Writing for Vaudeville eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 543 pages of information about Writing for Vaudeville.

Thus, much of the present wide popularity of vaudeville is due to the writer.  It is largely owing to the addition of his thoughts that vaudeville stands to-day as a greater influence—­because it has a wider appeal—­than the legitimate drama in the make-believe life of the land.  Even the motion pictures, which are nearer the eyes of the masses, are not nearer their hearts.  Vaudeville was the first to foster motion pictures and vaudeville still accords the motion picture the place it deserves on its bills.  For vaudeville is the amusement weekly of the world—­it gathers and presents each week the best the world affords in entertainment.  And much of the best comes from the writer’s brain.

Because mechanical novelties that are vaudeville-worth-while are rare, and because acrobats and animal trainers are of necessity limited by the frailties of the flesh, and for the reason that dancers cannot forever present new steps, it remains for the writer to bring to vaudeville the never-ceasing novelty of his thoughts.  New songs, new ideas, new stories, new dreams are what vaudeville demands from the writer.  Laughter that lightens the weary day is what is asked for most.

It is in the fulfilling of vaudeville’s fine mission that writers all over the world are turning out their best.  And because the mission of vaudeville is fine, the writing of anything that is not fine is contemptible.  The author who tries to turn his talents to base uses—­putting an untrue emphasis on life’s false values, picturing situations that are not wholesome, using words that are not clean—­deserves the fate of failure that awaits him.  As E. F. Albee, who for years has been a controlling force in vaudeville, wrote:  [1] “We have no trouble in keeping vaudeville clean and wholesome, unless it is with some act that is just entering, for the majority of the performers are jealous of the respectable name that vaudeville has to-day, and cry out themselves against besmirchment by others.”

[1] “The Future of the Show Business,” by E. F. Albee, in The Billboard for December 19, 1914.

Reality and truth are for what the vaudeville writer strives.  The clean, the fine, the wholesome is his goal.  He finds in the many theatres all over the land a countless audience eager to hear what he has to say.  And millions are invested to help him say it well.


Should you try to write for vaudeville?

“I became a writer,” George Bernard Shaw once said, “because I wanted to get a living without working for it—­I have since realized my mistake.”  Anyone who thinks that by writing for vaudeville he can get a living without working for it is doomed to a sad and speedy awakening.

If I were called upon to give a formula for the creation of a successful vaudeville writer, I would specify:  The dramatic genius of a Shakespere, the diplomatic craftiness of a Machiavelli, the explosive energy of a Roosevelt, and the genius-for-long-hours of an Edison:  mix in equal proportions, add a dash of Shaw’s impudence, all the patience of Job, and keep boiling for a lifetime over the seething ambition of Napoleon.

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Writing for Vaudeville from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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