Page images
PDF
EPUB

States without reference to land settlement proj- areas are already unproductive, and the conects, and was quite active during 1915. Work tinued use of these lands requires that the surof the second class, however, seems to have plus water be removed and the ground water been overdone in recent years, notably where level lowered. This is noticeably the case in large reclamation schemes in North Carolina, Western Colorado, Southern Idaho, Northern Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri have Wyoming, and many parts of Utah. On many been undertaken. These projects were engaged of the government irrigation projects drainage in 1915 in efforts to colonize and utilize the has become necessary, and provision for this is lands reclaimed, and in the meantime few new being made. The drainage of irrigated lands projects were being undertaken.

presents many new problems, and the United Drainage reclamation work in the United States Department of Agriculture is giving conStates is done very largely under drainage dis- siderable attention to the solution of these probtrict organizations-quasi-municipal corpora lems. During 1915 extensive observations and tions which have the power of eminent domain, experiments have been made in the San Luis the power to issue bonds which are a lien on the Valley in Colorado, and in the Snake River Vallands reclaimed, and the power to levy and col- ley in Idaho. lect taxes for meeting the cost of constructing, FOREIGN COUNTRIES. As has been stated, the operating, and maintaining drains. Most of the European war has brought drainage reclamation States have such laws. In 1915 Alabama passed work in the Eastern Hemisphere almost to a a drainage district law, and surveys for the first standstill. In the irrigated sections of Egypt district to be organized under this law are in and India the same trouble with rising ground progress. The drainage district laws of Georgia water and the accumulation of harmful salts, so and South Carolina have been passed upon and apparent in the United States, is being experideclared constitutional by the Supreme Courts enced, and drainage works have become necesof those States during the year, while the Utah sary in connection with most of the large irridistrict law is now before the Supreme Court of gation schemes. In Australia, the states of that State. The Colorado district law is also Victoria and New South Wales are continuing before the State courts.

their irrigation work. In New South Wales The purpose of the drainage district organiza- this work consists of continued construction on tion is twofold: (1) To make it possible for the Burrin juck scheme, while in Victoria the the owners of wet lands to condemn rights of state is engaged in settling and reclaiming the way for outlet ditches, and (2) to raise funds lands supplied with water in former years. for the construction of drainage works. In the In the Western Hemisphere Argentina is belatter purpose the organizations have been only ginning the reclamation of her wet lands, but partially successful. In the reclamation of other than this there is little activity outside of sands wholly unproductive, the value of the the United States. bonds issued depends upon the successful settle- DRAMA, AMERICAN AND ENGLISH. The great ment of the reclaimed lands, and these bonds are war cast a shadow over the theatre season of therefore speculative in character, while the laws 1915, not only in England, but also in America. usually prohibit their sale below par. Investors In England, creative activity in the drama was are unwilling to assume the risk of such devel- brought almost to a standstill. Most of the opment without the chance for profit made pos- London theatres remained open, but the majority sible by buying the bonds below par, and conse- were given up to the lighter types of entertainquently the bonds are not readily marketable. ment. The most popular plays of the London This condition has led to proposals that the season were American farces and melodramas, States in some way place their credit behind written cheerfully in American slang, and acted drainage district bonds, but so far none of the with verve and gusto by companies imported States has done this.

from America. With one notable exception, no The most notable work of the year in drainage new plays were brought out by the acknowledged for flood protection is that being done under the leaders among British dramatists. The Big Ohio Conservancy act, passed after the disas- Drum, by Sir Arthur Pinero, which had been trous floods in that State in 1913. This law has begun before the war, was produced early in the been tested in the courts of the State and de- autumn by Sir George Alexander. It dealt saclared constitutional, and districts to carry out tirically with the means employed to work up the objects of the law have been organized, plans artificial reputations for current novelists by have been made, and assessments for defraying publicity campaigns in the newspapers. The the cost are being levied. Construction has not play, as originally produced, ended unhappily; begun, however. The large drainage enterprises but the author soon substituted a different last in the Florida Everglades almost ceased activity act, which ended happily. He stated, as the because of controversies between the State of reason for the change, that he had decided that Florida and the companies carrying on the work, the war-time audience needed optimism in the and because of difficulties of selling land and of theatre even more than logic. utilizing the land which had been sold but not Several war plays were produced in both councompletely drained. The reclamation enter- tries; but none of them really rose to the height prises in the vicinity of New Orleans were pro- of the occasion. One of the earliest of these was ceeding very slowly because the lands were not called in England The Man Who Stayed at Home, being taken up and utilized.

