xt770r9m3j52 https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt770r9m3j52/data/mets.xml Fitch, Clyde, 1865-1909. 19201915  books b92-267-31959121v4 English Little, Brown, : Boston : This digital resource may be freely searched and displayed.  Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically.  Physical rights are retained by the owning repository.  Copyright is retained in accordance with U. S. copyright laws.  For information about permissions to reproduce or publish, contact the Special Collections Research Center. Brummell, Beau, 1778-1840 Drama. Hale, Nathan, 1755-1776 Drama. Frietchie, Barbara, 1766-1862 Drama.Moses, Montrose Jonas, 1878-1934. Gerson, Virginia. Plays  / by Clyde Fitch ; edited, with an introd., by Montrose J. Moses and Virginia Gerson. (vol. 4) text Plays  / by Clyde Fitch ; edited, with an introd., by Montrose J. Moses and Virginia Gerson. (vol. 4) 1920 2002 true xt770r9m3j52 section xt770r9m3j52 


















      ltmorial Ebition

PLAYS BY CLYDE FITCH

     IN FOUR VOLUMES
        VOLUME FOUR

 


















I

 






















           -THE OTHER HOUSE

Clyde Fitch in the Rose Garden. Katonah, New York

 


jlemorial XEtition



PLAYS BY CLYDE FITCH

      IN FOUR VOLUMES

           VOLUME FOUR
     THE WOMAN IN THE CASE
           THE TRUTH
           THE CITY

    EDITED 1sV MONTROSE J. MOSES
       AND VIRGINIA GERSON


            N DN  EFER











            BOSTON
  LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY
              1921

 















                    Copyright, iiS,

          BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.
























Set up and electrotyped by J. S. Cushing Co., Norwood, Mass., U.S.A,

 

PREFATORY NOTE



  CLYDE FITCH was one of the very few American
dramatists to enjoy an international reputation.
He was often criticized by the Press for a certain
foreign tone which sometimes crept into his ori'r -
nal plays; and undoubtedly, he was influencedl
b)y the technique of the French school in his (dC-
lineation of feminine psychology. Perlhaps none
of his plays enjoyed a more wide-spread recogni-
tion than "The Truth." The stage history of this
drama was precarious at the outset of its American
career, for, though in many ways it was an artistic
success, heightened by the deftness of Mrs. ClanL
Bloodgood's acting, it was accounted a financial
failure; and Mr. Fitch reached what might 1w
described as his lowest ebb of discouragement.
The play opened in New York on January 7, I907,
and, in a letter of January i i, Mr. Fitch wrote that,
though some of the criticisms proclaimed this play
his very best, the praise had arrived too late. The
whole situation he described as being heart-break-
                      V

 

PREFATORY NOTE



ing. "If the business increases sufficiently," he
wrote, " they will keep it on and give it a chance!
If by the middle of next week the business is not
good, it will be taken off in three weeks! It will
be a dreadful blow to me, and a discouragement
which I do not like to face in my present tired
condition. . . ." Later on in the month, at the
same time that his manager was discussing the
possibilities of taking off " The Truth ", a proposal
was made that the play be given at special mati-
nees. "I fear this will kill it!" wrote Mr. Fitch,
"I am worn out and bitterly disappointed.
Frohman does it in London in March, but this is
what counted for me."
  The career of the play, after this disastrous
record, is of an entirely different nature, for it
would seem that, from the moment it was pre-
sented in London, it began to be reckoned as one
of Mr. Fitch's technical triumphs. He went to
London for the opening of "The Truth ", and the
day after the first performance he wrote: "There
was not a hiss nor a boo.  But they cheered
and cheered and shouted 'Bravo' after every act;
and at the end kept it up, and then began calling
for me. I had decided not to go out, so finally the
manager came before the curtain and said -'Mr.
Clyde Fitch is not in the house.' I was behind
a box curtain: Tempest is wonderful."



vi

 

