Page:Rolland - People's Theater.djvu/71

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hat to go to the theater. It was the Bourgeoisie, in its well-known uniform, which filled the theater from orchestra to gallery. By the way, it was significant that the Fr. 2.50 and Fr. 3.00 seats were filled and the Fr. 1.00 seats practically empty.

Ladies and gentlemen were seen gazing at one another through their opera-glasses while waiting for the curtain to rise. Of course, it rose late. The eternal address began at nine, and the play at half-past. There were two long waits, and the curtain finally fell at a quarter to twelve. Nothing could be better calculated to fit in with the workingman's hours!

After the address by the gentleman in black and the usual compliments to Cardinal Richelieu and the Company—I mean M. Adrien Bernheim and the Œuvre—actors from the Comédie-Française performed Le Misanthrope. The announcement of this play had a particular attraction for me. Le Misanthrope is, so to speak, Molière's Wild Duck, the poet's pessimistic and ironic work, in which the great man, after satirizing others, turns his shafts against himself. I was curious to observe the effect on the people—and lo, there were no people! Instead, the local aristocracy. They were very attentive and appeared intelligent and interested, but they evinced precious little pleasure. I felt that the audience was watching itself and not demonstrating its true feelings: they seemed to me like well-bred but humble hosts entertaining guests far above them in rank and name. They were appreciative and felt