The College Play.
IF I WERE KING.
[“If Francois Villon were but king, to save France la Belle France, from those that would undo her glory!”]
The St. Ignatius Collegian, Vol. VI, No. 2 (January 1907), 11-12.
It is indeed a pretty picture that Mr. McCarthy has painted for us of the vain emptiness of ambition, of the fulfillment of thoughtless wishes and of the bitter mockery that lies behind the pomp and purple of kings. How a wandering bard, an idle genius, a poet beggar, is raised on his own boast from the leader of a band of knaves to the first man of France, and then the unexpected outcome of it all. It is a story of adventure, of true and tried friendships, of strife and warfare, and of human heart-ache.
To Mr. Thomas F. O’Connor is allotted the role of that eccentric sovereign of France, Louis XI., “one of the most hideous characters in history— suspicious, faithless, cruel and superstitious—a man of great talent, as a ruler, but feared and hated by all.” A king whose hobby is it to disguise himself and travel through the slums of Paris to spy upon his subjects. The character is a difficult one, that calls for an intelligent reading and much histrionic ability, and Mr. O’Connor’s rendition of it is almost innocent of fault.
Francois Villon is easily the dominant figure in the drama. “The strangest knave in all Paris, poet, scholar, swordsman; good at pen, point and pitcher, a vagabond minstrel, a true scholar, writer of dainty ballads and fraught with deep religious fervor and glowing love of the Virgin.”
Mr. Daniel A. Lord takes this part. He is sad, jovial, and spirited in turn, as the beggar-leader, and dignified and graceful as the king’s representative. With all the easy dignity and quiet irony of his own personality to assist him, Mr. Raymond P. Morand appears as Anatole de Caritous, the grand constable of France. Mr. Morand’s clear voice brings his lines forcibly across the footlights, and he duels admirably.
Mr. Raymond E. Moles and Mr. Thomas A. Friel possess parallel roles as René de Montigny and Guy de Tabaric, the jolly boisterous leaders in mischief and the boon companions of Villon. Good-natured, carefree wanderers they are, and one would think that they spent every night by some gypsy fire beneath the cold gray sky.
As the prime minister, Tristran, Mr. William Roberts has a part which gives him a splendid opportunity to use his powerful voice and athletic carriage.
It is not always the easiest task to play the fool, to don the cap and bells and hide “the mocking smile that lurks beneath the painted face.” The part of the court fool, Blaise Couvray, is in the hands of Mr. J. Pierre Roche, who may be relied on to do justice to it.
Mr. James E. O’Brien, who plays the barber, Olivier, the king’s valet, needs no introduction. A record of a half-dozen elocution and oratorical medals warrant his presence in a part of importance in this play. He is a companion to the king and brings the news from the great battle, which is the climax of the play.
Mr. Edward P. McHugh is the captain of the watch and Mr. John B, Sackley, Master Robin, mine host of the Fircone Tavern.
The minor characters of the drama, the robber-band, and the mob, are played by the members of the College Glee Club. At the first curtain they sing a “Night Song” that is rich in harmony, and, later in the act, a rollicking peasants’ song. The dancers in the king’s court are the boys of the Select Choir; and the College Orchestra will play the entr’ acte and incidental music.
The entire production is under the direction of Professor Frederick V. Carr, who presented last year’s “The Last of the Gladiators.” The interposed songs are drilled by Mr. Clemens A. Hunter, the dancers by Mr. Perrin, and the orchestra is led by Mr. Joseph F. Pribyl.
Two performances of “If I Were King” will be given by the students, both of them at Powers’ Theater, Chicago, on Thursday and Friday afternoons, the 27th and 28th of December, 1906.
JAMES EMMETT ROYCE
St. Ignatius College was founded by the Jesuits in 1870. In 1907, the school was renamed Loyola University. The play’s lead, Daniel A. Lord (1888-1955) joined the Jesuits after graduating from the college in 1909. Ordained in 1923, he worked as editor of The Queen’s Work, a Jesuit devotional magazine. He promoted the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin, an organization designed to promote devotion to the Blessed Mother, and mde it a nationwide organization. He was active in youth ministry and wrote prodigiously. He took a part in helping draft the Motion Picture Production Code.