Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/255

This page has been validated.

Five Statutory Questions

243

"This is my sister Rachel," said Goldweiser to Ellen without getting up. "She keeps house for me."

"I wish you'd help me, Snow, to induce Miss Oglethorpe to take that part in The Zinnia Girl. . . . Honest it was just written for you."

"But it's such a small part . . ."

"It's not a lead exactly, but from the point of view of your reputation as a versatile and exquisite artist, it's the best thing in the show."

"Will you have a little more fish, Miss Oglethorpe?" piped Miss Goldweiser.

Mr. Snow sniffed, "There's no great acting any more: Booth, Jefferson, Mansfield ... all gone. Nowadays it's all advertising; actors and actresses are put on the market like patent medicines. Isn't it the truth Elaine? . . . Advertising, advertising."

"But that isn't what makes success. . . . If you could do it with advertising every producer in New York'd be a millionaire," burst in Goldweiser. "It's the mysterious occult force that grips the crowds on the street and makes them turn in at a particular theater that makes the receipts go up at a particular boxoffice, do you understand me? Advertising wont do it, good criticism wont do it, maybe it's genius maybe it's luck but if you can give the public what it wants at that time and at that place you have a hit. Now that's what Elaine gave us in this last show. . . . She established contact with the audience. It might have been the greatest play in the world acted by the greatest actors in the world and fallen a flat failure. . . . And I dont know how you do it, nobody dont know how you do it. . . . You go to bed one night with your house full of paper and you wake up the next morning with a howling success. The producer cant control it any more than the weather man can control the weather. Aint I tellin the truth?"

"Ah the taste of the New York public has sadly degenerated since the old days of Wallack's."

"But there have been some beautiful plays," chirped Miss Goldweiser.