Sarah Bernhardt as Doña Maria de Neubourg, Queen of Spain in Ruy Blas by Victor Hugo (1878)

Ruy Blas is a tragic drama by Victor Hugo. The scene is Madrid; the time 1699, during the reign of Charles II. Ruy Blas, an indentured commoner (and a poet), dares to love the Queen, Maria de Neubourg. The story centers around a practical joke played on the queen, by Don Salluste de Bazan, in revenge for being scorned by her.

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Sarah Bernhardt as Queen Maria in Ruy Blas by Victor Hugo via

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Sarah Bernhardt as Queen Maria in Ruy Blas by Victor Hugo via

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Sarah Bernhardt as Queen Maria in Ruy Blas by Victor Hugo via

Marianne Faithfull on stage as Ophelia (1969)

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Marianne Faithfull on stage for the play Hamlet at the Royal House in London, 1969 via

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Marianne Faithfull on stage for the play Hamlet at the Royal House in London, 1969 via

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Marianne Faithfull and Nicol Williamson in Hamlet directed by Tony Richardson, 1969 via

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Marianne Faithfull and Nicol Williamson in Hamlet directed by Tony Richardson, 1969 via

Audrey Hepburn in “Ondine” (1954)

Ondine is a play written in 1938 by French dramatist Jean Giraudoux, based on the 1811 novella Undine by the German RomanticFriedrich de la Motte Fouqué that tells the story of Hans and Ondine. Hans is a knight-errant who has been sent off on a quest by his betrothed. In the forest he meets and falls in love with Ondine, a water-sprite who is attracted to the world of mortal man. The subsequent marriage of people from different worlds is, of course, folly. By turns comic, enchanting, and tragic, Ondine is considered by some to be Giraudoux’s finest work.

The play was adapted by Maurice Valency, opening on Broadway in 1954 in a production by Alfred Lunt with a cast including Mel Ferrer, John Alexander, Peter Brandon, Alan Hewitt, Edith King, Robert Middleton, William Podmore, Marian Seldes, and Audrey Hepburn in the role that made her a star.

Ondine won the 1954 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play. This production also garnered the 1954 Tony awards for Best Director (Lunt) and Best Actress in a Play (Hepburn).

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Audrey Hepburn photographed on stage during a performance of Ondine, New York, 1954 via

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Audrey Hepburn during the theatre production of “Ondine” by Philippe Halsman via

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Audrey Hepburn photographed by Milton H. Greene on stage during a performance of Ondine, New York, 1954 via

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Audrey Hepburn photographed by Milton H. Greene on stage during a performance of Ondine, New York, 1954 via