Deep Are the Roots

Deep Are the Roots

Deep Are the Roots

Deep Are the Roots

Excerpt

Robert E. Sherwood once said that a playwright "must be sensitive, imaginative, naïve, gullible, passionate; he must be something of an imbecile, something of a poet and something of a damn fool." Everything, apparently, but sensible and reasonable.

If it were true that playwrights are imbecilic and foolish, then the funeral sermons that are every year preached over the death of the American theatre would be timely indeed. But Mr. Sherwood didn't mean the remark seriously; playwrights are not imbeciles; and the theatre is not quite dead. Almost, as always; but not quite. However, there is an attitude in Mr. Sherwood's words that hints at profound weakness in our theatre. He would picture the playwright as a creature of errant whimsies, a dreamy adolescent swept hither and yon by passionate fancies, a creature, in short, who cannot be held responsible for what he writes and why and how he does it.

Somewhat dogmatically, we reject Mr. Sherwood's and all similar pictures of the writer as half- leprechaun, half-Bohemian. We hold that the playwright can be not only a fairly responsible citizen, but also a fully-conscious technician, who knows very well why he chooses to write about a certain . . .

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