Speech and Drama
XIX. The Formative Activity of the Word
23 September 1924, Dornach
My dear Friends,
I would like today to say something of how explanations such as I was giving you yesterday, where we saw once more how the art of the forming of speech has to be learned from speech itself, how such explanations (or instructions, if you want to call them so) are to be received, how they are then to be taken over into your practical work.
Now it is a fact that the whole system of speech sounds—if I may designate it with such a pedantic term—the whole system of speech sounds with its manifold gradations in the various languages, expresses how the activities which take their start from the speech organs are related to the entire human organism. You have to picture it in the following way.
We may employ for the purpose a somewhat rough classification of the sounds of speech. Following the lines of yesterday's lecture, we can give our attention, to begin with, to the sounds that originate more or less in the region of the palate. If we consider all that takes place when a speech sound comes to birth in this region, and have the eye to follow it up as it takes its way right through man, then for the sounds that originate in the palate—for throat sounds, too, but more especially for palatal—we find that we can tell from a man's walk whether he utters these sounds resolutely or indolently, whether in fact, he enters fully or not into the speaking of them. This means that when we produce a speech sound by means of the palate, the speaking goes right through us down to our heels and toes; in other words, a palatal sound has connection with the entire human organism. As for the sounds in which the tongue participates, they are especially connected with that part of the human being which comprises first the head as far down as the upper lip (not including the lower lip) and then goes back and extends towards the spine—the region of the back, generally. And when we come to sounds that are uttered with the help of lips and teeth, we find that these are more connected with the breast and, generally speaking, the front parts of the body. So that really the whole man is contained in his speech. We can quite well call speech the creator of the form of man in these three directions.
This being so, it follows that if, for instance, you want to practise stage-walking, you cannot do better than associate it with the speaking of palatal sounds. For speech can help to give ‘form’ to the whole of your acting, even to your very way of walking on the stage.
Stage-walking, as you know very well, has to be different from our usual walking if it is to give the appearance of being true to life. If you were to walk on the stage as you do ordinarily, it could not possibly look like real life. Correct stage-walking is therefore again an end that can be attained best of all by means of speech. It is, however, not possible simply to lay down rules for it, you have to work it out for yourself in practice.
It will, I think, be clear from all this that when I describe the speech sounds as our teachers, you are not to infer that what we learn from them is of value for those particular sounds alone. I am not advising that you should practise merely the utterance of the individual sounds of the alphabet (they will of course all come in the exercises); my intention is to help you find your way altogether to a right and beautiful and smooth-flowing manner of speaking. What you learn, for instance, from the throat sounds will go over into the sounds made with lips or with tongue, and gradually as a result of practising the various exercises, the word will begin to flow in your soul.
There is thus no question of an actor having to watch for a d or a g or a k in order to speak them in a particular way. Rather do I mean that as you begin to do such exercises as I have given, speech becomes for you your teacher, your tutor in the art of acting. It will even render your body more supple. If the exercises are systematically carried out in the way I have explained, the plastic forms of your bodily organs will become more pliant, and your organs on this account be fitter instruments for your art.
This is why I come back again and again to the need of a school of training for dramatic art where exercises of this kind are taught and practised. And it is just through the practice of such exercises that the right mood of approach can be attained. You will remember I was telling you yesterday how all-important is this mood of approach; indeed, without it we can never have art on the stage.
For consider how it is with the spectator in the audience. What does he bring with him 9 He has never had explicitly present to his consciousness all that lives in the single sounds of speech. The meaning conveyed in what is spoken—that is all he is cognisant of. Of the significance of sounds he knows nothing; he knows only what the words hold in the way of ideas. When therefore the actor enters deeply into the feeling of the sounds, this means that an abyss opens between him and the audience. For the actor on his side of the abyss, the play is not merely what it is for the audience; it becomes for him a veritable sacrificial rite, and the sacrifice he offers up enables the spiritual to be carried into the world of the physical.
