Alfred Jarry and Guillaume Apollinaire by Claude Schumacher

By Claude Schumacher

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Jarry behaved as if he were a one-man company, aII in the mad ho pe that a play of his would be performed. On 9 December 1896 his madness paid off. Ubu was made flesh in the person of Firmin Gemier, who played the horrendous monster again at a second, and calmer, performance on 10 December. These were the only two live performances of any Ubu play to take place du ring their author's Iifetime . The public jeered, booed and applauded; the critics condemned and praised. Jarry earned some royalties: 136 francs, a drop in the ocean compared with 10,000-plus that Feydeau received for Le Dindon, in November and December alone.

Traditional theatre could not encompass such a cut, which is by no me ans unique and merits more attention. LV is set in Ubu's house; Macnure and his Merry Men have just left. Lvi takes place in the King's palace; Venceslas is surrounded by officers, among whom is the same Macnure. Scene v ends with an insult proffered by Ubu ('Oh shite! You're a fine fat sausage yourself); scene vi opens with 47 Alfred Jarry and Guillaume Apollinaire Ubu grovelling at the King's feet ('Oh! you know, it wasn't me, it was the old woman and Macnure').

3 In more light-hearted vein, Jarry published L 'Almanach illustre du Pere Uhu (The Illustrated Almanac 0/ Pere Uhu, December 1898) for January, February and March of 34 Alfred Jarry (1873-1907) 1899. A short twentieth-century version followed on 1 January 1901. Besides a calendar, the Almanach contains jokes, songs, advertisements for Jarry's work, and sketches in wh ich Ubu plays the main role. There are also 'useful tips', of which this is the first: 'To dye the hair green. ' During the summer of 1899, Jarry put the finishing touches to Ubu enchaine (Ubu Bound), the reversal of Ubu roi.

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