PREFATORY NOTE



  After its success in England, "The Truth" had
a notable career in Germany, Italy, Russia, Hun-
gary, and Scandinavia.
  In a letter from Berlin, dated April iS, i908,
Mr. Fitch wrote concerning the German produc-
tion of "The Truth": "The house was full,
and so appreciative. Tt had been announced
that the author was coming to see the play; and
at the end of the piece, the audience rose and
cheered, and called me out three times. They said
nothing of this sort had ever happened in Ham-
l)urg in the middle of the run of a play. The
piece is being arranged for in the best theatres all
over Germany. They expect it to be staged in
three here."
  Revived by Winthrop Ames in New York
City, at the Little Theatre, during the Spring of
1914, the admirers of Clyde Fitch realized what
they had maintained ever since his death, that his
comedies retain much of the vitality they origi-
nally possessed, their humor and character
values being as apposite as ever. Those who
assembled for the dress rehearsal of "The Truth"
on the evening of April II, I9r4, felt again that
lrilliant, youthful, personal note which Mr. Fitch
always put into his plays, and which constitutedl
much of his charm as a playwright. Though
more than seven years had passed since its first



vii

 

PREFATORY NOTE



performance, it was just as timely as ever;
and the characteristics which raised it out of
its locale into a larger study of feminine lying,
seemed to have gained more poignancy with the
years.
  In actual date of composition, "The Truth"
was preceded by "The Woman in the Case ", the
latter attaining a popularity abroad which did
not exceed that of "The Truth ", but which still
continues, inasmuch as preparations are now
afoot for its presentation in Spain. During that
period of his career which brought forth "The
Woman in the Case ", Mr. Fitch met with many
failures; and that despondent tone, detected
in the letter previously quoted, was only a cul-
mination of the repeated lack of sympathy which
met him journalistically on all sides in America.
A characteristic letter was written by him from
"Quiet Corner ", just after the failure of "The
Coronet of the Duchess." "Midnight. Dear
         : A log fire, Boots, Fiametta, and Clan,
all sprawled about, and ME at the table writing.
I feel very small in this house alone, and somehow
the failure of the play seems bigger! I have
worked hard to-day, though; just as if I felt the
public was crazy for me! I go to rehearsal of the
'Her Own Way' company to-morrow." Another
one of his failures at this time was the slim little



viii

 

PREFATORY NOTE



comedy, "Glad of It ", and he now waked up to
the fact that it would be necessary for him to
write something strong and something different,
in order to hold attention and to bring his public
back to him. It was this which prompted him
in the creation of his melodramatic "The Woman
in the Case." The morning after the opening of
the play, when the papers were unanimous in
praising him for the dramatic effectiveness of the
one big scene, he wrote: "It is what I told you
I knew I must do! And I have done it, and oh,
I cannot tell you the relief' The strain before
I saw the papers was almost more than I could
stand. "
  The stage history of "The City ", as it pertains
to Mr. Fitch, is an incomplete record; for, when
he left on his final trip to Europe in June, I909,
while the manuscript was practically completed,
he had reserved the finishing touches until re-
hearsals were well under way. Undoubtedly the
play was prompted by two dominant desires on
the part of the dramatist: first, to prove to his
public his capability of creating character and
situations that were strictly masculine in their
attitude and strength; and secondly, the quiet life
lived by Mr. Fitch at "The Other House ", in
Katonah, brought into sharp contrast the de-
mands and strains of the city upon individual



ix

 

PREFATORY NOTE



character. With these two dominant purposes,
it might be said that from the personal side "The
City" contains more of Mr. Fitch's firm convic-
tion, and from the autobiographical side shows
more of the deepening of his personal psychology
than any of his other plays. Those who visited
him during the writing of this piece were naively
and joyously taken into his confidence; he dis-
cussed his scenes, he asked advice about his char-
acters, he planned with his friends while he was
motoring or walking; so that even before the
play was actually put upon paper, those who were
close to him were as familiar with his intentions
regarding 'The City" as he was himself. During
this time, we were privileged to see much of Mr.
Fitch, and to study his methods of workmanship.
We remember one morning, when motoring, we
were held up on the road because of a flat tire;
and, while repairs were being made, Mr. Fitch
sat down on a boulder near the roadway, took out
his note-book, and wrote the main dialogue of one
of his scenes in "The City." There was no af-
fectation on his part in doing this; it was simply
an illustration of the continued exuberance of his
inventive powers. And when he was through,
he read to us what he had written, and for the rest
of the journey the theme of "The City " was
criticized from every angle that was worrying



x

 

