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make some mighty appeal to the emotional remote German village is one thing; a nature of the man in the street, an appeal passion play in a bustling, cosmopolitan that will result in his becoming wiser and American city is quite another. This parbetter and nobler, an appeal that will ticular aspect of San Francisco's Passion bring him nearer to God and make of him Play demands emphasis. more of a man?"

In the construction of his sacred drama, The Passion Play of San Francisco is Father Josaphat followed, along general the answer to that question. Believer and lines, the play which has made Oberamunbeliever agree on this, the Catholic mergau famous. From the German drama monk devoted to a life of self-immolation he adopted the unique and impressive deand service, and the fool that says in his vice of a triple stage; that is, a central heart, “There is no God,” are here at one stage flanked by two smaller stages. On —in all the history of the world, Christ, the main stage was enacted the life story whether considered as man or as Man-God of Christ; on the stages at right and left -is the hero transcendent. What is truly scenes were depicted from the Old Testaheroic tears at the heartstrings, every man

ment. The Old Testament scenes were of the red corpuscle thrills at the recital chosen with a view to emphasize the symof deeds of heroism. It is purely an emo

bolism of the sacred drama and to portray, tional appeal; but emotion, and not rea- in a manner at once vivid and convincing, son, rules the world.

the relation between the types and propheThis consideration it was that gave the cies of the old dispensation and their fulSan Francisco Passion Play birth. To bet- fillment in the life of the Savior. ter man, I must appeal to the emotional In the fourth act of the first division of in man; the emotional nature thrills at the production, for instance, while on the touch of the heroic; the supreme hero the main stage was depicted the Last Supis Christ, and the story of his life is the per and the betrayal of the Master by tale of heroism most exalted. Therefore, Judas for thirty pieces of silver, on the the Passion Play will touch man's emotion flanking stages were presented the sacrifice most intimately and will aid him to be- of bread and wine made by the Priest of come truer to himself and his God. Such, the Most High, Melchisedec, and the barsubstantially, was the way Father Josa- tering of the boy Joseph by his brethren. phat formulated the motives for what is Similarly, in the scene which, for dramatic destined to be remembered by all who intensity and depth of appeal must be reknow him as the masterwork of his life. garded as the climax of the production,

This conception of the scope of the which culminates with the Savior, stripped sacred drama is by no means new.

The and agonized, hanging on the cross, the same underlying principle was the inspira- flanking stage to the left presented a wontion of those canonized playwrights of the derfully impressive tableau of the brazen Christian Church, Gregory the

the Roman serpent which Moses held aloft to the Isbishop, and Hroswitha, the German nun, raelites as a symbol of their salvation. and the basis of the elaborate sacred pa- Each production of the Passion Play geants which, in various forms, flourished consumed four evenings. This in itself is for long in Italy, France, Spain, Germany an indication of the extensive scale on and England. Even to-day it is the in- which the drama was performed. The spiration of the decennial passion plays cast consisted of more than 400 performproduced at Oberammergau and in the ers, not including a chorus of 200 voices Tyrol. But, in Father Josaphat's case, and an orchestra of 40 pieces. though the idea was not original, the ap- To give, in anything like adequate plication of it was both novel and new. phrasing, one's impressions of this superb

Americans are vastly different from triumph of Christian piety and dramatic Germans and Tyrolese. And in San

Tyrolese. And in San art, is totally out of the question. Not Francisco, more even than in self-cen- even the hardened and facile dramatic crittered and provincial New York, worldly ics of the San Francisco dailies were able interests and sophistication are apparent.

to record their opinion in a manner apWe are not isolated mountaineers and un- proaching coherence. Like all really great assuming peasants. A passion play in a appeals to the emotions, the San Francisco

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Passion Play cannot be described; it must

the chorus obtruded itself into undue be seen—and lived.

