American Actress Mary Anderson takes to the Stage in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Broadway
Fundraiser for the Relief of Belgian Artists
100 years ago today, during the afternoon of Tuesday 27th August 1918, the Lifford Memorial Hall in the Cotswold village of Broadway was full to capacity for an afternoon of music and drama arranged by Mary Anderson de Navarro in aid of the Fund for the Relief of Belgian Artists. The relief fund was established to ensure that individuals and families who remained in Belgium during the First World War would receive money but it also ensured that those who had sought refuge in the United Kingdom would be well looked after.
Performance of Macbeth at the Lifford Memorial Hall
The event was arranged by the ‘celebrity’ American stage actress and Broadway resident, Mary Anderson de Navarro. During the First World War, Mary Anderson carried out a number of fund-raising performances in London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Worcester and Evesham and this performance of Macbeth in Broadway met with great acclaim.
Fellow American opera singer Murray-Davey (who lived at Willersey House in the nearby village of Willersey) helped organise the event. The first half included performances of Ede Poldini’s La poupée valsante and Ange Flegier’s Le Cor and pieces by Brahms and Bach performed by a string quartet; Messrs. Désiré Defauw, Lionel Tertis, Emile Dochard and Harold Samuel. Instrumentalists included Lady Sykes and Lady Maud Bowes-Lyon (also a resident of Broadway and Aunt of HRH Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother).
The second half included scenes from Macbeth with Mary Anderson as Lady Macbeth and the American Shakespearean actor Edward Hugh Sothern, who specialised in dashing, romantic leading roles, as Macbeth. They were supported by Miss Hare, Shakespearean actor and director Sir Philip Barling ‘Ben’ Greet, Mary’s son Lieut. ‘Toty’ de Navarro and the English actor Sir John Hare.
Broadway’s Artistic Heritage
Broadway was fashionable amongst artists at the time and had been since the late 1880s when the sleepy picturesque Cotswold village had attracted a number of English and American artists, writers, painters, musicians (the ‘Broadway Colony’). John Singer Sargent, Francis Millet, Edwin Austin Abbey, Alfred Parsons and Henry James (to name just a few) gave Broadway its artistic heritage that visitors today continue to enjoy and is celebrated biennially by the Broadway Arts Festival.