WISE IN THEIR DEGENERATION
A Play Of Protest Against Imperialist Wars
Bury the Dead is a protest against Imperialist wars—we are told in the programme.
The play is all about what happens when six soldiers, killed in action, refuse to lie down and let themselves be buried. Why are they thus unreasonable? Because, as one of the corpses says, "A man can only die happy and be contentedly buried when lie dies for himself, or for a cause which is his own." And so the six corpses, wise in their degeneration, wage a stand-up strike in vindication of their outraged right to a share of the good things of the world, and in order to teach the oppressed classes that they must stop the senseless slaughter.
To persuade them to lie down a doctor proves them dead—they are unmoved; their women beseech them—they are moved, but remain inflexible; a Catholic priest exorcises them, as being possessed by the devil —they laugh. In the end the dreadful truth leaks out •to the world, the Church and State's policy of " hush " fails, and the corpses leave their grave, followed by the (live) common soldiers, to teach people (I suppose) that imperialist wars are a stupid waste, and a crime against the ordinary people who have a right to the normal enjoyments of this earth. Such, in bald outline, is the play. The anonymous players gave of their best, and the result was a genuinely moving performance.
But Bury the Dead is a propagandist play, and must be treated as such. It is . not, as might have It's been expected, a Propagandist " lefty " play—there was not one harsh word flung at Fascism (accompanied by the usual cheers) with which the advocates of world peace further their aim—in the sense of making it more distant.
But the impression 7 got from this play was that though officially (on the programme, that is) the author had in mind an unjust war, yet in fact what he stands for is this: a war is wrong in which men think they die for the wrong things—that soldiers should stop a war in which, as far as they judge, it is unjust. Such a
theory is inconsistent, not only with corporate forms of government, hut also with representative, or electoral democracy.
Would our Left-wing democrats counsel Sudeten Germans to desert from the Czechoslovakian army in a defensive war against Germany, because, as they think, they are "dying for the wrong things?"
A word about the Church, as it appeared in this play. We are shown a nauseating, unctuous priest, with a parsonic voice, abetting the State in its efforts to hush up the scandal of six corpses refusing to be buried, and thus casting doubts on the justice of the war. I suppose the author means that the Church should denounce wars which are unjust.
Well, the Church, especially while the war is still on, is in the same position as the majority of people, outside a few statesmen and generals—it has good reason to
Ariers World Radio is on page 11 (opposite) think that it is ignorant of many of the causes of the war, and thus cannot pronounce on its justice. Of course it is characteristic of us Angles to rush in where angels fear to tread, and denounce anyone who apparently starts a war, except ourselves. It is characteristic of certain Anglican dignitaries, but not of Catholic priests. F. B. Unity
It is a heartening sign in this commercial age to find the survival of an art which, through countless generations before and after the heyday of the Commedia d'Arte, has played a prominent part in European culture. However, both as a medium for the liturgical play and as a weapon of political satire, the puppet show has lost its vogue. To find its popular manifestations today one would have to refer to the comic genius of ,Mr. Walt Disney.
The programme presented by Miss Helen and Miss Margaret Binyon was designed Lo satisfy all tastes, and within these limits it was an undoubted success. The three humorous items were the most popular, and the best of these was a charming animal ballet called The Forest, which included a pas de deux danced by two frogs to the accompaniment of eighteenth century music.
The serious pieces, The Seven Ages of Man, and Spain. sandwiched between items of farce and fantasy, expressed senti