Dramatist in America: Letters of Maxwell Anderson, 1912-1958

By Laurence G. Avery; Maxwell Anderson | Go to book overview

Sometimes prizes help in initiating such changes--perhaps yours would help, and with luck much more than you'd dare hope.

But my advice would be to ask for plays in verse, saying nothing of the historical or biographical end. Verse drives you with unfortunate violence toward history--I know this by experience--and to apply verse to any other theme requires more stuff and experience than most of us are likely to have young. What I long for more than anything else is to see and welcome into the theatre some youngster or youngsters who have an instinctive grasp of the problems it took me decades to approach solving and who can write plays that will put the modern drama on a par, at least in attempt, with the best there's been. If you can offer fifty dollars I'll add another fifty to make it a hundred and give the boys and girls a bit more incentive.

As for the MS., I write in bound volumes, in long hand, these familiar record books they see for book-keeping in stationery stores, and would be loath to part with one. It pleases me to see them pile up, good bad and indifferent, but still my little pile of ambitions laboriously scrawled. I may have grandchildren soon, and they may ask me what I did during the great war and the quarrelsome peace that followed. I shall answer that very wisely I wrote verse, though not too well. --But you can quote anything I've said, if you can read it.

I drove through the Stanford grounds a year ago last winter, but didn't stop, not knowing who was there that I'd remember. Now that I know you do come east occasionally I hope you'll call me or let me know in advance when you're here. Frank Hill and I are still close friends, and perhaps we could have dinner together, we three. And if I'm near Stanford again I'll look for you.

Please let me know if the addition to the prize will be welcome.

As ever
Maxwell Anderson

1.
Renewing an acquaintance from their student days at Stanford, Prof. Bailey had written to Anderson about her plan for inaugurating the Dramatists' Alliance of Stanford University, a national competition for plays in verse, with a cash prize and production offered for the winning script.

-55-

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