August 25, 1945 p. 22
EVEN THOUGH we have celebrated V-J Day, it would seem that peace as the peoples of the world have it, is as far away now as it was at the height of battle. Disturbing news which comes from the Pacific Theatre, tells us that Jap flyers are still attacking our reconnaissance planes--that fighting is still going on in scattered areas--that the "Mikado" is changing his cabinet by trading one set of militarists for another--that the Japanese people are being told that they have not been defeated, but only temporarily incapacitated to further prosecute the war because of the atomic bomb--that the Emperor is playing cat and mouse with General MacArthur on the surrender meeting in Manila.
We could go on and on listing events which are hampering the progress of a real and lasting peace, and the confusion which has been created because of it.
. . .
LIKE EVERY OTHER PROFESSION, the entertainment world is concerned with how the end of the war and the necessary peacetime measures will effect them. It is safe to assume that box office receipts which had a field day, during the war, will now shrink because there is no war. If we can remember back as far as the depression, we will remember that the amusement field like the Negro, was the first to feel the economic pinch.
. . .
IT IS ALWAYS MY BELIEF that "it is an ill wind that blows no one any good" and out of this chaotic state in which we found ourselves enmeshed, will come a more discriminating theatre. Some of the ridiculous tripe which has been passing for good theatre and screen fare will automatically be eliminated when the street trade falls off. Also, we will find that those people who earn their living entertaining, will have not only to get on their toes, but stay there. The competition is going to be stiff and it will be a case of the survival of the fittest.
It will be a great pity if those people who have discovered the legitimate theatre n [sic] these past few years, are forced, because of economic pressure to forfeit the pleasure, culture, education and mental stimulation which good theatre affords. Perhaps in the not too distant future, our government will appreciate the value of culture through the medium of the theatre and do something about subsidizing it.
. . .
I WONDER HOW OUR RETURNING VETERANS are going to react to the fact that they too, in most cases, will not be able to afford the kind of entertainment to which they became accustomed during their service in the armed forces. We must remember that many heard good music and witnessed the drama with star performers for the first time in their lives and because of the stress under which they lived at the time, more readily understood and appreciated its value than they would have under normal circumstances. The [sic] will not want to give up this new found joy. And yet, most of these boys come from ordinary families with moderate or low incomes and can make no provisions for entertainment other than a neighborhood movie.
That, as I see it is a sketchy over-all picture of the theatre. But for us, like in all else, the problems are two-fold. Frankly for the moment, show business for us looks fairly promising, that is as far as the legitimate theatre is concerned. For one thing, we have young and social-minded producers entering the field. They must naturally be concerned with producing shows which will at least pay for themselves; but they are also concerned and, deeply so, with theatre which will give an opportunity to capable talent regardless of color and subjects which give a genuine impetus to democracy.
. . .
IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING that this fact gives us a start in the right direction Joe Ferrer, Iago to Paul Robeson's Othello, is now devoting his exceptional talents and democratic beliefs to producing. His first venture is Lillian Smith's highly challenging and controversial work, Strange Fruit. The cast will be a mixed one and because we know Ferrer's views on the theatre and the equality of human beings, we are satisfied that the relation between Negro and white in his play, will be normal and natural [sic: no period] That in itself will help break down the bar in the theatre whereby there must never be any close contact or love interest between the races. No Negro actor or actress other than Paul Robeson has, to my knowledge, been permitted by thought or deed to portray a love interest with or for the opposite race in the commercial theatre. Something tells me. Ferrer, in his forthright manner, will pioneer in breaking down that barrier.
Another producing outfit which is progressive and new is Kermit Blumgarden and George Heller. Their production of Walls Of Jericho, will also use a mixed cast. It is contemporary and shows the forward trend of progressive movement. In addition to these two dramas, there will be two musicals, Carib Song and St Louis Woman.
If these productions come through with top entertainment and good theatre with an eye for social consciousness, we are definitely in the running. If not--well, your guess is as good as mine.