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The problem of dramatics at Harvard exists because of inadequate instruction in three different fields, literary, artistic, and creative, and it is clear that any attempt to solve the problem as a whole is doomed to failure. It must be attacked on each of the three separate fronts.
The approach to the literary aspect of the problem is conditioned by the fact that the foreign language departments offer numerous courses in the drama of each of the foreign countries. If, then, a language requirement in French and German were established for those wishing to concentrate in comparative drama, no courses in English would have to be added to the field of Comparative Literature, and concentrators in the drama would be enabled to read foreign plays in the original tongue. So, as a solution to the literary aspect of the problem, a two-year language requirement in both French and German would be most satisfactory.
The Art Department would do well to offer a series of courses in the History and practical creation of stage settings for those of artistic inclination who are interested in the drama. The fact that a man took two or three of these courses need not interfere with his ability to pass the General Examination in Fine Arts, which are primarily historical, if such studies were offered as purely extra or related work, aside from the regular historical courses now given in the department. Concentration in the artistic phase of the drama need not be allowed, provided that men interested in stage design had the opportunity to obtain such instruction. The set-up might be patterned after that in the English Department, which provides courses in English Composition, but does not allow a man to concentrate in composition. The liberal approach of the Art Department, then, can be reconciled with the demand of some students for instruction in theatrical art by providing courses in stage design, at the same time keeping them subordinate to the regular courses in the history of art.
Finally, at least two courses in playwrighting must be added to the Department of English if those men who are interested in the creative aspect of the drama are not to continue neglected by University Hall. Harvard alumni, outstanding in the world of the theatre, such as John Mason Brown or Brooks Atkinson might well be lured back to benefit Harvard with their teachings. The idea is not entirely impractical, either, since Mr. Brown gave a course in playwrighting during the summer session last year. If the present rules regarding the number of composition courses a man may take were maintained, the fact that a man took two courses in playwrighting would in no way interfere with his liberal education.
So, the growing demand of a considerable part of the student body for instruction in the literary, artistic, and creative aspects of the drama, and the University policy of strictly theoretical training can be reconciled by a general broadening of the scope of the study in the drama. This done, Harvard may well resume its old position as one of the foremost theatrical colleges in the country.
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