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ILLUSTRATIONS : John T. Raymond, Jenny Lind, Marie Aimée, Alice
Oates, William E. Sheridan, and the Actors' Monument.
THE stage needs a reliable and compendious yearly chronicie. Hitherto no such chronicle has existed. These, in brief, are the reasons why the New YORK MIRROR begins, with the present volume, the publication of an Annual. It is believed that a compact, complete, and convenient history of each succeeding dramatic year will prove a valuable supplement to the heretofore meagre and scattered annals of the contemporary theatre. Encouraging assurance has been received that this book and its successors will be heartily welcomed by the critic, the playwright, the actor, the manager, and the collector of works relating to the drama. I have personally had frequent occasion to deplore the lack of a handy and reliable dramatic record, and I know that many other writers for the press have felt the same want. How many precious hours have been consumed in hunting through cumbrous and confusing newspaper files for elusive dates and data ! One of the objects of this Annual is to obviate perplexing research and economize the valuable time of busy men. It was at prst intended that the Chronological Record should cover only the American stage, but its plan was ultimately extended to embrace all noteworthy dramatic events in England, France, and Germany. In recording new productions the original casts are given, and where the plays are sufficiently important synopses of plots are appended. Critical comments have been entirely omitted, as foreign to the scope and purpose of the Record, which deals simply with facts. The endeavor throughout has been to secure accuracy ; but in the collection and condensation of a vast quantity of material some trifling errors and omissions may have been inadvertently overlooked. Mr. Albert Ellery Berg, the compiler of this department, has bestowed upon it the most patient thought and arduous labor. He has brought to bear every available source of information, months of diligent and persevering effort having been devoted to the task. I cheerfully and gratefully acknowledge the excellent manner of its fulfilment. The Necrology-which is supplemented by portraits of the more celebrated persons in the professional death-roll of the year-and the Bibliography have been made as complete as possible. A unique feature of this book is the first authentic Directory of the American Theatrical Profession ever published. It has often been reproachfully said that professionals of the present day are - nomads. That the exigencies of the so-called " combination system” compel almost constant travel during the greater portion of the year is true, but the current supposition that the large army of migratory players are waifs and strays is fallacious, and no stronger proof of the fact than this Directory has ever been put in evidence. Here will be found the permanent abiding-places or permanent addresses of thousands. Its correctness is attested by the statement that the information, in nearly all cases, has come direct from the people themselves. Where they were unable or unwilling to furnish a home address," they were requested to give an address where mail matter would be received
and promptly forwarded. It will be noted, as indicating the popularity and efficiency of the MIRROR's letter department, that many have given the MIRROR office as their permanent address. All classes of the profession, I am happy to say, have lent th
aid in facilitating the preparation of the Directory. Its chief aim is to furnish a medium whereby managers and actors can freely com: municate with one another. Those hungry sharks, the theatrical middlemen known as “dramatic agents,” have for many years been able to feed on actors solely through the monopoly of the latter's private addresses. They have exercised a system of petty tyranny, unjust discrimination, deception, and barefaced extortion, without interference. The victims have groaned and suffered, but they have seen no avenue of escape from their wretched bondage. The time is ripe for a change. The dignity of the profession demands.exemption from the miserable practices of the men that thrive on the dramatic intelligence office business. This Directory, which contains many times more names and addresses than all their jealously guarded registry-books combined, deprives the “ dramatic agents” of their stock-in-trade and emancipates a large number of players from their galling and degrading yoke. Now managers can have absolute freedom for selection, while actors can make engagements without danger of extortion. I cherish the hope that the rank abuses common witr. the “ agencies ” will be abated, if not absolutely destroyed, by the means which the MIRROR has furnished. The classification of the names in the Directory under the various lines of business should greatly augment its value. This classification has been mainly left to the professionals themselves, and it will be understood that they appear under the respective lines in which they profess to be proficient. Where more than one line has been given, the name will be found under that which is rated as the more important. The difficulties that stood in the way of this compilation were manifold, but they have been successfully overcome. The Directory is approximately, if not actually, complete. From time to time it will be revised and republished. The managers and attachés of the theatres and halls throughout the country have been purposely left out, as it was desired to include only the members of stock and travelling companies and those directly connected with them, disengaged actors and actresses, etcetera. Even so prosaic a labor as the preparation of a directory has its humorous side. From a Western company was received a roster that contained the name of the business manager, who was gravely labelled “deceased.” A comedian, who is a favorite member of one of the metropolitan stock companies, described his line of business to be “the best parts he could get.” A less fortunate brother-professional, touring with a small combination in a remote region, significantly stated his as any parts he could get." It may naturally be imagined that some little trouble was experienced in assigning to their proper places a “Human Enigma,” a “Man Monkey,” a “Human Frog,” and a troupe of performing apes. The copious General Index is the work of that expert and careful indexer, Mr. Charles F. Durfee. It largely enhances the value of the Annual as a book of reference.
HARRISON GREY FISKE.