A Performance By The Thimble Theatre On Ellis Island

Mrs. Gould, Lieutenant Murray and staff on the stage of the Ellis Island Theatre

Mrs. Gould, Lieutenant Murray and staff on the stage of the Ellis Island Theatre © 1918 Underwood and Underwood

THE Thimble Theatre went a traveling last week. The entire ensemble of last Saturday night followed an invitation of chief clerk, Augustus Sherman, of Ellis Island, and repeated the performance for the benefit of the immigrants detained at present on Ellis Island.

More than four hundred men, women and children from all parts of the world listened to the music, this international language of humankind which finds its way to heart and soul and was reflected in the faces of all those whom the United States did not welcome to her shores.

There were well-dressed men and women of Northern Europe right next to the mannish. hard-set faces of Russian peasant women. Next to a countenance upon which was written the simplicity of mind sat a man whom you would not wish to meet at night in a dark alley.

There were hosts of children, in all ages. Mr. Sherman explained that some of his charges had been ordered deported as far back as eighteen months ago, but on account of the present European complications most of the orders cannot be carried out. The people seem happy and contented as much as they can expect to be, with the uncertainty of their fate hovering above their heads.

“All sorts and conditions”—a typical audience at Ellis Island

“All sorts and conditions”—a typical audience at Ellis Island © 1918 The Theatre Magazine

The Sunday afternoon concerts are held in a building whose size is similar to that of an armory. The acoustics are rather bad, but the audience was very appreciative and the artists did their best to add a few pleasant hours to the lives of these poor, involuntary residents of the Island. Especially the Irish Ballads sung by Miss Foster and the folk songs by Miss Edens evoked the enthusiasm of the listeners.

Mr. Keeler's recitation of children's poems and nursery rhymes, with his phonetic interpretation of sounds dear to the ears of the little ones, which evidently must Le the same all over the world, gathered around him girls and boys who wanted each time just a little bit more and his recitation lasted quite longer than had been intended.

“The Entertainment Bulletin” announces the “prescription of happiness” for each night. Lieutenant Murray, Commandant of the Naval Receiving Station at Ellis Island and Mrs. George Jay Gould © 1918 The Theatre Magazine

The concert on the Diamond Disc, a selection of operatic airs in several languages, old hymns and chorales, concluded the program. It was amusing to watch the little ones seated in the first rows and nearest to the instrument. They didn't know where the voices and the music came from and it is doubtful if their parents, whom they questioned wonderingly, were able to give a proper answer.

The Sunday afternoon concert, one of the many humanitarian innovations Mr. Sherman has put into effect, is looked forward to eagerly by the detained immigrants; this is one more proof that music, good music, finds a quick response in the heart of every human being, even if he doesn't know the technical meaning of what he hears and of what appeals to him.

Bruno, Guido, Ed. "Charles Edison's Little Thimble Theatre - A Performance On Ellis Island," in Bruno's Weekly, Volume MCMXVI, No 3 January 15, 1916.

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