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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
There are now at Harvard six organizations which present dramatic offerings. A French play, a German play, an Elizabethan revival, two musical comedies, and two unrestricted original pieces are all excellent in themselves. Together they, so to speak, cut off each others' heads, dramatically as well as financially.
That such a quantity of plays results in a great waste of the best dramatic talent in the University is self-evident. Each of the six societies can produce but very few really capable actors. These men take the principal parts in their respective plays with the result that the remaining roles are but indifferently filled. Moreover, the number of patrons of the College drama is necessarily limited. The greater the number of productions to support, the smaller will be the portion to each. Adequate financial returns are essential if a high standard is to be maintained.
The history of dramatics at Yale is significant. Previous to 1901 the situation was very similar to the present one at Harvard: there being no restriction on the number of annual productions. Dissipation of talent and financial difficulties led to the establishment under faculty sanction of the Yale Dramatic Club which now virtually controls the situation in New Haven. The remarkable success of this society's productions in New York compared with the scattered mediocrity of the Harvard plays is proof of the relative value of the two systems.
The conclusion is irresistible that not until, through Faculty or Student Council intervention, an end is put to the present scattering of talent and enormous waste of time, will Harvard be worthily represented on the college stage.
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