Page:Rolland - People's Theater.djvu/54

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and truth, the bourgeois drama is wanting in poetry. It is too limited, too prosaic; it offers to a nation in a difficult and dangerous situation, requiring the very greatest development of her powers, no better nourishment than comedy. Of late years, a few splendid attempts have been made in France—not to mention other countries—to open the doors of the bourgeois theater to poetry and to the people, but although we can observe in them a more sympathetic treatment of the soul and the problems of the people, they are stigmatized for the most part by the touch of what is most unpopular and aristocratic. Le Repas du Lion of M. François de Curel is the most striking example.

I have little to say of our modern comedies. They show considerable talent, but on the whole they are thin and insipid, sentimental and corrupt. They reflect their public, a lazy and degenerate Bourgeoisie, without energy to love, hate, judge, or really desire anything. They drift uncertainly between flirtations and pornography, and occasionally include both in a disgusting and puerile combination. These plays have never truly represented the nation: they insult her. I remember the disdain and indignation I felt when I first came to Paris and discovered the art of the boulevards. I am no longer indignant, but my disdain has remained. These plays dishonor us because of their very fame. The theaters where they are produced are the vile pleasure-houses of Europe. Let them continue to pollute their cosmopolitan audiences, if they so wish—