Dear Arthur Symons,
I have received your book the “Plays, Acting and Music – A Book of Theory” as part of “The Library of Lost Books” project.
I do not wish to offend you, and I know of your reputation as a renowned critic and editor, but I read your book and I found it to be dry, boring and a challenge to get through. It reminded me of a series of reviews that one might find by a newspaper's Theatre critic but this is, after all, what you are so should I have expected anything more from you?
I was left wondering how many drama students and budding actors and actresses were forced to read your “Theories” and had had any enthusiasm and creativity they might have had squashed and left like crumpled dreams after reading your opinions that the performing arts can be analysed, dissected and reduced to simple theroretical exercises.
I did finish it and, honestly, I did have another attempt to read it but I only got as far as the second paragraph in the Preface, when I realised that this was telling me what I had to do ...
“When This book was first published it contained a large
amount of material which is now taken out of it; additions
have been made, besides many corrections and changes; and the
whole form of the book has been remodelled. It is now more
what it ought to have been from the first; what I saw, from
the moment of its publication, that it ought to have been: a
book of theory.”
So, that is also what I have done for this edition, I have taken out a large amount of the material and remodelled the whole form of your book, but I have also tried to add a little taste of real theatre - practice not theory.
Finally, just as I was sealing the box with your words contained within it, I saw what was written on the final fragment of glass:
“....broken words...sudden, spontaneous, irresponsible...”
and I knew that I had done the right thing, it is now what it ought to have been!
On the positive side, I liked the feel of the untrimmed paper, the smell of time but, I'm sorry, I hated your endless critiques about the theatre, authors, actors, productions, stage directions and everything else that conforms with such a Victorian way of thinking.
PS - By the way, I have, at least, given it a new cover ! ! !