1900 TO 1920
Business and Art
As the twentieth century opened, the theatre was a big and prosperous business. On all levels, from serious drama to burlesque and vaudeville, it was the country's chief medium of entertainment. The moving picture had appeared, but few saw in it more than a cheap novelty. In 1900 appeared Theatre Magazine, edited by Arthur Hornblow, devoted entirely to theatrical affairs. Voices in criticism of the theatre's commercialism began to be heard, but they went largely unheeded. Theatre people were, with a few exceptions, concerned not with reform but with the struggle for power between conflicting interests.
One of the individuals who fought feverishly to make the theatre over was Richard Mansfield, the British-born actor who had his first success in this country in 1883 as Baron Chevrial in A Parisian Romance and rose rapidly to stardom. He was not satisfied, however, to star in the productions of others, and in 1886 set himself up as an actor-manager. He produced a variety of plays, new and old, but his production of Henry V, which opened in New York October 3, 1900, exemplified most of what he stood for. Norman Hapgood described it in the New York Commercial Advertiser the next day. 1