- 更新于：2020-04-29 11:17:24
Well, well!—this is rather curious.
“Not at all! Who should know better than the Actor the dreadful truth about the Theatre—that it is the home of a base triviality, the citadel of insincerity, the last refuge of everything that is banal in thought and action!”
Really, the Theatre seems to have no friends[Pg 125] nowadays except the professors who teach play-writing in the colleges! But I think we should hear what our friend the Artist has to say in its defence.
The Artist. “There is nothing wrong with the Theatre except what is wrong with the whole of modern life. Our newspapers are base and trivial, our politics are insincere, and the products of our slave-system of production have a banality which Broadway could scarcely surpass. In all these fields of effort, as in the Theatre, the creative spirit has surrendered to the slave-system. But in the Theatre, and in no place else in the world, we find the modes of child-life, of primitive creative activity, surviving intact into adult life. What is costume but the ‘dressing-up’ of childhood, the program with its cast of characters but a way of saying ‘Let’s pretend!’—what, in short, is the Playhouse but a house of Play? It is all there—the singing and dancing, the make-believe, the whole paraphernalia of child creativity: it is true that the game is played by children who are not free to create their own dreams, who must play always at some one else’s bidding, half children and half slaves! But—and this is its importance to us—the Theatre is the place where[Pg 126] the interests of the child meet and merge into those of the adult. It is the natural transition between dreams and realities. And it is thereby the bridge across the gulf that separates art from the world.
“Let me explain. When I use the phrase ‘The Theatre,’ I am not thinking of the dramatic arts in any restricted and special sense. For the Theatre, as the original source of all the arts, the spring from which half a hundred streams have poured, into the separate arts of music, dancing, singing, poetry, pageantry, and what not—the Theatre in its historic aspect as the spirit of communal festivity—is significant to us not as the vehicle of a so-called dramatic art, separate and distinct from the arts which go to make it up, but rather as the institution which preserves the memory of the common origin of all these arts and which still has the power to unite them in the service of a common purpose. In the Theatre, as in the child’s playing, they are not things alien from each other and isolate from life, but parts of each other and of a greater thing—the expressing of a common emotion.
“So when I speak of making the Theatre a part of the educational system in the interest of art and artists, I mean to suggest a union of all[Pg 127] the arts in the expression of communal purposes and emotions through a psychological device of which the Theatre, even in its contemporary form, stands as a ready-to-hand example.
“I cannot be sufficiently grateful to the Theatre for continuing to exist, in however trivial or base a form. Suppose it had perished for ever from the earth! Who would be so daring a theorist as to conceive the project of bringing together the story-teller, the poet, the musician, the singer, the dancer, the pantomimist, the painter, in the co-operative enterprise of creating ‘one common wave of thought and joy lifting mankind again’? Who, if such a thing were proposed, would have any idea what was being talked about? As it is, however, I can point to any musical comedy on Broadway and say, ‘What I mean is something like that, only quite different!’
“Different, because the communal emotions which these artists would have joined themselves together to express would hardly be, if they were left free to decide the question themselves, the mere emotions of mob-anxiety, mob-lasciviousness and mob-humour which are the three motifs of commercial drama. No, you have to pay people to get them to take part in that dull and tawdry game! When they do things to suit themselves,[Pg 128] as they sometimes adventurously do even now, it is something that it is more fun to play at. As free men and women they cannot help being artists, they must needs choose that their play shall be a ‘work of art whose rhythms fulfil some deep wish of the human soul.—’”
“Just a moment! Some one, I think, wants to ask a question.—Louder, please!”
“I said—this is all very well as a plea for a Free Theatre, but what has it to do with Education?”
The Artist. “Evidently I have not made myself clear. The problem of Education with respect to Art is to keep alive the child’s creative impulses, and use them in the real world of adult life. We don’t want to kill the artist in him; nor do we want to keep him a child all his life in some tiny corner of the world, apart from its serious activities. We don’t want the