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September 29, 1928 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1928-09-29

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,terday afternoon by Uni- _ II

Music And Drama

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One of the developments in the
Detroit theatre business, which,
while not calculated to disturb the
cosmopolitan calm of the average
Michigan undergraduate, may, be
of interest to the dramatically
minded is the metamorphosis,
completed this Fall with the open-
ing of the stock season, of the Bon-
stelle playhouse into the Detroit
Civic Theatre.
The story of the transformation
begins with the career of the shin-
ing lady, Miss Bonstelle herself,
and continues through the vicissi-
tudes of acting, directing and pro-
ducing which she suffered in var-
ious centers of the mimetic art,
including New York, Providence,
Philadelphia, Northampton, Mass.,
and finally Detroit, where the
dream finally realized itself in the
articles of incorporation of the De-
troit Civic Theatre which were
drawn up this Spring. During the
Summer a campaign was conduc-
ted for the purpose of raising an
endowment fund of $200,000 for
maintainance, which upon success-
ful oversubscription now makes the
civic project an operating reality.
Theatre Magazine for October
carries an interesting article on
the history of the drive, with a
partial biography of Miss Bon-
stelle's life-which incidentally,
has been her work too-and regis-
ters for national attention the fact
that so-called Dynamic Detroit has
anticipated the whole United
States, if not the world, in the pos-
session of a Civic owned and oper-
ated theatre. The inference is
quite obvious that credit for this
goes, not so much to the dynamic
foresight of the city of Detroit, as
to the almost rabid idealism of
"Bonnie," dream chaser extraor-
dinary and tireless worker. To all
appearances the Motor City will
have its hands full for a number
of years yet with the problem of
the flivver, and will require a con-
siderable length of time before
it becomes actively conscious of
its own virtue as pioneer in the
field of popularizing the drama.
In connection with the theatre
project Miss Bonstelle also oper-
ates schools in thre- allied
branches, a dramatic school, a
dancing school, and a course in
play production. The object be-
hind these courses in instruction is
another phase of the Bonstelle
idealism, for the courses are de-
signed to acquaint the student with
the actual problems and difficul-
ties of stage work and so to temper
any vapid enthusiasm which may

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pp ________iI

exist into rather
termination. Her

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statement is:

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"Indifference is killing the stage.
We have no school for actors.
r People are picked up by producers
because of their personality and
- looks and then boosted overnight
into stardom."
This haphazard manner of star-
ring, without fundamental prepar-
ation first, is not only heartbreak-
ing to the will o' the wisp success
of one season, but results in the
actual distintegration of the the-
I atre from a highly trained craft
into a gamble based most often on
sex appeal.
In the interior of the theatre,
which was completely remodelled
from what was once the Hebrew
Synagogue, Beth-el, by C. Howard
Crane who also designed the in-
terior for the playhouse of the New
York Theatre Guild, Miss Bonstelle
has introduced a number of inno-
vations. They are unobstrusive
details but indicate an awareness
of theatrical problems and a
freshness of viewpoint that is en-
couraging to .the senses wearied by
the conventional magnificense of
movie palaces.
With"the fullfilment of her
Civic Theatre idea Miss Bonstelle,
characteristically enough, is not
satisfied with sitting back (figur-
atively only) and waiting for the
good people of Detroit to catch up
with her. She continues to dream
dreams, and give them occasional
publicity, just to see what reaction
she can get to her ideas. The Civic
theatre, the localized civic project
that is, is not the whole unit in her
concepts. It is instead a small
fraction which ought to bF or-
ganized in the .larger cities across
the country and then unified by
the establishment in Washington
of a National Theatre which would
be the distilllation of the national
consciousness of ,the drama, and
would represent the essence of
American life.
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