Page:Rolland - People's Theater.djvu/34

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The comedy of Molière can, if need be, satisfy the first needs of a People's Theater, but not for long. Speaking generally, he does not offer enough comedy. Laughter is a force, and intelligent satire of the vices satisfies the reason. But we cannot find in Molière the necessary springs to action. Classic comedy, especially, is cast into an extremely rigid form; its domain is that of common-sense, which reigns supreme. Beyond this it does not extend. Now, there is nothing so precious as common-sense; at a time when there seems to be so little, it would be unwise to assert the contrary; common-sense may lead us anywhere, even to heroism—we have proofs of that. But the people are like a woman: they are not actuated by reason alone, but rather by instinct and passion, and these must be nourished and directed. The emotions aroused by great tragic art are capable of producing deep and lasting effect. Have we in France a tragic repertory which can serve this purpose? Have we tragic plays which exalt the heroic powers of the soul, the vigor of the passions and the will?

The first that come to our attention are the classic tragedies of the seventeenth century.