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A historical study of the little theatre movement in the city of San Diego, California

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A HISTORICAL STUDY OP THE LITTLE THEATRE
MOVEMENT IH THE CITY OP SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
A Thesis
Presented to
the Faculty of the School of Education
The University of Southern California
In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
Master of Science in Education
by
Raymond Mulford Mason
August 1941
UMI Number: EP54260
All rights reserved
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a note will indicate the deletion.
Dissertation PVbiisMng
UMI EP54260
Published by ProQuest LLC (2014). Copyright in the Dissertation held by the Author.
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T h is thesis, w r it t e n u n d e r the d ir e c t io n o f the
C h a ir m a n o f the candidate'fs G u id a n c e C o m m itte e
a n d a p p r o v e d by a l l m em bers o f the C o m m itte e ,
has been p resen ted to a n d accepted by the F a c u lt y
o f the S c h o o l o f E d u c a t io n in p a r t i a l f u l f i l l m e n t
o f the re q u ire m e n ts f o r the degree o f M a s t e r o f
Science in E d u c a tio n .
, ..
7 1941
Guidance Com m ittee
M ..__M. Thompson
C hairm an
Cloyde D. Dalzell
Irving R. Melho
,tTABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I.
-
PACE
THE PROBLEM .AH) RELATED INVESTIGATIONS........
The p r o b l e m .............
1
1
Statement of the problem
. . . . . . . . . .
1
Importance of the s t u d y ...................
1
Investigations in regard to this survey * . * .
2
Related investigations
. . . . . . . . . . .
Scope of the investigation
Data and method of procedure
Data and method of procedure
Organization of the thesis
II. GENERAL BACKGROUND
•
4
. . . . . . . . .
5
.........
.
. . . . . . . . .
. . . . . ..................
The name: Little Theatre
Definition
2
..........
. . . . . .
........
. . . . . . . . . . .
The name misapplied
6
7
7
7
7
The Little Theatre idea . . . • • • • . • • • •
The essentials
8
8
Leisure and labor . . . . .
theatre for audience
...
8
..............
11
History of the Little Theatre
Europe
5
.............
12
12
Differences between European and American . •
13
Origin of the American Little Theatre . . . .
14
After the Irish Players
17
iii
CHAPTER
PAGE
After the Irish Players
Opposition
III.
.....
THE YORICK PLAYERS
.
. . . . . . . . .
16
...................
17
......................
19
19
The beginning...................
O rganiz a t i o n.........
19
The housing.................
20
Original plays
24
.........................
Appreciation..........
24
An open air performance . . . . « • • • • •
26
Difficulties
28
.........................
A move
.........
28
Aid to d r a m a ...........................
30
A new l o c a t i o n .........................
32
.........................
34
Hew troubles
A permanent h o m e ...............
A true home
35
.................
The w o r k .............
35
35
Yorick passes • • • • . • • . . .
........
37
Change of n a m e ..........................
37
A contest...............................
38
Best performances
38
Active members
Readings
........
.........................
39
.............................
39
Change/of Director.• •
.................
40
iv
CHAPTER
- PAGE
S u m m a r y .................................
IY.
THE BARE PLAYERS
....................
Pounding of the Barn players................
The founding
■ The plan
..................
-.43
43
43
.............................
44
The Town C l u b ...........................
44
The n a m e .................................
46
Rebuilding...................
46
..................
Membership . . . . . . .
The
first production
.....
The
summer of 1934 *
••
The
48
.........
48
...............
50
idea of the B a r n .....................
50
failures
.............................
51
S u c c e s s e s ...........................
51
Difficulties encountered ..................
51
An a p p e a l ................................
52
Breaking u p .............................
54
A revival attempted
55
Summary
Y. THE GLOBE
The
42
......................
...............................
55
T H E A T R E ............................
56
Old Globe
............................
56
The first s t e p .............................
56
History of the Old Globe
59
The Globw Theatre today
.....................
60
Theatre f i n a n c e ...........................
60
V
CHAPTER
.PAGE
Properties...............
61
Membership...............
61
The Workshop Theatre . . . . . . . . . . . .
61
Educational*' Extension' ...................
63
Children1s Theatre .......................
63
The repertoire .
...............
63
Original plays . . • .......... * .........
65
Difficulties ....................
65
Other uses of the T h e a t r e ................
66
Future of the G-lobe T h e a t r e ...........
66
Summary
.
• • . . . » • « • ..................
68
YI. THE C O N C L U S I O N S .............................
69
The s u m m a r y ...............................
69
The o u t c o m e .............................
69
Basis of Little Theatre t r o u b l e ..........
70
Impediments of the little Theatre
........
71
Correlation of the a r t s ..................
72
Future
.................................
73
B I B L I O G R A P H Y.....................................
74
A P P E N D I X .........................................
78
LIST OP TABLES
TABLE
PAGE
I.
The Yorick Players Season of Plays 1919-20
21
II.
The Yorick Players Season of Plays 1920-21
23
III.
The Yorick Players Season of Plays 1921-22
25.
IV.
The Yorick Players Season of Plays 1922-23
27
V.
The Yorick Players Season of Plays 1923-24
29
VI.
The Yorick Players Season of Plays 1924-25
31
VII.
The Yorick Players Season of Plays 1925-26
33
VIII.
The Yorick Players Season of Plays 1926-27
36
IX.
The Yorick Players Season of Plays 1927-28
41
X.
The Barn Players
Season of Plays 1933-34
45
XI.
The B a m Players
Season of Plays 1934-35
47
XII.
The B a m Players
Season of Plays 1935-36
49
XIII.
The B a m Players
Season of Plays 1936-37
53
XIV.
The Globe
TheatreTs Season of 1937-38
58
XV.
The Globe
Theatrers Season 1938-39
62
XVI.
The Globe
Theatre’s Season 1939-40
64
XVII.
The Globe
Theatre’s Season 1940-41
67
CHAPTER I
THE PROBLEM AID RELATED INVEST IG-ATIOHS
The true theater of America must be created by
the people themselves* Their demand will create the
supply* The theater must be an integral part of the
life of the community.
Eva Le G-allienne
1.
THE PROBLEM
Statement of the problem*
It was the purpose of this
study to review the historical development of the Little
Theatre movement in the city of San Diego, California.
In
other words, the purpose of this study was to answer the fol­
lowing questions: (1) What is the general background of the
Little Theatre both in America and Europe?
(2) When and un­
der what circumstances did the first Little Theatre begin in
San Diego?
(3) What was the result of the organization of
the second Little Theatre group of San Diego?
(4) What was
the final outcome of the various Little Theatre activities in
San Diego?
Importance of the study.
The true progress of drama­
tic art in America is coming in the amateur and semi-profes­
sional theatres and dramatic societies which have sprung up
in the last few years to satisfy a longing which the profes­
sional playhouse entirely overlooks, as a protest against
the commercialization of the regular theatre.
These theatres
and societies have advanced far beyond the professional play­
houses because their ideal lies in the realm of dramatic art
rather than of commercial success, and their methods are ex­
perimental.
The value of a permanent place for community drama­
tics is high.
Many high school and college students receive
a start in community theatre activities while in school, but
have no place in which to carry on after they return home or
graduate.
The little Theatre of San Diego fills a very defi­
nite cultural need, in the community.
Educational classes in voice and diction, dramatic
technique, and drama history are provided for the Active
Working Members through an affiliation with the State Adult
Educational Department.
Teachers, workers and group leaders everywhere report- ■
the keen interest of young people, who are coming for the
first time into contact with the living theatre.
II.
INVESTIGATIOKS IK REGARD TO THIS STUDY
Related investigations.
The investigations previously
made which are related to this subject are few.
There are
short articles, pertaining to the subject, found in the two
periodicals, "Theatre Arts Monthly" and "Drama," based on both
experiment and. experience.
3
The Little Theatre in relation to the problem of the
use of leisure time was discussed at some length by Percy
Mackaye
He concluded the qualifications of a Little Theatre
to be: ”Pirst, absolute independence from commercial competi­
tion, through adequate endowment; second, highest technical
standards compulsive of artistic competition, under the leader­
ship of experts; third, policies dedicated to public service
under such leadership.”
In this same book the author cites Gordoh Craig1s opin­
ion of the Little Theatre as intrinsically a ritual of the
people; he does so, as an artist of the theatre, by reconstruct­
ing from tradition and imagination its large impersonal aspects
in relation to an audience convened by an instinct essentially
religious in its demand for art.
Ifir. Percival Chubb describes the manifestations which
directly point (although he -does not say so) to the art of the
theatre as the only authentic form for that ritual; and he does
so, as a civic leader outside of the theatre, who recognises
the need of large impersonal forms, reconstructed from tradi­
tion and imagination, in order to give adequate expression to
the fact of our peopleTs religious instinct for art.
Thus, forces both within and without attest the need for
Percy Mackaye, The Civic Theatre In Relation to the
Redemption of Leisure. (Hew York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1912),
pi 2o.
the Little Theatre*
In the foreword to "Curtains Going Up,” G-ilmor Brown
says of the Little Theatre, ,!This is American Theatre.”
He
goes on to give a picture of the development of the Little
Theatre throughout America.
The greatest numbers of theatres
were started in the years 1933-1935.
In these years of de­
pression people had more leisure and so turned within them­
selves for pleasure.
Gilmor Brown also says that the Little Theatre is
closer to the people than any professional theatre can be
and, therefore, at its best it presents a truer and more fun­
damental reflection of American life and thought.
"The primary object of the Little Theatre is always
wrapped up in that of the art theatre" is the conclusion reached by Prank Shay.
The author goes farther to say the
entire body of dramatic leterature would have been enormously
beggared by the non-emergence in the Little Theatre of such
front rank writers as Strindberg, Schnitzler, Lunsany, and
Brighouse•
Scope of the investigation.
2
Plays.
In scope the Little Thea-
Bernard Sobel, The Theatre Handbook and Digest of
(Hew York: Crown Publishers, 1940), "p.’169-171*
^ Prank Shay, The Plays and Books of the Little Theatre.
(New York: The Theatre GrafIs Exchange, 19^9) , p. 11*
5
tre differs from that of the established theatre.
The Little
Theatre ideal, involving as it does the whole recreative art
of the community, involves the sociological as well as the
aesthetic aspects of recreation.
Theatrical by-products of the community do not come
within the purview of this investigation,
lach year large
numbers of plays, minstrel shows, revues, burlesques, masques
and pageants are put on by lodges, Sunday schools, men's and
women's clubs, parent-teacher associations and many other or­
ganizations.
Such productions yield entertainment to those
immediately concerned, and, while a survey of them if carried
over a sufficient period of time might disclose something of
significance regarding general standards, no such attempt has
been made in this inquiry.
III. DATA AND METHOD Op PROCEDURE
Data and method of procedure.
