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Some of the leaders of the new without further evidence is invidious. movement in the theater boast that we have room and to spare for both.
We ultimately they will do away with Growing skill of familiar players, actors in favor of super-marionettes. too, promises to make up for those who Meanwhile we have the actors with have retired or lost their grip. Gilda us, and it is important that their ranks Varesi, building slowly and surely, be replenished from season to season finally arrived at fitting outlet for her with new blood. Emergence of fresh powers in the humors of "Enter
“ talents in acting is one of the most ex- Madame"; Clare Eames justified faith citing things about the theater. In in her poise and intelligence in "Mary every country, and in America espe- Stuart"; Carroll McComas was grad,
” cially, with our inordinate passion for uated honorably from the trivialities of personalities, upflaring names become farce to the exactions of realism in national property long before their "Miss Lulu Bett"; and Lionel Atwill bearers leave the metropolis on tour. developed an unsuspected mastery of By this process Charles S. Gilpin, the characterization in "Deburau.” Less negro actor in O'Neill's “The Emperor encouraging was the progress of some Jones," has already won transconti- of our players, such as Walter Hampnental acclaim, and is scheduled to ap- den, who added a prosaic Macbeth
, pear soon in London. As artist Gilpin to an able, though uninspired, Hamlet; will naturally be limited in the expres- or Margaret Anglin, who spent the sion of his gifts, but it is conceivable profits of "The Woman of Bronze," a that their decisive nature will call into tawdry and outmoded problem-play, being further media for their use. on misplaced affections and aspirations
for the classic Greeks and on an ambi
tious, but hardly expedient, effort to From overseas have come two other emulate Sarah Bernhardt as Jeanne recruits of the first order, Jacob Ben- d'Arc. Far less excusable and more Ami and Joseph Schildkraut. Ben- dangerous to hard-won reputations Ami arrived from Russia by route of were Mrs. Fiske's artistic dereliction the Yiddish stages of the Ghetto and in "Wake Up, Jonathan," and the the Jewish Art Theater; and in a Dan
a fiasco of Ethel and John Barrymore in ish play of no great importance, the futile and amateurish "Clair de "Samson and Delilah," he disclosed Lune" from the pen of Mrs. John astonishing spiritual insight, technical Barrymore. proficiency, and adaptability to our To replace the finer impulses and tongue. His work at the Jewish Art the rebellious courage of the elder Theater is guaranty of a range un- players, the institutional theater seems matched on our stage since Mansfield. to be growing steadily in power. The Schildkraut, trained in boyhood to our Theater Guild, apparently, has little speech and on Reinhardt's and other of the zeal for the native play of its German stages to the technic of his progenitors, the Washington Square art, returned to America last autumn, Players; but with a pugnacious board and found ultimate rewards and op- of directors and the scenic talents of portunities in “Liliom" with the Lee Simonson it is devoting an equal Theater Guild. To compare the two ardor to the quest for and the inter
pretation of significant European tional theaters in the leading cities if drama; while to the Provincetown the art and pastime of the theater are Players has fallen the role of sponsor to be preserved. for untried American playwrights. The By implication, too, the contemNeighborhood Playhouse continues to porary posture of our theater holds perform unpretentiously its dual task possibilities of service as international of social and esthetic guide for its trial-ground not only for our own locality, and occasionally, as in Gals- artists and playwrights and players, worthy's “The Mob,” to extend its but for those of Europe who find the influence potently and honorably to a conditions of a constrained economy far wider public. The Players' Fel- galling. Unlike the Continental thealowship, too, with Edith Ellis's drama- ter, though, which provides leisure and tization of “The Dangerous Age" under detachment for experiment and an the title of "The White Villa,” indi- atmosphere wherein theories and projcated an original method of coöpera- ects may be worked out in private tive activity on the part of the actors and revealed to the public only on themselves. Meanwhile, over the en- their satisfactory completion, the tire country the Little Theaters are American theater, like every other springing to life of varying length and phase of our life, is a here-and-now, importance, although for the most part opportune institution. We cut and they have not yet outgrown the period sew our political and intellectual and of exclusive amateur clubs.
artistic linen in the streets, and we
wash and mend it with equal shame$ 8
lessness. We are stumbling awkAll this, of course, sounds as if the wardly into an appreciation of the theater in New York is the entire need for a more vivid theater. We American theater, and
shall discover the ways to a great extent this is
to achieve it, just as true. It is even truer
we blundered into the to-day than ever before,
expedients which make with prohibitive rail
for social welfare. We road rates and an in
are willing to try anydifferent public else
thing once, and the where cutting a play
theater, despite its short at the end of its
gambler's timidity, is metropolitan engage
in a mood to experient. New York is,
ment. Those who unthereby, becoming dra
derstand us and our matically self-sufficient,
ways will not be disand its independence is
couraged if we expose forcing on the rest of
our ignorance in the the country an auton
process, but will wait omy which may or may
patiently for us to not be desired, but
evolve something which will compel the Costume design by Norman- which, after all, is our
Bel Geddes for "Erminie" upbuilding of institu
By Pierre MILLE [Translated by Charles Louis Seeger]
Drawings by FLORENCE Howell BARKLEY
HEN Baptiste, on finishing his benefits of various kinds that would
as a valet by M. Sébastien Mahaut of Cupid's messenger,-not presents of the French Academy, he had hopes alone, but the gratuitous favors of of certain perquisites in addition to ladies' maids,- for so it was that his wages, not to mention the honor things happened on the stage, espeof waiting upon a distinguished per- cially in the pieces that he had seen sonage; for he was of a thrifty dispo- played in the provinces. sition and possessed a romantic turn But the cook took pains to undeof mind. In the days when he was ceive him the first evening. Baptiste an orderly he had heard a guest at fell from the clouds. his colonel's table remark that men "The housework is heavy,” she inof letters led very dissipated lives. formed him, "with four children and This did not trouble him in the least madame. That is why they have to degree. He pictured to himself fre have a man. If you were not fresh quent tips and theater-tickets in such from the country, you would know profusion that he could not only what it means to live in a little house use them for his personal delectation, at Montrouge. They took it to save but have some left over to sell. He money.
