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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.
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Thursday, 3 September 2015
At 75 Cadogan Square, London.
After chores I reached the St. James's Theatre at 11 a.m. My play, "The Return Journey" opened there two days ago. Everyone was pretty gloomy except me. They pretend to despise critics but they attach extraordinary importance to everything the critics say. Gilbert Miller was cheerful and he and I upraised these spirits. By 5 p.m. they were quite cheerful, and dreaming of "an enormous success"; and so on. I was on the stage for six hours during the day, making minor alterations, and changing the business at the end of the last act, and rehearsing the same. I doubt that it will make much difference but sometimes the semblance of positive activity has a revitalising effect.
I do not believe that notices affect the fate of plays. No play of mine has ever had a good press except "Mr. Prohack". There are not, literally, three dramatic critics in London whose opinions have the least interest for me. I hate the stage but I cannot help writing a play now and then. These plays are always a damned nuisance to me after they are written. God knows whether this play is any good. I don't. I merely know that nine critics out of ten have shown no understanding of the whatsoever. This is usual.
In any case it looks as if the future will be in motion pictures not the theatre and I am still working on my "Punch and Judy" film. Whether I will have any success in the new medium remains to be seen. I suspect not, as I am now in my sixties and it is difficult to embrace new ideas even though one feels oneself to be open to them.
Sometimes I wonder if I have spread myself too thinly as it were? Of course I have been driven by the need for money to finance my lifestyle which some may consider extravagant, for example in the matter of clothes. Suppose I had concentrated on writing novels, by which I mean "proper" novels. I would certainly have been poorer but would I have been more contented, and would I have established a reputation to stand the test of time? I don't know. I think I have one more "proper" novel in me to be set in a great hotel. This is an idea I have been mulling over for years now and I think I am nearly ready to begin. I will commit myself to have started writing it by this time next year!