The author of more than twenty-five plays, Maxwell Anderson has
written from time to time penetrating essays about the theater and
the relationship of the playwright to his medium and his material.
The essay presented here was the title essay from Off Broadway,
retitled "A Faith in the Theater", and was delivered as a lecture at
Rutgers University in 1942 as "The Basis of Artistic Creation in Lit-
erature". Mr. Anderson comes to the conclusion that the theater is
an art with an almost religious importance and meaning to society.
A practicing craftsman, but not bound by the demands of Broad-
way, he feels "those of us who fail to outlive the street on which we
work will fail because we have accepted its valuations and measured
our product by them."
DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR it seemed obvious that we were fighting to protect the earth and ourselves from men who believed that might makes right, that control of the sources of information makes truth, and that power makes justice. We believed violently enough to go to war about it that might is only sometimes right, that the sources of information should be at once open and uncontaminated, and that justice can only be arrived at by some kind of common consent which includes not only those to whom justice is to be applied but also those by whom it is carried out. When the war was over, the people of the democracies began to look hard and perhaps a little resentfully at these principles which had cost us so many billions, so many years, and so many lives. And for the first time in modern history it became apparent to us that we had emerged into an age of complete unfaith--an age in which everything by which we live is on trial and nothing is taken for granted.
It became apparent, too, that the fundamentals on which a civilization rests can never be proved. We take them for granted or we