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IfaE Stffo, SlftlDAY, 1913.
OPEN AIR THEATRES INSPIRE MANY AUDIENCES
Observations by the Coburn Players Among the 150,4
Spectators Who Attended Their Performances at
Colleges and Elsewhere Last Season
NL'Hl'AL experiences are de
scribed hy Mr. anil Mrs.
Charles Douvlllc Coburn,
heads of (hi- compuny known
as the Coburn Players, In u huiihiiIiik
up they have made for Tin: Hr.v of a
long tour ending when other dramatic
seasons open. They have recently re
turned to New York to make plana for
a more extended trip, which will mark
In the early spring the beginning of
their ninth season.
The Cohurti Players present a reper
toire of classic plays Sharespenrlan
and the Greek tragedies- univer
sities, college and normal m-IiooIh
throughout the United States. They
have appeared In must of the Important
pageants of the last few years and they
act frequently for clubs, associations
Lost season they played to fifty unl
veraltleH and to a larger numlier of
other Institutions. At ChautaiKiua alone
their audiences numlered S.000 for a
single performance and the number of
people played to In nil approximates
To normal schools the Coburns pay
special tribute. Since the beginning of
their travels from one educational centre
to another they have witnessed great
Changes ond tremendous developments.
"The people of the Kast," say the
Coburns, "do not realize how hungry
are those citizens of our republic who
are separated from opportunity by
waste tracts of land and chasms of
Inexperience. The Chicago Museum
was last year visited by more people
than any other museum In the world, u
fact proved by statistics. These sight
seers represent the flood of travellers
who never get beyond that point and
a day or two In this Western metropolis
represents the realized dream of hun
dreds eager for something In the way
of culture that Is not afforded by their
Hluce the Coburns commenced their
tours there have been erected some two
dozen open air theatres at different
points In the West and South.
"The young people who come to these
plays," says Mr. Coburn, "have none
of the antagonism felt in the metropoli
tan audiences. Many of them are very
near the primitive. They know noth
ing about wall paper; the red plush
furniture Is to them the acme of ele
gance and luxury. Costumes, diction,
staging, composition are all unknown
"In the lonely farm kitchens they
have their 'Henry V.,' but the character
Is only a vague, faraway conception.
In the starlit night with the searchlight
placed so that the stage Is In u brilliant
Illumination and the audience, not only
in actual obscurity but by some psychic
law absolutely devoid of personality
an effect subtly evident In these out of
door plays the farm boy or girl steps
for the tlrst time from the raw practi
calities of existence into the spirit land,
OPENING WIDE THE DOOR OF
'THE FAMILY CUPBOARD"
Coiiflniinf iom tfri-onil Page.
could when I was a kid. There are
some things you can't change, and I
.didn't have u chance. You are in trouble
now because you didn't know what a
rotten Joke life Is. 1 didn't know It
either once. 1 was working cash girl
in a big store. 1 wasn't Hi. and a rich
man came along und
Kenneth (Hlses.) Uamm him:
Kitty (Fiercely.) Some day 1 urn
going to tell you who that man was.
(The telephone bell on the table rings.
They turn toward It. It rings again.)
Kenneth Hello! No. No. Not at
home. No' 1 won't see anybody. (He
rings oft.) My sister.
Alice arrives with Tom. Hoth start
to leave at once when they see Kitty.
Then Nelson comes in.
Nelson -Take Alice home, Tom.
(They e.lt and he turns in told fury
to Kenneth). How dare ou Introduce
your sister to this woman?
Kenneth What right have you to
Insult this lady?
Nelson I must have a talk with you.
Kenneth. Will you come to me to
night? Kenneth--No. If you talk to me at
all It must be here before tin- lady
who is to le my wife.
t Nelson Your wife! (After a pause,
turns to Kitty hoarsely). You said
you would "get tne" and 1 think you
Kenneth You know her'
Kitty Does he know me? (She
rises.) Do you know why that man
would rather see you dead than mar
ried to me? Hi-cause he knows Just
what 1 am. Do you know how he
knows? Do you? Hecause he's tin
man who made me the thing he sneers
Kenneth You! (To his father.)