PREFATORY NOTE



him at the time. We remember a few davs
before his sailing, he hastily commented on the
changes, the close constructions, the more or-
ganic drawing together of dialogue in " The City ',
which he would make on his return in the Fall.
Then came the trip, with loiters and post cards
hastily written on tour, giving instructions as
to the assembling of his cast, as to the delivery
of the scenery, and as to the exact (late
of first rehearsals; and then the dire tragedy,
which occurred while he was actually en route to
Cherburg, where he intended to take the steamer
for home.
  "The City ", therefore, was presented to the pub-
lic without the personal touch of the dramatist,
which had meant so much throughout his career
to his other plays. It was a sad assembling of the
company which took place at the Lyric Theatre.
and in the auditorium there sat two or three of Mr.
Fitch's friends, invited by the management to lie
present at the rehearsals, inasmuch as they,
through their close contact with the dramatist,
would represent in part his personal views, as
outlined to them in friendly talk. They knew
what he had told them he was going to do, and
through their efforts " The City " was finally given
in a form which, if it did not wholly accord with
the ideas Mr. Fitch would have embodied, at least



xi

 
PREFATORY NOTE



reflected in part what he had in mind before he
sailed.
  On May 23, i909, we find a reference in a letter
written by Mr. Fitch, which shows how deeply
"The City" represented his personal point of
view. After he had finished the second act, he
confessed that he realized he would have to cut
the discussions between the two men; but he
admitted that he hated to do it, because there
was meaning in each word. "I know I will have
to," he wrote, "but I will wait and cut as they
rehearse." The consequence is that the reading
public is being given that significant dialogue, as
Mr. Fitch himself liked it. Horrible as the theme
of the play is in many ways, it is a most trenchant
piece of work; not as subtle in its delineation of
character as "The Truth" or "The Girl with the
Green Eyes "; equally as melodramatic and theat-
rical as "The Woman in the Case"; but more
powerful than anything he had ever done before.
  During the last visit paid to Mr. Fitch, while
we were discussing his many activities of the past
season, we remember the keen pleasure he showed
over the invitations extended to him by the uni-
versities to deliver an address, which had grown
into considerable proportions from an article,
" The Play and the Public ", published in a popu-
lar magazine. This lecture he had only recently



xii

 

              PREFATORY NOTE                xiii

delivered at Yale and at Harvard, and in many
ways he had amended it and improved upon its
first form. This corrected manuscript, after the
dramatist's death, was mislaid, and it has only
recently come to light.  We therefore believe
that it has an integral part in this Memorial
Edition, inasmuch as, aside from its technical
truths, it reveals so much of the personality of
the author: in the light of a very close observer
of plays, players, and playgoers.  And as we
have had occasion to emphasize the friendship of
Mr. Fitch for his friends, we believe that this
lecture shows him, in addition, a very earnest
friend of the public.
                          MONTROSE J. MOSES,
                          VIRGINIA GERSON.
NEW YORK,
JULY, I9Q5.

 This page in the original text is blank.

 
THE PLAY AND THE PUBLIC



              By CLYDE FITCH

  I MAKE no pretensions and have no illusions
concerning myself or the subject I am about to
discuss. I am only a sincere, straightforward
person, and what I have to say is only a simple,
straightforward talk, - not too idealistic - not
profound -not meant to be either - but, on
the other hand, neither is it pretentious nor
bunkumistic. It is, so to speak, an address in
words of one syllable, about the theatre, to an
audience whose interest and experience must
necessarily be youthful, cornpared with my own
old age in the subject. It is, besides, a heart
to heart and hand to hand talk, by a mall, who
at least loves both the theatre and the public,
and spends most of his time, his strength, and
his enthusiasm in doing the best that he can for
them.
  I've never vet met any one who dreamed their
brains were too small to adequately and com-
                      xv

