MARCH 4, 1938
WASHINGTON, Thursday—Here I am back in Washington, very fortunate in having been able to fly out of New York City this morning before rain and fog seemed about to descend.
First of all, I must tell you that three plays I have seen while in New York interested me greatly. First, "Shadow and Substance" a whimsical, charming play well cast and acted with distinction. I like to sit and think of Julie Haydon as "Brigid." There was a purity about her face which, as I came out, made me feel I had lived through a really beautiful experience. During the intermission I kept saying to myself: "How marvelous that here in New York City, one of the most materialistic and sophisticated places in the world, this play should draw crowds day after day."
The next play, "On Borrowed Time" was even more whimsical—Mr. Brink, who represents Death held captive up in the tree, the old man's desire to care for his grandson—all of it so imaginative, so perfectly impossible, and yet so perfectly human and "everyday." In one way or another we all try to circumvent Providence. In the end, one way or another, we are taught that it does not lie within our province to do so.
I am glad it ended on a happy note, and that if the people had known in advance how they would feel when they met Mr. Brink, they would have met him more joyfully at an earlier period. The casting and acting in this play too, is very good, and the little boy is charming.
The appreciation of the audience for this imaginative bit of whimsy is truly amazing. It makes me feel better about New York City to discover that a sufficient number of people enjoy these two plays to keep them going week after week with full houses.
Finally, I saw the WPA play: "A Third Of The Nation." It is a marvelous piece of stage setting and acting. The script and the whole performance have been greatly improved since I saw the first performance in Poughkeepsie.
A few people may think they are treated rather harshly and disrespectfully, and some situations may not tell the whole story, but the main objective is achieved with great success. We want to know about our housing conditions; we want to know what the Government, federal, state and local, is doing about it; we want to know what private individuals are doing, and we couldn't have it shown more truthfully and dramatically.
I wish the play could have pointed to the fact that under given conditions, private capital might carry its share of the burden. However, too much explanation might have weakened the main points on this subject which should be placed clearly before the public and, on the whole, I think the WPA has made a remarkable contribution to civic education.