Page:Rolland - People's Theater.djvu/142

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Historical Drama

There is another type of drama which we may here consider, one in which Shakespeare excelled: the historical drama. The author of Henry IV and Richard III created a national epic covering English history from King John to Henry VIII, including the Wars of the Roses and Agincourt.

The historical play is a new type to us. Our French dramatists have neglected the form. There is a treasure-house of passions in our history, waiting to be thrown open to our actors as well as our public, who know so little of it, and that little so badly. France has perhaps the most heroic history of any since the days of Rome. Nothing that is human is foreign to her. From Attila to Napoleon, from the fields of Catalauni to Waterloo, from the Crusades to the Convention, the destinies of the world have been fought for and decided on her soil. The heart of Europe beat within the breasts of her monarchs, her thinkers, and her Revolutionary leaders. No matter how great this people has been in the realm of intellect it has been preeminently great in deeds. Action is the most sublime creation