THE DRAMA is sweeping over the country at a wonderful rate, being shown every day in approximately sixty cities. The audiences vary from one hundred to three thousand and more—usually, perhaps, averaging five hundred. Surely a great witness in defense of the Bible is going forth! We are having some excellent responses from the public. Many are being turned back from coldness, indifference, infidelity, atheism, to a faith in God and in His Word superior to anything ever before enjoyed.
The opening of the DRAMA in seven new places each day necessitates our using the telegraph freely. We notify the friends at each place as to what days are available, and inquire whether or not the local friends are able and willing to present the DRAMA to the public in their city free. A noble response is met with everywhere. Those who cannot participate express regrets.
Thus will be seen the importance of having a DRAMA Committee in each Class and of knowing just what the Class is financially able and desirous of doing toward the presentation of the DRAMA. Then, when an offer of dates is received from the I.B.S.A. DRAMA Office the Committee, having already looked into the matter of public auditoriums, is ready to make inquiry, and, if possible, to obtain the use free for the DRAMA as a public benefit, worth more than a year in college to each citizen. Not more than the cost of the light should be charged for any publicly-owned auditorium.
Theatre people properly approached see that the DRAMA will give their theatre wider publicity than anything else. It will draw a new audience of people of the better class, such as rarely attend the theatre. To secure this publicity, theatres will be glad, regardless of their regular rates, to give a very low price for a number of days, especially in the dull season, when there is no expense except for electric current and janitorage. Having determined your course, advise the I.B.S.A. DRAMA, Brooklyn, as quickly as possible, just what you wish to do.
We are no longer able to proffer assistance beyond the lectures, music, picture operator, superintendent, posters, window cards, publicity aids and free scenario. The immense expense the Association is under may be imagined when we say that forty thousand dollars worth of blank paper has already been used for the printing of the free Scenario; and the printing, folding, bundling and freighting has cost still more! Otherwise, how glad we would be to meet all the expenses!
However, we are learning that God's way is the wiser way—that God's people are more blessed by the DRAMA when the cost for its local presentation falls on them, and when they serve it as ushers and phonograph operators. The self-sacrifice incidental to all this brings a rich blessing. So we have nothing of which to complain.
Our enemies endeavor to hinder the work by falsely reporting that the Association is very rich—thus hindering charitably disposed people from proffering aid. The fact that we never solicit money seems so strange, even to our friends, that some have gotten the same impression. One dear sister when ushering was asked by a visitor to the DRAMA how he could best give some money to the I.B.S.A. for the forwarding of this great work. The [R5513 : page 237] usher answered him that there was no way, and that the money was not needed. If our friends are thus foolish or misinformed, how can we blame our enemies for saying the same things, which they would like to have others believe to be true, so that, all gifts being cut off, our work would stop? However, we are leaving the matter in the Lord's hands. If the funds cease, the work must cease proportionately. Realizing Divine supervision, we shall be thoroughly content to have it so.
While the DRAMA brings great blessings and privileges in conjunction with opportunities for service and self-denial, it also brings severe trials to the dear brethren. All are so anxious to serve, and all so independent in their feelings, that it sometimes means as many different plans and arrangements as there are members in the Class. Meekness, patience, brotherly kindness, forbearance, love, are qualities which seem to be greatly needed, and many opportunities for their cultivation may be found. So far as we know, friends are passing through these little ordeals with a blessing—an enlargement of the heart and a broadening of their sympathies. It is a time for putting [R5514 : page 237] into operation the Apostle's words, "Yea, all of you be subject one to another."—1 Peter 5:5.
Before the opening of the DRAMA the Superintendent must expect to look out for the newspaper publicity, to see that the Class has gotten out in good localities the posters sent them, that the DRAMA volunteer matter has arrived, that they have distributed it early in the week preceding the opening, and that the window cards are put out freely in every part of the city—all of the Class participating in this work. He will also see the ushers selected by the Class, and if any of them are too old or too young or are unsuitable, he may make some kind suggestions as to what to do. The very best, wisest, most intelligent members of the Class should be the Ushering Committee. The Class will also look out, amongst their number, for a suitable Floor Manager, or Chief Usher, and suggest one or two names, either brother or sister, for this service, according to circumstances. Frequently brethren are unobtainable on account of business requirements.
The duty of the Chief Usher, or Floor Manager, will be to see that the other ushers are well placed and understand their duties, that perfect order is kept, and that the public is being, not only kindly, but graciously met. They are for the moment your guests. In the Superintendent's absence the Moving Picture operator will be his and our representative in your city, having charge of the DRAMA to see that it is put on exactly as arranged for, with not a single alteration or deviation. Any inefficiency or anything you think unwise may be called to the attention of these brethren and reported to us. But meantime trust them as the Society's representatives, and co-operate. They, in turn, are directed to show every consideration to the wishes of the Class in anything that will not conflict with the positive rules governing the DRAMA.
In advance of the DRAMA expect a sister, whose stay will be only about one day. She will come to give instructions on the phonograph. Two, and only two, volunteer phonographers may learn; and they should be bright—not too nervous. The sister will remain long enough to show one performance and to see her pupils operate at one exhibition. This will be plenty of time, yet none too much. So have the pupils ready, and give them every opportunity to learn their work thoroughly.
So far as possible the ushering sisters will wear white dresses, to help distinguish them from the audience. Additionally they should make a little head-piece of uniform style. One neat design consists of two connecting rosettes of white satin ribbon.
The ushers should, if possible, have little prayer meetings frequently, requesting Divine blessings on their efforts to show forth, in their words, in their actions, in their looks, the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. They should co-operate thoroughly with the Chief Usher and with the whole spirit of the DRAMA.