You! (To Kitty.)
Kitty Yes, yes, yes! (Kenneth
raises his arm anil strikes his father
a hard blow across the face with his
open hand. Nelson looks at him for
a moment, then leans heavily on a
chair by the table. Ills head falls for
ward. In the perfect stillness his sobs
are heard. Kitty laughs a nervous,
hysterical laugh, ending in tears. Tin
anger dies out of Kenneth's face ninl
Is replaced by sorrow and shame.)
Kenneth My my father' My
Kitty You love him in spite of what
he did. I know. I loved him In spite
of what he did, and he left me as If
I were a dog,
Kenneth Don't ! Don't '
Nelson Kenneth, do you can- to come
Kenneth No, 1 can't, liul I I'm
sorry 1 did that.
Nelson The day will come when both
you and I will be brave enough to la
glad you did that. That blow Is going
to give me bock my son. It is going
to open your eyes nnd make you give up
this life und this woman.
Three weeks are supposed to elapse
when the next and last act opens. Ken
neth is In diro financial straits. When
he has gone to pawn his last piece of
jewelry Dick I.e. ltoy enters and asks
''Kitty to go away with him ami go back
on the stage again. They sing and
dunce and Kitty Is persuaded to leave
her now penniless lover.
Dick Don't leave nothing valuable.
Kitty Leave that to me.
Dick Him and tne's about the same
Kitty He's got some nice shirt studs.
(Opens drawer nnd throws things out
'until she finds them,) Here. I guess
I've a right to get something. You
'needn't Ik- afraid.
Dick I should worry. Get some
" towels, kid; we'll need 'em for the
' Kitty All right. (She runs out Into
' the bathroom. Dick selects a suit of
H 'Kenneth's pajamas, some socks and a
few other articles. Kitty comes In with
an armful of towels and Kenneth's bath-
mIia nnrl Mllntii.rM .llm flsirrifv ..tili.ru
. Thov do not see him. but no to trunk
and begin to pack the things,)
Jim You forgot the piano.
Kitty Hello, there! Come on. I They
pick up trunk and start dragging it
' out.) Good-by.
Jim You uln't going to leave me
aaU, Kitty. What can I do?
'" Kitty I guess you can go to hell.
v (Ths go off laughing, while Jim sits
t In disgusted loneliness. Then goes to
; closet and selects coat, vest and hat
fatrom Kenneth's things. Kenneth cullers.)
ivenneiii (iu uooui.j vwiuis
Jim- Gone' Hun away nwlth Dick he
Kenneth Gone! Left me for Dick
he Hoy! What have 1 done with no
life! (Drops money he had brought on
the floor and hides face in hands.)
Jim She's just the same with me,
quits me cold like this- -then, by and
by, she'll come back nnd give nil she's
Kenneth- Why should she give you
Jim I'm her father. (Kenneth looks
ut him and then laughs bitterly,) Sure!
She's ashamed to have the gentlemen
know It, so she takes me on as a ser
vant when she's keepln' house with
one of 'em.
Kenneth One of them! Good God!
(He springs up.) Has there been more
Jim The first one was when she was
Kenneth I know.
Jim Workln' In a store on Twenty
Jim He warn't a bad sort. He'd a
married her, I think, only he died.
Kenneth No' No! He didn't die
Jim Sure In- did. I was to bis
funeral. Fine, big feller, named Liv
ingston. Then there was Hen
Kenneth--Don't' Don't! It's funny.
It's. too funny! Don't tell me any mote.
Jim She's drifted around sort of for
the last two years. She's smart, but
she's always on the move. I think a
lot of Kitty, but she ain't always been
very good to me.
Kenneth She never struck you. did
she? She never struck you?
