The War As It Affects the Theatrical Profession
- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 25 Nov 1915, p. 7-11
- Faversham, William, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- A personal anecdote of an experience the speaker had at a meeting of the Drama League some few years ago. The speaker's great belief in education through drama, and his firm conviction that the theatre is the greatest educational force there is, seconded only by the great daily press. What the theatre hopes to do. What the theatre can teach us. The hope that when this war is ended, those who have done so much for the Empire are all going to come forward and say, "We have done as much as you have, and by Jove we are going to have something to say about it." The great mistake that those men who have fought and succeeded have not been consulted about the big things in London. The speaker's part in arresting James Dumba. The address concludes with lines from W.A. Henley's poem "England, My England."
- Date of Original
- 25 Nov 1915
- Language of Item
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- Full Text
- THE WAR AS IT AFFECTS THE THEATRICAL PROFESSION
AN ADDRESS BY WILLIAM FAVERSHAM, ESQ.
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto November 25, 1915
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN,--This occasion permits me to tell you an old story of mine. Some few years ago I was invited to speak at a meeting of the Drama League. The chair was occupied by a lady who had never before acted in that capacity. She was very important, and luncheon had not gone on ten minutes before she made a great mistake by getting up, knocking on the plate, and saying, "Now, ladies and gentlemen, would you like to enjoy yourselves a little longer, or will Mr. Faversham speak now? " I will try to do a little better today. I feel greatly honored in coming to this Club today; it has been the dream of my life to come to the Empire Club; I have read what it has sprung from, and even in Col. Denison's presence I feel like saying that it must have sprung from the Imperial League, when I seethe names of the great men on the Executive, the real loyalists, the cavaliers of Canada, who have brought all this about.
When a theatre man comes, you think he ought to speak of the theatre. Sometimes I think the theatre is frivolous and unnecessary and wish I did not belong to it, and that I ought to be doing something else that seems more substantial. After all, I think there is something good in our profession. I am a great believer in education through the drama, and I am firmly convinced that the theatre is the greatest educational force there is, seconded only by the great daily press, which is always a great educator. Therefore, I think I might go on and speak to you about the theatre and what it hopes to do; and when all of us who are trying to uphold the theatre are gone and perhaps a good many of us will have to go from you before very long--I trust you who remain will see that the theatre retains its proper place.
The theatre cannot teach you politics and arithmetic, although I think I could teach you a little arithmetic sometimes; but we can teach you music, painting, sculpture, costume, deportment, good speech--everything that pertains to art we can help you with; that is, if we do the best that there is in us, which we all strive to do who take it seriously.
I think any young man or woman who is taken to the theatre when a youngster to see the best plays will receive unconsciously an education that they could not get anywhere else in the world. I do not think there is any form of education that compares with the theatre, because about ninety-nine percent of human beings remember what they see and what they hear compared with the one per cent. who remember what they read. They are all too busy now-a-days to remember what they read; that is why we have the head-lines in the newspapers, I suppose.
When I was a boy I do not think I took much notice of anything about education, or tried to get an education at all. I was always running away somewhere, and would not go to school. Finally I was taken by the back of the neck. and taken very seriously into a family of six or seven sisters who were crazy about the theatre, and they used to take me there every night. At first I didn't like it, but it gradually grew upon me. I saw all the great actors away back to Barry Sullivan because really I am not as young as I look. I have seen the whole stock from Irving to our great actor, Forbes Robertson; and I think it started something that did me a lot of good, for I would have been a rough and reckless cow-puncher out West; and I owe it all to the theatre.
The theatre brings home to you everything that is big and human. I was talking to Rabbi Wise, the big Jewish Rabbi in New York, the other day, and. he said to me, "Faversham, I have to confess to you now that I received nearly all my education in going to the theatre." I replied, "I am not surprised at that, for I see you in the theatre every night." He said, "I go there because I can see more of my tribe in the theatre than I can in a Church." He added, "When it comes to the boxoffice end of it you are not in it with us." He told me that he was very much surprised in London to go to St. Paul's Cathedral and see the Bishop of London standing in front, with a rather theatrical speech on a little bit of paper in front of him, and then a great big brass band-anything to bring in the crowd--and he said to him afterwards, "Why don't you go to the theatre? We can get three times the audience there that we get in Church. If I give a lecture in Church I get about a quarter of it filled, but if I give it in the theatre it is packed, and I turn them away." There is something about a theatre that the public never can get away from.
It seems presumption on my part to stand here and talk while there are so many able men here who could do much better than I can; but I wonder if one from the crowd, as I consider myself, might say to all you men something that is very near and dear to my heart ? The English colony in New York have talked about it. It is this : That we hope when this war is ended that all you wonderful people who have done so much for the Empire are not going to sit still and let the settlement of this thing be dictated from just one chair in London, but that you are all going to come forward and say, "We have done as much as you have, and by Jove we are going to have something to say about it. Undoubtedly the time will come, though I may notlive to see it, when Canada and Australia and South Africa will sit in our Parliament, as it should be. It should have been so from the very first. Terrible mistakes have been made; and if I might venture, as an amateur strategist, to say so, the great mistake was that those men who have fought and succeeded have not been consulted about the big things in London.
I do not like to talk too much about politics, because I think you feel that I am not as competent as some others, but it has been very near and dear to us and every one of our members that a little secret society of New York has been of great assistance to our slow police in London in catching one or two prominent men among the German element. Having been asked whenever I came to Canada to speak on this very subject, I might tell you that I was instrumental in catching one, James Dumba, a little while ago. He was a very intimate friend of mine for years, but I never quite trusted him. I had him at a little dinner, and then I communicated with Mr. Ford, and the first thing he knew we had him on the boat.
Gentlemen, I do not think there is anything I can say to you in the spirit of Imperialism better than the few lines that W. A. Henley wrote twenty-five years ago, which I repeat at the theatre, and if you would not mind, I would repeat to you those lines now.
ENGLAND, MY ENGLAND What have I done for you, England, my England? What is there I would not do, England, my own! With your glorious eyes austere, As the Lord were walking near, Whispering terrible things and dear, As the Song on your bugles blown, England Round the world on your bugles blown! Where shall the watchful sun, England, my England, Match the master-work you've done, England, my own! When shall he rejoice agen Such a breed of mighty men As come forward, one to ten, To the Song on your bugles blown, England Down the years on your bugles blown! Ever the faith endures, England, my England: "Take and break us: we are yours, England, my own! Life is good, and joy runs high Between English earth and sky Death is death; but we shall die To the Song on your bugles blown, England To the stars on your bugles blown! " They call you proud and hard, England, my England You with worlds to watch and ward, England, my own! You whose mailed hand keeps the keys Of such teeming destinies, You could know nor dread nor ease, Were the Song on your bugles blown, England Round the Pit on your bugles blown! Mother of Ships whose might, England, my England, Is the fierce old Sea's delight, England, my own, Chosen daughter of the Lord, Spouse-in-Chief of the ancient Sword, There's the menace of the Word In the Song on your bugles blown, England Out of heaven on your bugles blown!
The vote of thanks was proposed by Col. G. T. Benison, and seconded by Dr. Goggin.