THE PEOPLE'S THEATER
geoisie. I admit that they are no less interesting than the people, as M. Nozière affirms. But unless this so-called popular public is different from the public which frequents the Théâtre-Français and the Odéon, how can we progress? I listened carefully to the conversations carried on about me at these Popular Galas. At the Salle Huyghens, after Le Malade imaginaire, I heard two people comparing Coquelin's interpretation of the rôle there, and his usual performance at the Théâtre-Français. At the Théâtre Trianon my neighbors were still better informed: they had seen Silvain in his various rôles and knew how many years Dehelly had been with the Comédie-Française. Surely there is no need to erect people's theaters if the audiences are to be composed of such individuals. And remember, I am not speaking of the public in the best seats.
Or even admit that this venture—performers and public alike—are of the people. What does the experiment prove? You will recall the Universités populaires, and the victory they claimed; now they are practically extinct. You do not know how to observe the people. So long as they applaud you, you ask nothing more: you do not trouble to find out what they think. The people are respectful, and they believe in you, but neither their respect nor their faith is eternal. They spy on you, and they judge you. Three years ago, at one of the lectures given under the auspices of the Universités populaires where I was studying the public, I said
- ↑ In Le Temps, Feb. 23, 1903.