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James's Mother


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 14 June 2005 - 08:12 AM

On Natalia's Log thread, there was a mention of a character in "La Sylphide" who is James's mother. Carbro posted she'd always thought this woman was Effy's mother (many do!) but Effy is James's cousin (that's why they wear the same tartan). Her name is Anna Reuben (and James is James Reuben.)

Kirsten Simone does the role on the 1990 TV broadcast and I saw her do it in the theater several times. She was a wonderful Anna, gently anxious on the wedding day, the kind of hostess who can keep an eye on everyone to make sure every cup is full. Some Jameses have played the role as a bit scatterbrained, the kind of boy easily seduced by dreams, and in that case, she has to keep him grounded. Where Effy's parents are, no one knows. Too many mothers-in-law can sink a balllet.

In the second act, Simone had a great two minutes. When Gurn proposes to Effy (Ann Kristin Hauge on the TV film), Effy turns to Anna partly, it seems, to ask permission (can I dump your son who dumped me and marry this guy?) and partly to ask for guidance (as someone I respect, please, tell me, what should I do? I love James. But I have no one now.) Simone turns her head to the side and makes a gesture that says, "No, no. I cannot tell you what to do. You must decide." In effect, giving her permission, but not a blessing. It was a very brave act. She could have said no. He may change his mind and come home. She is the loser in this. She now has no protector, no bread winner. She'll end her days sitting at someone else's fire.

Another note about "La Sylphide" that might be of interest. Until the mid-1960s when Flemming Flindt, with Hans Brenaa, changed it, the two solos now danced by James and Gurn were danced by two anonymous "farm boys." During the dancing James walked around the room greeting each guest and thanking them for their gifts. James shouldn't dance a solo here, since, by Bournonville rules, the hero cannot dance unless his mind is at rest, and James is beginning to have doubts about his wedding and about the Sylph by this time. Until 1965, he only danced in the reel. This also made the second act more magical, as James only takes to the air when he is in the forest.

#2 Jane Simpson

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Posted 14 June 2005 - 08:39 AM

Kirsten Simone did Anna this week, too, and was indeed excellent.

However, so far as I remember, at the beginning of the ballet Effy wasn't wearing the same tartan as James - she changed into it when she went upstairs with Anna before the wedding. The Danish cast list describes Effy (I think!) as Anna's sister's daughter, so she wouldn't wear the same tartan unless Anna and her sister had married men from the same clan. I've always assumed that when James gives Effy a scarf in his own tartan it signifies that she's joining the clan - but maybe this varies between productions?

#3 jorgen

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Posted 14 June 2005 - 08:55 AM

You are right Jane. There are three tartans. James clan's blue/green, Effy's red and Gurn's yellow. Effy begins in red, changes uptstairs to blue/green and ends in the yellow.

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 14 June 2005 - 09:00 AM

Yes -- and the change in tartan represents the change in marital, or about to be marital, status. Sorry!


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