and in America The White Feather. It was In the arid region of the United States there written by Lechmere Worrall and J. E. Harold has been considerable activity in the drainage of Terry, and dealt with the discovery of a nest of lands injured by over irrigation and the rise of German spies in a seaside hotel on the east the ground water due to irrigation and seepage coast of England. A somewhat better play of losses from canals. In many of the large irri- the same type was Inside the Lines, by Earl Derr gation projects begun but a few years ago the Biggers. The scene was set at Gibraltar. The ground water has risen so rapidly that large hero, an officer in British uniform, was sus

[graphic][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small]

pected to be a German spy, until in the end he lights and the substitution of overhead lighting; turned out to be a British spy who had merely and third, the treatment of scenic backgrounds pretended to take orders from the Wilhelm- in a summary and decorative spirit, instead of strasse in order to controvert a German plot to in the detailed and photographic spirit of the blow up the British fleet in the harbor. More preceding period. entertaining still was Under Fire, by Roi Cooper The leading American stage-director, David Megrue, a traditional war play of the secret Belasco, was immediately influenced by these inservice type, made alluringly up to date by a novations. In the early spring, he produced a skillful localization in Belgium and Northern romantic play, Marie Odile, on an apron-stage France. A one-act play, entitled War Brides, devoid of footlights; and in the late summer, he by Marion Craig Wentworth, which dealt tragi- produced a contemporary comedy, The Boomcally with the misery inflicted on the women of erang, on a stage lighted wholly from the top a war-ridden country, was acted with great suc- and from the sides. These two pieces, incidencess by Mme. Nazimova throughout the leading tally, must be counted among the very best vaudeville theatres of the country. A sombre American plays of the year. Marie Odile, by play, entitled Moloch, was written by Beulah Edward Knoblauch, was a lovely and exquisite Marie Dix. It depicted, in terms a little too work of pure poetic fancy; and The Boomerang, abstract, the horror and futility of war. It set a light and slight comedy of love and jealousy, forth a powerful appeal for peace; but it failed was written with great artistic delicacy by Winin the theatre, both when it was produced in chell Smith and Victor Mapes. Chicago in the spring, and when it was produced The beautiful decorations designed for Granin New York in the fall. More ambitious still ville Barker's productions by the American artwas Armageddon, an attempt by the dramatic ist, Robert E. Jones, and the English artists, poet, Stephen Phillips, to deal with the subject Albert Rothenstein and Norman Wilkinson, of the war in a large Miltonic manner. This started a new fashion in America, which has piece was not produced in America, but it was been continued by the Viennese, Josef Urban, published in both countries. In December, and the American, Robert McQuinn. The work Stephen Phillips died, at the age of 47, and Eng- of the Chicago artist, William Penhallow Henland lost her one poetic dramatist of unques derson, should also be mentioned. Mr. Hendertionable talent. Early in the spring, the Amer- son's chief contribution was the investiture of ican novelist, Justus Miles Forman, hastily Alice Gerstenberg's charming dramatization of wrote a war-play called The Hyphen, which dealt Alice in Wonderland with the menace of the German spy-system in Late in the spring, Granville Barker turned America. The play was produced by Charles his attention to the production of two plays by Frohman; but it had been both written and re- Euripides, The Trojan Women and Iphigenia hearsed without sufficient preparation, and it in Tauris, both translated by Gilbert Murray. failed in the theatre. Shortly afterward, the These plays were given out of doors, in the Yale author and the manager sailed together for Eng. Bowl, the Harvard Stadium, the Princeton Staland on the Lusitania, accompanied by the well- dium, the Stadium of the College of the City of known dramatist, Charles Klein; and all three New York, and in other large open-air audiwere killed when the ship was destroyed by a toriums. Each performance was attended by German submarine on May 7th. The loss of from 7000 to 10,000 people; and the enthusiasm these three men was the greatest tragedy of the of these enormous audiences afforded ample proof year in the theatrical world of England and that Greek tragedy is still a living art. During America.

