THE PEOPLE'S THEATER
the historical anecdote, the trifling incident of the past at the expense of what is vital and living in history. It is not our intention to give the dilettante of this sort of history a frigid miniature, interesting as a matter of fashion and local color; we must rather resuscitate the forces of the past, and revive their motive power to action." "The drama of our day," wrote Schiller, "must combat the torpor, the sloth, the lack of character, and intellectual vulgarity of the day; it must therefore exhibit strength and character; it must stir and exalt the heart. Pure beauty is limited to the happy nations. When the poet addresses a generation of sick or troubled people, he must stir them with the greatest emotions." He must offer them an heroic art.
May the People's Theater create a great historical drama in France! The aristocratic poets have failed, in spite of their efforts. This failure might have been expected, for plays of this sort demand the spirit of a whole nation; without it you cannot do other than write conventional poems, of interest only to the erudite members of an academy.
No other sort of play is better adapted to the Theater we are seeking to found. Without considering the communicative emotion which is invariably aroused in the people by witnessing actual events rather than by seeing fictitious adventures; without considering the illusion, more nearly complete than in any other literary invention; without considering
- ↑ Preface to my play Le 14 Juillet.