Seventy years ago this week, we speculated as to what entering a new decade would mean for theatre, and its significance in the entertainment industry.
We asked: “What, one wonders, in another 50 years will elderly playgoers be saying of our present-day record? Will they be looking upon this as a birth-time of all sorts of wonderful new adventures on the living stage, or will they just dimly recollect something which television will have ousted from prime importance?
“This latter outcome is hardly to be expected. With all its attractive qualities television can obviously never replace the appeal and response of actor, actress and audience in a theatre. All these threats were made over films and radio.
“So far from supplanting the stage they have at last brought to it a new public ready to go through all sorts of discomforts just to join in the delights of a real flesh-and-blood play. It may be a throw-back to the primitive; but whatever the fruits of economic co-operation we are still in our hearts as primitive as ever.
“Truth is that between the plays of 1900 and those for which we are looking in 1950 there is no great difference. It is the chances for actor and actress which make the play a winner now as then.”
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