I bought a book on ebay by one of my favourite writers, Mr Gyles Brandreth.It's title is Great Theatrical Disasters. It is a collection of things that have gone wrong and funny things that have been said. As I am finding this so entertaining, I have decided that every now and again I will post one. If you find them boring please let me know. I am going to start with three, as a taster.
One of the leading men fell ill during the first run of J. M. Barrie's play The Twelve Pound Look and the understudy was called in to take over. This was the opportunity that the young actor had been hoping for. He knew his lines. He had studied the directions carefully at rehearsals and he sent telegrams to all the leading managers and every person of influence in the theatre he knew of, telling them that he would be starring in the play that night. To his intense disappointment no one replied and he was sitting dejectedly waiting to go on when he was handed a telegram sent by the playwright himself. Thrilled by Barrie's interest, the understudy tore open the envelope and read the message inside: 'Thanks for the warning'.
When an equally enthusiastic actress cabled Bernard Shaw with the message, ' Am crazy to play Saint Joan', Shaw cabled back , 'I quite agree'.
George S. Kaufman actually sent a telegram to one of his leading men in the middle of a performance. When William Caxton returned to his dressing-room in the interval of Kaufman's play, Of Thee I Sing, he found the telegram from the playwright. It read: 'Am watching your performance from the rear of house. Wish you were here'.