The greater part of the
data used for this investigation came from first hand informa­
tion principally interviews.
The many interviews revealed a
certain amount of haziness regarding dates, but these were
quickly checked and verified by existing newspaper files.
The essential parts of the Little Theatre movement in
San Diego were outlined by the newspaper files, but the exist­
ing problems during a period were gathered from the individuals
6
who participated in the movement.
After several interviews,
it became apparent to the investigator that this study was
divided into three distinct periods--The Yorick Players, The
Barn Players, and the G-lobe Theatre.
Organization of the thesis.
The second chapter will
deal with the general background of the Little Theatre in its
entirety--the definition of the term, "Little Theatre,” the
history of the movement, the opposition to the Little Theatre
in the beginning, and the gradual acceptance of this movement.
The third chapter is devoted to the organization of
the first Little Theatre group to begin in San Diego with- the
many difficulties which were encountered in regard to the
housing, the casting, the finance, and the collapse.
The fourth chapter tells the story of the second Little
Theatre group started in the San Diego community with the varA
ious barriers it came up against.
The fifth chapter relates the history of the ultimate
success of the Little Theatre movement in San Diego, however,
there are still a great many problems to be met and solved for
the continuance of a true Little Theatre in San Diego.
The sixth and final chapter of this study presents the
summary and conclusions.
CHAPTER II
GENERAL BACKGROUND OE STUDY
I.
THE NAME: LITTLE THEATRE
In the preceding chapter the problem of this study was
stated.
A brief review of the literature related to the sub­
ject of the Little Theatre was given.
Finally, the organiza­
tion of the entire investigation, was outlined by chapters.
Definition. Percy MackayeTs definition of the Little
Theatre, “There is participation; there is creative expres­
sion; there is neighborly ritual•" has become the understood
slogan of the various Little Theatre groups.
Arthur Perry uses the term “'Little Theatre11 to apply
broadly to bodies which engage, more or less regularly, in
dramatic production and which are animated by intrinsic enjoy­
ment rather than by monetary gain.
The investigator uses Percy Mackayers more definite
thought throughout this study.
The name misapplied.
In the past years “Little Theatre"
has been used indiscriminately to designate any piece of com­
munity dramatics.
This use is indeed unfortunate since this
kind of production, while there are undoubtedly exceptions,
will fail in at least one of the requisites demanded by the
definition accepted above.
8
II. THE LITTLE THEATRE ILEA
The essentials♦
The Little Theatre idea, as a distinc­
tive issue, implies the conscious awakening of a people to
self-government in the activities of its leisure.
To this
end, organization of the arts of the theatre, participation
by the people in these arts (not mere spectatorship), a new
resulting technique, leadership by means of a permanent staff
of artists (not merchants of art), the elimination of private
profit by endowment, and public support dedicated in service
to the whole community, these are chief among its essentials,
and these imply a new and. nobler scope for the art of the thea­
tre itself.
Leisure and labor.
To the average man, the arts are
concerned only; with leisure; the daily vocations of men with
labor.
Until recently our people, through public opinion or
government, have never recognized the occupations of their
leisure as related to labor; nor the vocation of their labor
as related to recreation.
In the vocations of modern industry the differences
between joy an;d‘labor have become too absolute to reconcile.
Therefore the increasing cry and the protest arise for short­
er hours of industrial labor; but to wrhat end?
The answer of
the foresighted is: art— the recreative occupation of leisure.
For by art, free from industrialism, labor is again reconciled
9
with joy.
The reorganization of leisure thus becomes of tremen­
dous importance--the real goal of all the vast strivings of
our age, in which countless millions are battling desperate­
ly, often blindly, to emancipate the deepest instinct of
humanity— the need for happiness.
This reorganization of
leisure is the aim of the Little Theatre; its means is the
correlation of the arts of leisure under the leadership of
the art--fundamental and foremost to that end— the dramatic.^*
Whatever the future may hold for this amateur, local
theatre, the present is undeniably important from two differ­
ent points of view--the aesthetic and the social.
The social angle may be put with a fair amount of breity.
It deals with two facts.
the modern American lives.
One has to do with the way
The other has to do with the pe­
culiar nature of amateur theatres.
With the advent of the machine men fotuid themselves
with shorter working hours and as a result more time for lei­
sure occupations.
Kenneth Macgowan-' admits that the masses as a whole are
not as yet embarrassed by any great surplus of leisure.
But
he adds that a considerable portion of society has discovered
a great many idle hours.
Sociologists, philosophers and edu­
cators have taken this topic of leisure for discussions and
4 Clarence Arthur Perry, The Work of the Little Theatre
(Lew York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1"9T3T, 2£Tpp.
10
reports.
The author sums his thoughts together by saying with
6
Romain Holland:
It is a question of life and death for art and for
the people. If art is not opened to the people, it is
doomed to disappear; and if the people do not discover the
pathway of art, humanity abdicates its destinies.
The Little Theatre movement is one of the most unusual,
too, for it means that Mr. or Mrs. Busy-During-the-Day-America,
at night steps into the theatre and engages in active play pro­
duction as producer, actor, scene shifter, electrician, prop
boy, scene and costume designer, and box office manager; not
because he wishes to make money and commercialize the stage,
but because he loves the theatre and has found a new outlet
for his leisure time activities.
Today this Little Theatre
movement means that a new type of theatre has come into being;
as a non-profit making, non-professional, educational, social,
and recreational theatre.
It may rightly be said to be the
Theatre of Democracy, for it is a Theatre of the people, by
the people and for the people.
It represents the coBperative
effort in every community of the people of that community, a
cross section of the entire town: bricklayers and carpenters,
stenographers and dowagers, doctors and debutantes, all drawn
together by a common interest. 7
5 Ibid, p. 5.
^ Ibid, p. 6.
11
Theatre for audience.
This study is not written to
prove how large a part the little Theatre should take in the
•\
utilization of leisure.
That part is assumed and taken for
granted.
Amateur acting has plenty of short-comings.
The ama­
teur actor has little of the instinct and none of the train­
ing by which a Broadway player makes points with a minimum of
effort.
However, the amateur has other qualities which at
times seem more valuable. .They are not education and intelli­
gence; these things merely make it easier for him to work with
less technical means.
H.T. Parker says of the amateur:
8
Time and again amateurs attain simplicity because
they do not suspect intricacy, and truth because they see
it and embody it in their acting with veils of habit,
method of precedent. Given histrionic instinct, aptitude,
and observation, they act with ease, freedom, and variety,
and with full self- surrender to their parts. If the means
are not the professional means, they do their office,
which is to bring the personages to life in the terms of
the play. Acting for themselves in their own way, they
are not weighed down with selfconsciousness, traditions,
or imitation.
The little Theatre appeals to a peculiarly responsive
and intelligent audience.
By virtue of its air of intimacy,
it seeks to bring the actor and the auditor into rapport.
is especially true of the Little Theatre that the audience
meets the actors halfway.
The question arises, then, what
7 Bernard Sobel, The Theatre Handbook And Digest of
Plays. (Hew York: Crown Publishers, 1940), p.~TF9.
^ Ibid, p. 18.
It
12
sort of play shall the .Idttle Theatre of today and tomorrow
specialize in, if at all?
There is, of course, the precious
piece, the typically ”art thing,” there is the play of search­
ing realism, and there is also the typical commercial, mechani­
cal play.
Independent groups are economically dependent upon au­
diences.
Prom the outset the little Theatre must cater to
them since their main support is the box-office.
They may se­
cure a working fund from membership fees, but any outlays made
from this fund must eventually be replaced by earned income.
Sometimes productions are financed through subscription obtain­
ed from friends, but these are in reality only an advance sale
of tickets.
Even a benefactor must be won by their actual work,
or some promise of achievement which the group shows.
Thus
the relationship between an independent group and its audience
is in a higher degree truly reciprocal.
III.
Europe.
HISTORY OP THE LITTLE THEATRE
The worldfs
first community theatre is the
Oberammergan or Passion Play in the little Bavarian village
which has produced this play for three hundred years with
scarcely no intermission.
The players are supplied from the
surrounding community and the play is presented every ten
years.
However, other plays are presented every summer to
keep the players from becoming stale.
13
In more m o d e m times, there is the father of all Lit­
tle Theatres, AndreT Antoine, leaving his desk in the Paris
Gas Company to open the Theatre-Libre in 1887*
In 1897 the Moscow Art Theatre was emerging from-Stan­
islavsky’s group of amateur actors, the Society of Art and
Literature, and from Dantehenko’s dramatic .school in the Phil­
harmonic Society.
In Germany in 1902 Max Reinhardt graduated
from a kind of amateur cabaret to open the Kleene’s Theatre.
In Dublin there were the Irish Players, and Synge and Yeats
and Lady Gregory.
In London at the Independent Theatre a
series of matinees were given of the plays of Bernard Shaw; a
decade later finds the London Stage Society breaking ground
for Galsworthy, Somerset Maughan, Granville Barker and Arnold
Bennett.
Kenneth Macgowan remarks that this page of Little
Theatre history should be required reading of all sneerers.
Differences between European and American.
The Ameri­
can Little Theatre and its Continental forbear differ most in
their relation to playgoers and plays.
They both cultivate
subscription audiences--again from financial necessity--and
they both give their audiences plays superior to the commer­
cial average.
But the Little Theatre in America set itself
the task of bringing nourishment to the play-starved men and
women in cities, while the Little Theatre of Europe tried to
bring nourishment to playwrights who were starving for an au9
dience of any sort.
14
Origin of the American Little Theatre.
The history
of the Little Theatre movement in .America is a history of
many things.
In short, the Little Theatre movement is the
history of the aesthetic, the social and the economic change.
Various factors have entered into it, some slowly developing,
some flickering in and out.
Nobody knows where amateurism began in America.
The
North Carolinians insist upon the Thalian association1s being
the original Little Theatre in America.
Macgowan would rather start with Brigham Young.
While
Joseph Smith was still alive in lauvoo, Illinois, the Church
of Christ of Latter Day Saints built a combined theatre and
dance hall.
These peoples had been settled less than five
years in the Salt Lake region when they built a Little Theatre
called "The Social Hall," organized the Deseret Dramatic Asso­
ciation and performed the romantic melodrama, "Don Caesar de
Bazan" on January 17, 1853*
In 1862 they built a modern thea­
tre and thus helped to spread the dramatic gospel.
It was not through professionalism that the local thea­
tre and the newer theatre of America was to develop.
When the interviewer refers to amateurs, amateur acting
societies are not included.
They have always been in existence
and only contribute as renegade players to the Little Theatre
movement.
9
They were interested in nothing more than a small
Kenneth Macgowan,
Liveright, 1921), 302 pp.
The Theatre of Tomorrow.
(Boni and
15
social audience, and they neither attracted nor held the kind
of artistic rebel that would make an amateur company a piedq ’-terre for an attack on the general stage.