This will not, however, be so unless the actor has been able so completely to transform his mood of soul that it has come right away from looking merely at the ‘ideal’ significance of words, and vibrates instead in a delicate sensitiveness to all that is contained in their sounds. And it is possible for the actor gradually to progress so far with his experience of individual sounds that syllables also begin to be full of significance for him. I will give you an example to show you what I mean, for this is an important point—that syllables should carry their full significance for the actor.
Take the word betrüblich (distressing, most unfortunate). We use the word in the easy way words are used nowadays. We are faced with some situation in life and call it ‘betrüblich’, without having any particular experience of the word as such. We must not rest content with this. We must go further and experience the feelings and inner perceptions that are inherent in the sounds and that enter then into the syllables, and by way of the syllables into the word.
Let us begin with the last syllable -lich. We have here first of all the wave sound 1. We feel there a flowing, as of surging waves. And then we have ch. In ch we ‘form’ the flow of the waves, we arrest it in a form. The i signifies merely that we want to draw attention to the form that is arising there. Going through it sound by sound in this way, we come to feel that in lich we have the same as we generally experience in the word gleich. 1The suffix -fish corresponds to our suffix -ly (as in manly); and the word and suffix gleich to our word and suffix like (as in warlike). In the words menschengleich (man-like) and löwengleich (lion-like) we have to use still the whole word gleich, since the language has here not reached the stage of changing the gleich into lich (for lich is of course merely a metamorphosis of gleich). If the word löwengleich, for example, had already been thoroughly absorbed into the stream of speech, if it had through constant use become an integral member of the language, it would today be no longer löwengleich but löwenlich. Similarly, menschengleich would by now have become menschenlich. For in lich we have simply the expression of the fact that the movement is here understood which is expressive of likeness.
Say, for example, you let the feeling of lich arise in you while you are stroking a velvet cushion. Your hand moves gently over the soft surface, feeling in this way the form of the cushion and receiving the impression into your very being. Then maybe you will say to yourself: I know someone whose character gives me the same experience as I have when I stroke this cushion.
Going on now to trüb (dull, cloudy), we do not perhaps at once sense trüb in betrüblich, and yet the word carries that meaning; the soul that finds a situation betrüblich is overcast, as though by a cloud. We must succeed in making contact with what is directly present in the sounds; that will help us very much to come to a better understanding of what we have to say or speak. That the trüb has an ü in it, we can well appreciate from the feeling that we associated with that sound when we were considering the circle of the vowels. But now what is the significance in general of an umlaut?
An umlaut always indicates dispersal. A single thing or a few become many. We say Bruder (brother). As long as there is only one brother under consideration, we can quite properly denote him as one; if there are more, our attention is diverted from the one and we speak of Brüder (brothers, brethren). Dialects retain the more original forms of language, and in them you will always find the umlaut for the plural, signifying that the application of the word is dispersed. We have therefore in trüb a syllable that can be felt; it suggests that dispersal of water, which gives rise to Trübe (mist) And when you go on to draw the comparison with the soul, and find that your word expresses also how the soul is like the mist, then you will be able to ‘taste’ the word in all its richness of meaning.
For the be- you have only to look round for some analogous words. Think of the word denken (to think) and put be- in front of it. Denken is thinking in general; but when you say you bedenken, you mean you are directing your thinking to a particular point or object. 2Compare our expression ‘to bethink oneself’. And a turning of the thinking to something that makes the soul trüb is just what betrüblich expresses.
I have not taken you through this study of a word with the intention that you should proceed to analyse the whole text of some drama on the same plan. What I am concerned for is not that at all, but that during an actor's training considerable time should be devoted to intensive study of the inner substance of words, so that he may become familiar with them in all their concrete reality. If I say: Es ist betrüblich für mich, a suggestion is implied that a cloud is descending upon my soul. And if I am able, whilst saying Es ist betrüblich für mich, to let the feeling of this more concrete paraphrase of the words be present in my soul, then my words will receive the right tone, they will be spoken from the heart. I must warn you, however, that this will not be so if you determine in an arbitrary manner where you will give point or emphasis, but only if you take your guidance from the character of the speech itself.