 
xvi   THE PLAY AND THE PUBLIC



pletely discuss the theatre, but I've met a great
many persons who thought their brains were too
big. I don't remember ever having met any-
one entirely ignorant of the theatre, w ho hesi-
tated one moment to walk right in and criticise
whole-heartedly, where an educated arch-angel
of the drama would perhaps have side-stepped
mentally, and felt his way.
  Nothing is so good for the drama as intelligent
and useful discussion of the theatre. But un-
fortunately there is on the one hand too much
ignorant, or misinformed, or impracticable dis-
cussion, too much bunkum "press work," adver-
tising lies, printed and repeated and accepted
as true propaganda by amateurs of the drama;
and on the other hand there is often a too ideal-
istic or a too iconoclastic point of view by these
same sincere and best meaning amateurs, I
Oladly own. It is difficult to strike a golden
mean. In-tellectual discussion of the theatre is
too oftln. - I don't say always, mind you, but
too oten, - inclined toward a too narrow and too
individualistic point of view - when not actu-
ally influenced by ignorance as to the conditions,
or unwittingly deceived by false information or
flamboyant  advertisement. The  theatre  in
America cannot be rightly discussed from any
one individual point of view; but only on the

 

THE PLA 1 AN'D THE PUBLIC



broadest basis and from a universal point of
view-perhaps a    composite one. For the
composition of the audience must be remembered:
how it represents every grade of intelligence
and it is only by an appeal to the emotions com-
mon with all human nature that this naturally
unwieldy body is moulded into one great sound-
ing-board. The emotions of this body are the
traps by which we try to take their minds.
  It is absolutely necessary for the theatre that
the public take a sane and sensible view of the
theatre's province - I should say prozvinces!
And, in attempting to define its limitations, the
public must recognize its own unlimited area of
opinion. By this I mean it is more than non-
sense to say that the theatre should do one
thing- because it should dlo MANY: Individual
bodies and individual men lay down the law,
ignoring the other individual bodies even at their.
elbows. And this is another of the reasons for
much useless discussion about the theatre.
There are girls and boys in the same family,
and blondes and brunettes; and in the theatre
as a whole there are plays to amuse and plays
to instruct, -say a girl tragedy and a bov
comedv! A blonde to entertain and a brunette
to interest, and a so-called " musical" concoction
by way of a red-headed progeny!



xvii

 
xviii  THE PLA Y A ND THE PUBLIC



  But it is the duty of one and all of these plays
to be honestly and clearly what they pretend to be.
And if each one is this, then it is the duty of their
audiences to accept each one for what it is, to
criticise it where it fails by being untrue to its
own pretensions, but not to criticise it for not
being what, perhaps, they wish it were, but what
it never pretended to be. I have heard of people
who went to see a fine tragedy and came away
saying they hadn't been particularly amused I
And I have known other people who went to a
gay little comedy, meant only to tickle the mind,
and who came away saying the play had no
serious depth! I knew a literary man who,
when living, was a real figurehead in the more
intelligent life of New York, and he said to me
once: "I never go to the theatre because there's
nothing fit to see." "How long is it since you've
been" I said. He answered  "Twenty years!"
"Then how do you know" I naturally replied.
  The public must go to the theatre and
CREATE its own demand, and not only as a
matter of its own pleasure, but as a matter'of
social duty. For depend upon it, if the good
public doesn't go, the bad will, and does! I think
it is more or less of an economic law that the
demand creates the supply, and no amount of
supply creates its own demand! Ever since