A sort of quasi-dramatic club, however, must be exemp­
ted from inclusion in the above statement.
of organization the first impulse cane.
acting club of the settlement house.
cess is not difficult to locate.
exclusive.
Out of this kind
It was the amateur
The secret of its suc­
It could never be socially
It lay in the very lap of an audience.
In the
Hull House Players of Chicago the first true Little Theatre
was begun in 1899 in the Jane Addams1 settlement house which
blossomed out into serious activity about 1907 under the diwe
rection of the late Laura Dainty Pelham.
Irene and Alice ......
Lewisohn trained the young people of the Henry Street Settle­
ment in Hew York in festival plays in 1907t*staging spoken
drama in Clinton Hall in Clinton Street in 1911 and opening
the Neighborhood Playhouse on G-rand Street in 1915In 1929 the Hull House Players were working steadily,
still giving plays in the auditorium of the settlement house
at one fourth the commercial prices, and still presenting in
the main, Shaw, Galsworthy.and other serious, social and for­
eign playwrights.
Since 1927 the Neighborhood Playhouse has
been a thing of the past.
The forerunners in 1911--the Wisconsin and the Lake for­
est groups--need stressing because they preceded by some months
the first tour of the Irish Players from the Abbey Theater,
16
Dublin.
This group made the year 1912 fruitful all over the
country,
hut it is well to remember that the Wisconsin and
the Hake forest groups were starting amateur playhouses the
year before, and still more, they were devoting them to the
thing the Irish Players lived for and lived by--the production
of native local drama.
The universities had been busy also.
In 1908 the Har­
vard Dramatic Club had been formed to produce only original
plays by Harvard men., Fredrick Koch and Alfred Arvold, in
1914? were instigating young people to write drama about their
own people.
Walter Wanger, now in Hollywood, was founding the
Dartmouth Laboratory Theatre in Hanover, Hew Hampshire, as.a
sort of town theatre intended to cooperate with the playwriting course in the college.
The next year Thomas Wood Stevens
--one of the finest and most modest of the Little Theatre pio­
neers- -opened a theatre through which the dramatic department
of the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh has
given the country trained actors and directors.
After the Irish Players.. After the visit of the Irish
Players, Mrs. Lyman V/. Dale of Boston set up a Little Theatre
by turning a stable on Lyme Street into the Toy Theatre.
Its
failure was due to moving into a larger building before enough
organization has taken place.
Maurice Browne opened his Little Theatre, which seated
17
ninety people, in which he gave beautiful and deft perform­
ances of Schnitzler and Strindberg.
Finally, he did profes­
sionalize his actors somewhat.
Numerous other little Theatre ventures too many in
number fo discuss here started before the World- War dealt a
staggering blow to all amateur effort.
T|ie rounding out of the Little Theatre movement into
the reasonably prosperous, very active, and surprisingly
skillful thing it is today might have come sooner if the war
had not intervened.
The war killed and crippled, here in the
theatre as on the battlefield.
And yet, there is some ques­
tion whether the communities of America could have done their
part in producing'an aud.ience as the amateurs produced plays
if the war had not done its share to destroy the weakened tour­
ing system which brought Broadway plays into even the one-nqght
stands.
The war halted the little Theatre and delayed the com­
munity audiences, but it could not annihilate them as it could
and. ddid' annihilate the 'Road.
Opposition, little The'atres were the subject of much
laughter at first.
Belasco, in the Saturday Evening Post, ri­
diculed taking seriously Hthe mere boys and girls who combine
to form community playhouses, suitcase theatres, and neighbor­
hood players, and who produce .......... inutile, undramatic,
freakish, interlocutory compositions'miscalled plays.
All of
these movements are nothing more than parlor theatricals,
and ought not to be regarded as anything else.”
it
Within five years* Mr. Belasco had given the Belasco
cup for the trophy of the first National little Theatre Tour­
nament •
George Kelly satirized them in his play, rightly named,
nThe Torchbearers.” But their lights were not dimmed, and the
movement grew and spread from the large cities into towns and
villages throughout the nation.
This chapter was written to give the reader a general
background of the Little Theatre movement.
The term, Little
Theatre, was defined precisely and the essentials of the Lit­
tle Theatre idea were discussed.
Finally a brief history of
the Little Theatre was traced to present day activities.
CHAPTER III
THE YORICK PLAYERS
I.
THE BECIEHIHa
In the foregoing chapter a general background of the
Little Theatre was given with regard to the time of its ad­
vent into this country, the very elementary start of the move­
ment, the intervention of the war, and the slow change of the
outlook of people in general with reference to the Little Thea­
tre.
It is now imperative to review the specific groups in
San Diego.
Organisation. A theatre arts guild, for the purpose of
establishing a San Diego theatre, was organized at a meeting
held during the fall of 1919.
The members of the organization
planned to build up a company of players, playwrights and stagecrafters to put on original productions, as well as the best
plays of modern dramatists.
As an adjunct to the Little Theatre itself an experimen­
tal workshop where amateur talent could be enabled to develop
in theatrical lines was opened under the direction of Turbese
Lummis Fiske.
This group planned to secure a room in the Sacramento
building in Balboa park, which was already partially fitted up
for theatrical performances from the days of the Exposition.
20
The necessary funds for carrying on the work was to he raiseed by an advance sale of season tickets to associate members
of the guild.
They planned to put the proceeds of their
work toward a fund of §10,000 which was to repair and eguip
the Sacramento building in order to preserve this building in
Balboa, park.
Membership tickets were five dollars a year,
entitling to participation in all activities of the associa­
tion and admission to the performances.
The executive committee, elected for this little Thea­
tre, obtained Edward Ewald as directory he brought profession­
al impetus to the undertaking.
Mr* Ewald had been associated
with Sarah Bernhardt, and with Norman Hackett on the stage.
The fact that the work was to be directed by a professional,
rather than by an amateur, gave added interest to the audience
as well as to the players.
The San Biego Community Theatre Association made its
first bow to an audience when four one-act plays were given
at the Francis Parker School, April 12, 1920*
That the school
auditorium was packed to capacity limit with the first offer­
ing of the group showed that there was sufficient interest in
the community to foster such a group as well as real talent to
be found and developed.
The housing. After some trouble in obtaining a proper
place, the stage in the Sacramento building at Balboa park had
been adapted to the needs of the players.
The third perform-
TABLE I
THE YORICK PLAYERS
SEASON 1919-1920
PLAY
AUTHOR
TYPE
Pour One-Acts
The Price OP Coal
Harold Brighouse
Suppressed Desires
Susan Glasgow
The Sidi of Ben Mor
Ruth Sawyer
Conscience In The Clouds
M. Victorien Clement
Pelleas St Mfclisande
Fantasy
Maeterlinck
Mystery
Lord Duns any
Fantasy
Two One-Acts
Tents Of The Arabs
Goodness Gracious Napoleon
Farce
22
ance of the groiip was given in a permanent home.
They pre*
sented two one-act plays which consisted of Lord L>-imsany!s
fantasy "Tents of the Arabs1' and a farce, " Goodness Gracious
Napoleon.”
The outlook at.this time was splendid with the group
having their own theatre building and equipment, enthusiastic
and efficient groups all working in harmony.
A degree of
success, far beyond the hopes of the small group which first
conceived the idea of a Little Theatre for San Diego, seemed
possible.
By the time the San Diego Players were ready to put on
the next performance, Maurice Maeterlinck1s
"Mary Magdalene,”
November 18, 1921, it was necessary to leave their permanent
home since there was no money to provide for heat in the build­
ing, and go to the Wednesday Club House instead.
It was also
about this time that the interest of Edward Ewald, the direc­
tor,..waned.
Since he was engaged on a percentage basis for
salary returns and the salary grew smaller and practically
ceased, Prank Buckley gradually took over the direction of the
group.
He had had much previous -work in the Little Theatre,
having been one of the founders of the Players1 Club of San
Francisco, which he served a number of years as director.
Members were invited to turn their talent in any direc­
tion, from acting to carpenter work.
Those with a gift for
artistic designing could help by making posters and others
23
TABLE II
THE YORICK PLAYERS
SEASOH 1920-1921
PLAY
AUTHOR
The Woman on the Wall
M. Victorien Clement
Mary Magdalene
Maurice Maeterlinck
TYPE
Comedy
Three OnewActs
Maker of Dreams
Olliphant Downs
Fantasy
Dust Of The- Road
K.S. Goodman
Christmas
The Man In The Stalls
Alfred Sutro
Comedy
Austin Adams
Comedy
Susan Glaspell
Psychologi­
The Double Cross
Four One-Acts
Trifles
cal
A House of Cards
Percival Wilde
Tragedy
Sham
Frank G* Tomkins
Satire
Dawn
Percival Wilde
Fantasy
24
were invaluable in helping with stage sets#
One performance
(March, 1921) was held up several weeks because of the lack o
of funds to build a stage#
The playhouse was of a size to establish the sense of
close sympathy between the players and the audience which
greatly enhanced the value of the production from the artis­
tic point of view.
Since the theatre was limited to two hun­
dred in seating capacity, it was always necessary to run a
play three or four nights at least in order to serve all of
the audience•.
Original plays.
The Players Club did a good deal with
experimental and original plays.
May 10, 1921, opened the
first night!s performance of Austin Adamsfs satiric comedy,
"The Double Gross.”
The characters in this play were all
types of what is sometimes called *ifche Smart Set,? and the set­
ting or background is in Coronado, California.
There is ade­
quate "local illusion” in the play, but so far as the plot and
characters were concerned, it would apply to any place where
the "leisure class” foregather to while away ennui and to make
merry over the follies and foibles of their friends and often­
times even of their acquaintances.
Appreciation. Mr. Clough said of the San Diego Players,
I have found in the San Diego Players* Club and its
associate membership an exceptionally earnest endeavor
to accomplish something really worth while in dramatic
25
TABLE IIITHE YORICK PLAYERS
SEASON 1921-1922
PLAY
AUTHOR
TYPE
WhO Knows?
Austin Adams
Comedy
Jane Clegg
St. John Irvine
Comedy
The Worm
Austin Adams
Comedy
Lady•Hamilton
Mrs. Norman Smith,
Comedy
Wife of Comdr. Smith
26
expression, I am convinced that these young people and
their friends are destined to give this city an asset of
art superior in value to much that has been attempted
heretofore in similar direction, This conviction is baseed largely on the circumstance that the Players have crea­
ted what they now possess solely by their own effort,
They have received nothing tangible from outside sources,
and only such encouragement as came from those who know
the drama, love it, and can appreciate the worth of the
work that is being done by t£is group'of actors. Under
the guidance and direction of Francis P. Buckley, ably
assisted by Jeanette Cyr, William L. Hubbard, and Prank
C. Spaulding, the acting organization has brought the In­
timate Theatre in Balboa Park up to the best standard of
the little theatres of the United States.
