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MESSAGE FROM LILY
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Tributes from Students
I was most flattered, and most perplexed, saying that the old apprenticeship, which I endured for seven years, required a working theatre, because the only way one could learn the trade was to do so before an audience, supported by the strength of the other players when one tripped. Hard, but effective.
"Sixty hours a week?" She asked.
"At least," I replied.
"Then," said she, "I propose a compromise. Why don't we have a weekly reading with some of my students who are interested, and let the rest of them be the audience? We can trade parts. Just for fun."
"Ahem," said I, unable to resist, "we could try it."
"May I audition for a part?" She asked meekly.
Lilyan knew how to put one on the spot. "Audition!" I roared. "Auditions are an insult. You," said I, bowing, "are herewith begged to be the Leading Lady!"
With a perfect flourishing courtesy, she nodded assent.
She and I each had certain other immediate commitments, but agreed to start this project within the next six months.
"What play?" She asked, excited. We decided a few, and decided on Hamlet.
After discussing logistics, Lilyan said, "Now, I want to change the subject slightly. Do you have an agent?"
"Mine retired in 1994 and I haven;t been able to find another. I hate huckstering."
"Well, they won't find you unless you are in something. Hmmm. Do you have a manager?"
She smiled. "Let me make you a proposition. Will you permit me to play the part of your manager at no charge to you, put you in some play that we are doing here, and hope that some good agent will accept our invitation to come and see you?"
My mouth dropped open.
"We don't have much money to pay you for the acting," she continued, "but we'll feed and clothe you..."
"PAY me for confering this kindness on me!" I bellowed. "How dare you suggest that you pay me!"
She smiled. "It is settled, then. We already have our schedule of showcases for a few months, but I think that our little version of Hamlet might be suitable? May I do the Queen?"
"You are too good to play that bad woman. But you are a consummate actress. It is settled."
She nodded in her wise way.
My expression must have resembled that of the Cheshire cat. "Vous êtes subtile, Mademoiselle, subtile." Said I.
After further pleasantries, we concluded our first meeting.
We spoke a few times over the next few months.
I then came down with Lyme disease and was quarantined when on a business hourney to Virginia. Squatters, meanwhile, sneaked into my house, and so, by the time I returned, I was faced with a horrific legal nightmare that did not end until I won the battle in 2005. Because of the situation, I did not have time to communicate with many people; I did leave another message for Lilyan, but presume that she must by then have been restricting her activities because of the sad illness of which I knew nothing.
That horrible legal matter had not been settled for a month when I was struck by a motor car when walking.
So, having legitimate excuses, I still blame myself for not communicating with Lilyan more regularly. And now it is too late.
Having recovered from the accident, I attempted to reach Lilyan in hopes that we might begin where we left off, and was crushed by the sad news.
I write all this to offer my humble contribution to her glorious memory. Lilyan was one of the few people in Hollywood, but not of Hollywood, who understood me. She is one of the few people in this Art whom I trusted. She was the last person that I knew on this Earth with whom I could talk about this Art without having to translate. I shall now wail and gnash my teeth.
If my brief but deep history with her be but one facet of the infinity of her faces, she should be canonised. - Edwin Hale
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