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I shrink when her sweet and juicy fingers "Did Bertha find her soldier?” clasped upon my immaculate collar, or “I am convinced she did!” I returned when she seized the lapels of my white grimly. flannel coat to better perform a rite that, “Oh, I am so glad! Were you surHeaven knows! I had just been surfeited prised, Tommy dear?” with, though not as a principal.
Was I? My mind ran back over the past “Oh, Tommy dear! I thought you to our starting point, three years before. would never, never come; and I was most “N-no, not exactly surprised,” I rescared stiff all the time,” she said pitifully. turned with a sigh as I tenderly wrapped the
"Poor little woman,” I consoled. red cloak about my versatile little scarecrow.
THE PLAYWRIGHT AND HIS PLAYERS
By Brander Matthews
BAHE critic nowadays who So the artist in play-making sees his op
looks upon the drama as ly- portunity and finds his profit in the special ing wholly within the circle accomplishments of the actors of his own of literature and who fails time. It is on these performers that he has to perceive its close and nec- to depend for the proper presentation of
essary connection with the what he has imagined. They and they actual theatre, is often moved to make it a alone can bring his work before the public. matter of reproach to certain contemporary Without them, all he may do must go for playwrights that they are wont to write nought. Plainly enough, therefore, he plays to fit a special actor or a special ac- would be lacking in common sense if he did tress. In thus finding fault the critic re- not study their capabilities, and if he did veals not only his misunderstanding of the not so compose his plays as to give them the needful relation between the dramatist and utmost occasion for the full exercise of their the performers who are to personate his ancillary art. Of course, the dramatist characters, but also an inability to appre- ought not to subject himself to the actors, ciate the way in which the mind of the artist nor ought he to limit what he is conceiving is often set in motion by accidents that seem to the capacity of the special performers he casual and trilling
may have in view. But he must always In every art there is often a startling dis- take account of them and keep them in proportion between the exciting cause and mind, because the art of the drama is a twothe ultimate result; and we might almost fold art and because the playwright and the liken the artist to the oyster which is moved players must work in unison, ever aiding by a grain of sand to produce a pearl of each other, since they always depend on each great price. More than one of the most other. The dramatist is quite as helpless triumphant artistic feats of the Italian Re- without the actors as the actors are without nascence is what it is because the painter the dramatist. Without them the playhad to make the best of a certain particular wright has only that barren appeal to poswall-space over an altar or between two terity, which is certain never to reach its doors, or because the sculptor had to get his ears. Without him the performers can be statue out of a given block of marble of un- seen only in old plays, which the public is usual shape and size. The painter and the sure to tire of, sooner or later. sculptor accepted the limitations of the This ideal harmony of these partners in wall-space and of the marble-block and art has not always been obtained, since both found their profit in so doing; they made a parties to the alliance are likely to be enstepping-stone out of that which would have dowed with the occasional irritability and seemed an obstacle to the less inventive with the swift susceptibility of the artistic and the less imaginative.
temperament. But the best results have been achieved by both when they have la- A close scrutiny of Shakespeare's texts bored together loyally. It is without sur- will reveal more than one fact about the acprise, therefore, that we find it recorded tors with whom he was associated and for that Sophocles, the foremost of Greek whom he wrote his comedies and his tragetragic poets, the supreme artist who “saw dies. One of his recent biographers has life steadily and saw it whole," was believed pointed out how the gauntness of Holoto have composed his chief characters for fernes is evidence that there was a lean actor the acting of one particular actor, although in the company—the same performer probwe do not now know the name of this spe- ably who was later to play the envious cial performer, whose histrionic gifts stim- Casca. Sir Leslie Stephen made the strikulated the dramaturgic skill of the noble ing suggestion that the group of gloomy and austere poet. More than one of the plays, which followed fast in the middle of surviving plays of Sophocles contains what Shakespeare's career as a dramatist and would be called to-day a star-part, a char- which have been explained as due to his beacter who has the centre of the action con- ing then in the depths himself, may be extinually and in whose fate the interest of the plained perhaps rather as the result of the story culminates. Molière, of course, de- willing playwright's desire to supply cervised a leading character in all his comedies tain of his professional colleagues with the for his own acting; and he was the most sombre characters to which they could then accomplished actor of his time. To cer- best do justice. In like manner we might tain of these characters he gave his own ascribe the swift succession of gay and joyphysical characteristics, his cough, for ex- ous comedies which preceded only by a litample, just as he gave lameness to other tle space of time the gloomy group as due to characters intended for the acting of his Shakespeare's appreciation of the unusual lame brother-in-law, Béjart. And the gifts of some shaven boy-actor, in whom he tragic heroines of Molière's younger con- perceived a marvellous ability to personate temporary, Racine, were the result of his his sparkling and yet tender comedy herointimate knowledge of the histrionic powers ines, Rosalind and Viola and Beatrice. of Mlle. Champsmeslé.
