MUSIC AND DRAMA.
CHANGED THEATRICAL TASTES.
Now that non-musical drama has vanished from the professional stage In Sydney, one reads with envy about the stream of new plays being brought forward in Melbourne by Mr. P. W. Thring. His latest exploit is the presentation, at the Garrick Theatre, of Dion Boucicault's melodrama, "The Streets of London." The author (the father of the Dion Boucicault so closely associated with the annals of the Australian stage) was one of the most eminent among English playwrights during the nineteenth century. He was actor, author, and producer; and used to carpenter dramas together and put them on in the theatre-with phenomenal rapidity. Some- times the wfible'-proçess would occupy him less than a month. ~*~ This,"in itself, Is a significant comment on the inartistic depths to which the English theatre had sunk at that day. Having made a fortune with "Colleen Bawn," Boucicault lost it again in other ven- tures; but rose to the crest of the wave again with "The Octoroon." "The Streets of London" was presented in 1864. it ran for 200 nights, and was frequently revived untlf as late as 1900, by which time the new school of drama, headed by Pinero and Henry Arthur Jones, had begun to alter popular taste. After 1900, "The Streets of London" seemed to have slipped gradually but surely into oblivion Last year, however, a West End theatrical manager conceived the Idea of putting on the melodrama, not as a begetter of thrills, but as a gigantic joke for the younger generation. The experiment succeeded. This ancient piece, mounted and acted with the utmost gravity, drew all London, and enormous audi- ences rocked with laughter at the sinister activities of Gideon Bloodgood (the villain) and the noble attitudes of the genteel hero. In Melbourne last Saturday Mr. Gregan McMahon produced the play with the same humorous object; but the expected reaction was slow In coming. At first, the audience hesitated; and seemed Inclined to take the whole thing seriously. After a time, however, the plot proved so utterly grotesque to the eyes of 1933 that the spell was broken, and mhth held sway. According to the "Argus" critic, the play 1: "a ragbag of mawkish rub- bish and rodomontade." Yet, In Its day, "The Streets of London" was looked on as one of the most notable productions of the London theatre. The actors In the Melbourne ver- sion of It Included Mr. Frank Harvey (as "Badger, a scoundrel"); Miss Phyllis Baker, who was seen here in the film, "Harmony Row," and such other capable actors as Campbell
Copelln, George Blunt, and Harold B. Meade;
and Miss Noel Boyd.
VETERAN ACTOR'S DEATH.
A cable message recently announced the death of E. H. Sothern, a veteran actor who for many years was regarded as the leading exponent of romantic and Shakespearian roles In America. His career began in New York, where his father, E. A. Snthern, was then ap- pearing. (This was In 1879.) E. A. Sothern had been one of the most popular actors of his day in London. In her autobiography, Ellen Terry describes how he played the part of her lover at the Haymarket Theatre, where he was the reigning star and she a girl of 15, newly arrived from the provinces. "He was always teasing me," she says, "pulling my hair; making me forget my part and look like an idiot. Why I should never have liked Sothern, with his wonderful hands and blue eyes, whom everyone found so fascinating and delightful, I cannot say. I admired him: but I dreaded his Jokes, and thought some of them very cruel." Twenty years later, Sothern the younger lolned up with the company at the Lyceum Theatre, where Ellen Terry was winning great success In association with Henry Irving. He remained at the Lyceum as leading man for 13 years, until 1898, dur- ing which time ho appeared In many of Irv ing's most famous productions, including "The Prisoner of Zenda" and "The Lady of Lyons." Then he went to America, and began his Shakespearian career there by playing Hamlet In New York. In 1903. he became "co-star" In Shakespeare with Julia Marlowe; and later married this actress. The long association between the two was responsible for a great number of highly artistic performances. Miss Marlowe, who Is still alive, retired from the stage in 1924. Two years later, she and her husband presented the entire productions of ten Shakespearian plays to the Memorial
Theatre at Stratford-on-Avon.
