MORE ABOUT DRAMATICS
In our May–June issue I replied briefly to a request for further explanation of my published views respecting dramatics. What I wrote in that issue has wider application than was indicated. The whole matter of theatrical performances is involved. As I see it, a person who effectively plays, for example, the part of a villain in a stage performance or in a movie must enter into the feelings of such a character. He must, in effect, be what he has no right to be. Similarly, in “making love” to someone whom he does not love the actor artificially enacts an experience to which he is not entitled. He profanes the gifts and powers which God wills shall be used only in sincerity and truth. Is it not likely that one reason for so many marriage failures among the members of the movie colony is that in their productions they must display affection outside their own matrimonial bonds which should be reserved only for relationship within those bonds?
Someone may ask here, If it is wrong for us to find entertainment value in witnessing such portrayals and performances, what about . the reading of fiction in which these same scenes and situations are created for us to enjoy? That question brings up the whole subject of reading. What constitutes good reading? What is wholesome literature? I know there are people better qualified than I to deal with that controversial subject. Let me make just one introductory observation, and perhaps in a later issue I shall hazard a more extensive treatment of the question. Human feeling is often wasted. We see this in the influence of theatrical representations and of fiction. People go into floods of tears over a story which they know has no foundation in fact. Or they may go wild with excitement. It strikes me that this involves loss and waste, since it is an expenditure of valuable energy and emotional force upon unreality. We are finite creatures after all. During our short day of life we have a limited amount of thought, feeling, and resolution to dispose of. Can we afford to waste any of this in the realm of imagination where the situation that stimulates us has no basis in fact? Have we a right to do this when there are so many stern or sad facts in actual life which might well engross more than we can give?