For speech, my dear friends, in the full swing of its manifold movements, can truly be said to bring to expression in sound and in tone the whole scale of man's sensibilities. The speech organism in its entirety—what is it but man in all the fulness of feeling of his life of soul! You may even go further and call it a host of Divine Beings in all the fulness of feeling of their life of soul. And as we find our way into this deeper understanding of it, speech becomes increasingly objective for us, until at length we have it there before us like a kind of tableau—we can go up and look at it.
And this brings me to something I want particularly to say to you; it was actually the reason why I was anxious to extend this course for one more day. It sounds simple enough when I put it into words, but the recognition of it will help you to give a right orientation to your work.
Man's speaking proceeds from his throat and mouth. He knows not how or why; the mechanism for speech is situated in the mouth, and that is all. There is simply no understanding in modern times of all that has to come into consideration for the artistic forming of speech.
The same lack of perception can be remarked in an altogether different sphere of human activity. When I was a young man, some twenty-four or twenty-five years old, I had occasion to observe how eager people were at that time to take lessons from those who advertised themselves as teachers of handwriting. Hitherto, no special value had been attached to a distinctive handwriting—anyway not in commercial life. Suddenly all that changed. (This was before the days of typewriters; everything had to be written out by hand) The ambition to acquire a beautiful handwriting spread like an infectious complaint. And one became acquainted with those methods that set out to teach writing by conscious development of the mechanism of the hand. There were various methods, but all had for their aim the making supple of hand and arm; for it was accepted as a matter of course that one writes out of the mechanism of hand and arm. In reality it is not so at all, as anyone may prove to his own satisfaction if he will take the trouble to fix a pencil between his big toe and the next, and proceed to write with his foot. He will find he can manage to do it. For it is not the hand that writes; writing does not come about through the mechanism of the hand The mechanism of the hand is set going by the whole man. Try writing with your foot; it will cost you some effort, but you will succeed. And the best of it is, anyone who takes the trouble to write with his foot is rewarded with a wonderful experience. He begins to feel his whole body, and that is a tremendous gain for the soul.
Thus, behind all this instruction in writing that became so popular was, you see, the completely false notion that we should learn to write with our hand and arm, whereas the truth is we should learn to write with our eyes. In order to write well, we want to develop a sensitive perception for the forms of the letters—veritably beholding them in the spirit and then copying them; not constructing them with the mechanism of the hand, but seeing them there before us in spirit and then drawing them in imitation.
If we understand this, we shall perhaps be more ready to understand that whereas in the ordinary way, when he wants to speak, man simply makes use of his instrument of speech, the actor has first to acquire what I might call an intimate kind of hearing that does not hear, an ear that hears silent speech. He must be able to hold the word in his soul, in his spirit, holding it there in its sequence of sounds, hearing in silence whole passages, whole monologues, dialogues, and so forth. In effect, speech has to become for him so objective that when he speaks, his speaking proceeds from what he hears with his soul.
It is not enough for a poet to have in his head the meaning and purport of a poem; the whole of the artistically formed speech must be present to him. Most of the scenes in my Mystery Plays have been first heard and then written. I have not begun with an idea and looked for words to express it; I have simply listened and written down what I heard. And the speaking of the actor on the stage should really come about in the same way; he should first hear, and then let the speaking proceed from the hearing. This will mean that he comes naturally into a true feeling for sound and syllable, and above all is made sensible of the need to live in the words. Furthermore, his whole understanding of life will by this experience be lifted on to a spiritual level, and he will develop a quick and ready sense for what is genuine artistic creation.
