From August 1933, when Eliot tells Hale that he has been invited to write a play, to the May 1934 premier of The Rock, his letters contain reflections on drama and the process of writing (what he considers) his first serious verse since Ash-Wednesday. In addition to hoping to create a stronger bond with her by writing for the stage, he sees the pageant play as a way to force himself to write poetry. On 21 October he writes that poetic composition is difficult and depressing work requiring some external pressure to expel it from him. A few days later he tells her that he has drafted four choruses, rather on the grim and ironic side, as he wants to avoid sentimentality or prettiness. In the meantime, he keeps up a lively schedule of theater-going that he describes to her. On 8 December he reports a music hall revival at the Garrick, where he saw Charles Austin and Marie Kendall, particularly enjoying “A Little Bit o’ What You Fancy Always Does You Good” and “Down at the Old Bull and Bush” (an old favorite). He finds London nostalgic for the pre-Boer War days.
In the new year (1934) Eliot also goes to see moving pictures, commenting freely and acerbically on them to Hale. Mae West is a bad actress with no personality (6 Feb), but the Marx Brothers are worse (16 Feb). He describes them as low-class Jews peddling crude humor that he finds repulsive (unfortunately, such remarks are not uncommon in these letters). In contrast, he enjoyed two “Silly Symphony” Walt Disney films. He sees plays by Margaret Kennedy and Sean O’Casey (“Within the Gates,” whose poetry he thinks is maudlin). On 24 February he looks forward to attending Cleopatra acted by Cambridge undergraduates and on 16 March reports with amazement on the excellence of the young lead actress in what he deems Shakespeare’s most difficult play. He also sees a performance of Auden’s The Dance of Death, whose characters do not seem like real people. Comparing himself to Auden, he thinks his own characters in Sweeney were more lifelike, but grants Auden a talent for finding a dramatic situation (2 March). Sweeney is on his mind because he has just seen Hallie Flanagan, the director of his play at Vassar in 1933, and finds her thoughtful and intelligent. (Flanagan is to play an unfortunate role in Hale’s future life: shortly after Flanagan is hired at Smith in 1942, Hale loses her job.) On 23 March, he takes Christina Morley to see Congreve’s Love for Love at Sadlers' Wells, noting how dependent the dramatist is on his audience: Restoration comedy must now be played as farce, but is really a somber satire of a kind that audiences no longer understand. However, he expresses cautious optimism about the play he is finishing and the strength of his comic hero, Ethelbert the Anglo-Saxon bricklayer.
On 10 May, Eliot thanks Hale for reading and commenting on his poetry, which she seems not to have liked very much. He says he is relieved: if she liked it too much, he would worry that she only liked him as its author. Other people mix him up with his poetry, and he craves some private life.