Do Times Change? Young Dallas Playwright Muses Over Future of New Scripts

KMB.12.51

“The business of the dramatist is to keep out of sight and let nothing appear but his characters.

Thus wrote T.B. Macaulay to the Edinburgh Review of 1825, and with that admonition in mind, I shall be brief. Why would anyone in his right mind want to be a dramatist? Well, perhaps it is because drama, of all the lively arts, is the most social form. It is a gregarious art. Drama, well written and convincingly portrayed produces empathy, that exciting condition of unity between audience and players.

I wrote my first play for a Sunday School Christmas party when I was eight and living in Hamilton, Ontario. The plot involved an enchanted princess who could be awakened only on Christmas. However, people were always too busy opening their gifts and enjoying them to bother about her so she had been asleep an interminable time. At eight, I showed much Hans Christian Anderson influence. Finally, a poor, ragged woodcutter, bereft of gifts, had ample time to put in a good five minutes’ disenchanting. What kept the audience awake is still a mystery. Anyway, I wasn’t cast as the princess so I felt the whole thing was a total loss.

Some years later, while studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Art in New York (City), I decided I wanted to write for the theatre, not act. The loss to the acting world was something less than negligible.

As for “Too Late, Too Late, My Love”, which is written as high farce, it came into being over three weekends last spring which shows clearly what the Vernal Equinox will do to some people. The stimulus for “Too Late” is vague now. Someone I saw in a hotel lobby, a snatch of conversation perhaps, and suddenly I had a Jessica on my hands. Spoiled, charming, capricious, and pathetic in her devious attempts to remain young.

Program cover, Dallas Little Theatre production of "Too Late, Too Late, My Love"

Program cover, Dallas Little Theatre production of “Too Late, Too Late, My Love”

Shortly thereafter, I read a famous critic’s scathing diatribe on misguided playwrights or would-be-playwrights who insist on writing plays about actresses, aging or otherwise. Who was I to argue with a famous critic, so “Too Late” was cast off to my “why don’t you just take up basket-weaving” file. However, prior to this awakening, John Hanby had read it; and Mr. Hanby, whose knowledge of theatre is considerable, insisted I get it out again. I did with the understanding that he would direct it, which he is doing now, and that nobly.

Today we hear the American stage is suffering from lack of stimulation, lack of new talent. But the chasm between the author’s desk and actual production is almost unbridgeable. Broadways sets up hurdles of theme and style before the beginning dramatist; publishers rarely consider a manuscript without an advance of production reviews. Therefore, Dallas Little Theatre, in sponsoring an original script from an unknown author, is fulfilling a real need.

Last year I brought in another script to Clifford Sage, drama editor for the Times Herald, seeking his opinion both as a playwright and critic. At that time, he told me he is approached frequently with new scripts. So, the aspiring dramatists are here, and I hope “Too Late” will prove the beginning again of original script productions by all the amateur groups in Dallas.

 

Dallas Little Theatre presented “Too Late, Too Late, My Love” by Kathleen McCoo Bonifield, directed by John Hanby, at the Highland Park Town Hall December 10 -15, 1951. It received positive reviews.

The above article, titled “One Dramatist Finds Writing Gregarious Art” by Mrs. Bonifield ran in the Dallas Morning News December 6, 1951.

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