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December 12, 1936

The Experimental Theatre, under Lester Lang’s direction, gave the American première of Luigi Pirandello’s satiric drama Tonight We Improvise (Questa sera si recita a soggetto, 1929). Praising the performances, in particular, of Barbara Dole ’37 as “Mommina” and Jean Sobotta ’38 as “Signora Ignazia,” Professor of Italian Maria Piccirilli, declared the performance “perhaps the most ambitious and successful production which we have seen on the campus” in The Miscellany News.

Citing the several layers of satire in Pirandello’s writing, Professor Piccirilli drew attention to “the conclusion in the last words uttered by the Director, which may be summed up as follows: Life and its passions are not yet Art. To live one’s passions is not to represent them artistically. Art is both passions and order, impetus and restraint. These two elements must be merged so that passions no longer exist as such, and order is not to be recognized as something imposed from the outside, passive obedience to rules.”

Pirandello spoke, in Italian, at Vassar in January 1924 on “The Italian Theatre, Old and New,” and the Experimental Theater presented the American première of his Each in His Own Way (Ciascuno a suo modo, 1924) in December 1929. The recipient of the 1934 Nobel Prize for Literature, Pirandello died in Rome on December 10, 1936.

Lester Lang, Hallie Flanagan Davis’s assistant in the Vassar Experimental Theatre, was acting director of the theatre in Davis’s absence while serving as director of the Federal Theatre Project.

The Years