Page:Rolland - People's Theater.djvu/65

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for another, for the men and women of the Bourgeoisie are just as anxious to read and lecture as to act; they are born with the innate desire of exhibiting to a complacent audience their petty talents; speaking pieces and playing the piano. I am not sure which is worse, but I do know that there is more of the amateur spirit in the drawing-room than on the stage. I have often noticed the irritating effect produced by the reader in his effort to avoid placing a work of art fairly and squarely before his audience. He is forced to make humiliating explanations, and he little realizes that nothing is so offensive to the people as to be treated like children. They are furious when they perceive a bourgeois reader condescending to stoop to their level. This is what I object to in public readings, for the reader treats the people as if they were little children learning to walk. Put them in a theater and they will be forced to walk by themselves ; and there is no better practice. The drama is a living example, contagious and irresistible; it exists in an atmosphere of glory, it is a battlefield where the people are thrust into the midst of human action in pursuit of the hero, for they admire him and wish to emulate him. The eloquence of the orator is the only rival to the theater in its effect on the masses; the public reading is nothing compared with it. The reader appeals to the senses indirectly; he touches only the brain, for he fears the rude shock of physical action. But this is cowardly. We must see to it that the physical well-being of the people is