We have here come again upon one of the truths concerning dramatic art which do not easily meet with acceptance all at once. An actor who has made such a deep study of speech that he has as it were a second self beside him to whom he is listening will find that the meaning and purport of the drama in which he is taking part lights up within him; he perceives it, instinctively. That is, if it is a good drama. For the good poet—and also the good translator—has a certain feeling all the time for how the words spoken by the different characters ought to sound to the hearers; if therefore the actor hears what he has to speak (we will imagine, for example, he is taking the part of Faust), if he has come to the point of hearing the part in his soul before speaking it, he will much more quickly grasp its inner meaning. And so for an actor who wants to have an artistic understanding of the play and of his own part in it, the advice is once again to take the formed speech for his starting-point.
I said an actor should have an artistic understanding of his part, an understanding, that is, that arises from ‘beholding’ the part. This is something very different from a conceptual understanding of it. One meets at times with grotesque instances of the disparity between the two. I was once present at a delightful social gathering, from which one could learn a great deal. You will remember, we were speaking the other day of Alexander Strakosch. I told you how with all his failings he was, in his own way, a good reciter; as stage reciter he had, in fact, considerable influence. He was not a good producer, and he was no actor; latterly he was too fond of mannerisms, especially on the stage. But in one thing Strakosch was really skilful. He was able, while forming his speech, to enter right into the inner experience of it. He was on the stage of the Burgtheater in Vienna; Laube knew well what he was worth to him. Strakosch would listen to his part and let the character build itself up before him as he listened.
On the occasion in question, several actors were present who had just been performing Hamlet; and what was particularly significant, there were present also university professors and other men of scholarship. The evening was devoted to a discussion on Shakespeare, and all these latter had no doubt made a profound study of his work. Strakosch was also there. We had all of us been at the performance and now we began to listen to the various interpretations of the play that were put forward by these scholarly gentlemen. The interpretations differed somewhat, but each speaker set out to prove the absolute validity of his own, and every one of them spoke at great length.
The actors kept silence, particularly the actor who had played Hamlet. He had nothing to say. He could not, he said, expound or elucidate Hamlet; he had played him
I was interested to see if we could not elicit at least one expression of opinion from the stage, and I said to Strakosch: ‘Tell us now, how do you understand Hamlet?’ ‘Very inwardly!’ That was all he would say. He had heard what Hamlet says, had formed his speaking quite wonderfully to correspond, but could say nothing about the part except that it was deep down within him—the fact being that he had hardly had time to get beyond the hearing of it, no time to develop a thought-out interpretation.
And it is quite true that only when there is this inner hearing of the soul can we know what it means to witness the creation of a part, to see it being created by the artist on the stage. That gives him the intuition that is needed for this.
The creation of a part implies nothing less than that the actor is able to place his whole human being right outside of himself, so that he can perceive it there beside him. And then this self of his that is outside him changes into the character of the role he is playing. For if the actor is an individuality, if he has a true inner instinct for his work, we shall always allow him to form his part in his own way, just as the pianist is after all allowed to play in his own way. We shall also find that the audience will be far more ready to follow with understanding what they see on the stage if the actor, instead of making an intellectual study of his part— poring over the content with deep concentration of thought—first forms it in his soul, lets it take shape there, and then having done so can hear just how he is to form it outwardly, by means of his own person on the stage.
Then we shall not be troubled any more with those precise rulings of how a part is to be played, that are so dear to the hearts of dry-as-dust scholars; instead, we shall have the possibility of many different interpretations of a part, for each one of which good grounds can be adduced. But where an interpretation is justified, the ground for its justification is that the actor hears how to form the part.