The versatility of the Players was exemplified in the
wide range of their offerings during
the years of their or­
ganization, exclusive of tragedy, farce and comedy in every
essay of which they had merited professional criticism--an
achievement always worthy of the highest effort of the best
non-professional players.
An open air performance.
Arrangements were made with
the park board for the use of the Montezuma gardens, located
Just in the rear of the pansy garden in Balboa park.
The
site was ideal for the open air production of Stephen Phillips1
"Paolo and Francesca.11 A pergola at the west end of the gar­
dens formed the background of a natural stage.
The lawn
sloped gently away from the stage and formed an auditorium
capable of seating two thousand people.
On The Margin in The San Biego Union, June 25, 1921.
27
TABLE IV
THE YORICK PLAYERS
SEASON 1922-1923
PLAY
AUTHOR
TYPE
Paolo and Prancesca
Stephen Phillip
Tragedy
And Then What?
William Connselman
Original
Satire
Three Operalogues
I Pagliacci and Anima Allegra
Lie Toten Augen
Haensel And Oretel
Alice-Sit-By-The-Eire
Barrie
Comedy
28
”Paolo and Prance sea" was generally reported to be the
best example of Phillips1 art.
It was first produced by Sir
Beerbohm in London, and was later given successfully in New
York.
Difficulties*
About this time the auditorium associa­
tion drew up a rate schedule for rooms in the Sacramento
building.
The Intimate Theatre, occuping one of the wings of
the auditorium, shoiila provide a revenue, it was decided, and
a tentative rate was fixed.
This rate, the players contended,
would mean financial ruin or the virtual abandonment of the
building by the company.
The rate tentatively given out for the theatre was
twenty dollars a day, or thirty-five dollars for two days5
each additional day would be charged for at the rate of fifteen
dollars a day.
The theatre seated about two hundred persons
and the revenues were slight.
It was contended that the building, under the terms of
the grant, was for all people, and should not be monopolized
by one group, a practice which would be contrary to the policy.
It was decided that the arbitration board should settle
the future of the theatre in the Sacramento building.
This
edifice was later t o m down and at the present time the Pine
Arts Gallery stands on the former site.
A move.
nWho Knows?” an amusing comedy written by the
29
TABLE V
THE YORICK PLAYERS
SEASON 1923-1924
PLAY
AUTHOR
Agnes
Austin Adams
The Boomerang
Winchell Smith
Victor Mapes
To The Ladles
Grandma1s Legs
TYPE
Satire
Comedy
Kaufman
Connelly
Comedy
Austin Adams
Comedy
30
same author as ”The Double Gross” mentioned above, was given
downtown at the Spreckels Theatre since the wing in the Sac­
ramento building was no longer available.
The money, nine
hundred dollars, made from a benefit was given to Dr. Adams
to finance a trip to 13ew York to see about getting his plays
on Broadway.
The Little Theatre had been successful in generalizing
the art of the theatre, and in special instances it had sur­
passed the product of the professional stage because it. had
attacked its problem in a spirit of love for the drama rather
than with a view to the profit of the enterprises.
The Little
Theatre had, as a rule, substituted brains for money and co8peration for commercial organization.
It had sought for and
encouraged stage ability aside from the ranks of the acting
profession and it had found this ability in every walk of life.
The Little Theatre must have an intelligent conception of
dramatic expression both in theory and practice, which requires
but small training to raise it to the level of the require­
ments.
Apart from the habitual facility of tjie actor1s rou^ .
tine, characterization, impersonation and exposition are as
readily adaptable to all phases of action as the best average
of the professional stage.
Aid to drarfta.
The San Diego Players’ design was to
help San Diego to procure such drama as might be desirable in
addition to that which was furnished by the professional shows
31
TABLE VI
THE YORICK PLAYERS
SEASOU 1924-1925
PLAY
AUTHOR
TYPE
Just Suppose
A.E. Thomas
Comedy
Dulcy
G-eorge S. Kaufman
Comedy
Marc Connelly
A Single Man
H.H. Davies
Comedy
Icebound
Owen Davis
Drama
Alice In Wonderland
Emma Lindsay Squier
Pantasy
Midsummer Right1s Dream
Shakespeare
Eantasy
32
that came to San Diego.
ther than competitive.
The players were complimentary ra­
They gave only that which could not
be given otherwise and it was always the best.
The aim was
to duplicate the work of the Provincetown Players and the
finished product of the Guild Theatre and other exemplars of
the Little Theatre movement.
Prom late in the year of nineteen hundred and twentyone until the fall of nineteen twenty-two the San Diego Play­
ers put on all productions downtown at the Spreckels Theatre.
The active members felt a definite handicap in the use of
this building since it was necessary to rehearse any place
that was available and for the final productions the sets had
to be taken down each night after the performance in order
that the building could be used for other purposes.
However
as the Players enjoyed a much larger seating capacity in the
Spreckels, as a rule the proceeds taken in were larger.
The
group was doing its best to save a little money ahead in order
to fully equip „a permanent home when such a location could be
found.
A new location.
It was in the year 1923 that the San
Diego Players secured the rights to use as a permanent home a
room in the Civic Auditorium at Balboa park which had formerly
been used as a room to show agricultural movies during the
1915 Exposition.
34
Members immediately went to ’
work getting the room
ready for use of the little Theatre.
The Players put one hun­
dred and eighty dollars of hard-earned money into lighting
equipment.
Everyone devoted as much time as he or she could
possibly in an effort to save money on the labor.
One perform­
ance was give2i to the public in this location before difficul­
ties began to arise.
hew troubles.
Because of the antagonistic attitude of
two members o-f the Civic Center, the Players were not to have
exclusive control of the theatre, and the stage and paraphenalia was to be at the disposal of the larger organization when­
ever anybody was willing to pay thirty-five dollars a night
for the use of the auditorium and its theatrical accessories*
Nothing was said regarding any remuneration to the Players.
This situation was impossible to the Players because an Inti­
mate Theatre is not a Community Theatre, and because- the San
Diego Players could have nothing in common with the objects of
t^Le Civic Center in dedicating the Southern Counties buildings
to the public for hire*
This situation was in no wise deroga­
tory of the purposes of the Civic Center.
Those purposes were
very noble; but on intimate inspection they did not fit in with
the purposes of the intimate Theatre, which were artistic ra­
ther than philanthropic, and special rather than general*
Therefore, the Players had to move again.
It was only a short
while until the Civic Auditorium fell victim to flames caused
by the ignition of decorations the night the San Diego Firemen
33
TABLE VII
THE YORICK PLAYERS
SEASON 1925-1926
PLAY
AUTHOR
TYPE
Mary, The Third
RaehelECrothers
Drama
Hellbent Por Heaven
Hatcher Hughes
Drama
Sun Up
Lulu Vollmer
Drama
Tea Por Three
Roi Cooper Megrue
Comedy
Aren't Y/e All
Prederick Lonsdale
Comedy
Paolo And Francesca
Stephen Phillip
Tragedy
Upstairs And Down
Prederic and Fanny
Comedy
Hatton
Little Y/omen
L.M. Alcott
Drama
Dead Eyes
Hanns Ewers and
Poetic
Mare Henry
Drama
Yon And I
Barrie
Comedy
The Dover Road
A. A. Milne
Drama
35
were to hold a Grand Ball in the main auditorium.
in order
to continue productions the Players went back to giving their
presentations in the downtown Spreckels Theatre until a truly
permanent home could be secured.
II.
A
A PERMANENT HOME
true home. The authorities were assigning the Exposi­
tion Buildings to groups that would care for their upkeep.
The United States Fisheries was destined to be torn down for
the huge tanks underneath seemed worthless for other uses.
Mr. Buckley and Mr. Frank Spaulding who was a vice-president
of a local bank, joined with others in securing rights to the
Fisheries Building.
A certain number of coworkers and admir­
ers were induced to give promissory notes of fifty dollars
each--there were one hundred--which pledge was deposited with
the bank and served as a fund for the remodeling of the build­
ing.
The work.
A cement, sloping floor was put in over the
tanks and a stage was built and seats were installed.
The
stage was little other than a proscenium, a floor, and some
four feet of space above the proscenium tip where lights were
hung and a few pulleys installed.
and strip lights.
There were also footlights
On either side there was not over ten or
fifteen feet of space and a more inconvenient spot for produc­
ing dramas could scarce be imagined.
And yet such was the
36
TABLE VIII
THE YORICK PLAYERS
SEASOH 1926-1927
PLAY
AUTHOR
Her Daughter1s Mother
Margaret Penney
Belinda
A.A. Milne
TYPE
Two One-Acts
The Valiant
Halworthy Hall
Robert Middlemass
The Drums of Oude
Austin Strong
Anything To Oblige
Austin Adams
Comedy
The Love of Three Kings
Sam Benelli
Operalogu©'
Tragedy
Two One-Acts
Lackeys Of The Moon
Mary Cass Canfield
The Man Who Married
Anatole Prance
Farce
Gilbert Emery
Drama
A Dumb Wife
Tarnish
37
spirit, the enthusiasm, and the cooperative functioning
of the members of the group that performances of incredible
size and rell merit were achieved.
There could never have existed anywhere a group so
sincere, so unselfish, so geniune in devotion to the work
in hand as the Yorick Players. Certainly there could nev­
er be a group more splendidly endowed with these essen­
tials .H
Yorick passes. Mr. Ddwin Clough, who wrote the editor­
ial, f,0n the Margin” signed Yorick every Saturday in the San
Diego Union and The Tribune, contributed much in the way of
encouragement to the Intimate Theatre,
original organization.
He was a member of the
Mr. Clough never received one cent of
extra pay for this huge extra work, but wrote just for the
sheer love of writing and for the outlet it afforded him for
expressing his thoughts on all sorts of subjects.
It was as
brillant newspaper work as could be found throughout the leng­
th and breadth of the land.
He was deeply interested in drama
and the Little Theatre appealed to him.
The Clough home on
Ivy Street was always ciipen to gatherings for talks by the fire­
side after the Little Theatre rehearsals.
His death, January
thirteenth, in nineteen hundred twenty-three was a great shock
to all who knew him.
Change of name.
It was shortly after the opening of the
nineteen hundred twenty-three to nineteen hundred twenty-four
season after tjie sudden call to Yorick had struck the pen from
11
An unpublished letter, v/. Hubbard, Appendix, p. 85*
39
sentation, but would not be accorded a hearing in the com­
mercial theatrical world*
Active members *
'The personnel of the organization
was composed of business people and others of the community
who wished to make the encoiiragement and presentation of plays
their recreation and hobby*
The Yorick was incorporated,
October 14, 1927 since' it was managed on a no profit basis to
anyone •
Readings.
There were many successes of the eastern
stage-which San Diego patrons would have liked to see the Yor­
ick Players produce, but it was not often practicable to do so,
because of either prohibitive royalties, or limitations of
cast or scenic production.
