After the success of the Vieux-Colombier first seasons, Jacques Copeau was asked by the Ministry of Propaganda to advertise French culture abroad. Georges Clémenceau’s wish that he should display their theatrical talents in the United States enabled him to demobilize some of his actors and recreate his company. Gaston Gallimard, Louis Jouvet, Charles Dullin, Suzanne Bing joined him in New York where they spent nearly two years, from November 1917 to June 1919, giving 345 performances at the Garrick Theater. During their stay, Copeau gave lectures around the country to explain his notion of a New Comedy, “a wholly new modern comedy, improvised, using types deeawn from today’s society. A XXth-century French farce.” (Registres IV, p. 523).
In the midst of war, a few essays by writers salute the anniversary. The Société Littéraire de France produces a special tricentenary edition of Le Roi Lear translated by Pierre Loti and Emile Vedel, with wood engravings by Jean Lebédeff. Romain Rolland in a Swiss magazine, Demain, publishes an article on “La vérité dans le théâtre de Shakespeare”, fragment of a much larger work in progress. André Chevrillon, in “Shakespeare et l’âme anglaise”, May 1916, reflecting on the recent celebrations, confirms the general theme of Gollancz’s collection, that Shakespeare, “the poet of roses and dread”, is the very genius of Englishness, and proceeds to analyze its central feature, a predominance of concrete imagination and feeling above reasoning thought. The English are with the Slavs the only visionary people in Europe, he concludes.