[Early November, 1939]
Dear Polly-- 1
This is a hard letter to write, because it might be construed as hard-hearted, and I don't think there's any of that behind what I want to say. But when I left Sam's apartment the other day I took with me a conviction that unless something was done quickly we might come to the production date of Sidney's play unready to meet our audience and too confused and worn-out to be able to retrieve our mistakes.
I had been worried about the script because I couldn't imagine how any man could take over Sidney's work and do the revamping which one always counts on from an author before rehearsals start. When I heard the first reading I felt that Bob had by some miracle of sympathy been able to effect the necessary changes with little dislocation and no falsifying of Sidney's intention. It seemed to me then that the unbelievable had happened and that the play would get the audience it deserved, even without Sidney's hand to make revisions. I don't think you have realized quite how fortunate the play has been. No other playwright could have done the work Bob did, and without that work the play wouldn't have been ready for production, because it wasn't in final shape, as Sidney knew.
I know you feel it your duty to Sidney to keep the play as nearly his as possible. I know that Bob feels the same obligation, and that you have differed only over the words that must be used in revision. I don't think you know how deeply Bob has been torn between his responsibility to the play in the theatre which naturally requires alterations, and the play as his friend left it in manuscript, not quite ready to be produced. The task of making alterations during rehearsal is never easy. It calls for spontaneity under pressure. And when the