Children under twelve years old should not be admitted, except when accompanied by parents, teachers or guardians. Even then they should be seated at the rear under surveillance of the ushers. Adults should have the preference always. Children can get out for matinees; but some adults have evenings only. Babes in arms should never be admitted. If an exception to this rule were ever made, the mother should be asked to sit near the door and should be made to promise to take the child out immediately if it cries. Do everything to preserve quiet and order. Avoid frequent and excited calls for order. If any one is seen to be rude or boisterous, approach the person kindly and whisper a loving word in season respecting the Golden Rule and the rights of others.
Following the FOURTH PART of the DRAMA comes the Finale Sermon. On that occasion the speaker will call attention to the regular meetings of the I.B.S.A. in your city, giving the address; or, if you think worth while, cards bearing that address might be distributed to the people at the close of the service. It is not wise to discuss local meetings during the showing of the DRAMA.
No books are to be hawked, or sold, in the ordinary sense of the term. With the opening of each DRAMA a set of books is to be sent, merely for use as samples until the close of the DRAMA, when they may be sold and the money turned over to the chosen representative of the Class, to whom they have been charged. Orders received meantime should be sent in promptly, directly to THE WATCH TOWER Office, through the representative of the Class.
At the last, or Finale Meeting, the speaker will ask for addresses. Afterward he will take charge of those addresses, distributing them amongst those whom he deems best qualified for the calls. The matter is left entirely in his hands, but give him the best advice you can of the capability of those who desire to participate. The good of the Lord's Cause alone is sought. Let us all sink any personal feeling. The Editor would be glad if his own personality did not come so much into the DRAMA, but it has seemed absolutely necessary for two reasons:
(2) If the personality were not made prominent, we would be charged with hypocrisy—deceiving the people. We want the people to see the DRAMA unprejudiced, that they may judge for themselves where the hypocrisy and misrepresentation come from.
The Class will please introduce to the Superintendent, the person whom they nominate to be the Floor Manager, or Head Usher, and two sisters to learn phonograph operating to relieve each other if necessary.
We are not yet ready to give full particulars, but we are planning how the brethren who have been engaged in [R5514 : page 238] Class Extension work can prosecute the same in conjunction with the PHOTO-DRAMA. In our next issue we hope to be able to outline this work fully. To operate a DRAMA properly there should be at least three brethren with each of the THREE PARTS—nine for the DRAMA complete—one to operate the stereopticon; one to operate the phonographic lectures, oratorios, hymns, etc.; one to serve as usher and general order-keeper. More could be used, but three will do.
PART I. would be presented in a town on Sunday, either in the morning, afternoon or evening; or, if the interest and the population justified, it could be presented all three of these times. But after it has been shown, it should go to the next town, and then to another and another—keeping on continuously from town to town, village to village, schoolhouse to schoolhouse, court house to court house, public hall to public hall. Following it the next day or the next Sunday or the next session, as the case might be, PART II. would be going on and on. Following this would be PART III. As soon as the three presentations have been made, another set of brethren should be ready to take up a series of Chart Talks on the Bible, and, later on, to invite the interested to regular Dawn Circles.
These DRAMAS for the smaller villages and country places will not have the finest pictures now shown in the regular presentation of the DRAMA; but those used will be elegant, nevertheless. The Story will be just the same, and the value to each individual, we doubt not, just as great. We may be sure that country folk will attend the DRAMA, and talk about it and read about it, as much or more than do their city cousins.
We are preparing a special stereopticon, which can be used by attachment of a cord to an ordinary electric light fixture, and can be, if necessary, transformed quickly so as to use acetylene gas—obtainable from the reservoir of an automobile.
We are giving all these particulars now so that you can think the matter over. Classes that have been carrying on Class Extension work and believe they are able to carry on this new work, financing the expenses connected with the small halls, schoolhouses, etc., will please discuss the matter, decide upon it and advise us at once. If not sure that you will be able to manage the matter, better wait awhile and make sure. Let those be served first who are sure that they are ready, willing, anxious to assist in this great work.
Any of our readers desiring to purchase for his own use the full set of 96 DRAMA lectures (three PARTS, two hours each) with nine choice introductory, intermission and closing hymns and a portable phonograph, with a carrying case, can have the entire outfit for....................................$38.50
This outfit is the one especially intended for the DRAMA EXTENSION described foregoing. Its three PARTS require only the same number of lecture and music records as foregoing; but, because of public use, each PART must have its own Phonograph, each PART its own Stereopticon, etc. We therefore show each PART complete in itself, as follows:
Additional would be the expressage from Brooklyn. The Society would furnish posters, window-cards and free scenario, and would supply the bound scenario for sale in any quantity at one-half retail prices.
Needless to say, all the prices here quoted are extremely low. Nevertheless it runs into a great deal of money to provide these "EUREKA DRAMAS" in quantities. For instance, we are preparing for orders from at least one hundred Classes, which would run the cost into $26,250, aside from packing, shipping, clerical work, free scenario, free PHOTO-DRAMA announcements, posters, etc. It would afford us great pleasure to announce this all free on demand, but expenses already depleting the treasury forbid such a course.
Those who desire to purchase the DRAMA outright may do so. Others may have the PARTS on loan (subject to return to the Society on demand if not being used) if they will deposit $30 for each PART, $90 for the complete set of "EUREKA DRAMA" No. Y. On the return of the DRAMA this payment will be refunded, less a proper charge for broken slides, repairs, expressage, etc.