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Patrick, Warren A. (ed.) / Show world
(September 21, 1907)

Becker, Sherburn M.
The stage in political reform,   p. [5]

Page [5]

IVolume I-No. 13.
September 21, 1907
'' 1.\l   ,  till, i'orld  i  staige  -  '*  *
Ant 1   t  i1rl1Mi iit is tine plays
OF COURSE, it is generally accepted
unat primarily, the duty of te stage
is to iaiuse. There can be no (tues-
tto as to tie elucationrl s'ie of it.
itthiit isr t erornary conrsiderartisir. It'
, uuatiOn and amisement are obtarned,
rnutanriisly, tlic  purpoese  is accoirs-
plished  fully,
The present day audience demands that
a play treat With timely subjects. For
tuch a period has the Americian audience
been gluttrld with foreign draimas. histo-
cal pies  t riet    , omies ard tir eike,
thrat a r va"rirn lils set ii.  Tire epochr
o ahistroria forai   is or the sanr. A
liw playwrs  tis  hattre ithren by hr-is
-irigingsor brecaurse of Ireart irsterest. e--
rraaeerr to tire subtject, isase siri-(,i-iirid
hocentinr the  are the exceptiror. ii,
eriad is assin", too vlst tirdrr-cs
'IrIk at Irsad for mraterial for tliiir str,.
,last sieason svw tire liirthr of morre isr-
ritle pi' vrs'stgirts  sshor Ieated  hormely
lemle-striri thremse s tsan cser bsefore. Sin-
'iety iiilrurs, too. have oirst their i.s
ige of firmer seasons.
People ii looking for up-to-date topi
treated in i ianner thoroughly up-to
lite and interesting'-for heart-interst
rust ever be the compelling factor of a
'rama. So, in looking upon America
nade plays ons American torpics, poli-
tis naturally is suggested; that it is til
crost likely subject is amply testified to
Iy the snner in which plays treating tfil
topic have been received.
'  Play a Prominent Factor.
Existing conditions have made the po-
litical play a prorninnt factor in present
day theatrieal affairs. The spirit of the
eiople is no  longer rflected  in  their
onIgs, bit in the stories set forth upon
the stage before them.   In tire begin-
ing, thire was a decided wave of popi-
;ir disapproval, aimed against tist tritle.
abuse of public office and similar condi-
tions.  Liicltrfii         Ida T  rbell
Thosmas W. Lawsson, rad other writei
of the saie class, irparetd the publiC
inind and prodded the Public spirit into
activity by various treatises in populari
rmagazin es. iThen camrse what 'iwas, Iroi,-
liy the first real modern politica  play
"the County Chi 'nran.' It wias not at
>'rious drama but it dealt wtith a phase
f politieal affairs which the public knewx
nd in which it was intern'sted. Shortly
'fter, Cliarles Klein launched. "The Lion
id the MoIse," condemning crporate
cwer and its influence upon political con-
inens Its themrre wss iitry in liii,
iit te tr',rCslgs of tsostire w adben
llooding tire magazines with their arti -
"It's. "The Powers That Be," while it
rained  an  eminence   far   less  lofty,
rvoed its purpose during its brief car r.'
ther plays of like trend, of greater ot
l'ss faime. followed in fast succession.
nd finIly. "The Man of the Hour" wvas
troduced by George -I. Broadhurst.
In the meantime, actual corditions-
l'i'iught to light. perhsaps, ly the v'igilrant
iisade-aroused the public still further.
Reforin  swept the nation.  There were
-itigraft caimpaignrs on all sides. Plat-
1ere basedon tie issue. Political
tiles wtere fought. Grand juries were
rlled in cities throughout  tire Iiniterl
Sates.ilnumerous indictments, affect-
e Officirts of all ranks aisdi character,
tpe retrned. Municipal reform  is the
hoed f today: municipal reform  is re-
i''iSd intire plays of the populace.
