Puslapio vaizdai

mans pay what to us would appear an exaggerated, almost laughable, attention to the historical accuracy of costumes and staging. One does not ask that Hamlet should be played, as Garrick played the rôle, in Court dress, but the other extreme should also be avoided. In "Hamlet" at the Berlin Theatre Royal the scenery is almost barbaric in its splendor. Roman architecture, gaudy arras, huge oaken furniture, and stone or bare wood floors seem to suggest that the property-master has gone back to the era of Charlemagne for his inspiration. Arthur Vollmer, the Theatre Royal's truly excellent comedian, gives as Polonius a perfect study of a cringing courtier, subtle, hypocritical, yielding, with a make-up resembling Richelieu. It is a gem of impersonation, but I doubt whether it is Polonius. Again, in "Twelfth Night" the same comedian's Malvolio is a pale-faced, sad-looking wight, a kind of Shakespearean Chadband, the interpretation probably being based on somebody's rather farfetched theory that in "Twelfth Night" Master Will was having a dig at the Puritans, who were just coming into notoriety in his day. And in connection with the same play it is comical to find a German critic gravely chiding Olivia for not being sufficiently "southern" in temperament, on the ground that the scene of the play is laid in Illyria! As well impeach Dogberry for not dancing tarantellas as beseems a Sicilian constable! In the Kaiser's "Sardanapalus" Assyrian soldiers prance gravely down the stage in faultless "Paradeschritt"; one can equally well imagine the archers in "König Heinrich der Fünfte" storming the breach in the goose-step.

No less an authority than Sir Charles Wyndham has expressed the opinion, on re-visiting the Berlin theatres after the lapse of a score of years, that the Germans are still the

finest character actors in the world, but cannot play ladies and gentlemen. The truth of this dictum is naturally most apparent in modern comedy, but Shakespeare also affords valuable opportunities for corroborating its exact ness. His plays, of course, contain the standard rôles of the character actor, and one of the chief attractions of witnessing Shakespeare in German is the masterly use the character actors make of their chances and the infinite variety of studies which such rôles as Malvolio, Polonius, Autolycus, or Falstaff give scope to. Mr. Tree, who is as successful in character parts as he is a failure in heroic rôles, was thus signally ill-advised in drawing wholly on Shakespeare for the repertoire of his Berlin visit. The German playgoer is spoilt for character parts, and the enthusiastic appre ciation of the distinguished appearance and manners of the English jeunes premiers of Mr. Tree's troupe showed that the Germans are conscious of the shortcomings of their native actors in this regard.

In the representation of female rôles, the modern German stage is equally unlucky. I am not referring to the great tragic characters like Lady Macbeth, but to those sweet women, the Portias, the Beatrices, the Rosalinds, in the portrayal of whom our Shakespeare is at his best. The German actress is apt to have a heavy touch, and it is the fate of many of Shakespeare's most deftly drawn female characters to pale into insignificance before the bright light of the character rôles in such comedies as "Twelfth Night" or "A Midsummer Night's Dream." When a German critic, writing of "Twelfth Night," says: "I must confess that, despite the lyrics of the language, these Illyrian lovers interest me as little as the lovers in the 'Midsummer Night's Dream,'" he is undoubtedly expressing the verdict

of the large majority of German theatre-goers. Yet it is interesting to note that the brilliant success in Berlin of a young English actress of Mr. Tree's company, Miss Alice Crawford, was based on her interpretation of the not particularly grateful rôle of Olivia in "Twelfth Night." For her stately dignity de grande dame, her intelligent exposition of Shakespeare's lines and her sympathetic acting lifted the part, in a manner that was a revelation to the German audiences, far above its status of foil to Malvolio's antics, to which in Germany it is habitually relegated.

It is in the ensemble, however, that the German Shakespeare impresses. Those minor parts in which, as Mr. Sidney Lee says, the highest abilities of the actor and actress can find scope for employment are, save for the shortcomings to which allusion has just been made, worthily and carefully filled, with the result that the play in its entirety is brought to a harmonious pitch of excellence.

Jocza Savits. Max Reinhardt believes in utilizing every device which his own original artistic mentality and the progress of modern stage-craft can combine to produce, for heightening the dramatic illusion in the presentation of Shakespeare. He introduced the

turn-table stage to the German theatre, a device by which, while one segment of the movable stage is presented to the audience, scenes can be set on the other six, the circular table being divided into seven. His staging of Shakespeare reveals, however-and in this the Shakespeare archaists will find consolation-the modernizing process which has been going on in his mind. Although but a few years lie between the Deutsches Theater version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and the production of "King Lear" there the other day, all the vista of time between the Hamburg Opera House and the Gordon Craig "ideal stage" separates the two productious in respect of staging.

