University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The Arts Collection

Page View

Patrick, Warren A. (ed.) / Show world
(September 28, 1907)

Bell, Archie
American actors fail in France,   p. [5]


Page [5]

Volume I-No. 14.
CHICAGO
September 28, 1907
AMERICAN ACTORS FAIL IN FRANCE
RANCE    Wanin  nothinn    1i Aricaii,
Fexcept thle  mo 0ney.  America ret
isies a Parisian flavor to its en-
tertainnent. It is not a fair exchange.
Not even courtesy. This is best account-
ed for by the notorious fact that Paris
is sufficient unto itself. America is con-
stantly grasping further and further for
what is best in the musical and dramatic
world, irrespective of geographical pre-
judices. Paris winks at Italian drana
and dramatic artists, loathes the Ger-
man, siiiiles at the English and laughs
outright at the American. It is almost
incoipreliensible to the typical Parisian
that such a thing exists as American
drama. If brought so forcibly to his
iind that his negative argument cannot
hold, lie lifts his shoulders, sneers, and
says: "\'ery well, then, if there is an
American drama and if there are Amer-
ionan ators, bring them to us if you in-l
sist. We don't care to see them     and
will not promise to be courteous or even
tolerant. All is smoke until it comes to
Paris."
No American actor or actress has ever
iade money in Paris, excepting possibly
a few vaudeville or variety sensations.
Dozens of French artists have made
thousands of dollars in America. Sarah
Bernhardt comes over here whenever silou
chooses, to replenish her coffers, and
goes back with a bulging purse. We ree-
ognize the art of Rejane, Hading, Co-
quelin, give them respectful hearing and
send them home with a profitable bank
account. No American actor hopes to
get Cen a fair hearing in the French
capital, and knows that anticipation of
financial profit would be absurd.
America Welcomes Foreign Plays.
Anierica always as een ceager to mi-
tribute to the box-office popularity at
French authors from Dumas, fils, down-
ard. We swelled old Sardou's royal-
ties by thousands of dollars and are giv-
Ing Patil Herrieu, perhaps the greatest
icing French dramatist, more produe-
tions each year than his own country.
Charles Frohman expects congratulations
for having "cornered" the output of an-
other famous author for the next three
years and selects "Les Bouffons," a po-
tiscal orama by a Paris newspaper imani
as the leading feature of -Maude Adams'
forthcoiniig season. Rostand met with
a response not less enthusiastic in Ainer-
lea tihn lin France. W\e pay loyal trib-
ute to 1aceterlinek for his printed plays.
We haxe afforided a sympathetic try-out
to Alfied  Capus, Catulle  Mendes and
Iractically all of the playwrights of con-
temporary activity in Paris.
Wiia have we received from Paris is
turn? Rejane has promised to use aii
adaptation of Clyde Fitch's "The Truth."
A production of the same author's "Beau
Bruni...el"' is  projected.  There 1have
een translations of a few American mel-
odranias. Scarcely a representative bal-
ance or fair offset for our patronage of
Pais.
Snap at Operatic Offerings.
We snap at the operatic successes of
Paris, one impresario announcing with
particular and peculiar pride that lie has
arranged to present several new French
IiOveltic iii Newv York this season. Does
Paris snap at the product of Victor ier-
hert's or Reginald De Koven's pens? The
ountry pricked up its ears and said:
"We dare you" when Oscar Hammerstein
announced the production of a grand op-
-ra by America's leading composer, in
his own country.
We lliport French singers and instru-
setaliots.  Calve, for  instance, has
grown rich in American dollars. When
Amlrican singers are permitted to sing
atall in Paris, which is unusual, unless
Poitical and social pressure is brought
to1 beair, they are asked to do so for a
leager Salary and sometimes are obliged
t contribute services, personal expenses
and costumes for the privilege.
No, Paris does not want anything per-
taining to American drama, except the
dollars that pour into box offices. Paris
oesnot want anything that is not Par-
isian.
Parislan artists are notoriously jealous
Of their popularity and only encourage
reig n artists to invade their field as a
at ehiresda ird to its grasp.   Rachel
endeavored to ruin Histori in the old
None Succeed Financially in Paris, While Scores of French
Artists Have Enriched Themselves in This Country.
BY ARCHIE BELL
das. A few years ago Madam Sarah the tangled mess of their literary out-
laid  a tr in  for the  Italian Dilse.  S 11 e-  buirsts  has  elrv-e  its  purpose  as a  topic
I     i  I:<  trick  last  Junii  with  lga  f o  r M ix  N .id"i'<  niussive  critical work,
N~~~~                            ~ )ii..'Lgnrtui'  ozens of the most
ARCHIE BELL.
One of lte iiost widly lklxvii dramatic critics in the iountiy is Archie 11,4i,
dramatic editor of the Cleveland News. le is tlirity 1 years Old and a glob trotter,
lie having toured Great iritail. Holland, Denmark, Germany, France, Switzerland,
Italy and the West Indies oi foot. He is author of four successful novels, and his
acquaintance among professional people in this country and abroad is most exten -
sive. His views upon the drama in France, published herewith, are those of an
expert and their consideration will be of value.
The dramatic world of Paris says:
"Stay away; but If you must come, we'll
teach you a lesson that you will not soon
forget."
French Conceit Tremendous.
The Paris of today is the Rome of
yesterday in more than one sense. The
world admits that it is the hub of cul-