Offered Big Pay as Actor.
When Williarn A. Brady    and   Joseph
rsitimer offered me the position of lead-
in), Man with one of the companies pre-
ntingt "ie 11on of tre Hour," rnany
Iraoght ther psrorpositioii  011iv ai weI
ream ofk te erpergetic pressr igeit. con-
"nied solly fortse Purpolse offrtherrinrg
tiePublicity of that offering. I Want to
i'g rig-it here that the offer was made
I te faith, an was considered by me
theouht same spirit; that, for a time, I
ndht seriously of accepting the offer,
i that. finally, I relinquished the prop-
liionwhen I id arrived at the conclu-
Ont that there was a work more import-
-nit attihind that brookedino delay. Thre
usgs_1deals, Wviths condiltions affe~ctirrg iso
urrrrmaunirv. I faced actual existing con-
itioss Whiletre offer of $1,500 asveek
agal ectrirly  most flattering.  I found
against it the fact that Milwaukee's bet-
Plays That Depict the Evils of the Present System and Point
Out a Remedy Are Eagerly Supported by the Public-
Timely Topics in the Drama Serve to Educate Public.
Mayor of Milwaukee, Wis.
tr citiz -irs Were desirous of retiring the  I have already said that people want
olId gaig, Which hrad controlled politics  political plays. It has been said-and
for 'ight ears; that they looked upon Ims' muost trily that the Ameriean  child
as   tno  l 1     candidate  for  ;i sui-sful'i  thriics  urin  'lii's.  'That  th'  publc e
One of the conspicuo s figures in AmeriCan polities is Sherburn M. Becker, the
lacy Mlayor" of Milwaukee, Wis. Although a young man Mayor Becker is old in
wisdon, and his administration of Milwaur-c has 1)en narked by probity of con-
duct, dignity and adherence to the 1highest moral principles. Mayor Becker has
written a thoughtful article on politics in the drama especially for this issue of
TlE SHOW WORLD, which will be found to be of absorbing interest.
campaign, that they elected by a de-
ersise majority, and that it was clear-
lr r   lss duty to complete theshork, in-so-
liii asI'isas able, offreinsgthe city from
corporate control and the rule of the old
For a time. however, I contemplated
the step in all seriousness, for I am one
of those who believe that the stage can
do a deal of good for any community, and
at the present time,, especially in regard
to political conditions. Had I concluded
that the preachment of the drama was
of greater effect than actual action in
eccii div life, I shsould isot hrase hesi-
trrtud to base relihquised mysorkasa
mirr ial official, and to have taken up
ltre offer hoswever unworthy nmany mary
hav considered me for the task, in hope
of accomplishing that end.
lives upon thern and tie connecting is-
sies, there cars be no question. Being a
republic, the citizens of this country are
inerested  most 'itally. iiw tlose ethings
whtichr tentd to affect threirswelfaire. But.
inforistutel, conlditions have resolved
theumselves to a state swhere the public,
as a -hole, is hampered    in  the dis-
charge of this duty. Boss rule and cor-
rupt political means have worked their
systems   broadcast,  and   the  octopus,
stretching out its many arms, has grip-
ped all classes and all conditions in its
meshes. It is a difficult matter, when the
hreat of a hortly constested campaign is at
its hreighrt, te judge accuratelythre issues
invo(lveti rirti thre party candidates de-
seaving Stpport.  The reason is simple;
diring the tini betwesni tie actual cam-
paigns. of gLreater o liss extent, lapses
'eI. anid even tel nist vigilaontofpri-
vate citizens relapse into astate of satis-
faction from   which they do not awake
unatil piolitical leaders and political issues,
demainding their consideration, call them
from. their lethargy. Again, while they
are interested in political conditions and
the issues at stake, a great majority of
the people do not have the opportunity,
outside the anlnual and biennial elections,
to listen to the issues of reform. Dr-
ing the year, however, all attend the-
aters of some kind. Theatrical produc-
tions. in this way, seem to be a most
excllent meditm towardhleping the ma-
jority of the people. The present issues,
good or bad, work good or evil, just
as the tendency of the play is for good
or bad. In a political play the proposi-
tion is expressed is concrete form, and,
instcadtfdealingwith abstract qualities,
tire public is giycnl opportunity of study-
inigcauses and effect, irapped outtrealis-
tically and expressed with htman inter-
sth shoing tie price tr be paid for
neglect of those trings wich have the
irost vital effect ocapoi affirs most vital
to, them.