The first Shakespeare "Neueinstudierung" at the Deutsches Theater, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," with fairies and elves and fireflies and dancing à la His Majesty's Theatre. was a brilliant success. It was conventional, discreet, and extremely popular, and advertised itself conveniently by the discussion which this innovation aroused in Shakespeare circles in Germany. "The Merchant of Venice" followed, and a new Shylock, conceived on Sir Henry Irving's study of the character, raised the production above the niveau of its predecessor or of its successors up to now. The scenery was beautiful in the extreme, with Venetian canals and bridges and effects of sunlight and sea. The Portia was execrable.


Reference has been made to the Deutsches Theater in Berlin and it is with a glance at the influence which this pioneer of the modern German stage is having on the presentation of Shakespeare in Germany that these remarks may be brought to a close.

The Deutsches Theater is under the direction of Herr Max Reinhardt, an enterprising young manager, who. chiefly owing to the daring originality of his ideas on staging, has within a period of five years become the mosttalked-of theatrical manager in Ger many and Austria. He has just been distinguished by the commission to superintend the Festspiele of the Künstlertheater at Munich next summer. In its Shakespeare productions the Deutsches Theater is the worst offender against the theories of Herr

"Romeo and Juliet" followed, but it was not until he staged "A Winter's Tale" that Max Reinhardt became

really original. In a fit of daring he abandoned scenery and relied, for the indoor scenes at least, on curtains of different hues, harmonizing with the costumes of the actors, and toned, one might think, to the mood of the act. Leontes' palace was represented by a stage almost bare of furniture, with a background of immensely long plush curtains of a neutral shade-a gray tone, as far as I remember-which, when parted for the entry of an actor, afforded a glimpse of green trees and a blue sea. The outdoor scene, with the shepherds' revels, was rigorously simple, green hills and bosky slopes, with a yellow church steeple on the horizon. The acting was careful and generally satisfactory, and the whole production was so eminently artistic as to reconcile the mind to the departure from Shakespearean tradition. The interest aroused by Mr. Tree's production of "Hamlet" without scenery here a few months later showed what a sympathetic impression the Deutsches Theater experiment had made.

Yet in his next production, "Twelfth Night," Max Reinhardt went back to the old groove. The Deutsches Theater had already exposed itself to all the charges which are brought against the Shakespeare of our English stage, but, as if to eclipse its other achievements, it staged Shakespeare's masque in a way which simply challenged criticism. The whimsicality of the comedy fired the director's imagination; he saw his chance, and, as the saying goes, seized it with both hands. The Schlegel and Tieck text was no longer good enough for this modernist; he had his own version prepared by an unknown author, got Engelbert Humperdinck, the composer of "Hänsel und Gretel," to write some of his dainty incidental music, and finally, as an indication of his mental attitude towards the play, Herr Reinhardt at

tached to the customary German title of "Was Ihr Wollt" the sub-title of "Fastnacht”-Carnival.

As far as the staging was concerned, the whole production was strongly under the influence of the version given by His Majesty's Theatre during Mr. Tree's visit here. The Elizabethan garden scene, for instance, with its terraces of box and yew, was directly copied, as was the Kitchen scene, where the revellers sing their merry catch. But it was just this similarity which emphasized the inartisticness of so much of our English Shakespeare. Like Mr. Tree, Herr Reinhardt took as his theme the opening line of the play: "If music be the food of love, play on,"

and ran a strain of lilting melody though the play. But, recognizing the crass inappropriateness of having "incidental music" blared out by an orchestra in boiled shirt-fronts before the footlights, he put his musicians in costumes on the stage for those scenes in which Shakespeare prescribes music to be played. In an angle of the apartment of the duke's palace, where the play opens, stood the love-sick prince's musicians, in sober Puritanlike costumes with broad linen collars. With backs to the audience they occupied a corner, a picturesque group from some old picture, and when Sebastian called for "that strain again" the plaintive melody went forth in modulated tones. The clown did not sing his philosophic ditties to the accompaniment of an orchestra, nor advance to the footlights, hat in hand, to acknowledge applause and to give his encore. This Feste, a worldweary, melancholy fellow-an original reading of the part, by the way, which, to my mind, is altogether misleading crooned his songs to his own accompaniment on the lute, and, had his German hearers been misguided enough to interrupt the action of the

play for an encore, would certainly not have been allowed by the management to concede it.