Many critics have expressed wonder at It is a matter of inference rather than of the violence and coarseness of “Titus Anactual record that Shakespeare considered dronicus," and they have been unable to as carefully as Sophocles and Molière the reconcile these crudities with the gentler individuality of the several actors in the spirit and the loftier view of life revealed in company of which he was a member. Ap- the later tragedies. Here again an explanaparently he was not himself a performer of tion may be found in a consideration of the large native endowment, however keen playwright's relation to the players. The might be his insight into the principles of “Titus Andronicus” which we have in the histrionic art. So far as we know he Shakespeare's works is now believed to be confined his efforts to parts for which in- his revision or amalgamation of two earlier telligence, dignity and delivery were suffi- dramas dealing with the same subject, both cient equipment-the Ghost in “Hamlet,” of which had been often performed and old Adam in “As You Like It," and the both of which had just then come into the elder Knowell in “Every Man in his Hu- control of the company of actors to which mor.” In other words, the greatest of dra- Shakespeare belonged. He was at that matic poets was as an actor only respecta- time only a beginner, with none of the auble; and he seems to have yielded the chief thority which is the result of a series of succharacters even in his own play's to the cesses. He was but a 'prentice playwright more gifted of his fellow-players. It was whose task it was to patch up old pieces and not for his own acting that he wrote to make them more worthy of performance Hamlet but for Burbage's; and Bur- by his comrades. Even if he had revolted bage created the most of the star-parts in against the inartistic vulgarity of the earlier Shakespeare's tragedies. Perhaps this is tragedies-of-blood which he had to make the sole reason why we now find Hamlet over, even if he had wished to modify and “fat and scant of breath," although he is to soften their harsh and repellent features also "the glass of fashion and the mould of to accord with his own finer taste, he would form."
not have been permitted to do so, because
SOME EXAMPLES OF THE ENGLISH material treasure thus expended will give SCHOOL AT THE METROPOLITAN
greater and more constant returns than may MUSEUM OF ART
ever be derived from financial values alone. To one who is observant of such matters, In continuing this review of the paintings
a sense of satisfaction must be felt in at the Museum we have remarked an increas
noting the order that is being evolved, ing effort to group the pictures by schools, quietly but intelligently at the Metropolitan segregating as much as practicable, under exMuseum.
