The Theatre Guild Anthology

The Theatre Guild Anthology

The Theatre Guild Anthology

The Theatre Guild Anthology

Excerpt

The Theatre Guild was founded on December 19, 1918, without a theatre, without a play, without an actor and without a scrap of scenery. Its sole artistic asset was an idea. If, in the years that have intervened, the Guild has achieved success, it is because the idea, revolutionary, has withstood the revolution it created and is still a driving force as potent as it was at the start.

The idea is simple. It is merely that the theatre itself is bigger than any of the workers in it and that it should be employed for the creation of the finest drama of the time, drama definitely and honestly reflecting the author's vision of life or sense of style and beauty.

The Guild is, then, primarily an "art theatre." It has from its inception produced only plays which it believed had something to say and which said it well. As to their content, it had no bias. It has not been in any sense of the word a propaganda theatre. It has been willing to produce a communistic play as quickly as an imperialistic play, so long as it was a good play with a definite idea to project.

It happened that the Guild dropped its idea into fertile soil in that year of 1918. It took root in an unusual state of unrest which had begun to take form in the American theatre shortly after the turn of the century and which with the end of the World War had grown to dangerous proportions. The organized drama was in the hands of commercially minded producers whose eyes were intent upon the box-office. They dominated the drama to the extent of imposing their own idea of what the SYSTEM wanted upon helpless theatre-goers.

Play writing had been reduced to a formula. Producers refused to permit the violation of the formula in fear of failure. It was almost impossible to penetrate the stone wall with a new idea. If playwrights were unwilling to write the usual "happy-ending" drama, their chances of a hearing in the theatre were slight. There were exceptions, of course, but they were few.

However, signs of revolt against this "system" were beginning to appear. In communities throughout the country and in colleges a younger generation, realizing that the plays it saw reflected neither life nor beauty, sought to make a theatre of . . .

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