All About Kitty Cobham
by Pam

 

NAME: Katharine "Kitty" Cobham

LIVING ARRANGEMENT: London lodging house--not the lap of luxury, but at least it's (mostly) clean and close to the Lane.

FAVORITE PASTIME: Playing roles, on and offstage. Taking long walks along sunlit cliffs--but that's mainly when I'm the reluctant guest at a Spanish prison run by an aging aristocrat and populated by disgruntled English sailors. Back in London, I dearly love to visit the shops and attend late supper parties after a hard night's work. And to go about with friends, whether in high places or low.

FAVORITE BOOK: The Works of William Shakespeare, our master playwright! (And my bread-and-butter since I was first of an age to tread the boards. As for my age itself, never you mind!)

THE BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD IS: The one you have when you finish a performance and you know you did splendidly, that everyone else did too, and the whole house applauds until you think the roof will come down on you. Nothing to match it!

THE WORST FEELING IN THE WORLD IS: Realizing that you and the rest of the company are having an "off" night, there's nothing any of you can do to salvage a disastrous performance, and then you have to face up to the jeers and rotten vegetables afterwards.

FAVORITE SMELLS: Powder and paint--the spirit of the theatre itself!

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK WHEN YOU WAKE IN THE MORNING: Coffee. Now.

BATTLE: SCARY OR EXCITING: Exciting when they're onstage--have you ever seen "Henry V" or "Richard III"?--but terrifying when they're real!

FAVORITE FOODS: I like a golden-brown suckling pig--as long as someone other than Mr. Hornblower does the carving. And fresh fruit--about the only redeeming feature in that Spanish prison I mentioned. But a woman who works for her living can't turn up her nose at anything that's halfway decent. I suppose that's how the phrase "starving actress" originated.

CHOCOLATE OR VANILLA: Either or both, when I'm in funds!

STORMS, COOL OR SCARY: See answer to the question about battle, above. Well, as long as I'm ashore, with a roof over my head, I can tolerate storms. Just don't ask me to endure one at sea again.

FAVORITE DRINK: I enjoy a good red wine. Sir Hew Dalrymple, the governor of Gibraltar, boasts an excellent cellar, which I was privileged to sample while I was abroad.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ANYTHING ABOUT THE WORLD, WHAT WOULD IT BE: That people would stop regarding actresses as little more than licensed prostitutes! We are *artists*--and we put our heart and soul into our work for the entertainment of others. We deserve better than to be regarded as common doxies! And a woman shouldn't have to sacrifice her pride and self-respect to make a decent living.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ANYTHING ABOUT YOURSELF, WHAT WOULD IT BE: My luck with men! Although that seems to be looking up of late . . .

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN LOVE: Lots of times, but a lady doesn't kiss and tell.

IS THE GLASS HALF EMPTY OR HALF FULL: Oh, I never do things by halves!

WHAT'S IN YOUR ANXIETY CLOSET: Stage fright (yes, I still get it, even now), bad performances and notices, and most recently, fear of being stranded abroad with no way to get home. I suspect I'll be having nightmares about that for years to come.

WHAT'S YOUR LOFTIEST DREAM: To leave my mark on the theatrical world, like Mrs. Siddons, and have people remember my work even after I am gone. And on a humbler scale, to be able to retire from the stage--after some years yet, I trust--and live in reasonable comfort, preferably not alone.

WHAT'S YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE: Losing my talents as an actress and becoming a bitter, useless old woman, reduced to begging on street corners for a living. I've seen too many of us end like that once our youth and looks were gone.

WHAT DO YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT YOU THAT YOU FEEL THEY DON'T: That I can keep a cool head in a crisis. That I've seen more suffering in my life than most men have. That for all my deviltry, I am an eminently trustworthy friend and ally.

WHAT OTHER HH CHARACTER WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE ANSWER THIS QUESTIONNAIRE: Why, Mr. Aitch, of course! What woman would not be interested in what he had to say?