I would like at this point to give you a demonstration of what widely different ideas can exist concerning one and the same character in a play. I might show you, for instance, how some actor who has, let us say, a rather intellectual conception of Hamlet will play the part—emphasising the fundamental melancholy of Hamlet's character. As a matter of fact, for one who has genuine knowledge of the human soul it will be impossible to play the part as a thorough melancholic; for Hamlet himself draws attention to his melancholy, and a real melancholic does not do that! Admittedly, however, if we are considering Hamlet from an intellectual point of view, it is possible to regard him as a melancholic. The famous Robert, who was a superb classical actor, held this view. We can then play Hamlet walking across the stage engaged in deep contemplation. We shall, however, often come to moments in the play where we shall find it hard to understand Hamlet if we conceive of him in this way and are obliged to think of him as speaking always with a rather heavy, full-toned voice. There are undoubtedly passages where we can do this—and the German translations are for such passages almost as good as, and often better than, the English original!—but there are other passages where it is out of the question, passages where, if we are determined to be consistent and regard Hamlet all through the play as a profound melancholic, we shall find it impossible to speak the words so that they flow rightly for the listener. And whenever I call to mind performances where Robert took the part of Hamlet, I always find that whereas in certain of the monologues his really excellent speaking was notably in place, it was not so where Hamlet becomes ironical. These passages the actor really cannot speak as a melancholic. And I must admit that it used to come each time as a terrible shock to me when, after the famous monologues which were quite wonderfully rendered by Robert, one had to hear in the very same tone the words: ‘Get thee to a nunnery!’ That doesn't do at all. And there are many other traditional renderings of Hamlet that fall to the ground in a similar way. I would therefore like to suggest yet another possible approach, one where in order to let Hamlet reveal his character in his own way through his speaking, we try to understand him in the situation of the moment. I shall not ‘speak’ the passages, but merely recall them to you, pointing them purposely in a rather exaggerated way to make my meaning clear.
Let us take the moment when Hamlet has got ready the play that is to unmask the king. We have to think of him as full of expectation as to the effect the play will have; and it is really quite difficult to imagine that the Hamlet who has arranged all this should at that moment suddenly change into a profound philosopher. Why ever should he all at once, without rhyme or reason, turn philosopher! As I have said, I am not out to find fault with a particular interpretation of Hamlet, not at all. I want only to suggest that good grounds can also be found for an altogether different interpretation from the one that weighs down the famous monologue ‘To be or not to be’ with an overload of deep contemplation and melancholy. It is quite possible to picture the situation in the following way.
Hamlet comes on to the stage—entering from the direction determined by the producer. Whilst he is still walking, and without his making beforehand any of those slow gestures that denote deep thought, an idea suddenly strikes him. 3The passages from Hamlet were read by Dr. Steiner from the German translation by Schlegel and Tieck.
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them. To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd.
And now at this point the Hamlet we know so well—the unstable, the wavering—begins to show himself. In the lines that I have read Hamlet was still speaking entirely out of the thought that had flashed into his mind Now he stands there in his true character, for all at once he remembers that sleep is not mere nothingness, it may involve something else.
To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
Now he changes again, becomes more animated, even passionate—not contemplative.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns,
These last words show clearly that Hamlet cannot possibly be pondering deeply as he speaks them. For what would he certainly not say if he weighed his words? He would not say:
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns.
Has not the elder Hamlet but just returned thence? We should be able to see that words like this can only proceed from that half-worked out idea that had flashed upon him and that speaks in terms of life's memories and is not the fruit of profound philosophising.
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action. Soft you now!
And now he can go on to speak of the ‘fair Ophelia’ without the words jarring on us.
Let me say again, I have no intention to pull to pieces some other interpretation that has been rather generally accepted. I want only to point out that it will not do to be so fond of the picture of a deeply reflective Hamlet as to allow oneself to speak out of that mood a monologue that reveals disorder and perplexity in Hamlet's thinking, and that certainly does not spring from philosophical depths. We need, my dear friends, to provide ourselves with a rich and ample background if our acting is to come before the world as art.
