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About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (April 13, 1913)
THE SEMI-MONTHLY MAGAZINE SECTION
a simple story but it lends itself In effective acting; it
is capable of being interpreted ali'f piati'ly by means of
gesture alone; and it is just the sort of play which
would appeal to an Aleutian audience, being wholly
within their experience and their apprehension.
Pantomime flourished in Rome and in Constanti
nople in the sorry years of the decline and fall of the
Empire; and it was then low and lascivious. A great
part of the llerce hostility of the Fathers of the
Christian Church to the theater was due to the fact
that the only drama of which they had any knowledge
was pantomime of a most ohjectionnhle character,
offensive in theme and even more offensive in pre
sentation. With the conversion of the Empire to
Christianity, pantomimes of this type, appealing only
to lewd fellows of the baser sort, were very properly
prohibited. Hut pantomime of another type sprain;
up in the Middle Ages in I lie Christian churches, to
exemplify and to make visible to the ignorant con
gregations, certain episodes of sacred history. In the
Hcnaseenre dumb-shows were represented before
monarchs, at their weddings and at their stately en
trances into loyal cities. And dumb-shows were often
employed in the Elizabethan stage, sometimes as
prologues to the several acts, as in (lorbodue, for ex
ample, and sometimes within the play itself, as in
In the eighteenth century, pantomime had a double
revival in France and in England. ,ln France, No
verre elevated the ballet d'action, that is to say, the
story told in pantomime and adorned with dances.
Sometimes these, ballets d'action were in several acts,
relying for interest on tho simple yet ingenious plot,
and only decorated, so to speak, with occasional
dances. Coppee's La Korrigiine, for example, is in
two acts, and Oille and Morlier's Yedda is in three
nets. One of these ballets d'artion, the book of which
was devised by the fertile Scribe, was so solidly con
structed and so interesting in story that Hellini took
it as the libretto for his opera La Sonatnbula. From
Novci're and from France the tradition of the panto
mime with interludes of dancing, spread at first to
Italy and later to Hussin. In Italy this tradition de
veloped into the huge spectacular pantomime of tho
type of Excelsior which was brought to this country
about thirty yea re ago.
IN ENGLAND tho development of pantomime was
upon different lines, due to the inlluence of the
Italian coniedy-of-masks with its unchanging figures
of Pnntaleone, Columbina and Arlecebino. Theso
figures were still further simplified ; and to Pantaloon,
Columbine, and Harlequin there was added the char
acteristically Hritish figure of the Clown. The most
famous impersonator of the clown was Grimaldi,
whose memoirs were edited by Dickens. The mantle
of Grimaldi fell upon an American, G. L. Fox, whose
greatest triumph was in the late sixties in a panto
mime called Humpty Diunpty the rhyming pro
logue of which was written by A. Oakey Hall, who
was then Tweed's mayor of New York. G. L. Fox
and his brother C. K. Fox (who was the inventor of
the comic scenes) had been preceded in America by a
family of French pantomimists known as the Havels.
And ihey were followed by the family known as tho
Hanlon-Lces, who had originally been acrobats, and
who appeared in n French play, in which the other
characters spoke while they expressed themselves only
in gesture. Here again Scribe had been before them,
with his libretto for the opera of Masanicllo in which
there was a principal part, Fenella, for a pantomimo
actress. And when the great French actor, Frederick
Leinaitrc, had lost his voice by overstrain, Dennery
wroto a play for him, tho Old Corporal, in which ho
appeared as a soldier of Napoleon's Old Guard who
had been stricken dumb during tho retreat from
This exploit of Frederick Loinaitre's is not as ex
traordinary as it seems. A truly accomplished actor
ought to be ablo to forego the aid of speech. Even in
our modern plays gesture is more significant than
speech. To place the finger on the lips is more ef
fective than to say "Hush!" Tho tendency of tho
modern drama in our amply lighted picture-frame
stage is to subordinate the mere words to the expres
sive action. In all good acting the gesture precedes
tho word; and often the gesture makes the word itself
unnecessary, because it has succeeded in conveying
the impression and in making the full effect by itself,
so that the spoken word lags superfluous.
About twenty years ago there was a wide-spread
revival of interest in pantomime in Franco, where it
had been dormant since the days of Deburau. A so
ciety was formed for the encouragement of the art
and a host of little wordless pla. was the result.
