At the Zenith of the Empire
In 1913, legendary tragedienne Sarah Bernhardt travelled to Edmonton, Alberta, to perform the last act of Alexandre Dumas?s The Lady of the Camellias before two packed houses at the Empire Theatre. Augmenting well-documented accounts of both the Bernhardt visit and the surprisingly active local live theatre scene during the pre-First World War years, At the Zenith of the Empire creates a swirling speculative scenario about the impact of a very special day in the lives of Edmonton?s earliest theatre-goers and theatre practitioners. The Divine Sarah herself narrates this sumptuous romp of reminiscence, in which she and her eccentric co-star Lou Tellegen become instantly embroiled in the lives of the people they?ve come to entertain. Playwright Stewart Lemoine combines drama with hilarity in a play that visits such local landmarks as Ada Boulevard, the Groat Ravine, newly annexed Strathcona, and the not-quite-completed High Level Bridge—all the while celebrating that most crucial component of the theatrical equation—the audience!
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