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January 17, 1924

Italian playwright Luigi Pirandello lectured, in Italian, on the underlying themes of his plays and of the modern movement in drama. Contessa Irene di Robilan, head of the Italo-American Society, and Dr. Arthur Livingston, Pirandello’s official translator, interpreted the lecture, entitled “The Italian Theatre, Old and New.” The playwright maintained that the fundamental difference between the old drama and the new was less in form than in subject. “The old theatre,” reported The Miscellany News, “was preoccupied with social and moral problems, and with environment as their cause. This type of drama originated in France and was imitated in Italy. Then came younger writers who wished to treat intellectual and spriitual problems instead of social ones. This theatre of ideas concerns itself with such problems as what reality is and what makes it.” Asked if Bernard Shaw belonged to the old or to the modern theatre, Pirandello, said The Misc, proclaimed Shaw to be “an ultra-modern writer…. The new theatre does not mean only that which deals with new subjects. The modern writer is he who has a novel view and conception of his subject. Hence Shaw is a modern writer.”

Questioned about the degree to which a modern Italian drama can be interpreted by American actors, the Italian pointed out, said the reporter, that the new theatre “because it does not deal with local color, but with human thoughts and passions, may easily become international. Drama of the soul does not depend upon any nationality for interpretation.” The Vassar Experimental Theatre gave the American premières of Pirandello’s Each in His Own Way (Ciascuno a suo modo, 1924) in December 1929 and of his Tonight We Improvise (Questa sera si recita a soggetto, 1929) in December, 1936.

The Years