MAY 22, 1936
WASHINGTON—I do not know whether the Neighborhood Playhouse, at 16 West 46th Street, New York City, calls the demonstration which I saw last night, graduation exercises or not, but in their studio, with no scenery to speak of, their students, first and second year graduates, presented some scenes from plays and then showed us the dance technique and other things which they had learned.
The audience was crowded into half the room and the rest of the room was left free for the students. I became completely absorbed in watching the methods develop before me which I think are going to bring to the American stage a new type of production. I have told you how much I was impressed by the Civic Repertory Group producing "Bury the Dead" and here among the students of the Neighborhood Playhouse I saw future actors and actresses of the same type being educated.
They work on their own interpretation of a scene and the picture they gave of the youth problem today was poignant and realistic. Under Martha Graham's and Mr. Horst's direction they learn control of their bodies and proper movement, until to see them walk, or enter or leave a room gives you a feeling of strength and direction.
I enjoyed talking to them afterwards. They are so eager, so alive and so responsive one can not help but long to help them find the answers to their problems.
I flew back to Washington this morning—a gorgeous day and a very smooth trip. I had a most interesting hour and a half with the social welfareworkers, working on WPA projects all over the United States.
A picnic luncheon on the lawn with a group of thirty-six people from Arthurdale, West Virginia, who have come up to entertain at the Veterans' Garden Party this afternoon. They are going to sing some old time folk songs, dance some square dances and have their own orchestra accompany them.
We also have Miss Mary Brosseit performing with a lariat. This is the only Garden Party to which the President comes and after everyone has been received and has had ice cream, cake, sandwiches and lemonade, they sit around and enjoy the entertainment, we hope! The Marine Band plays while they are being received and I am thankful to say that this year it is a perfect day.