the summer, Margaret Anglin was no less sucIn the American theatre, the most important cessful in producing certain plays by both Euevent of the year was the advent of Granville ripides and Sophocles in the Greek Theatre at Barker as a producing manager. Invited to Berkeley, Cal. New York by the Stage Society, and backed by Next to these events, the most interesting unthe founders of the New Theatre, Mr. Barker in- dertakings of the year were still of the sort that stalled himself in Wallack's Theatre in January is usually called irregular. The eminent Gerand produced a repertory consisting of The Man man actor and stage-director, Emanuel Reicher, Who Married a Dumb Wife, by Anatole France, came to New York early in the year and organA Midsummer Night's Dream, and Bernardized a society called The Modern Stage for the Shaw's Androcles and the Lion and The Doctor's production of several masterpieces of the modDilemma. All four plays were admirably acted ern drama. During the course of the season, he and beautifully produced; and the repertory ran exhibited Hauptmann's Elga, Ibsen's John Gasuccessfully until April 30th, when it became briel Borkman, Björnson's When the Young Vine necessary to vacate Wallack's Theatre because Blooms, and Hauptmann's The Weavers. In actarrangements had previously been made to begin ing the part of Borkman, Mr. Reicher made his the demolition of the building on the following first appearance in the English language. day. The last night at this historic playhouse A very interesting movement was initiated at was celebrated with appropriate ceremonies. the Bandbox Theatre in New York by an enThe Barker productions brought the American thusiastic group of amateurs calling themselves public face to face with that new stagecraft the Washington Square Players. Their policy is which, initiated by Gordon Craig, has been grad- to produce a repertory of one-act plays, four ually developed, in the last dozen years, in Rus- plays to each bill, at the small charge of fifty sia, Germany, and England. The purpose of cents a seat. Their plays are adequately acted, this movement is to make the modern theatre as beautifully decorated, and well produced; and hospitable to romantic and poetic plays as it is their repertory includes already such interesting to realistic plays. The essential principles of items as Maeterlinck's Interior, Schnitzler's the new stagecraft are the following: First, a Literature, Bracco's The Honorable Lover, and return to the inner and outer stage of the Eliza Helena's Husband, a delightful satire by an bethan theatre; second, the abolition of foot- American author, Philip Moeller. The work of the Washington Square Players is symptomatic Considerable delicacy of art was displayed by of a movement that is being taken up in many Charles Kenyon in Husband and Wife; but the other cities of America.

play failed because the subject matter was lackIn the commercial theatre, Grace George suc- ing in novelty. Herman Sheffauer's The New cessfully established a repertory company at The Shylock, which had been previously produced by Playhouse, in New York. Her first two offer- Miss Horniman in Manchester, was brought out ings were revivals of The New York Idea, by in New York under the title of The Bargain; Langdon Mitchell, and The Liars, by Henry Ar- but, despite the fact that it presented an interthur Jones. These were followed by the first esting characterization of a patriarchal Jew, it American production of Major Barbara, by failed because the plot was badly proportioned. Bernard Shaw, a very witty comedy that had Paul Kester contributed a slight but charming been written as long ago as 1905. Mention comedy called Beverley's Balance, which was deshould also be made of the installation of a lightfully performed by Margaret Anglin. EdThéâtre Français, at the Berkeley Theatre in ward Locke came forward with two plays—a New York, where excellent performances of very agreeable comedy of character, called The standard French plays were given, in the French Bubble, and a rather unpleasant study of a runlanguage, under the direction of Lucien Bonheur. away wife, entitled The Revolt. In Sinners,

