Page:Rolland - People's Theater.djvu/21

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The People and the Theater

A curious phenomenon has occurred during the past ten years. French art, the most aristocratic of arts, has come to recognize the masses. French artists have, of course, known of the existence of the people before, but they have considered them only as subjects of conversation, as material for novels, plays, or pictures.

"An admirable subject to treat in Latin verses."

But they never took the people into account as a living entity, a public, or a judge.[1] The progress of Socialism has directed the attention of artists to this new sovereign whose politicians up to the present had been its sole spokesmen: authors and actors. And they have discovered the people—discovered, I venture to say, in much the same manner as explorers discover a new market for their wares. The authors wish to import their plays, the State its repertory, actors, and officials. It is a comedy in itself, with a part for each. This is not a fit subject for irony, for no one is quite exempt from its shafts. And we must take men as they are, nor seek to discourage their conscious or unconscious

  1. The poet Rodenbach wrote: "Art is not for the people. … To make the people understand it, art would have to be brought down to their level."