Author Discovers Talented Actress.
Miss del Valle's Capabilities Recognized by John Steven McGroarty.
Her Ancestors of Proudest Lineage.
Dramatic Experience Brief But Successful; Wins Popularity Here.
By Walter Anthony | San Francisco Call | Monday, September 1, 1913.
What tends to make John Steven McGroarty's "Mission Play" at the Columbia theater almost as much of a ceremonial in its impressiveness as a drama is the fact that the players have been selected with special fitness for their roles in the historic pageant-play.
From the Indians, who, in the second act, give a performance of a folk dance, to the pretty girls who revive the dances of early California and the principals, who carry on the epochal plot, all are adapted by a natural fitness for their roles.
In no particular, however, has the choice of a player fallen with such fitness as on the diminutive person of Lucretia del Valle, who plays the role of Senora Josefa Yorba in the picturesque third act laid at the Mission San Juan Capistrano.
The propriety of Mr. McGroarty's selection of her for the important role grows out of the fact that her aunt, Dona Josefa del Valle de Forster, whose name suggests that of the character enacted by her niece in the play, bought, after the secularization of the missions, the very land in which the pitiful but beautiful scenes of the third act of the "Mission Play" are laid. Daughter of a former state senator, Miss del Valle's ancestry came with Portola and Father Junipero Serra when they made their pilgrimage into California from Mexico and tried to relocate lost Monterey bay.
The bell beside which Miss del Valle is posed comes from the Mission San Juan Capistrano and was loaned to the production by the park museum management. It and the other bell exhibited at the Columbia theater this week are historic and beautiful emblems from a remote and romantic past.
Miss del Valle's dramatic experience has been brief but successful. She was "discovered" by Mr. McGroarty in Los Angeles at Morosco's Burbank theater, when the author of the "Mission Play" was looking for proper characters to interpret his work.
Possessed of a beautiful speaking voice of lovely resonance and sympathy, she exhibits the type essential to the proper interpretation of her part. When Mr. McGroarty suggested that she appear as Senora Josefa her heart leaped at the thought.
"It appealed to me with the tenderest of pleasure," she said, "and the longer the play's success in San Gabriel lasted, the more I became in love with my work. Indeed, it does not seem like work at all, but rather resembles the performance of a delightful duty, which, like Shakespeare's idea of charity, blesses those who gave as well as those who receive."
1. Josefa didn't buy it ("it" presumably being Rancho Camulos); she and her siblings inherited it.
News story courtesy of Stan Walker.
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