Although the German critics had no words strong enough to denounce Mr. Tree for the interpolation of scenes into Shakespeare, they applauded this enfant terrible of the Deutsches Theater for an idea far more daring than has probably ever been seen in Shakespeare on the English stage. For, following out his interpretation of the play as a carnival jest, Max Reinhardt, with the aid of his trusty ally, the "Drehbühne," made the comedy a long, mad, whirling, uninterrupted whole. As the last words of the scene were spoken the stage was darkened, a screen of gauze was let down over the proscenium opening, and a silvery rattle of bells, such as a jester carries, was heard. The actors, in the dim gloom, were discerned leaving the stage, which moved round, so that one could see them following out the course of the play. We saw the streets of Illyria with a merry throng of revellers, a passing glimpse of yellow houses and red roofs, of bobbing lights and whirling dancers. We saw Malvolio in his bed-chamber, preening himself before a mirror in all the glory of his yellow stockings and cross garters; and we saw Sebastian and his Viola, united at last, locked in a lovers' embrace. There was only one pause between the acts-the theatre's The Contemporary Review.

acknowledgment of the needs of the German playgoer to fortfy himself with beer and Brödchen in the foyerbut otherwise the play went with a swirl and a swish from start to finish, and to me and to the thousands of Germans who subsequently crowded to the Deutsches Theater to see this great Shakespearean success it was an evening of undiluted artistic enjoyment.

Whether they clothe their Shakespeare with a maximum or minimum of scenery, the Germans always contrive to devote to his plays a maximum of art. The English stage has capable actors and actresses enough to standardize the stage representation of Shakespeare and make the home of the poet the centre to which all the world will come to see its greatest dramatist finding expression in the tongue in which he wrote. As the conditions of the English stage now stand, there would seem to be little prospect of a change other than through the medium of an endowed theatre. Those who have seen the German Shakespeare cannot be in any doubt as to the fitness of perpetuating the memory of our great poet on the three-hundredth anniversary of his death by the establishment of a National Theatre, which, by raising the level of English dramatic taste, would bring our Shakespeare into his own again.



The rising sun is gleaming golden through the dark-green foliage of the wild fig-trees down by the water, as, our matutinal coffee partaken of, and the first, and best, pipe of the day in full progress, we stroll out beyond the huts of Malahana's little village.

Half a mile away, where the bush

bordered spruit admits here and there of easy access to its shady pools, may be seen the long lines of game slowly filing from the drinking-places, ever and anon pausing to crop the grass, as they make their leisurely way towards their favorite day quarters. Blue wildebeeste for the most part, their

great heads and shaggy forequarters lending to them an appearance of rugged ferocity quite undeserved. Only a little way beyond, though barely distinguishable 'mid the closely growing tree trunks, a small party of stately giraffes-creatures but too seldom seen in these latter days-is evidently on its way back towards more familiar haunts, where the "kameel dorn" grows thickly under the distant Lebombo Hills.

I confess to a weakness for Malahana's. Of all the numberless animal paradises hidden away 'mid the bushclad plains of the North-Eastern Transvaal, I think this tiny hamlet, snugly tucked between two little sister streams, or rather chains of pools, affords the student of nature and lover of wild creatures the most pure enjoyment. All around, the country is but slightly undulating, and, while sufficiently well timbered to offer concealment to the observer, is nowhere so obstructed by bush as to thwart the eye in its efforts to absorb such details of forest life, or little episodes thereof, as may be taking place within a reasonable distance. Each morning the empty "forms" of wildebeeste and of water-buck, of sable and of zebra, not to speak of reedbuck, duiker, and steenbuck, are to be seen but lately vacated, within a hundred yards of the huts, for the game laws are respected. and the animals come close up after dark, having discovered that they are safer here than elsewhere from the prowling beasts of the night, which for their part, stimulated perhaps by unpleasant memories associated with the vicinity of human beings, give the place a wide berth.

Just now it is the Low Country winter: that delightful time of year, alas! but too brief, when to each day is given a glory of bright blue sky, with never a cloud to sully its purity, and a sun, dazzling perhaps in its gen

erous ardor, but at no time oppressive. The nights, too, have just that slight suggestion of frost which makes the blankets a pleasant refuge after the day's hard work; while the morning air is impregnated with a crisp freshness, invigorating, conducive to brisk action, in fact altogether delightful.

Pleasant as it is to stand here watching the march past of troop upon troop of animals, it is nevertheless time to mount and be off on the morning patrol, before the sun's rays shall have gained strength and the herds have sought shelter in the cool shade of the thicker coverts, wherein later they will stand motionless, only betrayed by an occasional flicker of tail or tossing of head.

While we ponder as to the most suitable direction to take, we become conscious of a human figure coming up the path to the village. A typical young native of these parts, clad in shirt and waistcloth, airily swinging a couple of sticks as he walks along with springy gait, his bare feet making no sound on the dust-covered path. It is, in fact, M'ndosa the son of Iduma, who lives some six or eight miles away, and must have been afoot early this morning. Having saluted the white man, and greeted his various acquaintances with a limp handshake, the newcomer squats down, and little bits of local news are exchanged. Nothing is too small to be omitted; nothing is forgotten; it is, in fact, through the medium of these casual kraal-to-kraal visitors that intelligence of current events spreads over the length and breadth of a country with a rapidity often puzzling and disconcerting to the European. . . Yes, his father's second wife is recovered of the pains in her head, but on the other hand Nzipo's youngest child is suffering from a strange malady, and Nzipo has therefore borrowed £2 wherewith to pay a noted doctor in

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