.lini--No, she wouldn't do that. I Ken
neth laughs hysterically.) Well, I got
to look for a Job, I guess. Jobs Is hard
to get nowadays. All I know Is drlvln'
a cab nn' these dimmed taxis --
Kenneth Here! (lie stoops und
picks up the money and gives it to
Jim Twenty-five dollars. You ain't
a bad sort. Thank you. Say! Go home,
Kenneth No' No!
Jim Home's a swell place, lsiy.
on the edges of which they have hesi
tated and feared.
"What this means to the starved souls
no one can conceive by merely reading
about It. You must know It by personal
touch. The message that they come to
meet so gladly It Is a pleasure to give.
We feel that we are helping In our
modest way to foster a real art spirit
that will return some day, no matter
how many zigzags It may take, as the
prodigal son returned from futile wan
derings. "To describe some of these open air
theatres specifically: There Is a new
one at Macomb, III., constructed on the
hill slope of the campus which forms
the auditorium. This Is at the State
Normal School. Curving terraces of
concrete have been Inset and uu audi
ence of l.BOO is easily accommodated,
"This theatre Is the pride of the pen
pie, who came forward and helped with
out solicitation. Though the Idea and
responsibility rest with the school, it Is
In reality a public pride not only to the
town but to the neighboring country.
"The very first of these open ulr the
atres was built at Klrksvllle. Mo., where
there Is a model normal school. A piece
of level lawn serves as stage. There
being no hill slope to serve as audi
torium the ground Is scooped out to a
depth of four feet below the footlights.
In this hollow, rising toward the back,
mWW iiiikw MH
Coburn 'Players on ffie Wfiiie ffouae. Grounds.
"In one place after we hud played a
week the sale of these reached a total
of S00 volume, u fact which was com
municated to us by letter from an
otliclal who had been keeping statistics
In regard to the Intellectual Improve
ment that was directly due to our work
at his college.
"At the debates and lectures held In
connection with these plays we find our
audiences are allvt- not only to the
beauty of literature but a' o In regurd
to the human side of the character.
At one of these conferences this ques
tion was propounded:
"'Why Is It,' said a young man, a
farmhand, 'that In reading the play
of "Othello" we have absolutely no
sympathy with layo, but In the pres
entation, although we realize he was
a despicable character, we cannot help
but feel sorry for him in the end?'
"Of. course I was rather floored at
the question, but the answer was obvi
ous enougiti. 1 said finally to a breath
le.n school room, 'Because the story
has been visualized. You feel sorry for
Inim Just as you feel sorry for u crimi
nal when you see him enter upon a life
sentence or step upon the gallows to
be hung for a dastardly crime. Al
though you know he deserves tils
punishment the humanity In you rises
to great heights of sjmpathy. After
all is said and done, he U a human
lMng and all 'human beings have both
good and bad In them, and our sym
pathies go out to any one who has
allowed the bad In them to get the
better of the good.'
"Another Inquiry from n member of
one of the normal school audiences was,
'Did Macbeth and his wife have any
conversation about the minder of Dun
can before the play begins?' And still
another on this same tragedy was
whether or not Macbeth was the third
murderer dl-gul-ed, an Idea gleaned
Perform mn.ee. mi, &ryn JMsur Coitmg.
YOII'II knUW It When VMM irot ..1.1 III., inn
and ain't got one.
