolifically; his plays were less well received, to his own surprise, and he was outspoken about his contempt for the new, *kitchen sink school of realism and for the 'pretentious symbolism' of *Beckett. He had a new lease of life as cabaret entertainer at the Café de Pris, London, and in Las Vegas; then, in 1963, a revival of Private Lives at Hampstead Theatre Club precipitated a new wave of interest in Coward's work and many more revivals, including prestige productions at the *National Theatre. Coward was knighted in 1970, and died in Jamaica. He also published volumes of verse, short stories, a novel (Pomp and Circumstance, 1960), and two volumes of autobiography, The Noel Coward Diaries (1982, ed. G. Payn and Sheridan Morley), which cover his life from 1941 to 1969, are an entertaining fund of theatrical gossip, criticism of fellow playwrights, and admiring comments on the royal family.
Noël Coward on acting: VIDEO