Alone on Stage
by Susan Hussey Bush
An American Actress in 1930s France and America
Suzanne C. Steele, wife and mother, took her dream to Paris and Broadway.
This is the ageless story of a woman ahead of her time.
In 1932, wife and mother, Suzanne Corbett Steele went to Paris with her three children to study Molière and his play, The School for Wives. She called herself a “monologist” and combined her passion for the arts, especially the theater, with persistence, hard work and an amazing talent.
- She was accorded a presentation under the sponsorship of the Comédie-Française in Paris—and the French loved her.
- Includes CD with Suzanne Steele's original translation of Molière's "School for Wives"
"When the American actress, Suzanne Steele, a native of Maine, presented before her, all seven roles of “School for Wives,” one of the Moliere’s masterpieces, doing all the parts herself, with true artistry, being at once Arnolphe, the conceited bachelor, Agnes, in turn, Horace, Chrysalde, Alain, Georgette and Oronte, Mme Dussane was amazed, charmed and delighted. In fact she was so much impressed that, in spite of the fact that she was at the height of a busy season, appearing in three or four different plays each week on the stage of the Comédie-Française, she offered to sponsor Miss Steele’s public appearance in Paris.
"If Mme Dussane was astonished to behold such talent from across the water, Miss Steele was more surprised with herself. She had never dreamed when she embarked for Paris last Summer that she would gain audience with the great Dussane. Neither did she dream that her American interpretation of “School for Wives” was to prove such a sensation in sophisticated Paris when she made the public appearance which Mme Dussane sponsored. When she set out for the Continent a year ago it was with the intention of making a study of Moliere on his own French soil. She never guessed that Moliere lovers of Paris would pick her out of the scores of actors and actresses who yearly invade the Old World and extend to her such a generous welcome."
PORTLAND (Maine) SUNDAY TELEGRAM–PRESS HERALD, AUGUST 27, 1933
Click Inside Alone on Stage above for a preview of the book
Suzanne Steele and "The School for Wives" in Paris . . .
Click here for an excerpt of Chapter 1: A Passion for Drama
Molière, née Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, was born in Paris on January 15, 1622 and discovered early in life that he had a talent as a mimic. He transferred that predilection to paper and stage, becoming a playwright. Still revered in France today, one of his best known plays is “The School for Wives,” a delightful farce about a man’s theory on how to train his wife to serve him. In the end, of course, he finds this is not so easy to do. There are seven characters (five of them men) and Suzanne Steele played them all, using her own translation from the original French.
The Comédie-Française in Paris performs the works of classic and contemporary playwrights. During its three hundred year history, Molière's works have been presented close to 32,000 times. It is widely known that the French are not usually welcoming to outsiders who attempt to move into their literary territory, especially Americans. Suzanne broke this barrier and was given a presentation in Paris under the sponsorship of its premier actress.
“To appreciate her audacious endeavor (please understand that) she played alone all the roles of "The School for Wives" before a Parisian audience.” —Robert Lorette, Paris-Soir, Paris, France, Aug. 8, 1932.
Size: 8 1/2 X 11
No of pages: 117
School for Wives (L'École des Femmes) by Molière was written in five acts; Suzanne consolidates the play into three.
- The following is quoted from Suzanne’s 1932 program guides. “Time” based on the initial presentation date of the play, December 26, 1662.
Characters in the play
(in order of speaking)
Chrysalde, Arnolphe’s friend,
Arnolphe, (known to Agnès as Monsieur de la Souche.)
Horace, son of Oronte, in love with Agnès.
Oronte, father of Horace and friend of Arnolphe.
Place—A Paris street in front of Arnolphe’s house.
Time—About three hundred years ago.
Synopsis of the play. Arnolphe, a conceited, selfish man of middle age, has had his young ward, Agnès, trained in a convent to become a model wife for himself, simple, pliable and unspoiled. He has kept her mind entirely undeveloped, and her imagination free from all knowledge of good and evil.
He has recently taken Agnès from the convent and kept her cloistered in a house near his own, in Paris, awaiting the day of their marriage. Business, meanwhile has taken Arnolphe from town for ten days, and in his absence Agnès has met and fallen in love with Horace, son of Arnolphe’s old friend Oronte.
Arnolphe is attempting to change his own name to the more aristocratic one of ‘de la Souche,’ the only name by which Agnès and the servants know him. Horace, on the other hand, knows him only as ‘Arnolphe,’ his father’s friend.
This masterpiece of Molière is a play of youth and love, written and produced in France nearly three hundred years ago. It pleads the cause of youth and ridicules the pretensions of those who would use their authority to mold the lives of others.
Size: 8 1/2 X 11
No of pages: 57
Cover: Heavy duty laminate.
Binding: Spiral Binding
- Available in Hard Copy, Book on CD and Electronic Download Edition
- Be sure to grab a copy of Alone on Stage to follow Suzanne on her trip to the Comédie-Française to refine her script. Learn more. . .