box 36//4
. Pamphlets, Offprints
Further, it is one of the precepts of our dramatic technique
most honoured in the observance, that the action should take place
among people of high social position; as, however, it so happens
that it is rather among the more intellectual and introspective of
the middle classes that genuine problems tend to arise, the scope
of the dramatist becomes automatically narrowed. Of course, we
have our dramatic left wing—Mr. Shaw, Mr. Galsworthy, Mr.
Barker, Mr. St. John Hankin—our ultra-modern exponents of the
drama of ideas and the drama of psychology. But here again our
revolutionaries overshoot the mark in their reaction from the
orthodox. Mr. Shaw will bombard us with ideas till we can
hardly stand. When, however, we have recovered our balance we
observe that, however indisputable may be his pre-eminence as a
thaumaturgic apostle of the latest gospel of social philosophy, his
characters are marked by comparatively few traits of individual
psychology, and participate in comparatively little dramatie
action. It is indeed with profound appreciation of his weakness
that“talking'' is set by Mr. Shaw as a final seal on the Superman.
Mr. Galsworthy, Mr. St. John Hankin, and Mr. Barker, it is
true, do give us not only elaborate discussion of social problems
(though not infrequently an airy discussion of things in general
is dragged in forcibly with no, or little, reference to the action of
the play) but also refined and delicate delineations of individual
character. But with the possible exception of the grandiose and
monstrous Waste and the statuesque thesis and antithesis of the
sociological Strife, their plays are not dramatic. To express it
with almost childish simplicity, their plays are not “exciting.
With a few exceptions they are charged with no atmosphere and
abut at no climax.
Mere ideas, however will not make the dramatic world go round
and mere psychology often only makes it go flat. Few words are
mouthed with such fluent irresponsibility as “technique,? but it
may be said—and said, we think, truly, and without affectation—
that no play can be a success without a certain minimum of
Stechnique?': that is to say, either one continnous thread of
dramatic interest on which successive acts are strung, or some
particular arch-effect to which (especially if a one-act play) the
whole play abuts and to the atmosphere of which all the elements
are harmonionslv toned.
The vice of the English drama, then, is this: plays of good
technical mechanism possess little or no“ problem'’ interest; plays
of “ problem?' or psychological interest possess little or no
technical mechanism.
Let us, consequently, glancing first at his plays, and perhaps
later at those short stories which stand in the most intimate