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let, the word as concrete conceptunl idiom as con¬
trasted with form, color, sound, or movement in the
abstract. The word is necessary, in the first place,
purely as a mechanical medium of exchange to con¬
vey the thought and purpose of the author to the
performer. Only an author who could turn ballet
regisseur and illustrate in person the workings of
his creative imagination could dispense with it. The
word, in the sccond place, is eminently desirable,
if not strictly necessary, to insure comprehension
of the author’s iden on the part of the audience.
In this sense, the word becomes interpretation, °pro¬
gram, in contrast to the word as mechanism, and
hence partakes more obviously of, and lends itself
more freely to, literature.
To illustrate and point these general reflections
concerning the word-bridge between ballet, pan¬
tomime, or other forms of wordless drama and the
literary art, the American Laboratory Theatre has
conveniently produced in its new home in East
Fifty-Fourth Street, as the third item in its third
season, Arthur Schnitzler’s pantomime-ballet, The
Bridal Veil'' (“The Veil of Pierrette'’) with the
original score by Ernst von Dohnanyi, for many
years a favorite in European repertories and the first
notable production of the now-celebrated Kamerny
Theatre in Moscow.
9 K *
I hope that no one who valucs a brave and intel¬
ligent experimental spirit or who prizes an unusual
and sensuously exhilarating evening in the theatre
regardless of experiment, will be swerved from.
attendance by what I have to say in regard to the
literary shortcomings and neglected opportunities of
*The Bridal Veil. That aspect of ballet, after
all, though it is an integral part of the subject and
the one chiefly pertinent to this series of criticisms,
is subsidiary in general importance to the direct
appeal to the senses and emotions through the other
abstract and non-literary media of the art.
On these general scores, there can be little but
gratitude and praise for the Laboratory’s achieve¬
ment. Elizabeth Anderson-Ivantsoff, bringing to
her task the skill of one of Moscow’s most highly
regarded prima ballerinas and a pliant and evoca¬
tive pedagogic talent, has fired a group of young
American dancers with individual insight into and
mastery of their röles and with an ease of ensemble
playing that insures a continuity of action steadily
alive and plastic. There is vigor here where vigor
is demanded, tragedy that cuts clean and avoids
melodrama, and a lyric atmosphere over all which
is never permitted to become mawkish or prettily sen¬
timental. Schnitzler’s simple retelling of the legend
of Pierrot, Pierrette, and the Bridegroom, and von
Dohnanyi's score are fused by the choreography.
This wedding of two arts to make a third is blessed
and perfected by James Reynolds’s boldly original
and exotic but strangely blending costumes which
flash against his happily conceived settings. On the
score of performance, I couid wish only that a
string quartet had replaced a single piano to give
rhythmic and tonal variety and the strangely vibrant
and dramatic quality of that musical medium.
Literary negligence in the American version of
*The Bridal Veil'' is excusable and harmless on the
first count of the word in ballet. Schnitzler, it is
true, provided in the original German text a running
commentary on the action in succinct, workmanlike
form which, nevertheless, has literary dignity and
variety if not reading valuc. He even indicates
snatches of speech corresponding to the action, a
phrase or a remark which he expects to be trans¬
lated from dialogue into plastic expression, gesture
menn to the spectator anything whlich he brings to
it at the moment. Even a title is gratuitous. But
when the pantomime-ballet, the dance-drama, the
ballet with a story, emerged, it brought with it the
opportunity if not the necessity for the word, for
a literary résumé. In this sense, the pantomime¬
ballet corresponds to program music. The practi¬
tioners of the latter frequently find inspiration in
an already created work of literature—a pocm or
a passage of descriptive or narrative prose. If the
process is reversed, they are usually careful to pro¬
vide the interpretive Pprogram'’ in a form worthy
of their own musical contribution. Such a “pro¬
gram'’ is lacking in The Bridal Veil.? A single
inept and banal paragraph attempts lamely to do
duty for it. It is not too late to fill this gap in
an otherwise exquisite contribution to the season's
theatrical record. But it must be filled by a poet
or a master of lyric prose worthy of the collaborat¬
ing author, composer, regisseur, and designer.
I have said that the pantomime-ballet brought
with it the opportunity or the necessity for the
word. I have purposely phrased the case thus alter¬
natively. For I recognize the legitimacy of the
contention of the newer school of dance-dramatists
that the pantomime-ballet can and should be so self¬
evident in its meaning as to need no interpretation
a kind of motion picture without sub-titles. I
venture to doubt, however, whether any but con¬
noisseurs of the art can ever successfully waive this
literary key. And even were it possible to do so,
an appropriate “program'’ should be a pleasant and
unobtrusive grace note or l’envol.
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