Home | Quotations | Newspaper Articles | Special Features | Links | Search

The New York Times, November 20, 1907

Society Folk, as Mark Twain's Guests, See "The Prince and the Pauper."
Miss Herts, Founder of the Theatre, Says the Object is to Develop Latent Dramatic Talent.

It was said last night that $25 was vainly offered in the course of he evening by some east side folk for a ticket of admission to the Children's Theatre in the Educational Alliance Building, where Mark Twain was entertaining a host of guests, including Gov. Hughes and District Attorney Jerome, with a special performance of his "The Prince and the Pauper."

The company was the regular one of the Children's Theatre. Soon after 8 o'clock East Broadway and the intersecting block of Jefferson street seemed a Broadway in everything except the background and the white lights.

Cabs, coupes, automobiles, and carriages drove up to the Jefferson Street entrance and deposited many of the well-known residents of the town, men and women in evening dress, while footmen lined the lobby, exciting a quite respectful murmur from the crowd kept at a distance by alert policemen.

Of course, every one expected a speech from the author. In the entre-act Mr. Clemens came before the curtain. As he began some of those in the audience recalled that on a former occasion when he had attempted to speak, the play then being the same, he had been cut short in the midst of a story by the management. So these persons waited to see what would happen.

Mr. Clemens expressed the pleasure the occasion held for him. He said that as the ambassador of the children who played in the theatre and who usually made up its audiences, he had invited those present, "the hearts and the brains of New York," to see the work done in the theatre.

"The Children's Theatre is a great educational feature," he said. "The time ought to come when a child's theatre will be a part of every public school in the land. I am apt to be quite plain -"

At this point a muffled whistle sounded behind the lowered curtain.

"That whistle was the signal agreed upon that I should stop," said Mr. Clemens, "and I have not yet started. I shall now do the especial thing that I am here to do. I introduce to you Miss Herts, the founder of the theatre."

He led Miss A. Minnie Herts to the centre of the curtain line, and then stepped down into the orchestra.

Miss Herts spoke with fervor of the work being done in the theatre. She told how plays and scenery had been obtained from managers.

"Then we had no players," she said, "so that we had to make them. There were a number of dramatic clubs of the district which had been hiring this very hall for their entertainments. Some young man would like to see himself as Hamlet, or wished to play in "The Bells and 'Ghosts.' He would gather about himself a little company of friends, sell the tickets to other admiring friends, and then give his performance. So we -"

The whistle that had checked Mr. Clemens now blew rather insistently. But Miss Herts, well intent upon her subject, paid no attention to it.

"The young people enter into the spirit of the thing fully," she said. "The scene-shifter or member of the crown enters just as heartily into the performance as those who play the principal roles. And these young women and young men work the better for it in their department store or shop. They -"

Again the whistle.

" - have a fine spirit about it. We are endeavoring to develop the elemental dramatic impulse latent in every human being from the cradle to the grave."

A final blast from the whistle, and Miss Herts bowed and retired.

The performance itself was fully up to the best standards of amateur acting. But there was about the stage management a deftness that was professional. The whole moved in obedience to routine stage discipline. The Governor, who entered while an act was in progress, and so escaped notice for the time, was in time to see the set of that act struck and another set in place.

None of the amateur actors and actresses faltered. If any or all of them had been unable to continue, their places could have been readily filled from the two complete casts waiting upstairs, known as the understudy and the emergency casts.

In addition to the Governor and the District Attorney some of those in the audience were President Eliot of Harvard, Andrew Carnegie, Mr. and Mrs. Chauncey M. Depew, Robert Collier, John Burroughs, Commissioner Bingham, Dan Beard, Richard Harding Davis, Mrs. John Drew, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob H. Schiff, Dr. Thomas R. Slicer, Frederick A. Stokes, Hamilton W. Mabie, Brander Matthews, Morris K. Jesup, James J. Hill, John Bigelow, Poultney Bigelow, A. F. Eno, Walter Damrosch, Col. George Harvey, and Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Corey.

Return to The New York Times index

Quotations | Newspaper Articles | Special Features | Links | Search