These were the plays that were
read on the "play re-ading nights” which were open to the public
interested in drama*
The plays were not merely read, however,
by one person, and commented on by others, but the parts were
assigned as thoiigh it were to be produced, and the lines read
as though for rehearsal.
was found in this manner*
Much hidden talent among San Diegans
Such plays as Paul Green’s "In Abra­
ham’s Bosom”, Philip Dunning and George Abbott’s "Broadway,”
,fA Constant Rife” by Somerset Maughan, "The King’s Henchman” by,.
Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Overtones” by Alice Gerstenberg, "X
Equals Hothing" by John Drinkwater, Robert Sherwood’s "The Road
To Rome,” "Escape” by John Galsworthy, "Marco’s Millions” by
Eugene O ’Heill, "Rea Me Cobb’s Daughter” by Sidney Howard*
40
Change of Director*
It was in the latter part of the
year nineteen hundred twenty-five that the director, Prancis
Buckleyfs business duties became heavier and it became impera­
tive. that someone relieve him of his task,
William Hubbard
w as'asked to take over the directorship and he consented.
It
was then decided that the performances should occur at fixed
intervals and thus subscriptions for the season could be taken
rather than depending on an uncertain and irregular income.
It
was planned to have a production a month from October through
June, three or more performances t o ’be given and. the dates to
be the first Thursday, Priday and Saturday in each month.
was adhered, to for the next two seasons.
This
In March nineteen
hundred twenty-eight the Building Authorities shut their eyes
no longer to the conditions under which productions were being
given, posted, a "Closed” sign on the d.oor, and ended activities
in the Yorick.
The building was later taken over by the Cana­
dian Legion,
As the production "Outward Bound” was ready for presenta­
tion when the Yorick was closed, the Roosevelt School auditori­
um was used for the production.
presented, there.
Gilbert1s "Engaged” was also
Then the Yorick Players took the Wednesday
Clubhouse and there finished the season and the obligations to
the subscribers by giving "Michael Earle or The Manian’s bride”
in most approved "melodrammer" manner and also a program of
three one-act plays.
41
TABLE IX
THE YORICK PLAYERS
SEASOH 1927-1928
PLAY
AUTHOR
TYPE
Outward Bound
Sutton Vane
Comedy
Engaged
U.S. Gilbert
Comedy
The Whiteheaded Boy
Lennox Robinson
Comedy
Lennox Robinson
Comedy
Three One-Acts
Two G-entlemen Of Soho
The Bruins Of Oude
The Valiant
Michael Earle Or The Manian’s Bride
Melodrama
Lilies Of The Pield
The Circle
Somerset Maughan
Drama
Paolo And Erancesca
Stephen Phillips
Tragedy
42
Thus ended the Yorick, save that the bank or its
representatives insisted on the givers of the promissory
notes "making good" and the whole joyous undertaking ended in
a haze of unpleasantness•
Summary.
The Yorick Players were non-professional
actors, but they were not what is called the "amateur" class*
They understood the meaning and purpose of the art which they
presented,land by careful selection and assiduous application,
thej adapted themselves to the letter and spirit of the charac­
ters in which they appeared.
The merit of their work was in
the close adaptability to the personality and disposition of
the actors; there was therefore, nothing haphazard in their
personations, nor was the rendition marred by the defects al­
most inevitable in the routine, habitual, and oftentimes per­
functory performances of the professional stage.
CHAPTER IV
THE BARU PLAYERS
I.
EOUDDIHG- OE THE BARIT PLAYERS
It was evident in the third chapter that the lack of
a satisfactory auditorium in which to give the performances
was the chief obstacle the Yorick Players encountered. How
the story of the second. Little Theatre to be launched in the
city of San Diego will be told.
The founding.
The San Diego Barn Players was founded
by Mrs. J. William Eisher who, in the fall of 1933 as chair­
man of the Drama section of the San Diego University Womenfs
Club, a branch of the American association of University Wo­
men, used the eighty-five dollars in the Drama section trea­
sury to pay the first month1s rent— seventy-five dollars--on
an old. family mansion.
The ten dollars remaining was used in
clearing up the bam.
Eor quite a few years--since 1923--a small group of
drama lovers, drawn together through friendship and congenia­
lity of tastes, had been reading plays for their literary
value.
Therefore it was not difficult to get working members
together.
Thus the second Little Theatre in San Diego was
begun.
By a strange coincidence, whereby an automobile took
44
the lives of Mr. and Mrs. D.F. Garrettson as they were re­
turning from San Francisco to observe their fiftieth wedding
anniversary, their family mansion with large grounds and
modernized b a m capable of housing fourteen cars, had been
unoccupied for some time.
The heirs could not use it; so the
Chairman of the Drama section of the University Women* s Club
paid the first month*s rent from the treasury.
The plan.
The rent
five dollars a month.
of the entire property was seventy
Thehouse, consisting of ten bedrooms,
large parlors and a full-sized cellar, was partially furnish­
ed.
The chairman.consulted with her secretary and with a
dramatic teacher, Mrs. Dwight Earl Easley, a graduate of .the
Dew York Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Would the .secretary help
run the house if it could be filled with lodgers who would be
agreeable to the idea of a Little Theatre in their backyard,
and would Mrs. Easley be an unpaid supervising director to
have direction over whatever might be worked out in the barn?
They would and they did.
The Town Club. But
Little
like.
Theatre or payrent,
just the lodgers would not equip a
gas, lights, water, heat, and the
And so the "Town Club" was created.
Faithful friends
and supporters of culture responded with an initiation fee of
five dollars and five dollars a year.
45
TABLE X
THE BARIT PLAYERS
SEASON 1933-1934
PLAY
AUTHOR
TYPE
Three One-Acts
The Patal Quest
On The Lot
Rival'Peach Tre es
Young Idea
Noel Coward
Children Of The Moon
Martin Flavin
Drama
Melodrama
The Drunkard
A Murder Has Been Arranged
Emlyn Williams
A Night Off
Augustin Daly
You And I
Phillip Barry
Comedy
46
Miss Lucille Spinney, a former professional actress
from Boston, took up residence as chaperone and manager.
Thus the Town Club paid the rent for the whole property and
furnished an intimate haven for teas, lectures, and luncheons,
art exhibits, occasional dinners and housed twelve roomers,
which kept the rent and utilities paid for all the property
the first year.
Mr. David Young, a Pasadena Playhouse graduate, came
to the first meeting, offered his services as associate direc­
tor, in which capacity he served throughout the lifetime of
the Barn in the front Street location.
The name.
The Barn was first called the Workshop
Theatre” for a short while but it soon became known as the "Barn."
Bebuilding.
immediately.
The Building Inspector condemned the "Barn”
Finally by sawing doors on all four sides the
building passed specifications.
The electrical wiring was
carefully put in by an electrician, but the members did all the
other work.
The first nightTs public performance found the
sign "Condemned" all over the theatre proper.
It was announced
that the sign was not intended as an advertisement for the next
show.
Bothing further was said concerning the sign and it was
down by the time of the next performance.
At first as the stage was only two feet high, the audi­
ence sat on rugs strewn over the cement floor.
1933, an invitation for donations was sent out.
In October,
A motley set
47
TABLE XI
THE BARB PLAYERS
SEASOH 1934-1935
PLAY
June Moon
AUTHOR
Ring Lardner
TYPE
Comedy
G-eorge Kaufman
Wings Over Europe
Robert Nichols
Maurice Browne
What Might Happen
H.E. Maltby
Outward Bound
Sutton Vane
Gandelight
P.O. Wodehouse
Candida
Parce
Comedy
48
of* props was received, and also the price of a stage floor.
On Hallowe’en of this same year the members gave a carnival
to raise money.
Membership,
The Barn had eighty active members and
many more than that number of associate members.
The active
members included not only the actors but those who contributed
time, labor or material for scenery, lighting or costumes.
Admission to the plays was by membership card only.
The members met every Monday evening, and one-act plays
were the course of action.
Anyone interested in Little Thea­
tre was welcome.
The first production.
November 9, 1933 nThe Rival Peach
Trees,” a fantasy, was the first play offered by this group.
The other two one-act plays which were presented the same eve­
ning were nThe Ratal Quest” and ”0n the Lot.”
The first three-act play was Noel Coward’s MYoung Idea”
presented on January 13, 1934*
ly and appreciative.
The press notices were friend­
Mrs. Constance Herreshoff, the reviewer
said, ”As the Barn has a leaning to cracks and large doors
open to the weather, seating conditions were chilly.
and hands grew warmer as the pla$ proceeded.
But hearts
Hot coffee, served
in the patio during the second intermission, helped fortify the
morale.
It is pleasant,” she continues, ”to see the Garrettson’s
iron stag still standing in the shrubbery censoring those who
pass his preserves on the way down the carriage drive.”
49
TABLE XII
THE BARN PLAYERS
SEASON 1935-1936
PLAY
AUTHOR
There!s Always Juliet
John Van Druten
Bill Of Divorcement
0lenience Dane
Engaged
W.S. Gilbert
Cock Robin
Elmer Rice
Philip Barry
Tomboy
The Devil Passes
Benn W. Levy
The Shining Hour
Keith Winter
The Wild Westcotts
Anne Morrison
Manaechmi
TYPE
Comedy
50
MChildren of the Moon” a drama by Martin flavin fol­
lowed.
The next offering was the presentation for the first
time in San Diego of ,?The Drunkard.” This play was offered
Eriday, March 23, 1934.
The play could have run on more
than its allotted three days.
It was shown in several places.
The summer of 1934. In the summer Oora Mel Patten, of
Los Angeles, took a room at the Town Club and conducted clas­
ses in verse choir.
Many members of the Barn joined and at
the close of her course an interesting recital was given.
The idea of the Barn.
The management of the organiza­
tion was in the hands of an executive committee composed of
the business manager, production chairman, one-act director,
supervising director, secretary, treasurer, and several mem­
bers at large with the chairman and the governing board.
The
latter body had control of the organization.
The "Barn" had one idea in mind and that was
to give a
play every month which was directed by an associate player,
for instance, Arthur Wilmurt, who had had a great deal of pro­
fessional experience as a translator of foreign plays, would
give his whole attention to the three-act play in progress.
After two weeks of rehearsal, he would ask the Supervising
Director, Mrs. Easley to come to rehearsal.
The Stage Manager
would be called into conference this early in the production
thus insuring a good performance.
The Executive Committee met every week.
This committee
50
included the Business Manager, the Stage Manager, the Super­
vising Director, the House member, the Publicity Man, and the
Property Man of the current production.
This arrangement en­
abled any problem involving the coming play to be met every
we eh.
i
The one-act plays which were done once a week gave an
opportunity to actors who wished to try for major productions.
failures. Mrs. Easley reported two distinct failures
in the way of productions during the life of the Barn.
