In reading over David Belasco’s “Girl of the Golden West,” I found several topics to arise based mainly on the play. However, the most important aspect was regarding its creator. I found this play to be so interesting with its use of melodrama and characterization that I felt it only necessary to examine the man behind the scenes. In the next paragraphs, I will explain the entire life of David Belasco and how I felt his play “Girl of the Golden West” was created from experiences that he encountered.
David Belasco was a son of a Jewish clown who emigrated from London. He was born and in San Francisco at a time when that city had a growing theatre community following the gold rush of 1849. Facing hard times as the Gold Fever subsided, the family moved to Victoria, British Columbia where David's mother, a devout Roman Catholic, placed him in a monastery school. He received an excellent education at the monastery under the guidance of one Father Maguire, but young David literally ran away to join a traveling circus where he learned bareback riding and clowning. He wrote his first plays by the time he was twelve: Jim Black, or The Regulator's Revenge, and The Roll of the Drum. He wrote this latter shortly after Lincon's assassination, and it was acted a number of times outside San Francisco. William Winter reports that even as a boy, Belasco kept writing materials by his bed so he could write down ideas that might be useful to him in the theatre that would occur to him at night. He goes on, "I have not encountered a person more downright daft, more completely saturated in every fibre of his being, with passion for the Stage and things dramatical than was young David Belasco."
As David grew into manhood, he took on more and more responsibilities for various productions in and around San Francisco. He acted, rewrote plays, wrote plays, and worked as "stage manager," which we would now call a producing director. He took roles of all sizes from Uncle Tom and Fagin to Armand Duval; Mercutio to Hamlet. He acted in support of a whole laundry list of traveling stars including John McCullough, Edwin Booth, E. A. Sothern, Laura Keene, Mme. Modjeska, James O'Neill and many others.
I found it so ironic that David Belasco was a child that actually ran away to join the circus. I can remember being very young and several of my friends and I would threaten to do the same thing. The difference was we were never serious in our statements or even attempts. It was just an adventure that we wanted to seek out. This shows that David Belasco was serious about his work whether it is at the circus as a child or as a creator of a melodramatic play. His strength at an early age just proves his ongoing success as an individual in society.Posted by MelissaHagg at November 11, 2004 05:02 PM