A Look At The Actress Who Changed The War

Felicia LondréFelicia Londré, Curators’ Professor of Theatre and American Theatre Fellow at UMKC, will present “Bernhardt’s Last Stand in America: How the One-Legged Actress Promoted American Involvement in World War I” at 11 a.m. on Feb. 19 in the J.C. Nichols Auditorium of the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial, 100 W. 26th St., Kansas City, Mo.

Londré will detail how French actress Sarah Bernhardt’s ninth and last American tour affected the French and American war effort. Targeted in 1914 by the invading Germans as a French national treasure, Bernhardt was rushed out of Paris to safety.

The 1916 amputation of her leg did not abate her zeal to devote her artistry to the patriotic cause, and she arrived later that year in the still-neutral U.S. with a repertoire that included some inflammatory drama.

Londré specializes in French, American and Russian theatre history of the Belle Epoque and Great War eras. She has lectured internationally on subjects ranging from Shakespeare authorship to Tennessee Williams. She has given invitational lectures or lecture tours in Russia, France (including the Sorbonne), Hungary, China and Japan. Her 14 books include the George Freedley Memorial Award-winning “The Enchanted Years of the Stage: Kansas City at the Crossroads of American Theater, 1870-1930”.

Her current research focuses on American and French theatre artists in the Great War.

The admission-free lecture is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences’ UMKC Theatre and Kansas City Actors Theatre, in conjunction with its production of “Oh What a Lovely War.”

Barry Kyle, a UMKC Theatre professor, is directing the musical, which features several UMKC Theatre graduate students.

“Oh What a Lovely War” previews Feb. 11 through 16 and runs Feb. 17 through 27. For more information, visit http://www.kcactors.org/our-season/oh-what-a-lovely-war/.

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