 
THE PLAY AND THE PUBLIC



the beginning of civilization, the theatre has been
the one great popular form of entertainment and
of relaxation. It has changed in form and in
kind, but so has its public, and we may take it
for granted that the demand has had something
to do with the supply. How many people, I
wonder, realize the enormous power of the thea-
tre! As a well-known, very much liked, high
and broad-minded clergyman in New York said
from his pulpit a few years ago: "Eight times
a week the theatres get a congregation, two,
three and four times as large as I can get once
or twice a week; and think what an opportunity
to move the better emotions of people, stir their
deeper instincts, leaving out altogether the
heartsease, and the rest, of good, healthy enter-
tainment." As a matter of fact, a list of what
the theatre can do would be almost endless. It
can breed patriotism! It can inculcate the
love of truth! It can show the disaster inevita-
ble which follows the breaking of the law: moral
and civic. It can train the mind to choose the
victory of doing the right thing at any sacrifice !
It can teach the ethics of life, little and big, by
example, which is better for the careless multitude
than by precept. It can and it does do these things.
And it can do much that is less heroic and yet
fully as useful. It does not belittle the theatre



xix

 

xx    THE PLAY AND THE PUBLIC



to say it can send an audience away comforted
and refreshed, and this by an appeal to all its
better instincts and emotions; nor is it a thing
not to be grateful for, that the theatre husbands
our twentieth century endangered ideals. It
gives to the humblest and the highest of us that
touch of romance which, after all, human nature
loves, but for which there is little time or oppor-
tunity for most of us in the rapid-fire existence
and more material life of to-day. But when all
is said and done, I repeat, just how great a power
the theatre may become is primarily in the hands
of the public. It holds in its hands the remedy,
the reward, or the punishment. It can come or
it can stay away. Those who have the highest
interest of the drama in their hearts can offer
the best and the truest in them - from grave
to gay, from sublime to ridiculous; but if the
public allows itself to be ruled by that untamed
faction which demands the vulgar, is satisfied
with the puerile, or riots in the licentious, then
it will probably get what this faction wants, and
some of us will retire with our sincere, if practical
ideals, to the closet and the bookshelf. Of the
theatre, the public is the true censor, and the
final critic.
  There are two principal divisions of all plays
- the Good Play and the Bad Play. Then these

 

THE PLAY AND THE PUBLIC



divisions are divided into two again - the Bad
Play that draws and the Good Play that does
not. Then there are countless subdivisions, and
the divisions "on the side." Then by itself,
in lonely grandeur, stands the Play That Is Too
Good For The Public. Don't you believe it!
The Play That Is Too Good For The Public is
making the woman's excuse of "Because." The
true Big Play makes the universal appeal to
the plush minds downstairs and the unuphol-
stered hearts in the gallery. The intellectual
play can be good in its kind, - so can the melo-
drama; you pay your money and you take your
choice -unless you are a deadhead. A dead-
head, as perhaps you know, is a person who does
not pay, but is admitted free. The professional
deadhead has, naturally, therefore, no point of
view. He sees only the plays that are not good
enough to attract whole paying audiences by
themselves. I have heard of one honest, unprej-
udiced, fair-minded deadhead who, after sitting
quietly through two very bad acts of a play,
himself silent in face of the jeers and sneers of
his fellow-audience, finally, in the second entr'act,
went out and bought a ticket and his freedom,
so that he might hoot and condemn the third
act to his heart's content. Alas, the poor dead-
head! He is the life-line thrown to a play drown-



LXi

 

nil   THE PLAY AND THE PUBLIC



ing in a flood of public abuse! -the stomach
pump used on a play poisoned by the critics! -
the stimulant given a play frozen by the public
cold shoulder; and sometimes - the medicine
does save a life that's worth while.
  To return to the play; the great play, of course,
is the one that appeals to both the mind and the
heart. Certain great men have done this. Cer-
tain other great men have done half; then their
appeal is halved. They satisfy the intellectual
on the one side and the rest on the other. Shake-
speare did it all - Moliere almost - certain
Germans a great deal. Goethe, Schiller, and,
later, Hauptmann and Sudermann for instance.
To-day, Ibsen, with his wonderful fundamental
ideas. pleases the intellectual crowd, bores the
romanticists, and angers the beauty lovers.
Maeterlinck drugs the senses, and delights the
mind, and puzzles the popular opinion, and out-
rages the conventional attitude. Hauptmann
and Sudermann satisfy and stimulate the intelli-
gence, and pretty generally put a cogwheel in
the box-office-where the tickets are printed
in English. All these are, of course, the boldest,
the best known examples and instances, and I
am using them for that very reason, because I
take the fact for granted that I am not speaking
to people, the majority of whom have made any

