The 1800s

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Modern Theatre in Context: A Critical Timeline

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Sarah Bernhardt cross-dressed as the tyrant in Francesco di Rimini

Sarah Bernhardt appears at the Grand Opera House in Toronto on June 11 in Sardou's Fédora. The theatre critic for the Globe writes on June 13 that "In Sarah Bernhardt's acting there seems to be no husbanding of force for the sake of brilliant and startling effects, and yet there never comes an anti-climax; and while there is strength and intensity always apparent, the stronger passages flash out in dazzling contrast, like lightening out of the darkest thunder cloud...the costumes, especially Mme Bernhardt's, were magnificent." She continued to tour Canada until the end of her career, even though in 1902, when at the age of 61 she appeared in Quebec in the title roles of La dame aux camélias and Adrienne Lecouvreur as well as Angelo, tyrant of Padua in Francesca da Rimini, she herself and her repertoire was condemned by the Church, with the Archbishop of Montreal declaring her performances anathema, and catigating his parishioners who attended, describing them as "drames dans lesquels l'Église est insultée et la morale chrétienne foulée aux pieds...Ah! Comme il y a des esprits peu logiques et comme les convictions religieuses sont peu profondes dans certaines âmes!"

Sarah Anne Curzon (1833-1898), a social and political activist and leading member of the Toronto Women's Literary Club, has her poetic historical drama Laura Secord, the Heroine of 1812 published in Toronto. Curzon had written the drama in 1876 but it was not published until eleven years later "owing to the inertness of Canadian interest in Canadian literature at that date."