tore, but Parisians go further and do
not hesitate to insinuate that beyond the
walls of Paris lurk the barbarians. The
native is sweetly satisfied. The French
author often makes himself believe that
even Paris is too large a world, so lie
identifies  himself  with  one  of  the
"groups" and is contented with their
praise and appreciation. This city has
alwa  been prolific in "groupings" and
widely heralded authors of France have
drawn direct inspiration from Edgar
Allan Poe and Walt Vliitman, but they
would be loath to admit it. The foremost
d1ramatic authors of France are not con-
versant with English, and furthermore,
do not care to be. Since the plays of
Paul Herrieu gained a success in Amer-
ica. he has taken up the English gram-
mar and dictionary for something like
conscientious study; but one has not far
to question him before realizing that he
is thinking more of the American mar-
ket for his wares than of the language
that Shakespeare spoke and wrote. Here
is an academician and typical Parisian
man of letters. Compare him, for In-
stance, to GUs Thomas or Clyde Fitch,
both of whomi speak French fluently and
who are as well informed in French lit-
erature, past and present, as in that of
their native land.
Mendes and Howells.
Compare Catulle Mendes, author of
Ariane, a current success at the Opera
aiidThe Virgin of Attila, recently played
by Madam Sarah, to William Dean How-
ells. Mendes is also a dean of letters.
He is a Parisian after their own heart, a
leader of the decadent Parnassians, and
a man of talent. Howells is keenly iii
touch with the current literary move-
uOnts of Russia, Spain, France, Ger-
many, Italy and England. Mendes knows
Paris. His mental horizon lies not be-
yond the rainbow of Parisian boulevards.
Last spring I experienced a keen de-
light in learning that Maurice Rostand,
the young son of the author of Cyrano de
Bergerac, has his eyes turned towards
Amicrica. It is not for profit, for the
Rostands   are  rich, immensely    rich.
Young Maurice loves the language of
Shakespeare and speaks it almost per-
fectly. He has a desire to follow in his
father's footsteps as an author. The al-
luring example of Alexander Dumas, fils,
inspires him. At the parental castle in
the Pyrenees he is diligently working
out English translations of his father's
dramas and arranging the scenes of a
drama which 'he hopes soon to write.
Rostand, pere, will probably do no more
wliting under his own name. His health
is not so bad as cable rumors would in-
dicate, but lie is not strong and is un-
willing to tax his strength, preferring
to rest on the laurels that he has al-
ready won. He shares the prejudices of
his brother craftsmen about American
art and letters; but shows lively inter-
est in his son's ambition to write for
the American stage.
Not Writing for Miss Robson.
Rostand said last June that he had
nhver even seen the American producer
who announced that after a conference
with the author at his home in the south
of France he had secured the latter's
proillise to write a drama expressly for
Ie American creator of Merely Mary
Ann. It is to be assumed that Rostand's
future literary labors will be merely as
a tutor of his ambitious son, and Amer-
i-a is likely to see the next product of
the Rostand pen, before Paris passes
wohat is believed there to be the ver-
diet from the art court of last resort.
Just as the American returning from
China or Siam endeavors to lift the yoke
of prejudice and ignorance from his
countrymen who have never visited those
londs and have never had an opportunity
of seeing the people for a judgment at
lirst hand, so an occasional French act-
or, author, or artist endeavors to tell
his countrymen of America. But his
pr'achment usually falls on deaf ears.
One of these is De Max, the leading
Man in the company of Sarah Bernhardt.
lie has seen the American theater at
(-lose range. He has studied American
imma, American actors and American
audiences. He told me recently that the
sgorow of his life was when he began
his career lie did not come to America
instead of going to Paris.
Lured by Parisian Glamour.
Max is a Roumanian. The magnet of
Paris as an "art center" lured him there.
11 became a French celebrity and Paris
claimed him as her own. His acting,
notably as Anthony in Julius Caesar, has
been the sensation of recent dramatic
seasons. The limelight is beating fierce-
ly upon him. He is one of the favored
few. Yet he runs the risk of incurring
displeasure-for the Parisians are child-
like in their wrath against those who
utter "profane" remarks against Paris-
by declaring that America is the best
field on earth for the dramatist, the actor
and the audience. He says that his
green-eyed brother and sister artists in
the Paris theaters realize this, but are
not brave enough to admit it and for
the present are retaining a kind of su-
premacy by sneering at America and its
product, the sneer being echoed by the
Parisian authors and managers who re-
joice in the confines of their limited cul-
ture and are too lazy to get into the
bandwagon of progress, learn the Eng-
lish language and take a few tips in the
play business from the dwellers in what
they choose to call "the land of the
dollar."
THE SHOr TI{JJoRLD
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY AMUSEMENT WEEKLY
Published at 875oath ClarkStreet , Chicago, by THE SHJOIIT IlORLD Piblibiono.
Entered as Second -Class Matter  WA RREN A.PA TR/CK, 6ENAERAL/RECToR, at the Post-Office'at Chica16linois,
June 25,1907                                    under the Act of Congress of March3,1879.


Go up to Top of Page