Mr. Ames said in advance that his aim was to create a house of ‘entertainment for intelligent people.’ Behind this vague statement lies a force which has already proved that the Little Theater can entertain and at the same time show itself worthy of the best ideals in drama. Mr. Ames has produced Galsworthy’s admirable comedy, ‘The Pigeon’; Charles Rann Kennedy’s ‘The Terrible Meek,’ and the same author’s translation of M. Laloy’s French version of the Chinese play, ’The Flower of the Palace of Han.’ However diverse likings and dislikings of these pieces may have been, there is no doubt that they were all worthy of a first-rate production.
Mr. Ames announces for the coming year a series of matinees, especially for children. It is pleasant to see the professional theaters falling into line with the increasing trend of amateur organizations in paying attention to the need of good plays for children.
Late in March, at the Plymouth Theater in Boston, Miss Horniman’s players from Manchester, England, gave their only performance in the United States. They came under the auspices of the American Drama Society. They presented ‘Nan,’ a three-act tragedy by John Masefield, whose work we otherwise would not have seen for some time. Aside from the remarkable play, the performance is memorable as setting a new standard in acting. The value of perfect ensemble work was clearly demonstrated.
Sumurun, an oriental pantomime, which Winthrop Ames brought to the Casino in New York, is the work of Max Reinhardt, a progressive German manager. It has been produced throughout Germany and in London, with great success, and now comes to America. ‘Sumurun’ deserves notice because it is a great novelty, but especially because it has certain lessons for us in America.
The story of the pantomime is a more or less lurid eastern melodrama, based on the Arabian Nights. A hunchback is in love with a beautiful young dancer, who hates him. He sells her to a fierce old sheik, to get her out of the way of another lover, the sheik’s son. Then he takes poison. Sumurun, the sheik’s chief wife, favors a handsome cloth merchant called Nur-al-Din, whom she manages to smuggle into the harem in a chest of silks. The intruder is, of course, discovered by the sheik, who is warned of the treachery below, as he is about to kill his son, whom he has found in the room with his new dancer. He has Nur-al-Din at his mercy when the supposedly poisoned hunchback slips in and stabs him. The lovers are united and the inmates of the harem set free.