Regards Playing Part as Reflex of Reality (1930)
Regards Playing Part as Reflex of Reality
As the fascinating scenes of that dramatic fantasy, “Berkeley Square,” flitted by at the Forrest Theatre last evening a feeling persisted with the writer that Leslie Howard, the Peter Standish of the play, was acting his part only occasionally and that actually Leslie Howard possessed in many respects the qualities of the Peter Standish of the play, and was, therefore, being natural for the better part of the evening. This impression was afterwards almost completely justified when chatting with him after the performance at his hotel.
Reclining just as Standish was wont to do, feet sprawled in front of the chair, ayes gazing as those of a visionary, hands plunged deep in the pockets, Mr. Howard enunciated his views and his hopes with regard to the work which is his hobby, the theatre. He is, first and foremost, an actor, but one who possesses such a zest for and an interest in the theatre as a progressive art that he likes to direct many of the plays in which he appears; and so he directs.
Having ideas and portraying them on the stage are two extremely difficult matters, and Leslie Howard firmly believes in individualism in the theatre to the degree that he undertakes the business of directing and playing the lead in a production. Admitting that such a policy is fraught with many dangers, he feels that with delicate creations such as “Berkeley Square” he who tries to live the main role should help in creating the environment.
The similarity between the Standish character and its interpreter was strengthened as the interview progressed, as Mr. Howard spoke of his aims and ambitions; of his hope that one day dramatists will break away from the conventional three-act vehicle; of his love for experimenting with unusual play technique and unconventional staging; of his wish that eventually audiences will be as they used to be in the Old Vic in London, where during the intervals they would gather in one common room, sup and by discussion get themselves into the mood of the drama they were watching.
(The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 16,1930)