MARCH 3, 1939
NEW YORK, Thursday—Last night Colonel Harrington and Mrs. Kerr received a group of us at the opening of "The Swing Mikado," given under the auspicies of the WPA Theatre Project. It has been a great success in Chicago, and since it evidently played to full houses, I wondered why nobody protested here that it should not be produced.
One of my fellow columnists cited it the other day as an example, stating that it would be run in competition with Broadway legitimate theatres. I suppose that could be said of any WPA production, except for two very important factors. One of them is that the people who attend these performances are not, as a rule, the people who can afford to attend the average theatre performance on Broadway. They would be more apt to go to the movies. In addition, the players are almost entirely actors and actresses, who for one reason or another, have been unable to find a job in the performances produced at present.
It is true that a few of them find jobs from time to time, but there always seem to be others to take their places. A few of the WPA performances have been taken over by private producers after they have proved successful and I hope that will occur often. However, I do not see any good argument against giving an opportunity for employment to people who have a definite skill and who cannot find work of the kind that they are able to do.
The thing which amazes me most about these performances is the fact that, with the material they must use, they succeed in producing such remarkably good plays. One would expect mediocrity and condone it, instead the artistic standards have been kept high.
This morning was spent in the same way I have spent so many many others in New York City of late—a voice lesson and the dentist! I lunched out with an old friend who invited a number of my old friends as well as hers, which was a great pleasure.
I have just received a copy of a most interesting magazine called "Digest of the Deaf." This little publication attempts to show what the attitude of the public should be towards people handicapped by deafness. It tries to encourage the deaf by reminding them how many people who have accomplished great things in this world have labored under the limitations of deafness.
This magazine, published in Springfield, Massachusetts, should find a place in the hands of employers, in the hands of people who come in daily contact with deaf people, besides being invaluable to deaf people themselves.
I have been seeing people this afternoon almost in the way I do in Washington, but half hour appointments are harder to run here in New York City with no usher to terminate one appointment and conduct me to another room for the next one!