 

THE PLAY AND THE PUBLIC



very serious and exhaustive study of the present
conditions of the Drama. I am also speaking
of these plays in relation to our own general
audience - not any special one, of either extreme,
- but the typical group of people we find in any
or all of our large cities; people who as a whole
go to a serious, intellectual, much discussed
play, once, perhaps, because it is discussed -
and who like it, or those who don't, and wish it
thought that they like it, or else at least wish
to join in the discussion, -and then go to a
successful musical comedy twice, to have, as
they say, a really good time!
  Besides this regulation mainstay audience,
there are two others: the small eclectic com-
pany, who, as I have already said, are not to be
depended upon. They cry out that the theatre
is no longer any good, and, staying away, take
their own word for it! They demand literature
in the theatre, at all cost, ignoring the fact that
the first requisite of a play is that it be some form
of drama. For instance, at two different times
such a group of people secured backing and
started in New York a series of performances
which should be literary plays. They secured
comedies and dramas from amiable short story
writers of deserved repute. They went to the
monthly magazines and the publishers for their



xxiii

 

nhiv  THE PLA Y AND THE PUBLIC



popular authors, to give them their material.
Why I really don't know. Both series failed,
I am honestly sorry to say, and the cause of a
truly artistic and literary theatre was immensely
damaged. "If these plays are literature," cried
the bored public, "deliver us! !" In the first
and most solidly backed venture of the two,
which began with a really fine, serious audience
by subscription, out of the seven performances
of long and short plays, with one exception the
short ones were too long, and the long ones not
nearly short enough, - and the only play which
they produced that lasted and lived as a play was
by a professional playwright. I am not holding
a high tariff plea for my profession - we have
notable instances of literary men who are real
dramatists. Take Barrie for instance. But
many more dramatists write plays that have
value as dramatic literature, than do literary
men write plays that are good drama. This
same audience has often for its war-cry, "Give
the intelligent public which has been driven from
the theatre a mental allurement, and they winl
flock to the standard." I wonder! Bernard
Shaw was originally put forward as literature.
His first play, "Candida", had to fight for its
life through weary, unheeded weeks, till Fashion,
hunting about during Lent for some penance to

 

THE PLAY AND THE PUBLIC



do, took it up, and the general public followed.
Then Bernard Shaw reigned as a "fad" for a
season. We all thought then the success was
sincere, but, the next Autumn, "Man and SiLper-
man" was produced to one of the smaller open-
ing- audiences of the theatre-crowded month of
October in New York. It was the general
public, who, finding the play entertaining, took
hold the second and third weeks, and made of
that comedy a tremendous success. While it
was the notorious Mrs. Warren, with her profes-
sion, who drew the first big premi&e audience for
Shaw, which fact speaks wonders all around, as
well as the incident of the lady who went to buy
a ticket for a later Shaw production, "Cashel
Byron's Profession" -Cashel being a pugilist
-  but when told at the box-office in answer
to her query that "Cashel Byron's Profession"
was not the same as Mrs. Warren's, demanded
her money back and left without buying.
  There 'is still another audience, an audience
that seems to come from the bowels of the earth.
It is only a certain kind of play that brings these
people forth. They pack the theatres where
"The Christian" played. They flocked in un-
accountable numbers to "The Little Minister."
They took orthodox delight in "The Shepherd
King." They are still the loyal adherents of



XXV

 

Xxvi  THE PLAY AND THE PUBLIC



"Way Down East" and "Ben Hur." They
swell to uncountable numbers the audiences of
"The Servant in the House," and are the main-
stay of the Ben Greet Players. One wonders
where they come from, and where they go to.
It is a long-distance trolley audience. They are
a class of people who do not habitually go to the
playhouse; they are the old-time lyceum lec-
ture bureau audiences.  They search for ser-
mons in dramatic stones.  It is a fact that a
couple of this ilk, who went to the Knickerbocker
Theatre when "The Christian " was playing
there, in handing their tickets to the usher,
absentmindedly asked where their pew was!
And, when another play had followed at this
same theatre, a man demanded at the box-office
two tickets for "The Christian." "But it isn't
playing here now," said the ticket seller. "Where
is it" he was asked. "In Newark."   "Well,
give me two tickets for there!"
  The typical general audience, such as I have
spoken of, leavened with a little of every class
and kind, is the one that the manager dearly
loves. They pay for their tickets and demand
only a just return. It is a composite gathering,
difficult to please from all points of view; a
gathering anxious to be amused, satisfied to be
interested, willing to be moved, but absolutely

