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(W. H., 1907-1973, British born American Poet)
Fine Typed Letter Signed to Mr
(the Owner of the Westminster Theatre) explaining that "owing to recent events I quite understand that the Ostnia palace scene, as it stands, might give offence, which was - of course - certainly not intended. At the same time I feel very strongly that the complete omission of the scene would seriously upset the balance of the whole play. What I should like to do ... is to turn the whole scene into an Eastern scene, something after the style of the Arabian Nights. For example, the two chief characters would be a Sultan and a Sultana. I enclose a complete list of cuts and alterations. I hope very much that you will agree with me about the possibility of acting the scene in this manner ..." and thanking him "on behalf of both myself and
for all the patience and forbearance you have shown over this play ...", 1 side 4to., Westminster Theatre headed paper, 30th January
AUDEN PROPOSES CHANGES TO "THE DOG BENEATH THE SKIN" BECAUSE OF THE POLITICAL SITUATION
Auden is now considered one of the greatest poets of the English language.
The Dog Beneath the Skin, or Where is Francis? A Play in Three Acts
, by W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood, was the first Auden-Isherwood collaboration and an important contribution to English poetic drama in the 1930s. It was published in 1935 and first performed by the Group Theatre in 1936. The Group Theatre was at first a Sunday Society and Anmer Hall made it possible for the Group to give its performances at the Westminster Theatre. Here Auden and Isherwood proved themselves as dramatist with this play. The dog's eye view shows people stripped of their facades. The progress leads from a king's palace (Ostnia) where the wives of political prisoners are treated to a royal reception while their husbands are executed, through the red light district and ends in a lunatic asylum where the dog, Alan, is incarcerated and the wall is decorated with a large portrait of a man in uniform, beneath which is written 'Our Leader'. This was a time of political turmoil and from this letter it seems that Auden felt he needed to modify the piece in order to avoid offence.
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