The Art of the Diseuse

Not sure these recorded performances capture whatever unique brilliance these performers were reputed to exhibit.

In the December 21, 1935 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette an entertainment columnist wrote: “The English language does not contain a word which perfectly describes the performance of Ruth Draper, who comes to the Nixon next Thursday for the first time in several years to give a different program at each of her four performances here. “Speaking Portraits” and “Character Sketches” are the two terms most frequently applied to Miss Draper's work; and yet it is something more than that. “Diseuse” is the French word, but that is more readily applicable to an artist like Yvette Guilbert or Raquel Meller. Monologist is wholly inadequate. The word “Diseuse” really means “an artist in talking” so that may be the real term to use in connection with Miss Draper.” Actresses who have been called noted diseuses over the years include Yvette Guilbert, Ruth Draper, Joyce Grenfell, Cornelia Otis Skinner, Lucienne Boyer, Raquel Meller, Odette Dulac, Beatrice Herford, Kitty Cheatham, Marie Dubas, Claire Waldoff, Lina Cavalieri, Françoise Rosay, Molly Picon, Corinna Mura, Lotte Lenya.

Source of quote.

     Posted By: Paul - Mon Sep 29, 2014
     Category: Performance Art | 1930s | 1960s

This feels like someone is trying way too hard to sell something that really isn't much more than snake-oil.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 09/29/14 at 08:50 AM
The accent studies are interesting because modern mass media has flattened many of the regional accents throughout the United States. I got to thinking of William Powell & Myrna Loy from the Thin Man movies when I heard the posh "New Yawk" accent. The second example is probably meant to mimic a lower Midwest accent - Kansas or thereabouts.

Ms. Grenfell's recital reminds me of Peter Cook when he performed with the Beyond The Fringe group. He had a few characters who would deliver monologues that, while not always hysterically funny, usually were very good at poking fun at upper class stereotypes.

The Christmas sketch probably comes from a radio performance. You know what a radio is - a movie without a picture?
Posted by KDP on 09/29/14 at 02:40 PM
The American accents were not very accurate in my estimation. Not a big deal though, it was just meant as entertainment.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 09/29/14 at 08:09 PM
Did I overthink it, patti?
Posted by KDP on 09/30/14 at 09:55 AM
Naw, you just seem to have more technical knowledge about the subject than I do sweetie.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 09/30/14 at 07:46 PM
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