The
first was nManaechmi,f a burlesque which was poorly done.
No­
body liked it. *The second was "Springtime for Henry" given
as an opening number of the 1935-1937 season.
It was too
shocking to the audience and did not meet approval.
Successes.
The three outstanding successes of the Barn
were "Bill of Divorcement" presented in the 1935-1935 season
as well as "Wings Over Europe" and "June Monn" of the 19341935 season.
Difficulties encountered.
The Barn had a group of ac­
tors who had had much previous experience.
The temptation was
to use them since the public had to be considered.
In the be­
ginning of the organization, before the one-act plays were
arranged, people would join the group with the idea of playing.
The director
felt that each one had to have a chance, but the
52
fact that the play had ten characters with fifty persons
wanting to play it did complicate matters.
gg it was deter-
mined that a new member had to play in a one-act play before
being eligible to play in a major production.
There was a
certain amount of criticism that there was too much favoritism
among the group.
jealousy,
There was also a great deal of professional
finally Mrs. Easley made the statement at a rehear­
sal, MWe are making ho apologies for our casting of this play.
We are going to sell tickets. We are going to present this
play to an audience.
Therefore beginning with this play our
method of casting is thus with no explanation or apology.
shall choose the best person to act the part.
We
We are going to
give try-outs if there are two or three persons that seem fit'-V
ted for the same part.
manner.”
And from now on we are casting in this :
This episode came about in the second year of the
BarnTs existence.
An appeal.
August 11, 1936 an appeal, in letter form,
was made to Mr. Julius Wangenheim, in the allotment of a build­
ing for theatrical purposes in Balboa park because the owners
of the Garrett son home, where the B a m was located, had an ur­
gent desire to sell the property, and because of the high cost
of royalties for good plays, it was necessary to have a loca­
tion with more seating capacity than the one hundred twenty
seats which the B a m afforded.
In the fall of 1936 the Garrettson house and b a m were
53
TABLE XIII
THE BARE PLAYERS
SEASON 1936-1937
PLAY
AUTHOR
Springtime Eor Henry
Benn W. Levy
Behold This Dreamer
Pulton Oursler
TYPE
Aubrey Kennedy
What Might Happen
H.P. Maltby
Pygalion And G-alatea
W.S. Gilbert
Ten Minute Alibi
Anthony Armstrong
Murray Hill
Leslie Howard
Parce
54
sold to ¥. .F. Wilmurt, who had been the technical director
and one of the operators of the Barn,
It was necessary.for
the Barn Players to find other quarters at once since there
were several plays left to be done to complete the season.
And so an appeal was sent to the Committee for the al­
location of the Exposition Buildings, Mir. Julius Wangenheim
for a special permit to use the theatre known as The Puppet
or The Hollywood Theatre for one year.
About this same time Mrs. Mary Belcher Trapnell start­
ed a drive to restore the Old Globe Theatre building in Bal­
boa park.
Her committee was called the San Diego Community
Theatre and started the work in November of 1936 to raise the
sum of $7,500.
Mrs. Trapnell and the campaign committee rais­
ed enough so that it was deemed feasible with the aid of the
Works Progress Administration to start the restoration of the
building.
Breaking up . Mr. Dave Young, the Barnfs Production
Chairman, became a member of the Globe Theatre Board. Many of
the Barn Players eagerly joined the Globe Theatre group and
went so far as to obtain a truck and haul all the properties
and belongings of the group to the Exposition Building.
But
as the disposition of the properties by the terms of the by­
laws were all vested under the control of the chairman of the
Town Club, it was possible to recover them.
At the time of
the last meeting of the B a m Players at the Barn, the Supervi-
55
ing Director, Mrs, D.E. Easley had resigned her position
with the group,
A revival
attempted.
When the Governing Board of the
Down Club decided that an obligation to the membership for a
season that had always carried on until June should he fulfill­
ed, the Barn properties were moved to a new location in Old
Town.
The yellow sign from tjie Building Inspector prohibited
the use of the building for any kind of assembly purposes.
So with the assistance of the drama students at San Diego
State College, interesting one-act plays completed the season
through June.
The last remnants of the Barn Players finally
y^ent into disintegration.
Summary.
The past chapter tells the story of a little
Theatre group Y/ho never worked for the same goal; thus the unity of the entire group crumbled to pieces upon the change of
the location of the auditorium and meeting-place.
CHAPTER Y
THE GLOBE THEATRE
I.
THE OLD' GLOBE
The preceding chapter tells the story of the assimila­
tion of the B a m Players into the Globe Theatre mainly be­
cause there was too much dissension among the members.
How
the story of this undertaking wull be traced.
The first step.
In order to assure the future of the
Old Globe Theatre in Balboa park, 07,500 had to be raised.
All of the English buildings that had attracted lovers of the
Shakespearian drama during the two seasons of the San Biego
Exposition would be saved.
Otherwise the wrecking company
would take over.
The campaign to raise the funds necessary to fireproof
the Old Globe was put' in the hands of a committee which hoped
to make the structure the center of community theatrical acti­
vities in November of 1936.
The Committee estimated between two hundred and three
hundred San Diegans were actively interested in various Lit­
tle Theatre movements.
Pew of the groups had satisfactory
quarters and considerable interest had been shown in the Old
Globe since the Exposition closed.
But the cost of making
the structure fireproof had stood in the way of any definite
57
action prior to this time.
It was the purpose of the committee upon raising the
necessary funds, to organize the San Diego Community Players.
It would welcome membership from those who belonged to any
of the other groups, the only purpose of the new organisation
being to create one that would be responsible for the future
of the building.
Inasmuch as none of the existing groups
had been able to handle the proposition alone, it was deemed
wiser to organize a new one, the membership to be composed of
a representative section of those interested in community thea­
trical activities.
The Committee was so confident of suedess in raising
the necessary funds that it obtained an option upon the old
Falstaff lavern and the English Curio Shop, next to the thea­
tre, itself, which would be used as -work rooms.
Facilities for
scenery and costume making would be provided in connection
with the theatre itself.
The drive was expected to end in December after which
the Community Players was to be organized and a date set for
the first presentation, which would follow the completion of
the fireproofing work.
Calls would be issued for tryouts for
each play, thus enabling all those with talent and ambition to
participate.
The aim of the Players would be to encourage
not only talent in dramatics, but also those who desired to
write.
58
TABLE XEV
THE GLOBE THEATRE
SEASOH 1937-1958
PLAY
AUTHOR
TYPE
The Distaff Side
John Van Druten
Comedy
Small Miracle
Horma Krasna
Melodrama
Comedy
Her Master’s Voice
Once In A Lifetime
George S. Kaufman
Comedy
Moss Hart
Holiday
Phillip Barry
Comedy
Kind Lady
Edward Chadorav
Mystery
Dear Bratus
James Barrie
fantasy
Hedda Gabler
Ibsen
Character
The Merry Wives Of Windsor
Shakespeare
Comedy
The Gambler
Drama
59
The campaign for funds was in the form of requests
for outright subscriptions.
After the Players group was for­
med, low annual dues would be assessed to defray expenses of
operation.
The Community Players will not seek to duplicate
efforts of any other amateur dramatic group in the county,
but instead, will endeaver to draw from all groups the
finest talent available and organize a company for the
staging of drama that will make San Diego unique in the
country.
Thus said William Hubbard, art and dramatic critic,
and one time director of the earlier Yorick Players.
History of the Old Globe♦
The Old G-lobe Theatre, lo­
cated just back of the exquisite California Tower in Balboa
park, is a replica of the original Shakespearean theatre in
London.
In the remodeling it was made to accomodate many
types of dramatics,, it has nearly perfect acoustics, a capa­
city of 450 cushioned seats, modern ventilation, circulating
heating, complete house and backstage lighting and box office
facilities.
Its deep stage apron is ideal for presenting mu­
sicians, speakers, and specialty numbers.
The Old G-lobe was built for temporary use during the
1935 Exposition held in Balboa park.
A group of professional
players from Chicago put performances on there during the time
of the Exposition.
It was built in Shakespearean style with
Palstaff!s Tavern on one side and the English Curio Shop on
60
the other.
At the close of the Exposition all such tempora­
ry buildings were sold to a wrecking corporation when the
drive for restorement was under way.
With a total of §10,000
by popular subscription which bought the materials and a Works
Progress Administration grant of another §10,000 which supplied
tne workmen, the Old Globe theatre was brought to comply with
city ordinances in regard to Little Theatres.
The Old Globe Theatre enjoys a central location in Bal­
boa park with sufficient parking space for performance nights.
II.
THE GLOBE THEATRE OP TODAY
Theatre finance.
The Globe Theatre is owned by the
city; however, all upkeep on the building such as roofing,
plumbing, et cetera is the responsibility of the San Diego
Players.
The current Executive Director, Betty Crates Dennis,
is hired on a percentage basis.
She is selected to assist in
the promotion of the theatre as a whole, including publicity,
but as the Executive Director is at all times direct^ respon­
sible to the Board of Directors.
The Board of Directors are
in turn elected by the actual members.
The San Diego Players build all of their own sets and
each play is budgeted to a certain amount, approximately three
hundred dollars.
Should one play be underestimated as to cost,
the deficit has to be met in the next production.
The finan-
61
cial statements of the present group does not show many dol­
lars in the treasury, but the group is not in debt.
Costumes for the productions are made in the Old Cur­
iosity Shop by active members who have an inclination in that
direction.
Properties.
This group has been most fortunate in so
far as properties go since the Fine Arts G-allery is close by
and most cooperative about lending, period furniture and other
properties which are generally almost impossible to secure for
stage use.
Membership.
The San Diego Community Theatre has no
subscription or support other than the two types of member­
ship- -active and associate*
The dues are two dollars a year
for active members which membership is limited to two hundred
persons seriously interested in drama production as a hobby
or to prepare for professional training.
There are several
types of associate memberships including: Honorary, $50 or
more per year; Sustaining, #25 or more a year; Season, $6 per
year.
This group is incorporated in the state as a non-profit,
educational organization.
The Workshop Theatre.
Monday night.
This group meets regularly every
Anyone coming into the group is on a probation­
ary basis for a period of six months and cannot appear in' a
major production until proving his merit.
In this meeting one-
62
TABLE XV
THE GLOBE THEATRE
SEASON 1938-1939
PLAY
AUTHOR
TYPE
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Shakespeare
Fantasy
Three Men On A Horse
John C. Hohm
Comedy
George Abbott
Heartbreak House
Bernard Shaw
Drama
The Taming OP The Shrew
Shakespeare
Comedy
A Christmas Carol
Dickens
Drama
Rain
John Colton
Drama
Clemence Randolph
Woman Without Armor
Luther Kennett
Histori
The Petrified Forest
Robert Sherwood
Comedy
Twelfth Right
Shakespeare
Private Lives
Roel Coward
Comedy
act plays are presented and used to develop each individual
in the particular field in which he is adept.