Inspiring  Drama Needed.
Ain  perforanrnce that has connected
ritis it anytiun to ispire men to be
sttercitizens andto  '  vith the men
rind parties that advorate political reform
-tht teach tire tietiinc oftre declara-
errn of independrenice tlrst ''all triers are
crleated eqiuarl,' ad ta tgovernm'ents are
irsritttecimonag sin. dieriving thir jtiSt
powers from the consent of the governed
--that when any municipal government
'tbecomes destructive to those ends, it is
the right of tie people to alter or abolish
it"-any performarce of this character
sworks for municipal reform  more thor-
tughly than can a world of political
speakers, issues and campaigns, dealing
swith abstract qualities in the heat of a
ampaign, which may tend to question
the sincerity of the motive. There is but
one ending for a play. It must end right
-and to end right, right must triumph.
You must cloak deceit and transgression
;'f tie law  with lovale characteristics,
it unless, in the end, reformation is ac-
irimplished airdi renunciation of debased
i(eals is effected, the play will fail. To
succeed, a political play must teach the
truth, the shlre truth, and notling hut
the truth. The public is discrning. It
i,'lmanrds this, and, if it is not given, ex-
presses its disaipproval by failing to throng
to the box-office sindow. Soi a political
play, founded as it is on higher ideals
ind the conception of right, taclies men
and woissen to become better citizens and
to exert hat rights of suffrage they may
possess for the best ends.
Character Must Be Shown.
Nor is it the themse alone of a political
play that makes it valuable in practical
politics. Character is the same every-
where.  So are miunicipal graft, corrupt
politicians, and business ien equally cor-
tript through the influence of those they
themselves have assisted to office. To
Ile a success, a good political play must
cinbody characters that are universal.
t'l    boss, tire distrit leader', the cot-
1irat  presitient swith ran axe to grind.
the franchise grabber, and, though less
often, the honest politician. are confined
to no district and t( io tire. A c   gar-
rieter, in order to staind distinsct among
the other charncters of a dramatic offer-
ing, must embody some human trait;
that trait rst be exemeplifieu in mind.
thsoughtanddeIed, airdshe results of tat
trend must be presented as the moral
which inevitably follows the course of
action arising from such a characteristic.
We may have all of this-as we do-
about us every day, working in our midst.
'We may fail to realize it-as we do-
for association renders us accustomed to
it and the results are accomplished only
after a lrong lapse, wvhen msany of the
acts are forgotten.  ut, in the political
play, we have the ciaracter, the actions
anrd tise results Wichs ensue, arranged
before is in logical order in a lshortspace
of time. We can drasv thre lesson in a
brief period, and we can take it home,
inwardly digest it and act upon it, prof-
iting from wiat we have been taught by
a good play.
Meeting the Graft Problem.
During  the last year San Francisco.
Sr. Lois. Minneapolis, Mlslvarikee and
a score of othrer cities hsave been obliged
tomeetteproblem of muicipal corrup-
tion. Fist a timse ''graft" ssas discussed
(Continued on Page 40.)
Published at 87 South ClarK Street , Chicago, by THE SHOUT PlIDRLDPlblishiog Co.
Entered as Second- Class Matter  WARREN A. PATRIcr, UENERALD/RECTOR atthe Post -Office at Chica6,Ilinois,
June 25,1907                                     under the Act of Congress of March3,1879.

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