Friday, April 04, 2008

Who Was Noel Coward?

Noel Coward, the archetype of urbane elegance, began his long and successful career in the theater as a child actor. By the time he died in 1973, Coward was world-famous, not only as an actor, but also as a playwright, director, producer, composer, lyricist, screenwriter, nightclub entertainer, novelist, memoirist, and poet.

He traveled extensively, including battlefields during World War II. His favorite place to visit was Jamaica, where he died and was buried.

An example of his wit from the 1961 play, Sail Away:

Why do the wrong people travel, travel, travel,
When the right people stay back at home?
What explains this mass mania
To leave Pennsylvania
And cluck around like flocks of geese,
Demanding dry martinis on the isles of Greece?

He was a master of the sophisticated, drawing room comedy. Coward wrote his stage language with luminous and larger-than-life personalities in mind. He often based his characters on friends, especially those who were actors.

Last year his letters to these friends were published in
The Letters of Noel Coward. The letters reveal his sense of humor, his loyalty to friends, and his very sane personality. Even when he or his works are criticized, the letters are free of any back-biting.

Other Titles at Austin Public Library:

Noel Coward: the Complete Lyrics

Three Plays
Cowards most famous plays - Blithe Spirit, Hay Fever, Private Lives

The Songs of Noel Coward

Bunny Lake is Missing
Film cast includes Laurence Olivier, Carol Linley and Noel Coward

Brief Encounter
Film based on the play Private Lives and written by Coward and David Lean

Private Lives
Humorous play about four mismatched lovers on the French Riviera

Noel Coward Audio Collection
War-time encounters, short stories, scenes from Blithe Spirit

1 comment:

La Princesse de Clèves said...

Coincidentally, I just learned that Austin Playhouse is currently performing Blithe Spirit.