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Broadway's Missing Communist:
Theater Without Candor

- Abstract

While the Communists have never been numerous in this country, it is a commonplace that their influence anywhere is out of all proportion to their numbers. It is also true that, while the failure of the Communists to attract the American “proletariat” has been abysmal, they have been distinctly more successful with the professional classes. And with no group, it seems to me, have they done so well as with the theatrical profession.

There are various reasons for this. One, obviously, is that theater people are very easily carried away with enthusiasm. And, though there are other things to be enthusiastic about in this life besides Communism, few of these can combine, as Communism does, the appeal to enthusiastic generosity with an appeal to precisely the opposite impulse: for if we shout with joy at the idea of shaking our chains off, we sigh with relief at the idea of having them clamped back on again. The double appeal corresponds to the double nature of men in general and theater people in particular. The latter tend, even more than the rest of the population, to combine a vast quantity of “democratic” good will with an equally vast ambition to have prestige and be in cahoots with those who have even more. Most actors wish to be “stars,” and what happens when they get their wish? On the one hand, they express a dogmatic faith in their public (the public which elects them and keeps them in office as it were), and on the other they are arrivistes, patronizing the best hotels, eating at the best restaurants, riding only in taxis, living behind squads of agents and secretaries.

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