Comparatively few new plays of English au Owen Davis returned to the manner of the cheap thorship were presented in America during the melodramas of his earlier career. The House of course of the year. The best of these were a Glass, a successful melodrama by a new author, Lancashire comedy by Harold Brighouse, en- Max Marcin, developed with considerable skill titled Hobson's Choice, and a comedy of York- the conventional story of an innocent woman shire character, entitled Quinneys', by Horace hounded and haunted by the police. Jules EckAnnesley Vachell. Both of these were excellent ert Goodman, after failing with The Trap and examples of that racy type of realistic comedy Just Outside the Door, came forward at the close that has been growing up, in recent years, in the of the year with an admirable dramatization of British provinces. Alfred Sutro was repre- Treasure Island. In fact, the thoroughly sucsented by a clever satiric comedy, The Two Vir- cessful transference of Stevenson's great story to tues, developed from the theme that charity is the stage was one of the memorable events of the no less to be desired in a woman than chastity, season. and by a less successful satire, The Clever Ones, Among the lighter American plays of the year, which discussed the same theme as Les Femmes the most original was Young America, by Fred Savantes of Molière. A new comedy by Henry Ballard, a charming comedy of the juvenile Arthur Jones, entitled Cock o' the Walk, re- court, in which a naughty little ragamuffin was ceived its first production in America. The ma- reclaimed by his love for his dog. James Forbes terial was rather thin, but it was handled with displayed his usual humor in a merry farce the author's customary skill. It poked fun, in about the theatre, entitled The Show Shop. an airily satiric spirit, at the conduct of the Somewhat analogous was a sentimental comedy theatre-system in London at the present time, that dealt with life in and about a metropoliwith special reference to the coming tercentenary tan opera-house: it was entitled The Great celebration in honor of Shakespeare.

Lover, and was written by Leo Ditrichstein and The most serious, and perhaps the most im- Frederic and Fanny Hatton. The successful portant, American play of the year was Children campaign of the evangelist, Billy Sunday, was of Earth, by Alice Brown, which won the prize turned to the uses of farce by George M. Cohan of $10,000 which had been offered by Winthrop in Hit-the-Trail Holliday. In Rolling Stones, Ames. It presented a profound study of New Edgar Selwyn added another to the long list of England character, and was extremely searching American plays in which a penniless hero makes in its psychological analysis; but it failed to a fortune in two hours. Avery Hopwood, a deft interest the public, because its atmosphere was and witty writer of entertaining farces, scored rather gloomy, and because it lacked rapidity of a great success with Fair and Warmer, and was action. The Shadow, by Dario Niccodemi, was only a little less successful with Sadie Love. In not of American authorship, but it received its Abe and Mawruss, Montague Glass and Roi first and only production in America. It was Cooper Megrue wrote a successful sequel to the made memorable by the very impressive tragic earlier play of Potash and Perlmutter, which acting of Ethel Barrymore. Louis K. An- had been written by Mr. Glass and the late spacher, in The Unchastened Woman, presented Charles Klein. Abe and Mawruss was not only, a very interesting study of a woman of the like its predecessor, rich in characterization; it Hedda Gabler type, who took delight in devas- was also a well-made play. So much, however, tating the lives of all with whom she came in could not be said for Our Mrs. McChesney, a contact. An earlier play by the same author, en- somewhat analogous comedy taking up Amerititled Our Children, was much less valuable. A can business-life, by George V. Hobart and Edna new writer, Cleves Kinkead, achieved a great Ferber, success with Common Clay, a play more notable The year was marked by a notable increase in for its evident sincerity and earnestness than the number of published plays: and most of for its structural development. It discussed the these were real plays—that is to say, plays detheme that society, in reference to sins of sex, vised to be presented by actors on a stage before is harder on the woman than on the man, and an audience—instead of closet-dramas, merely harder on the poor than on the rich. In The written to be read. The institution of the Eternal Magdalene, another new writer, Robert Drama League Series of Plays and the Modern McLaughlin, pleaded for greater sympathy to Drama Series appears to have stimulated the ward those unfortunate women who have been further publication of good translations of the required, by the constitution of society, to adopt best European dramas, and also of good plays of the oldest profession in the world; but his play native authorship. An especially useful book was unimaginative and was poorly written. was Thomas H. Dickinson's collection of 20 com

« PreviousContinue »