MARCH 4, 1946
NEW YORK, Sunday—On Friday night I went to the theatre again and saw Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in "O Mistress Mine." I was glad to be with such an appreciative group, since I had been away from any pleasure of this kind during my whole time in London and since my return. They were very kind in London and offered the UNO delegates all sorts of special performances, but I had so much work to do that I made it a hard and fast rule not to attend either the theatre or the movies. Even with that rule I found myself working night after night until one or two o'clock in the morning. But a little stern self-discipline brings its own reward, for my pleasure in Friday night's performance was heightened by the sense of excitement that comes with doing again what has always given one pleasure. The theatre and the dramatic arts have been one of the joys of my life!
Guthrie McClintock, the producer and director, sat next to me at the performance. He was told by Miss Fontanne after the play that she had forgotten his presence until just before one of the most difficult scenes, and then it swept over her that this most respected of critics was in the audience. I could have told her that he was no critic Friday night, but just a very amused and happy part of the audience.
The play is light and rather charming, but without the performance which the Lunts bring to it might have little appeal. The whole cast is good, and I thought Dick Van Patten, who played the obnoxious young son, was delightful, too.
Mr. Lunt told me that they had played "O Mistress Mine" in England. At first they had put on "Let There Be Light," a drama at which their audiences often wept. Then the Lunts got to feeling that the British people had wept enough, and so they turned to something which would make them laugh. For that they deserve our gratitude, since the few hours of laughter spent in places of entertainment are probably a very important factor in giving the people of Great Britain the courage to persist with their wartime restrictions and difficulties in order that they may continue to help in Europe with both food and materials.
The Russians, too, have discovered the value of taking people out of their everyday world through dramatic and musical presentations of great beauty. Their people, too, have been able to accept the restrictions, imposed in preparation for war, which have kept their standard of living so low and their consumer goods non-existent. For this reason, perhaps, they have had a sharpened appreciation of everything the arts could bring them and been strengthened through them for their daily sacrifices.
I was interested to find that these two sensitive artists, Mr. Lunt and Miss Fontanne, felt as I did about the continent of Europe and the depth of human sorrow and misery that one cannot escape over there. So they will understand, I hope, my gratitude for what they did abroad and what they are now doing here at home.