money. And you imagine monsieur saw himself attired with supreme ele would deceive madame? Ah, la! la! gance, thanks to the clothes which his You have n't really looked at him." master, after wearing a few days, "I thought these novelists,” falwould turn over to him. And then the tered Baptiste, still incredulous.
“But monsieur is n't a novelist," protested the cook; "he is—he is—a philologist. I think that 's what they call it. At the Academy they did n't know how to make the dictionary, the spelling and all that,—so they borrowed him from another academy where they're all very knowing and where he was already. Monsieur a novelist! You make me laugh. Look for yourself; you won't find a novel in the house."
Baptiste was inclined to take all this as mere exaggeration. discovered, to his great disappointment and a corresponding melancholy, that the cook had understated the truth. M. Sébastien Mahaut lived
w the life of a cloistered monk. He had to be wakened, summer and winter, at seven o'clock in the morning, and he “He went to the nearest tobacco shop" worked until noon, with naught to cheer him but a sober cup of tea. He And what the cook had said about wrapped himself in an old dressing the books was too true: light literagown of Pyrennes wool, the remains of ture was conspicuous by its absence. a holiday that he had spent at Mont Books arrived every day, however, in Dore fourteen years before. Baptiste astonishing numbers, often five or six was shocked; he had supposed that at a time, seldom fewer than two or members of the French Academy three. Some were in paper covers, could not write unless enveloped in a others were bound in various leathers red robe or at least in Turkish cos- and all manner of cloths. There were tume. That was the idea he had of books in French, in English, in Gertheir talent. The rest of M. Sébastien man, in Greek, and in Latin. At first Mahaut's wardrobe consisted of his Baptiste opened them with eagerness academician's uniform, extraordinarily and curiosity, in the hope of finding shabby, because it dated from the something to satisfy his senses and his time when he had been elected to the imagination. But it was not long beother academy; an evening suit which fore he so tired of them that he would had to last five or six years; and a very not have deigned even to break the modest street suit. There was not string with which the parcels were tied, even a cigar in the house; M. Sébastien had not M. Sébastien Mahaut issued Mahaut did not smoke. On the very strict orders, once for all, that he rare occasions when one was “at home” should undo them and cut the pages. of an evening, he went to the nearest After this the academician would tobacco shop and bought two packages look rather skeptically, as a general of "Londres" at thirty centimes. thing, at the dedications that adorned the fly-leaves: "To the Master, feeble that were not inscribed, having been testimonial of respectful admiration”; received directly from the publishers. “To the eminent Sébastien Mahaut, Baptiste took five or six of these to a from his colleague and friend”; “To dealer in second-hand books, who paid the illustrious author of 'Onomastique him three francs for them. He deet Toponymie,' modest contribution cided that this branch of commerce of a faithful disciple."
had its peculiar advantages. The reConscientiously, he ran through turns were mediocre, but the merchanthem, shrugged his shoulders, and dise cost him nothing. once in a while kept one of the volumes a
This initial profit gave him the taste on his desk. After reading it more
He ventured the sale of carefully, he might give it the honor books bearing dedications, and, to his of a place in his library. But he re- great surprise, the bookseller offered jected the greater part after an in- him very respectable prices, somestant's glance, and a sigh of regret at times twenty-five centimes, sometimes having wasted so much of his precious even a franc, more on each volume. time. He scribbled a few very cour Baptiste, astonished, inquired the reateous acknowledgments and said in a son for this difference. tired voice:
“It is because of the autograph ded“Baptiste, take these up-stairs—you ications," replied the bouquiniste; know—to the garret."
"and if the buyer sees that the book When the garret was full, M. Ma has belonged to the library of a haut ordered them packed in hampers and sent to the country.
One day Baptiste had an idea. He suggested:
"Instead of spending money for carriage, monsieur would do well to sell those books. It would bring in a good deal of money to monsieur."
M. Sébastien Mahaut shook his head.
"I never could bear to do that," he said, "on account of the dedications. It would seem like betraying the confidence of those poor people.”
"Monsieur has great delicacy,” replied Baptiste, but inwardly he demurred.
Then a plan began to shape itself in his resourceful brain. It was with a certain timidity that he put it into effect, his master's scruples with regard to the dedications having inspired him
"Monsieur has great delicacy'". with doubt as to its prudence. But among the volumes there were some