[October/ November, 1936]
Dear Margery Bailey-- 1
Your letter and the MS of Surrey find me in the midst of rehearsals of The Wingless Victory and the throes of casting High Tor and The Masque of Kings--all three of them driving me mad, now that I've learned that it's just as important to give plays good productions as to write them well, and for me much more difficult-- hard as it is to write anything well. The upshot is that I've only looked into Surrey, which arrived today, sufficiently to discover that it's graciously written, and I'll have to let the reading go till I can put what's left of my mind on it. Your letter, however, was both delightful and astonishing. Delightful because you can be serious about plays in verse and still keep your sense of humor--astonishing because I hadn't dreamed you'd get such a response from the wide world for so modest a prize in so modest a contest.
Burgess Meredith2 has been here to dinner and we've been talking over the implications. If there is so much interest as seems indicated by the returns the prize should certainly be increased and given importance. If you could secure Rockefeller backing part of the problem would be solved, but if that doesn't materialize Burgess and I will hope to be in a position--if certain plays succeed this year--to contribute $500 toward a prize, and try to arrange backing for bringing the three top plays in the contest within hailing distance of Broadway. The plan we hit upon was to ask Guthrie McClintic, Barrett Clark and perhaps one other, to look at the three plays with us, with the hope of finding one that would warrant production here. Promising nothing, of course, because nobody could be sure of what would come of the competition, but assuring you that good plays, even in verse, are producible, and that all concerned would wish to find one that had poetic and dramatic quality. I rather assume, from the subject, that Surrey is not for the New York stage, but there's no telling when you'll get one that is, and we'll be pulling for just that outcome. I realize that you've had an ocean of work over the contest, and would be in for even more if these plans came to fruit, so if you've had too much on your hands just tell me so--otherwise I'll count on you to function as you did this year.