One-Act Plays by Modern Authors

One-Act Plays by Modern Authors

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One-Act Plays by Modern Authors

One-Act Plays by Modern Authors

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Excerpt

The one-act play is a new form of the drama and more emphatically a new form of literature. Its possibilities began to attract the attention of European and American writers in the last decade of the nineteenth century, those years when so many dramatic traditions lapsed and so many precedents were established. It is significant that the oldest play in the present collection is Maeterlinck The Intruder, published in 1890.

The history of this new form is of necessity brief. Before its vogue became general, one-act plays were being presented in vaudeville houses in this country and were being used as curtain raisers in London theatres for the purpose of marking time until the late-dining audiences should arrive. With the exception of the famous Grand Guignol Theatre in Paris, where the entertainment for an evening might consist of several one-act plays, all of the hair-raising, blood-curdling variety, programs composed entirely of one-act plays were rare. Sir James Matthew Barrie is usually credited with being the first in England to write one-act plays intended to be grouped in a single production. A program of this character has been uncommon in the commercial theatre in America, but three of Barrie's one-act plays, constituting a single program, have met with enthusiastic response from American audiences.

There are two new developments in the history of the theatre that have encouraged and promoted the writing of one- act plays: the one is the Repertory Theatre abroad and the other is the Little Theatre movement on both sides of the Atlantic. The repertory of the Irish Players, for example, is composed largely of one-act plays, and American Little Theatres are given over almost exclusively to the one-act play.

The one-act play is in reality so new a phenomenon, in spite of the use that has been made of the form by playwrights like Pinero, Hauptmann, Chekov, Shaw, and others of the first . . .

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