"You ask me whether or not Boston lives up to its far-flung reputation as a patron of the arts?" said Walter Hampden, producer and star of "Cyrano de Bergerac", which is now playing at the Opera House, to a CRIMSON reporter Saturday. "Well, sir, Boston wins no prizes as a drama-loving city.
"I do not wish to have Bostonlans misunderstand my attitude, but I will say this. If there is an artistic element in Boston, if there is a drama-loving element, and by this I mean lovers of the higher forms of drama and not musical comedy fiends, this element certainly does not take the trouble to go to the theatre in anywhere near as large numbers as do the people of other cities. Perhaps the joke is on me, but I must say that whenever I have played before Bostonians I have found them the most unresponsive of audiences. Why this is, I am unable to say. All I know is that it is true.
New York Audiences Quickest
"I prefer New York audiences to all others. This is not because New York is such a big city by any means, but because for some reason its audiences are the quickest to appreciate an actor's efforts, the quickest to rise to the occasion. Next to New York, Philadelphia runs a close second. Philadelphians are really very delightful and gracious, as far as plays are concerned at least.
"You ask me whether the West is intellectually behind the East? No, sir! Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver, and most especially Kansas City are all excellent places to play. Kansas City I should place close behind Philadelphia and New York for the liveliest and brightest audiences.
"Do I think that the American drama is about to eclipse the British drama? Yes, I do. It has not failed to take advantage of its manifold opportunities and has made a great deal of progress in the last twenty years.
America on Road to Golden Age
"Most people keep asking me whether the war has not deadened our minds and filled us with coarse ideas and material ideals. The trouble with them is that they are, like too many of us, generalizing on a subject of which they have seen only a very small phase. They have not seen and appreciated the greater and brighter stars of our intellectual and artistic firmament. They have judged merely by an analysis of the masses. It is true that the war had a bad effect on a majority of our people but it is equally true that it had a truly refining influence on a minority of Americans and it is this minority which is going to lead us to a new Golden Age.
Era of Higher Art Coming
"Just as a hundred years ago the world saw that it could not afford to do without science, and subsequently led us into what has turned out to be a great scientific era, so now the world is perceiving that it cannot do without art, and its life on earth is not complete and happy without the spiritual content that art alone can bring. It will search for a higher art just as it has reached for a higher science.
"One of the pleasing evidences of this revival is the growing popularity of Shakespeare. Perhaps, since I have played in the Shakespearian drama more than, any other, the wish is father to the thought, but other actors have noticed the same fact too."