The Theatre: Playing to the Gallery

Wartime Paris is full of half-empty theatres. Broad-faced Gustave Quinson, director of one of them, got long-faced looking at so many vacant seats. So he hacked out cardboard dummies of soldiers, sailors, French and English celebrities, propped them up in boxes and along the first row gallery.

Alone in one box sits Allied Chief Maurice Gamelin; alone in another, Chief of Staff Alphonse Georges. High up, opposite the stage but ignoring it in favor of a papier-máché lady, sits Neville Chamberlain. Others on display : Josephine Baker, Edouard Bourdet, Mistinguett, Cécile Sorel, Tristan Bernard, Lord Gort, leering poilus, grinning jacktars, bearded Moroccans.

Between...

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