The patriotic play has manifold uses. It combines both pleasure and education. It is both stimulating and instructive. In its indoor form it may be the basis of a winter afternoon’s or evening’s entertainment, in its outdoor form it may take whole communities and schools into the freedom of the open. It should rouse patriotic ardor, and be of benefit ethically, esthetically, and physically. It should wake in its participants a sense of rhythm, freedom, poise, and plastic grace. It should bear its part in developing clear enunciation and erectness of carriage. To those taking part it should bring the exercise of memory, patience, and inventiveness. It should kindle enthusiasm for the things of America’s past. In what way can national hero-days and festivals be more fittingly commemorated than by giving a glimpse of the hero for whom the day is named? Thus the patriotic play is equally adaptable for Fourth of July, Washington’s Birthday, Lincoln’s Birthday, Columbus Day, and the hundreds of other days—not holidays—that lie in between.
If the patriotic play is produced in the right way it should contain the very essence of democracy—efficient team-work, a striving together for the good of the whole. It should lead to the ransacking of books and libraries; the planning of scene-setting, whether indoor or outdoor; the fashioning of simple and accurate costumes by the young people taking part; the collecting of suitable stage properties such as hearthbrooms, Indian pipes, and dishes of pewter. The greater the research, the keener the stimulus for imagination and ingenuity, two things that go to the making of every successful production. Fortunately, the patriotic play is inherently simple, its appeal is along broad general lines, so that it requires no great amount of money or energy to adequately produce it. And, as history is made up not of one event, but of a series of events, so an historical pageant is a logical sequence of one-act patriotic plays or episodes. The one-act patriotic play shows one hero or one event; the pageant shows, through one-act plays used in chronological order, the development and upbuilding of America through the lives of her heroes.
In its pageant form, the patriotic play, with dances, songs, pantomime, and spoken speech, lends itself to schools, communities, and city use, in park, in armory, and on village green: in its one-act form it lends itself to both indoor and outdoor production by schools, patriotic societies, clubs and settlements, and, last, but not least, the home circle. And in the hope of assisting teachers and producers to fit appropriate plays to appropriate occasions notes on the subject have been added to the individual plays in the table of contents.
THE PAGEANT OF PATRIOTS