Page:Rolland - People's Theater.djvu/114

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haeren's Le Cloître, Brieux' La Robe rouge, Sudermann's Honor, Romain Rolland's Danton, comedies of Courteline, etc. The theater opened with Zola's Thérèse Raquin, and offered as the first season's novelty Lucien Besnard's comedy L'Affaire Grisel.

But success did not respond to the effort. The situation of the building—in the Avenue de Clichy—was not so good as that of the Belleville theater. One of the first cares of the founders of any new people's theater should be the study of the neighborhood in which they plan to begin, and the hall in which the plays are to be performed. In a city the size of Paris, with its manifold complexities, there is as much difference between one neighborhood and another as between two provinces. I do not mean that one cannot change one's public; on the contrary, I think that this is the purpose of all true art; art, that is, that refuses to pander to the public. But of course this transformation requires much time and trouble. M. Beaulieu spared no pains, but time and funds were limited. He found, too, a spirit of the bitterest opposition. The neighborhood of the Batignolles is like a little provincial town, and the people were hostile to everything that came from the outside. The Bourgeoisie refused to come to a theater where they could not reserve seats in advance, and the few who did come looked at the scale of prices in the box-office and said: "It must be poor if the seats are so cheap!" But the worst enemies of the venture were the people them-