The Moment The Curtain Went Up,
The Light In The Body Of The House Went Down.
The Audience Sat In The Cool Gloom Of A Deep Twilight,
Which Greatly Enhanced The Glowing Splendors Of The Stage.
It Saved Gas, Too, And People Were Not Sweated To Death.
When I saw "King Lear" played, nobody was allowed to see
a scene shifted; if there was nothing to
Be done but slide
a forest out of the way and expose a temple beyond, one did
not see that forest split itself in the middle and go
shrieking away, with the accompanying disenchanting spectacle
of the hands and heels of the impelling impulse - no,
the curtain was always dropped for an instant - one heard
not the least movement behind it - but when it went up,
the next instant, the forest was gone. Even when the
stage was being entirely reset, one heard no noise.
During the whole time that "King Lear" was playing
the curtain was never down two minutes at any one time.
The orchestra played until the curtain was ready to go up
for the first time, then they departed for the evening.
Where the stage waits never each two minutes there is no
occasion for music. I had never seen this two-minute
business between acts but once before, and that was when
the "Shaughraun" was played at Wallack's.
I was at a concert in Munich one night, the people
were streaming in, the clock-hand pointed to seven,
the music struck up, and instantly all movement in
the body of the house ceased - nobody was standing,
or walking up the aisles, or fumbling with a seat,
the stream of incomers had suddenly dried up at its source.
I listened undisturbed to a piece of music that was fifteen
minutes long - always expecting some tardy ticket-holders
to come crowding past my knees, and being continuously and
pleasantly disappointed - but when the last note was struck,
here came the stream again.
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