THE PEOPLE'S THEATER
elementary and conventional features, but vigorously molded; the basic passions, throbbing to simple but forceful rhythm: frescoes, not easel-paintings; symphonies, not chamber music—a monumental art for the people, and by the people.
By the people! Yes, because there can be no great popular work except where the poet's soul collaborates with that of the nation, and receives nourishment from the passions common to all. The bourgeois critics maintain that nothing so attracts
- ↑ Here again we may profitably turn to the performances in Switzerland, some of which, like those at Lausanne, are given before 20,000 spectators. Here are a few points which struck me:
1. It is not true, as some musicians have maintained, that these huge theaters cannot be used except for musical productions. If the acoustics are normal, the spoken word carries as far as the sung declamation, and much better than the orchestra, which, in outdoor theaters, should be reduced to the woodwinds and brasses: stringed instruments are almost lost.
2. It goes without saying that the actor cannot observe the usual rules for speaking. He must stand well forward and articulate clearly. Consequently it is necessary to simplify the action, eliminate long dialogues. Dialogue must be clearly marked. There must be few words, and few gestures, but these should be expressive; vigorous concentration of action, passion, and style.
3. Music is a great help—but in the background. It ought to be merely the basis of the fresco, the support to the action, the atmosphere. It should impregnate each scene with the proper color, and never attract attention to itself, on pain of ruining the play. In a word, the music must be intelligently and disinterestedly administered. (But of course I am demanding an impossibility!)
4. A theater of this sort requires powerful fresco effects.