I had occasion yesterday to call your attention to the lack of readiness on the part of our present-day critics to discern distinctions of this kind. The fact is, as soon as we begin to practise any art, a sense of shame comes over us if before we have judged it from outside; for we realise that one should only ever speak about an art when one can do something in it oneself. That is a right and true feeling. A person who has never handled a paint brush cannot possibly know why this or that is painted in such and such a way. No more can anyone who does not act himself judge of acting—unless he be able by means of spiritual initiation to transplant himself, as it were, into each individual in turn and then speak, not out of himself but out of these other human beings. The critic who is only a critic and has behind him no stage experience of his own is really no more than a caricature. We must have the courage to acknowledge that this is so.
The only kind of criticism that deserves to be respected is that which follows in the footsteps of Lessing and criticises positively, with intention to provide that when a work of art appears before the public it shall meet with understanding. When criticism has this end in view and does really help the general public to understand one or another work of art, it has its justification. But when the critic wants simply to lay it down that some work of art is good or bad, then his criticism can be justified only if he has himself had professional experience in that art and has moreover given signs of good ability in it. I find myself compelled to add this warning for the reason that the work of the stage will only be able to hold its own in the face of criticism if it can be stiff-necked and not allow itself to be swayed this way and that by the critics. For then we can hope to see developing on the stage a certain spirit of independence; and that will mean that the actor will at length be able to take his own right share in the mission for civilisation that the drama is called upon to fulfil.
I have tried, my dear friends, to give you in this course of lectures some indications of how necessary it is above all that first spirit, and then life, shall be restored to the drama of today. Naturally it has not been possible to give more than suggestions. But I have endeavoured to put these before you in such a way that if, for example, they are worked out in a dramatic school that is constituted on the lines I have described, then good results can follow. The establishment of such a school and the application of my suggestions in the work of the school as well as in rehearsals and so on, could achieve much even in our own time.
What I have tried to say has in very truth been spoken out of a deep reverence for the art. Dramatic art—and remember, it can only exist if man takes his place on the stage with real devotion, allowing his own being to merge in the being of his part—dramatic art has great tasks to perform; and if it cannot now work, as in times past, with something of the power of ritual, it can still even today have an uplifting influence, so that by its means man is carried up to spiritual heights.
If we are able to see how the whole being of man places himself in word and gesture at the service of this creation of the spirit—for that is what drama is, a creation of the spirit— if we can perceive this, then that is again a path along which we can find our way to the spirit. That much remains to be done before that ideal can be reached, is due to the fact that in these days of materialism when spiritual paths have been neglected by man, the art of the stage has fallen into a helpless condition and shown an increasing readiness to become a mere copy of real life—and as such it can never under any circumstances have an uplifting effect but always under all circumstances, the reverse.
Whilst true drama raises all that takes place on the stage, lifts it up to a higher level, and in so doing brings what is human nearer to the Divine, naturalism attains nothing but the imitation of what is human. And no imitation can ever be complete. Every imitation leaves out something the original still has, and must have in order to enable it to give a one-sided expression, a one-sided revelation of itself.
When we see plays of this nature we are often left with the impression that we have been witnessing an art that is not a human art at all, but an art of monkeys. For there is really something quite monkeyish about this kind of imitation, tending as it does to suggest comparison with all sorts of animals. Some actor, trying hard to be as naturalistic as possible, will behave on the stage as if he were a tiger or other wild beast, and many ladies as if they were cats— which is perhaps easier for them than for a man to be a tiger.
But now this means nothing else than that the mask of an earlier time has changed and become a soul mask. And that, dramatic art cannot tolerate—that the one-time animal mask which was there in order to provide the right setting for the gesture should turn into a mask of the soul. With the growing tendency, however, to a purely naturalistic imitation, we can see it happening.
It is my hope that the few indications I have been able to give in these lectures may form themselves for you into an impulse, leading you right away from naturalism into a genuine spiritual art of the stage. This, my dear friends, was indeed the aim I had in view for this course; and I shall only be able to consider its purpose fulfilled when, through the activity of those who have understood me, the results begin to show themselves to me from the stage.
With that I would like to conclude this course of lectures, of which I can truly say it has been a labour of love, the art of the stage having always been for me an object of love and reverence. I leave it with those of you who have been able to meet my words with understanding, and will take them to heart and work further with them.
