FEBRUARY 16, 1938
NEW YORK, Tuesday—I caught a plane yesterday afternoon for New York and went to see a friend who had been ill, only to find her recovery had been so rapid she had gone out. However, this gave me time to go home and prepare more peacefully for a very gay evening.
After dinner, Miss Esther Lape and I went to see "Pins And Needles," which is a new theatrical venture undertaken by the Ladies Garment Workers Union. On every hand, I have been hearing how delightful this performance is. Sometimes you are disappointed when you anticipate too much, but no one could be disappointed by this entertainment. The actors are having such a good time, the audience must, of necessity, reflect their good spirits.
The coaching, I think, must have been done by experts. These actors and actresses carried on their jobs day by day, until they began to play so regularly that it was necessary to give all their time to the theatre. They are not going on the stage permanently, which is fortunate, for the performance would lose some of its freshness and interest if they ceased to be amateurs, or let us say, semi-professionals.
Their jobs are being held open for them and another group is now rehearsing to take their places. They set out their aim in their program: "....to be instrumental in developing a new kind of theatre, alive and responsive to the important trends in current American life. Thus it (the Labor Stage) intends to encourage the efforts of amateur, semi-professional and professional groups in dramatizing vital and significant phases of modern life."
"Pins And Needles" talks a good deal about "social significance," but none of it is very deep. It is a musical review with a number of sketches, some more amusing than others, some more subtle than others. The general impression is an entertaining evening which provides something of value, both to the audience and the actors. I congratulate Mr. Rome and all the writers of the sketches, as well as the producers and the actors.
It will be some time before I forget "Four Little Angels of Peace" or "Sunday in the Park." "Men Awake" is a very stirring song. I hope the last scene, "We've Just Begun" is prophetic, for the Labor Stage has none of the restrictions and obstacles which have to be surmounted by other producers.
A beautiful day, and this afternoon, before I deliver the speech which I came to New York to make, I am going on a round of errands and visits to family and more or less invalid friends. I will tell you more about the day in tomorrow's column.