Page:Rolland - People's Theater.djvu/23

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AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION

5

This point has been well borne out, occasionally, by the Œuvre des Trente ans de Théâtre. Thanks to its intelligent promoter, M. Adrien Bernheim, the classics have been produced in the outlying districts of Paris by actors from the great subventioned theaters. But at once M. Bernheim and his friends declare: "The People's Theater is founded!" Indeed? Re-baptize the bourgeois theater as the People's Theater! That is all! And so nothing has been changed; art alone is to remain stationary amid an ever-changing society; we are forever condemned to adhere to a lifeless ideal, to a theater whose thoughts, style, acting, possess nothing vital, to the degenerate tradition of a house of mummers!

Later on I shall give my opinion of the Trente ans de Théâtre enterprise, and try to refer to it with all the respect due to any sincere and generous attempt of that kind. But this attempt assumes a confidence in the essential rightness of our civilization in general and our theater in particular which I for one am far from sharing; and I shall do my best to destroy the illusion. I am well aware that it is shared by the thinking classes of today, but this only proves what we have known for some time: that the thinking classes cannot be depended upon. In vain they strive to change: but they are essentially conservative, they belong to the past, they can produce no new society or art: they will disappear.

Life cannot be linked with death, and the art of

    theaters has put an end to them by the introduction of ruinous changes.