PRO-PER PROSCENIUM

NATURALISM, or exact imitation of life, or the cult of real plays for real people, has brought the theatre down very low in the plane of imagination. A playwright now is something of a real-estate agent. We can't pile the Tyrolean Hills on the stage, but fresh autumn crocuses will be planted for every performance. The pure stand-fast-to‐ truth minds want illusion before everything else, and must have it. Only to-day—the 4th of October 1936—a critic writing in one of the greater London weeklies about the performance of Oedipus Rex tells us that "When I go to the theatre I want illusion, and whether the Greeks wanted it or not, I don't just care". You see this great critic doesn't care a damn about what the Greeks wanted. He knows what he wants, and what he wants is a Watney. And yet this same critic twenty-nine years ago wrote this: "If you insist upon intellectual plays you must equally insist upon an audience trained to think. If you are a Shakespeare or writer of universal plays—this class of author is not so small as you would imagine if you go back far enough to include the Greeks—any audience how ordinary soever will do." Buzz, buzz!

This play evidently made this particular critic

-183-

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The Flying Wasp
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Flying Wasp *
  • Contents v
  • Overture vii
  • The Public Death of Shakespeare i
  • National Theatre Bunkum I 11
  • England, Say When 29
  • The Cutting of an Agate 39
  • Three Cheers for Noah 51
  • Murdher in the Theatre 57
  • Mr. Ervine's Cry for the Critics 69
  • Sainte-Beuve, Patron of Poor Playwriters, Pray for Us! 79
  • It's All Very Curious, Isn't It? 85
  • Poor Pinero Passes By 107
  • Green Goddess of Realism 111
  • Coward Codology: I. 129
  • Coward Codology : II 141
  • Coward Codology: III 153
  • Shakespeare Lives in London Lads 163
  • Critici Infallibilibombast 169
  • Let the Wheel Turn 179
  • Pro-Per Proscenium 183
  • Hail, Columbia! 195
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