First Plays of A A Milne A.A. Milne

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First Plays of A A Milne  by  A.A. Milne

First Plays of A A Milne by A.A. Milne
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FIRST PLAYSby A. A. MilneTO MY MOTHERCONTENTSINTRODUCTIONWURZEL-FLUMMERYTHE LUCKY ONETHE BOY COMES HOMEBELINDATHE RED FEATHERSINTRODUCTIONThese five plays were written, in the order in which they appearnow, during the years 1916 and 1917. They wouldMoreFIRST PLAYSby A. A. MilneTO MY MOTHERCONTENTSINTRODUCTIONWURZEL-FLUMMERYTHE LUCKY ONETHE BOY COMES HOMEBELINDATHE RED FEATHERSINTRODUCTIONThese five plays were written, in the order in which they appearnow, during the years 1916 and 1917.

They would hardly have beenwritten had it not been for the war, although only one of them isconcerned with that subject. To his other responsibilities theKaiser now adds this volume.For these plays were not the work of a professional writer, butthe recreation of a (temporary) professional soldier. Play-writingis a luxury to a journalist, as insidious as golf and much moreexpensive in time and money.

When an article is written, thefinancial reward (and we may as well live as not) is a matter ofcertainty. A novelist, too, even if he is not in the front rank--but I never heard of one who wasnt--can at least be sure ofpublication. But when a play is written, there is no certainty ofanything save disillusionment.To write a play, then, while I was a journalist seemed to me adepraved proceeding, almost as bad as going to Lords in themorning.

I thought I could write one (we all think we can), but Icould not afford so unpromising a gamble. But once in the Army thecase was altered. No duty now urged me to write. My job wassoldiering, and my spare time was my own affair.

Other subalternsplayed bridge and golf- that was one way of amusing oneself.Another way was--why not?--to write plays.So we began with Wurzel-Flummery. I say we, because another ismixed up in this business even more seriously than the Kaiser.

Shewrote- I dictated. And if a particularly fine evening drew us outfor a walk along the byways--where there was no saluting, and onecould smoke a pipe without shocking the Duke of Cambridge--then itwas to discuss the last scene and to wonder what would happen inthe next.

We did not estimate the money or publicity which mightcome from this new venture- there has never been any seriousthought of making money by my bridge-playing, nor desire forpublicity when I am trying to play golf. But secretly, of course,we hoped. It was that which made it so much more exciting than anyother game.Our hopes were realized to the following extent:Wurzel-Flummery was produced by Mr. Dion Boucicault at the NewTheatre in April, 1917. It was originally written in three acts, inwhich form it was shown to one or two managers.

At the beginning of1917 I was offered the chance of production in a triple bill if Icut it down into a two-act play. To cut even a line is painful, butto cut thirty pages of ones first comedy, slaughtering wholecharacters on the way, has at least a certain morbid fascination.It appeared, therefore, in two acts- and one kindly criticembarrassed us by saying that a lesser artist would have written itin three acts, and most of the other critics annoyed us by sayingthat a greater artist would have written it in one act.

However, Iamused myself some months later by slaying another character--theoffice-boy, no less--thereby getting it down to one act, and wassurprised to find that the one-act version was, after all, thebest... At least I think it is. ... At any rate, that is theversion I am printing here- but, as can be imagined, I am rathertired of the whole business by now, and I am beginning to wonder ifanyone ever did take the name of Wurzel-Flummery at all.

Probablythe whole thing is an invention.The Lucky One was doomed from the start with a name like that. Andthe girl marries the wrong man. I see no hope of its beingproduced. But if any critic wishes to endear himself to me (thoughI dont see why he should) he will agree with me that it is thebest play of the five.The Boy Comes Home was produced by Mr. Owen Nares at the VictoriaPalace in September, 1918, introduced afterwards into Hallo,America!

at the Palace, and played by Mr. Godfrey Tearle at theColiseum in the following April.



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