Educational Extension. Morita Treganza is the work­
shop supervisor.
Since she is authorized to teach in this
state, credit for high school or college work may he obtained
under the State Adult Educational Department*
The proposed classes in diction were definitely not
successful.
There has been no further attempt with this kind
of class since 1939*
ChildrenTs Theatre♦
The first year with Betty Crates
Dennis in the post of Executive Director saw the production
of the Hew York Children's Theatre plays, "Rip Van Winkle,"
"Under the Lilacs," and "Aladdin and His Lamp."
These plays
were moderately well received by the public of San Diego.
During the current season (1940-1941) no such attempt was
made in the field of children’s theatre because the Junior
Women’s League put child drama as one of their two objectives.
Therefore the Board of Directors agreed it was best to drop
work in this department, at least for the present.
Repertoire.
It was planned to have eight major produc­
tions, starting in mid-October, during each season.
Outstand­
ing guest directors, from out-of-town as well as local, have
been invited to direct these plays.
It is planned that the re­
pertoire of each season will include comedies of tested laugh
TABLE XVI
THE GLOBE THEATRE
SEASON 1939-1940
PLAY
AUTHOR
The Late Christopher Bean
Sidney Howard
The Shining Hour
Keith Winter
A World Elsewhere
Lynn Riggs
Whispering Walls
Wall Spence
The Ivlad Hopes
Romney Brent
The Firebrand
Edwin Justus Mayer
( TYPE
Drama
Comedy
65
value, one mystery play, possibly two Shakespearean comedies,
some immortal old favorites whose appeal and dramatic quali­
ties have survived a quarter of acentury, as
well as one ori­
ginal play if such a play becomes available.
It will be no­
ticed from the tables included in this study that this policy
has been adhered to rather closely throughout the lifetime of
the Globe Theatre.
Original Plays*
The Globe has only presented two plays
of an experimental nature.
The first one was written by Lynn
Riggs of La Jolla, California; it was called MA World Else­
where" and was presented in April of 1940.
The second one was written by Luther Kennett, former
executive director of the Globe Theatre (1936-1938), now di­
rector of the Dine 0 fClock Players in Los Angeles.
He is a
graduate of the Yale Dramatic School; his home is in Coronado
He and George Ewing collaborated, in writing the play, ’’Pull
Circle," presented November, 1940.
Press notices of the San
Diego Union and The Tribune said it was "tense, moving, and .'
frank in its portrayal of the loves and hatreds of a family
of the nineties."
Difficulties.
Since the Globe Theatre started opera­
tions under very favorable conditions with a modem, up-todate building given them as a permanent playhouse, and a work­
ing fund of several thousand dollars to begin work, it should
have had few difficulties.
The first year was wonderful with
66
a large list of members, but by the second season when the
novelty had worn off for those who were not habitual Little
Theatre supporters the list of members grew smaller than was
anticipated.
The beginning of the season of 1938-1939;found
the group in debt several hundred dollars.
That year was a
year of struggle, but, after a strict budget.was worked out
and supported, slowly the funds bjegan to accumulate.
By the
fall of 1939 with the production of rfThe Drunkard," the group
was out of financial trouble.
Since that time the sum of
three hundred dollars per production is strictly followed at
all times and the financial status is good.
Other uses of the Theatre.
In 1939 a Steinway grand
piano was bought from the proceeds of a benefit given by Lyle
Barbour an artist who had given concerts in Belgium, London,
France and Hew YorkTs Town Hall.
The Board of Directors welcomes applications by musi-'
cians, teachers, and cultural groups to rent the Theatre for
legitimate non-commercial purposes.
Future of The (Globe Theatre.
The group of Little Thea­
tre workers has an organized theatre with a clear program, not
only of plays, but of policy, including the practical as well
as visionary goals.
The G-lobe Theatre appears to have a defi­
nite future as a cultural centre in the city of San Diego.
The
Little Theatre is something,unique--something people cannot get
67
TABLE XVII
THE G-LOBE THEATRE
SEASON 1940-1941
PLAY
AUTHOR
Yes, My Barling Laughter
Mark Reed
Full Circle
Luther Kennett
TYPE
Drama
George Ewing
Here Today
George Oppenheimer
Comedy
Margin For Error
Claire Booth
Comedy
George And Margaret
Gerald Savory
Cherry Orchard
Checkov
Our Town
Thornton Wilder
68
any place.
San Diego is indeed fortunate in having many re­
tired people to support such a Little Theatre movement.
The San Diego Community Players aim at having a per­
fectly equipped building, but above all they aim at produc­
ing the best possible plays.
Summary.
In the above chapter the final act of the
Little Theatre drama of San Diego was unfolded.
The two
earlier groups suffered various handicaps which The G-lobe
Theatre was never allowed to endure.
Thus The Globe Theatre
which is located in a beautiful site has everything to look
for in the future.
OHJIPTER VI
CONCLUSIONS
I.
THE SUMMARY
The history of* the Little Theatre movement in San
Diego proves rather conclusively that there is a definite
place within the community since the movement has had a slow­
ly burning interest dating from the fall of 1919 when the
first organisation took place until the present date with no
sign of the interest diminishing.
The outcome.
The relationship between art and commu­
nity life is noticeably in the process of change.
In the
busy days of our industrial work, people are too likely to
think of art--and specifically of the theatre as entertain­
ment, wit^L no essential tie to, or value for, organised so­
ciety.
Gradually the theatre is coming to be recognized as
a medium for the collective expression of community life and
hopes, the mirror of political and social problems, as well
as the home of community entertainment.
nImagination in re­
creation" can be used as a motto for the Little Theatre and
that, or its equivalent, will ever ring loud in the public
utterances of educators, civic leaders and legislators, back­
ed by the demand of a people asking for regeneration through
their leisure.
71
copy Broadway and the Loop theatres both as to choice of
plays and method of production.
Second, the backstage organ­
ization is handled too much as a community activity.
Casting
is often decided more for social reasons than for ability or
fitness.
Different players are used in successive produc­
tions instead of experienced ahd dependable people.
Third,
the choice of material is often not chosen witji the audience
in mind,
fourth, the Little Theatre suffers tfco much inter­
ference from communities and a lack of sound business judge­
ment.
Impediments of the Little Theatre.
drances in the Little Theatre movement,
There are two hin­
first, the royalties
charged by french and other owners of copyrights are exorbi­
tant.
There should be some reduced rate possible for Little
Theatre groups, as the present prices are bankrupting.
There
is no quarrel with the statement t|iat the author should re­
ceive pay for his work, but more frequent presentations of his
plays at lower prices for small groups and before small audi­
ences certainly would pay the author better in both dollars
and repute than would one or two at the prohibitive terms now
demanded•
The second hindrance is the building ordinances which
demand that every Little Theatre shall be constructed as ela­
borately and completely as is a large professional theatre,
it makes the building of small theatres impossible and prevents
72
much work from being done which would otherwise be of worth
to the cultural life of a community*
That danger must be
avoided is true, but the law leans over backward in its atti- tude toward the little playhouses.
Correlation of arts♦
The theatre is the embodiment of
all arts: color, music, diction, poetry, action; it is the
home of illusion, the mimic world of all realism.
The range
of the theatre is through all the emotions of the human heart:
love, pity, terror, hope, despair, laughter, hatred, joy, sor­
row, even faith.
¥othing that can appeal to the senses of
man or to his profoundest imagination is lacking from the pur­
poses or possibilities of the little Theatre.
It is the mir­
ror in which people are ever seeking and seldom achieving the
dream that cornes true; the fulfillment of the visions of the
soul, because in the Little Theatre the soul of man speaks to
the soul of his fellow man, oftentimes by the lips of truth;
sweetly or bitterly, but always striving to picture the things
of life as they ought to be in compensation for the things as
they are.
The new theatre from Shakespeare to Belasco has added
nothing in material, butit has progressed in method and pre­
sentation:
in mechanics, color, atmosphere,
interpretation.
sometimes even in
Little Theatres have been successful in gen­
eralizing the art of the theatre and in special instances they
have surpassed the product of the professional stage.
73
The day of "The Torch bearers" is past.
Mr. Kelly1s
gentle satire can now be regarded with a calm smile.
Little Theatre in some form has come to stay.
The
No on doubts
this statement who has followed the movement since its be­
ginning in 1911.
It has gathered force and ceased to be sus-
spected as it was in its youth.
When Maurice Browne went to
Ohicago to establish a minature theatre, he was proclaimed
as a faddist.
future. What is the future?
There must be constant
effort for better plays of a higher standard.
The Little
Theatre is useful for the community in all branches of Ameri­
can dramatic art.
This theatre is America1s theatre, a true people!s
theatre, the expression of their culture and their art. Ulti­
mately from these Little Theatres, there may arise in this
country a true national theatre.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
BIBLIOGRAPHY
A.
BOOKS, NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES
Anderson, John, The American Theatre. New York: The Dial
Press, 1938* 430 pp.
Bergman, GBsta M. , "Folk Theatre,” Theatre Arts, August,
1940. 583-586 pp.
Bishop, G.W., The Amateur Dramatic Year Book.
0. Black, Ltd., 1 9 2 8 - 1 9 ^
20l pp.
London: A. &
Brom, John Mason, The Modern Theatre In Revolt. New York:
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1921. 89"pp.
Burleigh, Louise, The Community Theatre In Theory And Prac­
tice . Boston: Little, Brown And Company, 1917 • "T88 pp.
De Goveia, C.J., The Community Playhouse. New York: B.W. Huebseh, Inc., 1923* 165 pp.
Palk, Sawyer, "A Civic University Theatre,” Theatre Arts
Monthly, May, 1937* p. 397*
Gassner, John, Masters of the Drama. New York: Random House,
1940. 804 pp.
”The Group Theatre,” Theatre Arts Monthly, October,
1940. pp. 729-735.
Gilder, Rosamund, ”The American Theatre 1916-1941,” Theatre
Arts Monthly, February, 1941. pp. 15.5-167.
Lawren, Joseph,
ren, 1924*
The Drama Year Book.
New York: Joseph Law-
Macgowan, Kenneth, The Theatre of Tomorrow.
and Liveright, 19^17 302 pp.
New York: Boni
Footlights Across America. New York: Harcourt, Brace
& Company, T9 297 39B pp.
Mackay, Constance D TArcy, The Little Theatre In The United
States. New York: Henry Holt And Company,/1917• 277 pp.
Mackaye, Percy,
The Civic Theatre In Relation To The Redemp-
76
tion of Leisure . New York And London: Mitchell Kennerly, 1912* 308 pp.
Miller, Anna Irene, The Independent Theatre In Europe. New
York: Ray Long and Richard R. Smith, Inc., 1931. 435 pp.
Nathan, George Jean,
December, 1940.
