Ruth Draper Monologues Ruth Draper Monologues Ruth Draper Monologues
Ruth Draper Monologues

Here's what Lily Tomlin, Tom Waits and other performers have to say about Ruth Draper.

Ruth Draper was the undisputed queen of the one-woman theater in the 20th century. Throughout her nearly forty years as a professional performer, from her official debut in 1920 until the night she died in 1956, Draper filled theaters all over the world with her unique ability to transform herself into a vast array of characters. From New York society matrons and New England crones to British schoolgirls and Continental divas, the portraits she created were as authentic as they were mesmerizing. Equally transfixing were the scores of characters she merely evoked, but with such precision that they too seemed to live on the stage. Fans of her original "monodramas" included European royalty and U.S. presidents, and such stage legends as Sarah Bernhardt and George Bernard Shaw. Henry Adams considered her a genius; Henry James wrote a monologue for her (she never performed it); John Singer Sargent sketched her; and John Gielgud declared himself "infinitely fortunate" to have both known her and seen her onstage.

Given the ephemeral nature of theater, it is rare for the legacy of a performing artist such as Draper to endure. She would now be nothing more than a historical footnote were it not for a series of recordings she made for RCA from 1954 to 1956. Through them, though for years they were difficult to obtain, Draper has a sizable contemporary following, and has influenced such artists as
Lily Tomlin, Charles Busch, John Lithgow, Simon Callow, Charles Nelson Reilly, Julia Sweeney and Tom Waits.

While researching an article about Ruth Draper that appeared in the November 1999 issue of Vanity Fair, I learned that Draper's recordings had gone out of print and decided to produce the first CD compilation (Ruth Draper and Her Company of Characters: Selected Monologues), containing seven of Draper's sketches. I also produced the second compact disc compilation (More Selected Monologues), containing ten of Draper's pieces, and continue to act as sole distributor for both CD sets, through Click here to purchase CDs.

----Susan Mulcahy

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