At the close of the lecture, words of thanks were spoken to which Dr. Steiner responded, as follows:
Herr Haas-Berkow: In expressing heartfelt thanks for this course of lectures I am confident that I speak on behalf of all those who are here present and especially of those of us who are actors. We feel responsible to cherish in heart and mind what has been given to us here and to work on with it to the very utmost of our powers, that we may eventually become actors in the new understanding of the word. Speaking personally, I desire to place myself and all my work at Dr. Steiner's disposal.
Herr Albert Steffen: In the name of all who love the cosmic words—that is, of all who love poetry, who love art— I would like to thank you, Dr. Steiner, for these unforgettable days. I am, I know, giving expression to what is livingly present in the audience. For, from my seat here in front, I could see, as I listened to your words, the rapt attentiveness on the faces of your hearers; I could see how their eyes shone and how their hearts were set on fire. Many an old rule or habit of work perished in the flames, but out of its ashes rose up like a phoenix a marvellous new sense of freedom.
We artists live in the world of semblance. But we have here been enabled to see that this semblance, this glory, comes from a light that is at the very foundation of all being— comes from the Word. You have said that it is the Word that forms and creates man; surely then the speech sounds must be the apostles, and speech itself have power to form us through the instrumentality of yourself and your honoured collaborator Frau Dr. Steiner. Whenever I see eurhythmy, I always have to think: there is the new Parnassus, the assembly of the Gods, resurrected before our eyes.
All the lecture-courses to which we have been listening these last days form a unity. Not only have you given us the beautiful word; from the medical lectures the healing word made itself felt, and from the group of the priests there worked across to us— on sub-earthly and super-earthly paths— the holy word. 4. These words refer to two courses of lectures that Rudolf Steiner was giving at the same time with this course on Speech and Drama: one for doctors and the priests of the Christian Community on Pastoral Medicine, and the other for the priests on The Apocalypse. The long series of week-end evening lectures on Karma which was begun early in the year was also continued through these weeks, as well as the occasional morning lectures to the Workmen at the Goetheanum, on subjects of their own choosing. A very few days later, Dr. Steiner's lecturing activity came to an end.
So that the actor has really become now also priest and physician.
But what has been for me the most astounding of all is that Dr. Steiner has come forward himself as a poet—and a poet such as the earth has not seen before. I refer to those evening lectures where he has been expounding to us the destinies of men who have been with us here in real life,Weininger, Strind berg, Solovioff and many more; destinies that did not lead to any complete conquest of what is chaotic in life and dark and evil, but destinies which clearly showed the need for something new to enter the life of humanity. All of us here, had we not been gripped by this new thing, would have gone under. Dr. Steiner has saved us. And what is more, he would save the artist in us, he would make of us artists, poets, actors.
How can we thank you? Only by taking the Word for what it truly is—the sword of Michael—and then, sword in hand, fighting with all our strength for you, Dr. Steiner, and for the holy work you have begun.
Dr. Steiner: My dear friends, let us resolve—each one for himself in his own way—to look upon this course of lectures as a beginning. It will fulfil its purpose if we regard it as a first Act and try to find in work the following Acts that shall expound the matter further. If we work together in this direction, then in many and various spheres of life, above all in the domain of that art that is so dear to our hearts, a seed can be sown now that will, as it grows and develops, meet the needs of the civilisation of the future. There is abundant possibility to do this—in among all the inartistic developments that we see around us, to plant a new seed for the future.
In this sense, let us then regard our study here together as first steps on a path, and see whether these first steps may not point the way to further steps. I am thankful to perceive that you are all of you resolved to look upon these initial steps that we have taken here together as opening the way to further artistic work and development as we go forward on the path of life.
And so now, speaking out of this understanding of what our work here together should mean, I extend to you my heartfelt gratitude that you have shown yourselves ready and willing to take part with me in this quest.