THE NEW THEATER
mean that they want tearful melodramas with uniformly happy endings? Surely not. The crude concoction of lies that forms the basis of most melodrama merely stupefies them, acting as a soporific, and contributes, like alcohol, to general inertia. The factor of amusement which we have desiderated in this art should not be allowed to take the place of moral energy. On the contrary!
The theater ought to be a source of energy: this is the second requisite. The obligation to avoid what is depressing and discouraging is altogether negative; an antidote is necessary, something to support and exalt the soul. In giving the people recreation, the theater is obliged to render them better able to set to work on the morrow. The happiness of simple and healthy men is never complete without some sort of action. Let the theater be an arena of action. Let the people make of their dramatist a congenial traveling-companion, alert, jovial, heroic if need be, on whose arm they may lean, on whose good humor they may count to make them forget the fatigue of the journey. It is the duty of this companion to take the people straight to their destination—without of course neglecting to teach them to observe along the road. This, it seems to me, is the third requisite of our People's Theater:
The theater ought to be a guiding light to the intelligence. It should flood with light the terrible brain of man, which is filled with shadows and monsters, and is exceeding narrow and cramped. We have just spoken of the need of guarding against