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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

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The first formal presentation of the Latin play, given last evening, covered all expectations, high as these had been. The applause which the play received, considering how far a great part of the audience necessarily was a from full appreciation of the finer points, was astonishing. The great hazard of time, work, and care has, if complete success is compensation, been repaid.

The presentation of the Phormio is a unique achievement. Although Latin plays are established features in England, both pronunciation and music are there modernized; and, although once before a Latin play was given in this country, the pronunciation of the Roman Catholic church was then used. No Latin play has ever been given in modern times that so nearly reproduces ancient conditions as does the Phormio. It has meant an immense amount of work; hardly any of the actors had ever made a study of dramatic expression before, and, even if they had, they were confronted by problems which no actor ever faced before. To master these problems has meant, not to speak of work in private, rehearsals two, three and even six times a week from the beginning of the college year. It is the expression of hundreds in the University and it will be the expression of hundreds more before the last performance is closed, that no praise can be too prodigal for the students who acted, and for the professors who prepared and directed the work.

There is one feature of the success which is, above all other things, a cause for gratification. The success was won by hearty, unhesitating cooperation in the general plan by every person who had any connection with the play. There was none of the half-hearted, calculating support which outsiders persist in believing is the only kind given at Harvard. Individuals worked, not to make themselves prominent but to make the play successful.

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