Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ruth Draper, Interpreter

The Day - Jan 9, 1922

Ruth Draper, Interpreter


I like to write about and praise people who now live, while yet they are pouring out benefits for the betterment of the world. I like people to know that I appreciate them and their art of work.

Recently I went to hear Ruth Draper, whom I consider one of the greatest artists it has been my privilege to hear. They call her an Impersonator. But that is not what she is at all. She is an Interpreter—and even more than that.

She is the granddaughter, I believe, of Charles A. Dana, the great founder of the New York Sun. And surely the genius of that wonderful understander of human character has descended to this woman, for she actually flows into and becomes one with the characters she depicts.

She gives you a New England character in one of her sketches. You see the very porch where the farmer's wife sits. You seem to hear the creak of the old chair, the hen's cackle and the dog barking as the woman clatters on. Ruth Draper disappears and the characters, as they actually are, walk and talk before you.

Real tears come and roll down yours cheeks before you know it when she leads you into an old Western railway station to see them ring in the wounded from a wrecked train. And as you catch the humor and pathos of one character after another, you now that this artist has brought you a clearer understanding of human nature and of life—that she has brought a lot of sweetness into your life that had been all too dead before.

Ruth Draper etches characters on the stage as Whistler did on copper. And with as infinite skill. And one of the frist things you note about her is that she is so simple, so modest, so very honest. She has no tricks.

Though is has been weeks since I heard this extraordinary artist, her characters are following me everywhere. They rise before me as I go to work, and often I find them coming into my room at night, after te lights are out, and into my library when the lights are on. You see, they were very real—and somehow I like real folks.

I have heard no woman artist to compare with Ruth Draper since Bernhardt. And I am wondering whether the Divine Sarah, at miss Draper's age, could have been so great.