prominence, but both, observing harmony One thing, however, is certain. To any- with the dialogue and the tableaux, added one who, with an alert mind and an open to the artistic and devotional aspects of heart, witnessed that sacred pageant, all the production. merely theatrical presentations must For the production was both artistic and henceforth appear tawdry and hollow. The devotional. From neither view point was utter absence of conventional stage tricks, it deficient, and from neither viewpoint the naturalness and sincerity of the sur- was it overdone. The ultra artistic nauprisingly well-chosen cast, the simple and seates and the ultra-devotional annoys. dignified appositeness of the scenery; The artistic triumph of San Francisco's above all, the magnitude and magnificence Passion Play was attested by the wrapt of the production—these things carried attention of the audience and by the alwith them such an impressiveness and con- most palpable stirring of the profoundest viction that, for the time being, at least, emotional depths observable as the play even the agnostic most spiritually color- approached its matchless climax. The de blind must have struck his breast with the votional thrall of the drama was not less centurion at that appalling climax, and in evidence. There is little exaggeration like the centurion made that spontaneous

in the statement that men who came to confession of faith: “Indeed, this was the scoff remained to pray, and whatever exagSon of God!"

geration there is refers only to the scoffers. In San Francisco's Passion Play we had, Few, if any, of the vast audience were among other things, the drama divorced present through unworthy motives, but from the theatre. From scene to scene curiosity brought scores; and it was prethe production gripped with soul-search- cisely on such persons that the play seemed ing intensity; but there was present to have the deepest effect. nothing whatever of the theatrical atmos- One reason of the success of the Passion phere. The simple purple curtains which Play in San Francisco was its novelty. But craped the stages had little in common that alone does not suffice to explain its with the gaudily decorated “rag" of the unprecedented triumph. Novelty might.

, modern playhouse, and nothing at all with indeed, prompt a man to drop in on the the hideous advertising curtain which is play for one night, that he might say he an affront alike to the aesthetic sense and had seen it; but it was something more the sense of humor. And the orchestra, than novelty that lured veteran theatres instead of being planted in front of the goers from musical comedy and American stage, were banked at the rear of the au- melodrama and French comedy and “additorium, behind the audience. The at- vanced" vaudeville for four successive mosphere was not theatrical. Rather, it evenings. Witnessing San Francisco's was ecclesiastical in the best sense of the Passion Play was an experience at once word.

unique and uplifting. What helped

verv materially to Once I heard of a man with a hatred strengthen the production and to chisel of heroes and hero-worship who was perthe stage pictures in the memory was the suaded to visit the tomb of Vapoleon. He musical accompaniment. The score had no use for Napoleon. The remarkof a composite nature, and was brought able Corsican ne regarded as an upstart into unity by Father Peter Huesges. To and a trickster, a man devoid of ideals, of him is due the unqualified success of the

manhood, of greatness. But he visited orchestration. From the masterpieces of the tomb of Napoleon. He went with a Gounod, Palestrina, Handel, Mendelssohn scoff on his lips; he came with his head and Rossini, Father Hluesges made careful bowell. and appropriate selections. To these he Well?" queried a friend. added some of his own really unusual com- "Well," returned the hero hater, “I've positions, and blended the whole into a changed my mind. You know the low score that proved fully equal to the occa- opinion I have always had of Napoleon. sion. The music was an integral part of Thet opinion is mine no more. Napoleon the production. Neither the orchestra nor was a wonderful, wonderful man.'

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Thoto Terkelson & Henry. John Nusin as Subal, the Merchant of the Temple.

The friend whistled softly.

wrong about Napoleon. I felt it, I knew “This beats everything. You're not the it. How it happened I don't know. There

. sort of man to change your mind with the is something wonderful about it all in wind. What's happened to you, anyway?" there—the solemn grandeur, the silence,

“Happened? I've seen the tomb of the awful dignity of the surroundings, the Napoleon—that's what has happened! [ vastness of the dome—all that, and more. hadn't been in there ten seconds when I But it wasn't those things exactly; it was realized that heretofore I had been all the totality of impression, the atmosphere

[graphic]

Photo Terkelson & Henry. Anthony and Joseph Willbrand as Pharisees.

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