’’The Theatre,” The American Mercury,
pp. 481-487.
Overton, Grace Sloan, M.A., Drama In Education. New York:
and London.:.' The Century Company, 1926. ™ 289 pp.
•Perry, Clarence Arthur, The Work of the Little Theatres.
New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1933* 228 pp.
Ratcliff, Nora, Rude Mechanicals. New York: Thomas Nelson &
Sons, Ltd., 1938. T6'3 pp.
Sayler, Oliver M., Our American Theatre. New York: Brentano!s
1923. 399 pp.
The San Diego Union, April 27, 1930
October"23, 1932 7:1
October 6, 1933 9:1
January 15, 1934 7:6
June 28, 1934 Isl
August 12, 1934 8:3
January 27, 1935 5:2
February 1, 1935 2:3
May 18, 1936 14:1
January 3, 1928 8:1
April 16, 1938 3:1
4:2
Shay, Frank, The Pla.ys And Books Of The Little Theatre. New
York: The The atre 'OrafT s Exchange,’ 1919”. ”T2 pp.
Sobel, Bernard, The Theatre Handbook And Digest of Plays.
New York: Crown Publishers, 1940. 900 pp.
Theatre Arts Monthly,”A Community Art Centre In A Metropolis,”
October, 1940. pp. 757-761.
”Williams College Theatre’
,1 November, 1940.
pp. 827-831.
’’Laboratory For New York State Drama at Cornell,” Decem­
ber, 1940. pp. 907-909’’History of the Drama,” January, 1941.
pp. 70-75.
77
B.
INTERVIEWS
Jeanette Cyr Barry
Juanita Balter
Mrs• Ruth Bone
Mrs, Benjamin Buker
Mrs. E .H . 0lough
Dudley Cooper
Betty Crates Dennis
Mrs. Dwight Earl Easley
A1 Eaton
Beatrice Edmonds
Mrs. William Eisher
Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Erantz
William Hubbard
Sybil Jones
Mrs. Stuart Lake
Eugene Lyle, Jr.
Mrs. Helen Burke. Mac Pherson
Roscoe Porter
Helene Richards
M r . Van Schai ck
Mrs• Angus Smith
Erank C . Spaulding
Lucille Spinney
Dorothy Buckley Wannsley
Ruth Price Weiss
APPENDIX
APPENDIX
iNote:
A statement of faith, incondensed form, given
by Lynn Riggs in an address to the San Diego Community Thea­
tre in the early part of 1940.
This condensed form was later
published in Theatre Arts of February, 1941, page 16?.]
Casual as the personal reasons may be which bring the
workers in a Little Theatre together,
ual about the theatre itself.
one dare not be too cas­
Iio one should touch any aspect
of the theatre without joy, honest-to-G-od delight.
For joy
is the stuff of the creative impulse, and this impulse must
be given a chance if the worker and the audience which comes
to see his work are to be rewarded.
Certainly no drama group has the right to ask anyone
to sit through a production without being in some way changed;
not necessarily made over, converted in a moment to something
new and strange and unrecognizable, but somehow, somewhere,
in at least one cell, different because for a moment something
in experience has been made to stand out arrested, fixed in
time, made immortal.
Theatre people should make these moments
happen, or consider themselves failing in their art.
The stage is a platform for eloquence, on which life is
compressed and heightened, made larger and more significant.
It is a rocket that flares and sparkles and bursts, its tenta­
cles streaming down grandly for a moment against darkness.
80
Sy.ch revealing, thrilling moments happen in life, hut they
must he made to happen more often and more grandly in the
theatre.
The theatre is the place in which to enlarge and
illumine life.
But in order that this may he done, life must he look­
ed at: the world crowding ahout, of sections, of city, of
state, of farm and'crossroads, of our own .country, of the en­
tire globe.
One must constantly seek to comprehend the flow
of the tides of man in the.aggregate, his needs, his impulses,
and his right to dignity.
the world today.
It’s a large order to he alive in
It’s strenuous and often demoralizing.
But
the more we seek to know and to comprehend, and to add Ytfhat
we can to make it hearahle for ourselves and others to live,
the more revelation we stumhle on, and the more we possess the
power to change that world.,
As revelation comes, we find that we have something to
say.
As individuals we hegin to have a special and unique
wisdom.
If we are to draw on this, it’s time to ask oursel­
ves: what do we know? what have we got to say? how are we go­
ing to say it in the theatre?
this means a very clear program,
not merely of schedule and plays, hut of policy, of aims and
goal.
Nothing on this green earth survives without an idea
behind it, a burning abstract compulsion, a pure concept, a
central notion and aim.
This country would be completely dis­
organized and probably in ruins--certainly at war— we would be
81
many bickering states and tongues--if.it had not been for
some common ideas and ideals.
We now largely believe that
every man has a right to live and a right to work; true, we
have staggered forward, and back a little, then forward again a little farther, trying to achieve a government truly
of the people, by the people and for the people.
But the
point is that we would not be going anywhere--even staggering
ing--unless we had that imposing ideal.' One canTt handle it;
it canTt be seen, and yet it is stronger than flesh and blood,
and it outlasts them both.
An ideal, a goal, an intention, an aim--without it,
there is no core to an undertaking.
It is like a body with­
out a heart to pump food to the farthermost
cell..
A theatre
can stand for a time without any hard and fast intentions, but
in the long run, if it is to live, it must have visionary as
well as practical goals.
Actually, these visionary ideals ex­
ist in every theatre group, often formless and chaotic but
nevertheless real.
The composite need that has brought the
group together is a driving force; however inexact and unclear
it may be, it directs the whole enterprise.
dent about it.
There is no acci­
Every time we cut a piece of goods to make
costumes, or dab paint on a flat, or walk across the stage, or
pull a curtain, or put a word on paper, we reveal ourselves,
what our nature is, who we are, what we think, what we intend
to do.
82
What a betrayal that can be!
I should think that, if
nothing else would, vanity at least might make us stop to
consider what trivialities of soul we are revealing.
I
should think we would try to find out what we are doing, ■'
that
re would wait to use our talents truly and deeply, in
Vs;
order to reveal the exact and timeless, the important, the
life-giving truth.
seriously*
I should think we would take the theatre
I should think we would take life seriously.
Lynn Riggs
83
-2Cltfote: The following is a letter received by the in­
terviewer from Mrs. Dwight Earl Easley, the executive direc­
tor of the B a m Players.]
Little Theatre work has a great many objectives.
The
first of these is to put on a number of plays which will ap­
peal to the theatre going public.
The second is to cast these plays with actors who can
portray their parts with, sincerity and ability.
The third is to present these plays in such a manner
that the production will portray the playwrightrs picture of
the story which he has in mind.
In order to do these things, there should be at the
head of the organization a professional director, which, beeing interpreted, means a director who has been on the profes­
sional stage and has. had a wide experience in directing pro­
ductions.
This same director should know how to deal with
amateurs.
There is a wide difference between professionals
and amateurs.
My personal idea is that a director of am amateur Lit­
tle Theatre organization should be a guide, an instructor, a
whip-hand and the teacher; never for a second letting the di­
rectorship go out of his or her hands.
The director should
always leave the cast which he has directed over a period
84
of time with a knowledge of stage technique, technique of
acting, and with a background of knowledge which will help him
in any other production in which he acts.
The ambitions of a Little Theatre are these: To pre­
sent plays with a professional finish, to win constructive
criticism from critics on newspapers, to win the following of
the public by the curtain1s going up on time, no long waits
between acts, effective stage settings, sincere character crea^
tio^s, and the absence of amateur failures.
Little Theatre work is the outlet for expression of
those people who have time only for occasional recreation.
It is a very valuable asset to any torn or city.
It is the
outlet for expression for those persons who might otherwise
find their experience in dangerous ways.
Little Theatre is interesting; it is educational; it
is thrilling for those who want creative work and very often
it gives the necessary training for those who want a profes­
sional career.
85
->
[Hote: Below is part of a letter written by William
Hubbard, one-time director of the Yorick PlayersJ
You will have heard through Mrs. Wannsley as to Prank
Buckley*s work in the earlier days and also during the Yorick
times.
He was first chiefly actor in the days of the San
Biego Players which was the name, if I mistake not, of the
group out of which the Yorick emerged.
When I first knew
anything of the activities, they played in the building in
Balboa park which stood where the Art Gallery now stands-the Sacramento Building, I think it was called.
There was
an auditorium there and in it the Players gave their perfor­
mances.
They had as official director one Eddie . . . . . . .
whose last name I have forgotten, but which 'Miss Bpinney or
Mr. Brantz can give you.
He had a remarkable series of op­
era presentations in minature which he prepared and gave with
recordings.
He-was a professional actor and I am of the im­
pression that he was engaged at a fixed salary for directing
and managing the performance of the Players.
These occurred
at irregular intervals--just whenever a production was ready,
never less than a month apart and frequently six weeks to two
months or even longer would elapse between offerings.
They
gave the average run of comedies and romantic dramas most of
which were selected with an eye to Eddie*s playing the lead.
86
Into this group came Prank: Buckley and he gradually took over the producing.
All thus came into the hands of Buckley
and it was then I had my first contact with the group play­
ing a role in an original comedy by Austin Adams of Coronado
which was called rtThe Double Cross” and the scene was laid
in Coronado Hotel,
I at that time was busied with lecturing
in the east and w a w i n San Diego only from about April till the end of September.
As to the year I am uncertain, but my
impression is that the performance took place in a small jetblack auditorium in the Civic Auditorium--a room used during
tbhe Exposition for showing movies.
It was doubtless a year
or two before the Civic Auditorium fell victim to flames.
It
was from here that the Players moved into the old Fisheries
f...
Building in the Park......................
There was at this time in San Diego a man of exception­
al abilities and as lovable a human as ever breathed.
He was
Edwin Clough and was busied as editorial writer on the Union
and each Saturday he wrote a page which bore the title tf0n the
Margin” and was signed by Yorick. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Clough had been a reporter of rare experience,
he was the
first man to report the Boxer Rebellion and his life had car­
ried him throughout the United States and far into the Orient.
He and Austin Adams were kindred spirits and used to meet and
argue just for the sake of arguing.
Bo matter which side one
87
of them took the other would instantly take the other and
then the sparks would fly*
Both were deeply interested in
drama and the little Theatre appealed to them.
Clough and
his dear smiling wife lived in a little hungalow on Ivy
Street and the Buckleys, Jeanette Cyr, and others of the
Players groups would storm into that little house at any
and all hours of' the night .
............ ; .............
"Yorick" was ever the center and the life of the gathering.
One night I recall he exclaimed, "Oh, you youngsters are
such precious fnuts" I love everyone of you."
And from that
time forward we became to him and to each other Yorick1s
Buts........................................... .
There are many "I thinks" and "I believes" in all this,
but I have had to dig into memories and dates, etc., are un­
certain after all of this time.
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