isting conditions, the works of a particular A conservatory of the results of civilization country in a room or rooms devoted solely and high accomplishment in art, it is rapidly to the art of that nation. This, however, has becoming a factor of great significance in the not been completely achieved in any one midst of our material life-indeed it has case; but it is encouraging to note the disbecome so; and it is only in its infancy. position on the part of the authorities to atThere is a controlling purpose here which is tain this end after the years of heterogeneous carried out by a corps of competent and en- hanging that have alike confused the visitor thusiastic lieutenants that speaks highly for and sacrificed the effectiveness of many of the administrative head. It is no mere whim- the exhibits. A result of this new effort sey to say that while at the Wall Street end is seen in gallery 20, which is entirely hung of the town men are busy accumulating the with works of the English school; and altransient and material, at the Museum ex- though there are placed here, at present, tremity they are transmuting this into the many loans and valuable ones, we may speak spiritual and enduring-and the portion of only of the canvases which are the property Vol. XLV.-15
the associated actors who were his employ- actor's tricks. This is what M. Sardou has ers would not have accepted his new version not disdained to do more than once for if they found it shorn of the bombast and of Mme. Sarah Bernhardt, surrendering the the rant and of the brutal extravagance proper independence of his art so that she which characterized the two old plays and could show off all the artificialities of hers. which gave the performers occasions for “Fédora," for example, was so tightly adoveracting, the effect of which had been justed to the cleverness of the French actress tested by long usage.
that it lost the most of its effect when acted Accepting the fact that Sophocles and by Signora Duse, because she found in its Shakespeare, Molière and Racine, and all tricky ingenuity no opportunity for the the chief dramatists in the long history of poignant veracity she revealed in a simpler the theatre, have always composed their and sincerer study from life like“Cavalleria plays with a keen appreciation of the histri- Rusticana.” onic ability of the actors by whom their Y et an adroit and self-respecting dramatpieces were to be performed, there is inter- ic poet can get the utmost out of the varied est and profit in an inquiry as to the exact powers of an actor of versatile genius withmeasure of the influence which the actors out any enfeebling complaisance and withmay have exerted upon the authors. And out any unworthy self-surrender. And if here we can find help in considering the proof of this assertion were needed, it could performers of our own time, since the his- be found in “Cyrano de Bergerac.” It is trionic temperament as such probably var- not too much to say that if the masterpiece ies very little with the lapse of centuries. The of M. Rostand had never been acted or pubactor is apparently to-day the same kind of lished, and if it were suddenly to be discovhuman being that he was yesterday and the ered after its author's death, the general day before yesterday. In his attitude tow- opinion would then be that it was a most inard his own calling, toward the exercise of genious specimen of the poetic drama, probhis own art, Roscius probably was not un- ably composed without any expectation that like Garrick. What they wanted, each of it could ever be performed, since the central them, was a play in which he had a good figure was so various and so many-sided, part; and in his eyes a good part was one in now grotesque, and then lyric, now broadly which he could act to his heart's content. humorous and then loftily heroic, that the A good part is one in which the actor has author could never have hoped to find any something to do or somebody to personate. actor multifarious enough to impersonate
Therefore the influence of the performers the character and to reveal its contrasting on the playwright has been wholesome in so aspects. far as their demand for good parts has tend- But we happen to know that this brilliant ed to stiffen the dramatic action, to inten- play was written especially for a brilliant acsify the passionate climax of the play, to tor and that it was put together with an eye present boldly the essential struggle or con- single to his extraordinary range of personaAlict of wills which is ever at the core of a tion. M. Coquelin is an incomparable cofine play. And this pressure of the actors median who has played countless parts, on the author has tended also to persuade some lyric and heroic, some humorous and the poet to a larger and a deeper reproduc- grotesque. He has a variety so marvellous tion of human nature, so that he could pro- that “he seemed to be not one, but all manvide the performers with characters that kind's epitome.” There was in “Cyrano richly rewarded their faculty of imperson- de Bergerac" no demand made on the actor ating creatures wholly unlike themselves. that M. Coquelin had not already met in No doubt the playwright has not infre- some one of the hundred dramas he had apquently yielded too much to the desires of peared in earlier; and almost all of the septhe players and has been satisfied merely to arate effects he had achieved in his best compose a vehicle for the self-exhibition of parts were carefully combined in this one the actors. Of course, the author can character. There was never a more skilful claim no mercy if he is willing to subordi- example of theatrical tailoring than M. nate himself wholly to the actor and to put Rostand's cutting and fitting of his poetic together what is but little better than a fabric to the exact size and shape of M. framework for the display of some special Coquelin's histrionic accomplishments, yet