This Week’s Interview, Mrs. Grace Butt, Evening Telegram, 1945, December 15 p.8
Mrs. Grace Butt, author and producer if the play, “The Road Through Melton,” that met with appreciative audiences throughout its four night run last week, sat one practice night at the back of the darkened hall, and punctuated by hammer blows and lighting experiments told of the work she had been doing.
“It was not just me,” she assured me earnestly, “but every single member of the group. Of course, all members do not act. Many of them never look over the footlights. But they are just as essential to the production of a play as are the actors.
“Look at them now,” she said pointing to a few energetic workers. “Everyone doing his part. And there is so much to do carpentry, lighting, stage decoration house management, music, makeup, costuming, business management, publicity. It is something of a business with its many and varied responsibilities all linking together for the good of the whole.
“We work hard”, she admitted, “but we like it. We have done a little in the line of radio plays and hope to do more. Our aim is to build up a tradition through creative activity. We realize we have much to learn, as stage is entirely different from radio technique where the dramatic effect must be got by sound.”
In speaking of the work of the St. John’s Players, Mrs. Butt recalled the first play they produced nearly nine years ago, “The Admirable Crichton.” The group membership has changed since that time, she thought, but has also grown so that the outfit now numbers about forty members. The organization is anxious to enlist any newcomer who has dramatic leanings. Everybody is given the chance of reading for a part and the Casting Committee makes the final choice.
During the war, its funds went for patriotic purposes, and now with the purchase of a few necessities such as a carpet, a ceiling, lighting equipment and other incidentals, the group finds itself with little left to work on.
With regard to drama in Newfoundland, Mrs. Butt feels it has a future. “Get the people het up enough,” she insists, “and small obstacles are soon overcome. A development of the arts in this country can do that.
“Oh I don’t say,” she added. “that drama is more important than any other art, but it is naturally the liveliest of them, and linked with that is the fact that Newfoundland people have a strong sense of drama, because of the dramatic way in which they live.
“Why,” she said, leaning forward earnestly as she spoke, “Take the weather. Even the weather is dramatic in this country, when we consider the tragedies that take place every spring and fall.
“What we need,” stated Mrs. Butt emphatically, “is a good stage, technical equipment, and a workshop. I like to dream of a community building of the arts in St. John’s in which might be housed, not only a small but efficient theatre--a stage of our very own--but also the museum, an art gallery, and the public Library. Such a building would be the centre of culture for the Capitol.
“We can never be too grateful for the hospitality that the Memorial College has extended to us right from the beginning. Without this hospitality we might never have gone into action. If only somebody or some group would say. ‘I like what you’re trying to do. Here’s a little theatre for you’, we could accomplish greater things in a shorter time.”