PRECURSORS OF THE THEATER
tions, and People's Universities. The theater offered Thursday matinees to students at greatly reduced prices: twenty-five and fifty centimes. The repertory changed from week to week; it was eclectic, and endeavored to supply the moral needs, a purpose which no People's Theater worthy the name can afford to lose sight of. M. Berny did not hesitate to go to the classic drama, but he selected his plays with discretion and taste, for he tried at first not to break away too abruptly from the people's cherished melodrama. He succeeded gradually in developing the taste of his audiences by giving them modern plays, forcing them to think, and he called upon living writers for plays dealing fearlessly with present-day problems.
M. Berny's theater opened September 19, 1903, with Courteline's Monsieur Badin, Mirbeau's Le Portefeuille, and Romain Rolland's Danton. Eugène Morel delivered an introductory address on the People's Theater before an audience composed—at last!—entirely of the people. M. Berny also produced Daudet's Sapho, Maupassant's Boule de Suif, Jean Jullien's Le Maître, Émile Fabre's La Rabouilleuse, and Sardou's Madame Sans-Gêne. During his first season he produced sixty-one plays (one hundred and fifty-five acts in all), with ninety-three actors, before 135,000 spectators. His theater, ideally situated in the center of the workingmen's quarter, where the inhabitants are wide-awake, rap-
- ↑ Eugène Morel, Discours pour l'ouverture d'un théâtre populaire, in the Revue d'art dramatique, Oct. 15, 1903.