audience which gave it being. Usually this will transmute a seemingly dull play into a living, appealing work of art. In any case, when you have finished reading, judge with discretion. Say, if you like, "This play is not for me—for a person of my tastes," but not, "This is a bad play for all," unless you are able to explain why what is poison for you should be poison for the general public. In all the great periods of the drama perfect freedom of choice and subject, perfect freedom of individual treatment, and an audience eager to give itself to sympathetic listening, even if instruction be involved, have brought the great results. If a public widely read in the drama of the past and judging it as suggested would come to the acting drama of to-day in exactly that spirit, almost anything would become possible for our dramatists.
THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAMA
But what is drama? Broadly speaking, it is whatever by imitative action rouses interest or gives pleasure. The earliest of the mediæval plays, the trope of the church in which the three Marys go to the tomb to find that Christ has risen, and make their way thence rejoicing, does not differentiate one Mary from another. The words, which were given to music, have only an expository value. Here, as through the ages succeeding, it is action, not characterization, however good, not dialogue for the sake of characterization or for its own sake, which counts. Of course, this very early drama is too bald and too simple to have value as literature. As the trope in the tenth to the thirteenth centuries adds to the episode of the Resurrection or the Nativity preliminary or continuing Biblical material, so story develops around the original episode. Almost inevitably, in order to make these differing episodes convincing, characterization appears, for, unless the people are unlike, some of the episodes could not occur. The dialogue ceases to be merely expository and begins to characterize each speaker. Later it comes to have charm, amusingness, wit, that is, quality of its own. When the drama attains a characterization which makes the play a revelation of human conduct and a dialogue which characterizes yet pleases for itself, we reach dramatic literature.
So, too, as time goes on, there develop the play of story, the play