EVENTS IN THE THEATRE
On 2 January 1905 I wrote in my journal, 'I am 40 years old today. Hard to realize it--that I shall never see the thirties again. I have no regrets, however, am wholly content with life, and don't mind being 40.' Being content with life is quite different from being self-satisfied. It is perhaps more common for persons to be dissatisfied with everything except themselves, than it is for them to be content with life.
On 2 May of that year Richard Mansfield produced The Merchant of Venice in New Haven. The house was sold out and we waited expectantly for some twenty minutes, wondering why the curtain did not rise. Finally the local manager appeared and read a statement dictated by Mr. Mansfield that ran something like this: 'Owing to my incredible and unpardonable stupidity and negligence, the lights have not been properly arranged for the performance. Mr. Mansfield has finally consented to play, under protest, but he wishes the audience to understand that the bad lighting is my fault and not his.' The audience would have noticed nothing amiss if this statement had not been read. Between the acts I found out that Mr. Mansfield had insisted that no performance be given and that the money be refunded to the spectators. His own acting was of course very fine; I think his death some years later the greatest loss the American stage ever suffered. After the performance that evening, a few of us met him at dinner at the Graduates' Club and talked until three in the morning. I
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Publication information: Book title: Autobiography, with Letters. Contributors: William Lyon Phelps - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1939. Page number: 460.
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