"Americans are not indigenous aborigines possessed of a native cultural background, but come from all parts of Europe, or even Africa and the Orient," said Arthur Burkhard, assistant professor of German, speaking last evening before the Modern Language Conference on "The German Stage." By the fact that the Germans are a mature nation having a definite cultural background, Professor Burkhard explained the contrast between American and German stages, the fifty odd operas in Germany, opposed to but one in America, the many theaters in hundreds of German cities, while New York is the only city in America which has a live theater. The German audience, the lecturer said is cultured, and moreover discriminating. Its taste is such that it demands plays which are good not only today, but which have a dramatic and intellectual content which make them of permanent value. The Germans go to the theater to learn, not primarily to enjoy a spectacle.
The structure of the theater, the Professor continued, is affected by this serious interest in things theatrical, and so differs widely from the American system. On the other side of the Rhine all theaters have a permanent company, which plays every sort of piece, from the classics to the latest author's newest work. The runs are for a few nights only, and the crowds are attracted as much by variety as here they are by ballyhoo and reputation. The actors, because of the varied diet, and because an actor is not chosen by personality, and fitted to his part, but must really act, are better than Americans, who are untrained, and chosen because of some pleasant characteristic.