Continual! on Page 17)
By Lillian Bennet-Thompson
Illustrations liv T. Victor hall
ROFESSOR RIDGLEY dropped
the chalk and mopped his perspir
ing brow with his handkerchief.
Stealing a surreptitious glance at
the clock, he almost gasped with re
lief. Five minutes more, and he would he at liberty to
leave the stilling lecture room and to seek the compar
ative cool of his study.
The heat was almost intolerable. In the morning, a
slight breeze had milled the leaves of the tall elms on
the campus and crept in at the windows; but shortly
after the sun passed the meridian, the wind died away.
The Storm King was marshalling his forces, and
now threw his threatening phalanxes forward from
the darkening west. Hank upon rank, squadron upon
squadron, the murky foo advanced. The air was
close, heavy, lifeless.
With the fervent hope that the coming storm would
cool the superheated atmosphere, the Professor
picked up the crayon again and proceeded:
"The 'cuboid,' as this abstract body has been called,
has four dimensions length, of the line, breadth,
of the square, thickness, of the cube, and one other
dimension, extending somewhere. But where? Wo
do not know ; we can not conceive.
"Yet, we have no right to say that there can bo
no body of four dimensions, simply because we have
never seen and are unable to imagine such a body.
Tho Fourth Dimension may be a fact. It should not
be classed with such absurdities as squaring the circle,
the duplication of the cube, the trisection of the angle.
"Mr. Ames, are vou listening' the l'roles-
sor broke olT.
A young man, sitting at the end of tho
semicircle of seats, looked up. lie was
loosely built, with legs and arms that
too long for Ins body. His features
bad; but his light hair straggled
fashion about his head, and tho
he turned upon tho profes-
with a dreamy, abstracted
see m e d
in an unruly
wide blue eyes
sor were tilled
were listening, Mr.
the blue eyes met
"I asked if vou
Amos?" the instructor
With an evident effort,
"No. sir." came the low
The heat of the dav. the
lii uii1iiiwt nml n kpvpi'p headache
...- . . . ...
emuliinnil tn sit ltidirlnv S llCfVCS Oil
Tin irlnrnd nt. tho culm-it a moment
before he observed with fine sarcasm:
"T mnv 1w llmt flin information I am
endeavoring to impart is superfluous to
you? That you are so well acquainted with
the theory of the Fourth Dimension that you
find my groping irksome?"
"I 'in very sorry, Professor."
"You have not answered my question, Mr.
Ames. You know all about this subject?"
"Why, no, sir, not all" in somewhat
For an instant there was silence, broken by
a smothered chuckle from the class. Ridgley
felt the blood mount to his forehead.
"If you will be good enough to remain after
dismissal, Mr. Ames," ho said in a strangled
tone, "I should like to inquire nioro closely
into tho extent of your knowledge."
"Certainly, sir." Ames' tone was perfectly
respectful. ' Ridgloy's hands clenched; but
thero was nothing to be gained by losing his
temper. With an effort, he mastered his rage
and turned away.
"That rather strike a blow at
the law of the impenetrability of
matter, doesnt it. Ames?"
"We, creatures of three dimensions," he went on,
as if no interruption had occurred, "know no other
space than the one in which wo live. Hut we can
imagine a space having two dimensions only. Let
us suppose that there is such a world a perfectly
Hat plane, inhabited by perfectly Hat creatures, who
live, move and have their being in a world of two
"Had these people of Shadowland brains, reason
ing powers, their minds would bo no more capable of
grasping the idea of a three dimensional space the
world in which we live than we are able to conceive
of a world of four dimensions.
"The shadow of a body of three dimensions pos
sesses but two dimensions. A three-dimensional body,
passing through Shadowland, would convey to the
inhabitants of that land the impression of only two
dimensions. Similarly, were a four dimensional body
to pass through our space, we should be conscious of
only three of its dimensions.
"May it not be within the bounds of possibility that
there is another world, of which we know nothing, to
the inhabitants of which we creatures of three dimen
sions appear as shadows appear to us?"
A BELL rang sharply; there was a little bustle
among the students. Ridgely removed his glasses
and swung them from his forefinger.
"So much for the Fourth Dimension," he con
cluded. "The possibility of its existence may not be
disputed, but it can not be proven. Algebraically we
can indicate it; geometrically, practically, no. We
can not even project its outlines in limitless space;
Continued on Page 16)
The heavens were split by a sheet of flame
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