But I was glad to have on hand a book of his plays after attending a reading of W. Somerset Maugham's For Services Rendered at Griffin Theater this week. The introduction by Anthony Curtis talks about his incipient movements into what would become a prosperous career:
His theatrical ambition remained in abeyance until aged sixteen he broke away to become a student at the University of Heidelberg. Here he found a cultural ferment in progress whose intensity was only exceeded by that of the bohemian world he discovered when he returned to Paris ten years later. At Heidelberg there were productions of Ibsen, among the earliest performances of his work outside Norway. What interested Maugham was not so much the playwright's revolutionary ideas as his technique. He noted how the plays were constructed on the principle of someone coming into a stuffy room and opening a window to let in a disruptive breath of fresh air. The same strategy was to serve him well when in his own comedies a returning planter or country cousin effects a similar glaring exposure of the hypocrisies of English society.
Later in life in The Summing Up Maugham recounts his progress as a writer and as a playwright. Even though it was not exactly fruitful, I admire the audacity of his scheme, and wish I had had so detached and objective a view on the theater world:
Maugham said that as a budding, largely unperformed, playwright his plan was to write a meaty central role that would tempt a great lady of the theatre into wanting to perform it; and then, as women are more persuasive than men—he continued—the aforesaid great lady would compel a management to put it on.