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
(August 10, 1907)

Marks, Adolph
Public amusement a science,   pp. [5]-6

Page [5]

Published at 87South ClarkStreet , Chicago, by THE SHOWT MORLD Pabliskilg Co.
Entered as Second -Class Matter  WA RREN A- PA TRICK, GENERAL /REcTOR  at the Post -Office at Chicall1inois,
June 25,1907                                             under the Act of Congress ofMarch3,1879.
Volume I-No. 7.
August 10, 1907
NOWIM'l~S is havv 1o,en ii, stinus
that liac' "aricucitie "ungress Of
the  commercial   and   industrial
spheres of life during the last decade,
they are as nothing compared with the
change that has  taken  place   in  the
aiusement business. It is a matter of
doubt whether those most closely asso-
clated with this field realize fully the
evolutionary process that they have par-
tieipated in. If they did, producer, man-
ager, agent, performer and even those
engaged in the purely mechanical branch-
es of the business would feel a sense of
thankfulness and assume an importance
they have no conception of today.
There is a reason why the showman
gives this subject little thought-he is
and has been too close to the unfolding
panorama to get the right perspective on
it. No profession or business on earth
requires as great activity as this in or-
er to be able to count success as an as-
set. The man or woman who has attained
success in the amusement field has been
too busy "making good" to devote muchl
time or thought to theorizing or philos-
Many Millions Invested.
The amusement business t-day is a
reognized institution with many uisatinct
branches with millions of dollars invest-
ed in each. Financial and social recog-
nition such as was never before allotted
player or promoter is now cheerfully
given as justly due the individual of ge-
"ius or talent engaged in an honest ef-
fort to entertain the public. Prejudices
)f ancient standing  have  been swept
away, the pulpit has grown to regard
the stage as an instrument of education
and of public utility, the medical pro-
fession accords it a position of value to
the community and the showman every-
where is accepted according to his indi-
vidual worth.
There would be nothing remarkable In
this statement of conditiins as applied
to any other profession, but there are
plenty of men and women in the amuse-
iment business today whi can recall the
time when one of the profession was re-
garded as socially impossible, when the
performer would have to guess each and
(very week whether he would receive his
salary at its end, when such a thing as a
legal status was unthought of and the
player was little better off than an Itin-
erant mountebank. A theatrical contract
was little better than a joke to be can-
celled at will by the stronger party to
t, a tour mecant mostly one-night-stands,
:md one-night-stands constituted as close
an approach to the evil place of future
promlise as one would care to contem-
Affairs Different Today.
How different things are today    At-
tractions play entire seasons in one house
Without a jump. Others will play only
half a dozen stands in a season. Less
pretentious  organizations  open  weeks
earlier than was dreamed of years ago,
close weeks later and seldom if ever
touch a one-night-stand. And   if they
do how different it is! And vaudeville.
what a haven for the performer! What
an improvement on conditions that ob-
tained in old variety days! Burlesque,
the circus, even the repertoire show and
the carnival contribute their quota to the
reformation apparent in the business as
a whole.
Organization is the magic word that j
has wrought these changes. Managers
are no longer mere adventurers, fakers.
The doctrine of the survival of the fittest
obtains with relentless certainty in this
field. It Is a business institution of the
most pronounced type.  The man who
can anticipate public demand and sup-
Evolutionary Process Has Been Most Marked, and All Branches
of Entertainment Are Systematically Conducted-Con-
solidation System Has Been of Great Advantage to Players.
plies it thrives. The fellow who anchors it nothing mildl have lifted the aiuse-
to tradition, who floats with the tide and ment field to its present position and
takes chances finds those days have gone brought about the investment of the mil-
forever. It is the same with the chap lions upon millions of dollars tied up in
- 7
'a                                                      J
One of the best known theatrical attorneys in this country is Adolph Marks
of Chicago, who this week contributes to THE SlOW    WORLD a thoughtful
essay on the evolution of amusements in the United States. Mr. Marks takes a
deep interest in amusement affairs and his wide observation both as attorney
and layman, vests his utterances with all the force that attaches itself to that
of an indisputed authority. His achievements as an attorney at the Chicago bar have
made his name a power with the show people. among whom he has numerousclients.and
with whom he is most popular. Mr. Marks will contribute articles of general interest to
succeeding issues of THE SHOW WORLD.
