In 1913, legendary tragedienne Sarah Bernhardt travelled to Edmonton, Alberta, to perform the last act of Alexandre Dumas's The Lady of the Camellias before two packed houses at the Empire Theatre. Augmenting well-documented accounts of both the Bernhardt visit and the surprisingly active local live theatre scene during the pre-First World War years, At the Zenith of the Empire creates a swirling speculative scenario about the impact of a very special day in the lives of Edmonton's earliest theatre-goers and theatre practitioners. The Divine Sarah herself narrates this sumptuous romp of reminiscence, in which she and her eccentric co-star Lou Tellegen become instantly embroiled in the lives of the people they've come to entertain. Playwright Stewart Lemoine combines drama with hilarity in a play that visits such local landmarks as Ada Boulevard, the Groat Ravine, newly annexed Strathcona, and the not-quite-completed High Level Bridge--all the while celebrating that most crucial component of the theatrical equation--the audience!
Stewart Lemoine was born in Winnipeg, MB. Since 1982, he has been the artistic director of the Edmonton theatre company, Teatro La Quindicina, with whom he has premiered over fifty plays. In addition, Lemoine has taught playwriting for Edmonton Public Schools and Theatre Alberta, and has written and directed works for young performers at the Citadel Theatre, the University of Alberta's Drama Department, and Grant MacEwan Community College Theatre Arts. Other published works by Lemoine include Cocktails at Pam's and Evelyn Strange (0-88754-539-4), and A Teatro Trilogy (1-896300-80-4). Lemoine is a five-time winner of Edmonton's Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award for playwriting (most recently for At the Zenith of the Empire). He has also won Toronto's Dora Moore Award and is the recipient of a Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal.
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