LOS ANGELES - Sarah Siddons (1755-1831), the most celebrated actress of 18th century Britain, is currently the subject of two exhibitions presented in partnership this summer by the J. Paul Getty Museum and The Huntington Library. "A Passion for Performance: Sarah Siddons and Her Portraitists" at the Getty and "Cultivating Celebrity: Portraiture as Publicity in the Career of Sarah Siddons" at the Huntington are both on view from July 27 through Sept. 19.
The Affliction of Glory: A Comedy About Tragedy, a new play by Frank Dwyer inspired by the Getty exhibition, is premiering at the Getty for 17 performances only, from Aug. 14-Sept. 5, officially opening Aug. 19. (The opening night performance is sold out.) The play was commissioned by the Getty and produced in association with the Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum.
Starring in the production are JD Cullum, Nike Doukas and Patrick Egan. Corey Madden, associate artistic director of the Mark Taper Forum, directs.
Siddons' renown was unprecedented for a woman of her time. From 1772 until her retirement in 1812, she captivated audiences throughout Britain with electrifying performances. Her name became synonymous with tragedy; she reshaped the Shakespearean role of Lady Macbeth in her own image. She managed to achieve a status previously denied actresses, who were generally kept at arm's length by respectable society. In doing so, Siddons helped make acting a legitimate career for women, simultaneously challenging prejudices concerning female intellectual capacity.
The Getty's information line is (310) 440-7300. The Huntington's number is (626) 405-2141. -- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent
and David Lefkowitz