Page:Rolland - People's Theater.djvu/138

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the mad ravings of the King and Cornwall's horrible atrocity to Gloster.

Irony, contempt, or fashionable enthusiasm! This was the lot of the people's plays, and it still is. There is no doubt a great chasm between the sublime melodramas of Shakespeare and Sophocles, and our cheap manufactured products, all cut to a pattern. But without troubling to consider the scribblers who write melodramas—and they are worse than the rest because they rob the poor—let us study the type, and learn the true reason for its success.

"Take two sympathetic characters, one the victim, the other a sinister and hateful villain; introduce a few grotesque figures out of everyday life, a few timely political, religious, or social allusions; mix tears with laughter, and add a song with an easy chorus. Five acts in all and as few waits as possible." Here is your recipe.

It is easy to criticize melodrama, but, as has been observed by M. Georges Jubin[1] in a very intelligent little article on melodrama, "even in making fun of it, you will have discovered the law of the People's Theater. You will learn that four things are necessary to please the people: the mixing of laughter and tears; the interlude; the presence of evil but with the hint that good will prevail; and a long evening's entertainment which is worth the price of admission. In other words: Mingling of pleasing and painful emotions, True realism, Simple morality,

  1. In the Revue d'art dramatique, Nov., 1897.