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- Writing for Vaudeville - 60/95 -
the other members of "Success" at the railroad station. Mr. Producer was called to the telephone--long distance.
In less time than it takes to recount it, the resident manager who was suffering from a disappointment, and Mr. Producer, suffering from the lack of a playing week, were both cured of their maladies at the same time. And so, instead of going back to town, "Success" rushed to the next city and played its week.
Now, in this last week of breaking-in, Mr. Author realized one fact that stands out rather prominently in his memory; it is a simple little fact, yet it sums up the entire problem of the show business. Perhaps the rush of events had made it impossible before for the truth to strike home as keenly as it did when there suddenly came to him a tiny little bit of business which made a very long speech unnecessary. He explained it to Mr. Producer, and Mr. Producer seized on it instantly and put it into the act. That night the act went better than it had ever gone before. This little bit of condensation, this illuminating flash which was responsible for it, "punched up" the big scene into a life it had never had before. Then it was that there also flashed upon Mr. Author's mind this truth:
A dramatic entertainment is not written on paper. It is written with characters of flesh and blood. Strive as hard as man may, he can never fully foretell how an ink-written act will play. There is an inexplicable something which playing before an audience develops. Both the audience and the actors on the stage are affected. A play--the monologue and every musical form as well--is one thing in manuscript, another thing in rehearsal, and quite a different thing before an audience. Playing before an audience alone shows what a play truly is. Therefore, a play can only be made--after it is produced. Even in the fourth week of playing--the first week of metropolitan playing--Mr. Author and Mr. Producer made many changes in "Success" that were responsible for the long popularity it enjoyed. Mr. Author had learned his lesson well. He approached his next work with clearer eyes.
NINE FAMOUS VAUDEVILLE ACTS COMPLETE
"THE GERMAN SENATOR," A Monologue, by Aaron Hoffman.
"THE ART OF FLIRTATION," A Two-Act, by Aaron Hoffman.
"AFTER THE SHOWER," A Flirtation Two-Act, by Louis Weslyn.
"THE VILLAIN STILL PURSUED HER," A Travesty Playlet, by Arthur Denvir.
"THE LOLLARD," A Comedy Playlet, by Edgar Allan Woolf.
"BLACKMAIL," A Tragic Playlet, by Richard Harding Davis.
"THE SYSTEM," A Melodramatic Playlet, by Taylor Granville.
"A PERSIAN GARDEN," A One-Act Musical Comedy, by Edgar Allan Woolf.
"My OLD KENTUCKY HOME," A One-Act Burlesque, by James Madison.
A WORD ABOUT THE ACTS
The nine acts which are given, complete, in the following pages are representative of the very best in vaudeville. Naturally, they do not show every possible vaudeville variation--a series of volumes would be required for that--but, taken together, they represent all the forms of the talking vaudeville act that are commonly seen.
The German Senator
This monologue by Aaron Hoffman has been chosen as perhaps the best example of the pure monologue ever written. Originally used by Cliff Gordon--continually being changed to keep it up-to-the-minute--it has, since his death, been presented by numerous successors of the first "German Senator." It is doubtful if any other dramatic work--or any other writing--of equal length, and certainly no monologue, has returned to its author so much money as "The German Senator" has earned.
The Art of Flirtation
For more years than perhaps any other vaudeville two-act, this exceptionally fine example of two-act form has been used by various famous German comedians. It may be considered to stand in much the same relation to the two-act that "The German Senator" does to the monologue. Its author, also Mr. Aaron Hoffman, holds a unique position among vaudeville and musical comedy writers.
After the Shower
This delightful little example of lover's nonsense was played for more than four years by Lola Merrill and Frank Otto. It has been instanced as one of the daintiest and finest flirtation-couple-acts that the two-a-day has seen. Mr. Louis Weslyn has written perhaps more successful acts of this particular style than any other author.
The Villain Still Pursued Her
This travesty, one of the most successful on record, was used for years to star Mrs. Frank Sheridan. Written by Mr. Arthur Denvir, whose specialty is travesties, it undoubtedly became the inspiration for the many similar acts that created the travesty-vogue of 1912-15.
Edgar Allan Woolf, who wrote this delightful satirical comedy, is perhaps the most successful writer of playlets in this country. For many years he has turned out success after success for famous legitimate stars, while still other performers have become vaudeville stars in his acts. Mr. Woolf himself chose "The Lollard" as representative of his best comedies. The star role, Angela Maxwell, was created in this country by Miss Regina Cornelli, and in England by Miss Hilda Trevelyan.
Richard Harding Davis needs no introduction. This remarkable little tragedy was produced for the Orpheum Circuit by Mr. Charles Feleky, who declares it to be "the best tragic playlet I have produced." From so eminent a vaudeville producer, this is, indeed, high praise. The character of Richard Fallon was created by Mr. Walter Hampden.
Without doubt, this act is the best of the many big productions with which Mr. Taylor Granville has supplied The United Booking Offices of America, during his many years as a producing star. Mr. Junie McCree, who collaborated with Mr. Granville, was once president of "The White Rats," the vaudeville actors' union, and is now a successful vaudeville writer. Mr. Edward Clark, the third collaborator, has written many successful vaudeville acts.
"The System" is said to have been characterized by Mr. George M. Cohan as the best one-act melodrama he ever saw. Its extraordinary popularity in this country and in England is but added proof of the tenseness of its scenes and its great ending.
THE ONE-ACT MUSICAL COMEDY
A Persian Garden
Played by Louis Simons season after season, this real comedy set to music is without question Mr. Edgar Allan Woolf's best effort in this field. Unlike the usual musical comedy, this act possesses dialogue interest as well as pleasing brilliancy. It has won its many years of success not because of scenery, costumes and the chorus, but by the sterling worth apparent in the manuscript divorced from them.
THE BURLESQUE TAB
My Old Kentucky Home
Perhaps the most characteristic of the burlesque acts in vaudeville, this "Tab" has been played in various guises in the two-a-day and in burlesque for many seasons. It is the work of a writer who justly prides himself on his intimate knowledge of the burlesque form, and who possesses the most complete library of burlesque manuscripts in America. To the thousands of readers of "Madison's Budget," James Madison requires no introduction.
Permission to publish these acts has, in each instance, been personally granted to the author of this volume. This kind permission covers publication in this book only. Republication of these acts in whole or in part, in any form whatsoever, is expressly prohibited.
Stage presentation of any of the acts is likewise forbidden. A _Special Warning_ has been inserted in the introductory page of every act, at the request of each author. The reason for such repetition is to be found in the commercial value of successful vaudeville material, and in the fact that the general public has never precisely understood the reservations permitted to the author of a dramatic work under the copyright law. Infringements of any sort are subject to severe penalties under United States law and will be rigidly prosecuted.
To the writers of these acts the author of this volume wishes to express his deep appreciation for the permissions that enable him to print as illustrations of his text some of the finest acts that vaudeville has ever seen.
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