Mr. George Bryant, who, with his daughter, Miss Beryl Bryant, Is now as- sociated with the Sydney amateur stage, toured with E. H. Sothern in America for some years. Conversing on the subject the other day, Miss Bryant recalled some Interesting incidents of this tour. "My father describes," she said, "a young plain-looking girl Join- ing the company. At first, no one paid much attention to her: but with each part she im- proved, and Sothern began to notice her. Pre- sently she was given the leading part in 'The Lady of Lyons,' and from this she went on to greater successes. The girl was Margaret Anglin. I myself can remember Sothern very distinctly; also the fact that our train caught on fire once when we were travelling. Rachel Crothers, the author of 'Let Us Be Gay' and 'When Ladies Meet,' walked on in Sothern's productions, and learnt much of her stagecraft while working with him. I think everyone who wants to write for the stage must gain practical, first-hand knowledge of the theatre In some such way as this in order to succeed."
Dame Clara Butt, whose Sydney concert season begins this evening, has promised to present a trophy for contralto voices, to be competed for at next year's City of Sydney eisteddfod. She considers that eisteddfods are a particularly valuable means of raising the standard of musical performance and appreciation.
Two days ago, a new monthly magazine, entitled "Harmony," devoted to "music, drama, and the allied arts," made its first appearance on the bookstalls. A number of people well known in local musical and amateur drama- tic circles have contributed articles on topics of which they have special knowledge. Mr. A. E. Smith, for example, writes on "Famous Violin Makers;" Madame Emily Marks on "How Vocal Training Develops Personality;" and Mr. Lindley Evans deals with "Technique and Interpretation." There are also critical reviews of the concerts and amateur theatrical performances that have taken place during the past month, and personal notes about Aus- tralian musicians here and abroad.
Last week, the Australian Broadcasting Commission announced that it had decided to give, at the Town Hall, early next month, another orchestral concert for children. The latest news is that two afternoons, December 5 and 6, have been set apart for this enter- prise. The programme is distinctly lighter In quality than the last one. It is devoted mainly to such very familiar friends as Tschalkow sky's "Casse Noisette" Suite; the Jarnefelt "Praeludium;" and the "Rakokzy" March. There Is one surprise-Honegger's "Pacific 231." This piece of "modernism," which de- picts, with remarkable plenitude of discord, the career of a raliway locomotive, is looked on askance by many trained musicians. Pre- sumably, the broadcasting authorities con- sider .that Its "programme" will appeal to the young, In this mechanical age.
Mr. William Moore provides news of a Mel- bourne writer of plays who, after moving a good deal about the world, has arrived to make his home in Sydney. Mr. Sydney Tomholt first left this country as a member of the A.I.F. during the war. Having served In France ho spent some time In Melbourne in business, then went to the East. There he engaged in transport work In the Gobi Desert. Next he was a journalist in Shanghai. After that he took up a commercial post in Manila; and it was in Manila that he first found himself associated with a sympathetic literary circle. His play "The Woman Stands Accused" (a drama of Philippine life) won a competition for a radio drama organised by the American Chamber of Commerce. In Australia the national stations have broadcast "Dimmed Lights" and "The Woman Mary." ' Mr. Moore says, also, that "Anoli the Blind" and "The Woman Mary," have been promised pro- duction by Mr. Grogan McMahon In Mel- bourne; and by Mr. Gaston Mervale in Auck-
Miss Lucille Bruntnell announces that the Governor-General of South Africa (the Earl of Clarendon) and the Countess of Claren- don have added'their names to the long list of patrons of her enterprise in popularising the work of A. A. Milne; and the author him- self has written to her cxprcsilng his approval. Her recital at the Savoy Theatre next month will be her fiftitth performance of "Chris- topher Robin." !.,.".
Miss Lena Ward reports that the annual meeting of the Associated Music Clubs was held last week; and that Mr. Howard Carr was re-elected president.