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Post-war press urged to ‘take theatre seriously’ – 100 years ago in The Stage

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July 3, 1919: Writing just after the signing of the Peace Treaty of Versailles that brought the First World War to an end, our editorial called on the mainstream press to help with the post-war rebuilding of the UK theatre industry by treating the stage in a more serious fashion and recognising the role theatremakers played in the war effort.

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We wrote: “The stage gave in every direction – professionally, publicly, patriotically… [but] the theory of writing about public amusements in the daily press seems to be that this writing is naught if it is not light and ephemeral. It cannot be too personal. It may be scandalous. It may be satirical. It may even be vitriolic. But it must never feel practical or helpful. No good comes of so-called criticism of this kind…

“The position we have endeavoured to put forward is that, instead of a waste of space by spinning paragraphs in which no intelligent person can be interested, attention should be given to the things that seriously matter in the theatre. Actors are bending all their energies to the task of improving their working conditions. Upon their success in this task depends, more than upon anything else, the condition of acting for some years to come. The position at the moment is critical, especially for the big provincial area. Yet what daily paper, with so much space given to stage affairs, has realised all that hangs by this important case?”.

If you’d like to read more stories from the history of theatre, all previous content from The Stage is available at the British Newspaper Archive in a convenient, easy-to-access format. Please visit: thestage.co.uk/archive

‘A tonic for troops’: What British theatre did in the First World War


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