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[Text: Edgar Allan Poe (?), "New Era in the English Drama" (A), from The Evening Mirror (New York), February 7, 1845, p. 2, cols. 2-3.]


New era in the English Drama.

An experiment has recently been made (at the suggestion, we believe, and under the direction of Mr. Vandenhoff) to introduce into the English theatre the classic drama of ancient Greece, depending for its effect, not on the material and the commonplace resources of the stage, scenery, incident, and bustling action, but on the ideal of poetry, and the grand and truthful in art. We allude to the production in an English dress, at Covent-garden theatre, of the Antigone of Sophocles; which, in spite of the contrary productions of the cognoscenti, was received by a highly distingue audience and a crowded house, with the most enthusiastic applause and decided approbation. The only point that the audience did not relish, was the music of the chorus; that appendage of the Greek drama being retained. The play itself -- its conduct, its deep and imposing grandeur, its magnificent declamation, its terrible catastrophe, its awful delineation of the overhanging fate, the inevitable destiny -- all these were fully appreciated by the breathless and enchained auditory. The acting of Mr. Vandenhoff, as Creon, and Miss Vandenoff, as Antigone, is spoken of by the London press as quite in keeping with the classic and massive dignity of the passion of the poem, and deserving of the unanimous applause with which they were rewarded during the play, and called for at its close to receive the compliments of the house, as the worthy representatives of the classic drama. This may be looked upon as a triumph of the spiritual over the material, of the fact over the scene-painter and the costume, (for the play was unsupported by scenic effects, or the usual gauds of dress and display;) and we, therefore, hail it as some promise of the revival of a better taste in theatricals, which will one day put an end to the reign of "dumb-show and noise," and give us a higher appreciation of dramatic history, and of the truthful and classical in art.


[This item was attributed to Poe by T. O. Mabbott. Mabbott's notes at the University of Iowa say "Assign to Poe."]

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[S:0 - EM, 1845]