with nerve, a shoe string and a total ab-
sence of conscience and integrity.
On a Sound Business Basis.
They have had their day. So securely
is the business fixed on a sound busi-
ness basis that the amusement promot-
er who courts success must shape his
venture according  to  his finances, his
word and his contract must mean some-
thing, and his credit must be unim-
paired. With these qualifications, keen
udgment coupled with quick, forceful
action you have a picture of the typical
manager of today.
No Icss dignified and commendable char-
acteristics mark the typical performer of
his epoch-the transition is apparent
verywhere along the line from the front
of the house to the stage door. Without
theaters, tent shows, parks and amuse-
ments of all kinds In this country alone.
Nowhere is the new importance and
dignity of the entertainer more apparent
than in our courts. Some of the most
important decisions of the day are the
outgrowth of amusement litigation. In
the confusion incident to the transition
already referred to the precipe and the
writ have been the instruments through
which the rights of the individual have
been determined. Litigation has of ne-
cessity been general. Manager, perform-
er and playwright has flown to the relief
promised by attachment, replevin, in-
junction and damage suit and the prob-
lems hitherto settled by the power of
might have perplexed the courts. In
their adjudication along the lines of
quilty the rights of each have been de-
termined and pre elents estalished af-
fording protectioii never before enjoyed
by the profession.
Takes Optimistic View.
What wonder then that I take an op-
timistic view of conditions after having
been a close observer of the torturous
process through which they evolved dur-
ing the last twenty years. When one
stops to think of the history of the
amusement business there is every jus-
tification for optimism today. From the
days of early Greek power through the
passing centuries down to our own times
the entertainer has worked under what
has been almost a curse.   Genius has
starved save for the brief periods when
some generous patron came to its relief.
While the world worships at the shrinc
of Shakespeare today most actors would
shudder at the thought of contemporane-
ous existence in their chosen field. Nor
need we go so far back-a mere matter
of twenty years will suffice.
We who have witnessed all this can
only rejoice and measure the future by
the past. And that future looks bright.
While there may be some who look with
apprehension at the growing tendency to-
wards consolidation and an ever increas-
ing community of interest among the big
showmen, this array of facts confronts us:
Benefits of Consolidation.
Consolidation exists in the circus busi-
ness, yet never have so many persons
been employed in that business in this
country, nor have salaries ever been as
Consolidation obtains in the high class
dramatic and operatic field, yet actors
and singers enjoy prosperity they have
never hitherto known and are employed
in greater numbers.
Consolidation governs theafieldofm ielo-
drama, still more shows are employing
people at better salaries than ever and
the season Is growing longer yearly.
Consolidation rules burlesque absolute-
ly and burlesque enjoys recognition and
prosperity for the first time in the history
of the stage.
Consolidation is found in vaudeville.
Nevertheless vaudeville has lifted itself
by the bootstraps out of the cheapness
and uncertainty of variety and stands to-
day one of the most important branches
of the amusement business.
In view of these facts I can see no
justification for the cry of the alarmist.
Interest in amusement is growing and at
suchapace there issure to be room for
all who possess real merit under all con-
ditions and circumstances possible in this
Two new developments in the amuse-
mont business attest growing public in-
terest more eloquently than any other
illustration that can be advanced. They
are the five and ten cent theater and
the ticket scalper. Both are possible only
because the public is hungry for amuse-
ment. So far as the nickle and dime
theater is concerned its presence is proof
that the old established amusement ven-
tures are not adequate to satiate that
Why Scalpers Are Here.
It Is far from my intention to discuss
the legal or ethical aspect of the scalper
any more than I intend to touch on that
phase of managerial combinations or con-
solidations. The scalper is here and that
fact proves he receives public patron-
age. He reverses the tactics of the rail-
road scalper by charging a premium for
his services. In the absence of Intense
interest in amusements, a widespread
hunger for high-class entertainment he
would not last a week.
Considering all these things I am
constrained to say again "Cheer up!"
There is not a speck on the horizan
that bespeaks the approach of any con-
dition other than one of continued prog-
ress and prosperity for the stage at large
and increasing dignity and usefulness for
those who devote their lives to the grand
occupation of bringing cheer and merri-
ment to the rest of the world.

Go up to Top of Page