 

THE PLAY AND TIHE PUBLIC



intolerant of being bored. I think it would
rather, in the bulk, be entertained by a worthy
medium than an unworthy, and it stops to dif-
ferentiate just about that much. At any rate,
it is sincere, this audience, which is more than
I can say for some of its managers, actors, ac-
tresses, and authors. It says frankly, in effect,
that it wants to be entertained, interested; if
in an artistic way, so much the better - as wit-
ness the great triumph generally of good plays
artistically done. But it will not be bored by
"art for art's sake," if that art is bunkum and
really talk about art for business' sake! This
audience is, to use a slang term, "fly."  Moreover,
it does not pretend it is the only or the ideal
audience. It openly confesses there is the big
intellectual play for some, but not for all of it.
It only asks for itself to choose what it wants.
In return it gives you an honest medium to work
upon, generous in its approval and applause,
when it gets what it wants.
  After all, this audience has the right to demand
respect and consideration. It has a good dis-
position, and it doesn't really mind being taught
something, either, so long as you sneak in your
lesson. Don't let it know what it is taking till
the lesson is down, remembering always that
the theatre in our day is principally to entertain.



XXVII

 

xxviii  THE PLAY AND THE PUBLIC



To instruct, we have our universities and schools,
our lectures, -even hospitals, clinics, and insane
asylums -for certain branches of dramatic in-
struction. And we must remember, in comparing
the modern stage with the old, that in the old
days the theatres were the public libraries, but
in our time the Carnegies attend to that! You
know it is not only in America that this general
audience rules. In London, it is even more
pleasure-loving; for every one theatre where
"prose drama" is given, there have often been
five playhouses where the Tune and the Girl
reign in successful revolution.
  A few years ago Sir Henry Irving, who did
more for the artistic development and adornment
of the drama, and more for the popularizing of
Shakespeare, than any other Englishman living
to-day-a few years ago, Sir Henry Irving
found the noble, splendid following which had
encouraged him and supported him in his work
in London, lagging behind, drifting away, dwin-
dling down. And to-day, the famous Lyceum
Theatre, where he reached his zenith and crowned
his career, after a few years as a variety hall, is
housing cheap melodrama, while Irving, during
the later years of his life, played short engage-
ments in London, and not even every year.
France has much the same story to tell, the same

 

        THE PLAY AND THE PUBLIC            nix

complaint to make, as to the public taste. In
Paris, Antoine, who had made a reputation for
himself in his little theatre, has made a failure
in his management of the large Od6on, the second
subsidized theatre of France, producing plays
which he thought would succeed from the literary
or artistic ground of appeal. Jeanne Granier,
with Lavallaire, and even Pollaire (only several
years ago a music-hall star), and the theatres
of the Boulevard draw the real crowds. R6jane,
with her positive genius, having passed through
a period of immense popularity in tart, satirical
comedies of life of the demimonde, and comedies
of the demi without the monde of late, in more
serious plays has found it impossible to stay out
a season in Paris. Sarah Bernhardt, supreme
artist even in her golden age, in her home thea-
tre has had to depend largely upon foreigners
and provincials to make her audiences worth
while; and to meet the expenses of the Th6Atre
Sarah Bernhardt, she voyages to far countries
where French is little understood and less spoken '
She has within the last two years produced at
least three literary failures, including "Sister
Th6rese" by Catulle Mendes, one of France's
best known poets. To be sure, new actresses
are taking new places in popularity -notably
Madame le Bargy, for whom most of Bernstein's

 

m     THE PLAY AND THE PUBLIC



women roles have b