When Kenneth realizes hla position he
decides to end his life, but his mother
comes in, struggles to prevent him and
telephones to Nelson, who arrives in
time to save the Isty, and the three
are united again.
the rows of chulrs ure pluced. Ho in
terested are the people In I he improve
ments made in other similar theatres
that they Intend to build concrete ter
races before our next summer appear
ance. "At Normal, III,, so intimately have
we entered Into Hie native, life llutt It
lias been the experience of people trav
elling with us for the various reasons of
sightseeing, study, work, Ac, that when
they came to pay their board It was re
fused on the ground that they were
'with the Coburns' anil therefore cxenipr
from such taxation,
"Not only the close attention and
the large attendance testify to the value
of this work, but wo constantly receive
proofs of our audiences' Interest in
other ways. Frequently before we play
dusty und dog eared volumes of Shake
speure are removed by the students
from Ulie library shelves In the college
and school towns.
from u very old commentary, which
fortuiiutcly I had read, much to the
surprise of the normal college teacher
who propounded It,
"Incidental to these professorial In
qulrlcs many of our audiences during
the summer are composed entirely of
teachers who ore taking vacation
courses and who never miss u per
formance during the week we may be
billed at their Institution. .So enthu
siastic are they that we have known k
three or four to share a room In the
most stifling weather and not euro a
rap for personal comfort, while they
laugh aloud In the little personal chats
we have with them during out stay.
"The young girls In these far away
colleges and normal schools," says Mrs.
Coburn, "are remarkably well dressed.
One fears sometimes that they are al
most too well gowned, but though this
may argue a concentration of interest
on the comparatively unimportant Items
of their school life it shows too a taste
"It has often been said It Is regretful
that we have not n peasant population
In this country and one feels the loss
greatly of this picturesque element in
these remote districts where it would
tit in so harmoniously with tin- primi
"Another matter of moment Is the
question of manners, In this respect
the normal schools are again wonderful
and are growing more so all the time.
Tin- university and college argue, often
wrongly, that the student is more or
less sophisticated, but the normal school
assumes that she Is not and Instructs
her In details which to us might seem
superfluous but really are needed, for
some of these scholars are wofully
Ignorant of the etiquette of life; on the
other hand an innate sense of refine
ment Is frequently theirs and bad man
ners are by no means confined to tin
crude products of outlying territory.
In one of the Kastern colleges not "u
hundred miles from New York city a
college professor recently Implored his
wife to advise him how to meet the
situation when some of the girls in the
lecture room took down their hair and
recolffed it while the Icson was going
Contrary to tradition, suspicion of
the "theatre folk" is not conllned to
the farm people to whom the name
"theatre" still evokes suggestions of Ir
regularities of life and thought. At
Harvard 1'nlverslty Mr. Coburn over
heard a professor say: "Why the Co
burn Mayers are really ladles and gen
tlemen, are they not?"
Columbia 1'nlverslty does not make
the attendance at the open air per
formances of the Coburn Players a pan
of Its curriculum, but detailed mention
of their plays Is included In the printed
programme of college study ami during
the week which they have for several
'years presented their p!ai ,.u the
Columbia campus the large audiences
are mostly composed of students.
This last summer John Sloan, the '
well known painter, attended one of
their performances of ".Much Ado About
Nothing" and afterward transferred hi
Impressions to canvas. This painting
has recently been exhibited and convevs
very cleverly the suggestion of the open
air and the strange effects of light and
Railroad Flats and Others
SGMR of the terms used to describe
apartments are mystifying to tin
uninitiated. For Instance, "rail
road flat" conveys little idea to the
novice until it is explained that thl
speclal type of apartment has no pi hate
hall. The back door -and the front door
both open Into the public ball, and the
rooms follow one after the other, l.lie
cars on a railroad train, which accounts
for the expression railroad flat.
A "box flat" Is one degree up the
scale, for here, while there Is no ent.re
length of private hall, there Is a Miillcleiit
slice taken from tho bedrooms so that
one may walk from the parlor to the
dining room without crossing the two
Intermediate bedrooms. The tiny hall
Is boxed In, henco the name box flat.
Vwalkup" speaks for Itself and Is
easily translated Into non-elevator flat.
As n matter of fact, many of the most
desirable of the older apartment houses
come under the head of "walk tips."
A "push the button" Is still another
typo which may apply to any of the
others, jt is never misleading, us It
graphically describes Its mode of en
All these fine points of distinction can
be gleaned from a day's apartment
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