Staging America: The Artistic Legacy of the Provincetown Players (University of Alabama Press, 2022)

Jeffery Kennedy began his career as a protégé of the great O’Neill biographers, Arthur and Barbara Gelb. Over the years he has collected the most comprehensive personal archive of Provincetown Players documents and photographs, as well traveling around the country and becoming deeply familiar with every academic and public archive. He is also the greatest raconteur of the Provincetown legends and stories, known and unknown, as well as an accomplished academic and theatre professional in his own right. Therefore his book, the first contemporary and comprehensive history of the Provincetown Players since Robert Sarlos 1982 Jig Cook and the Provincetown Players, has been long and eagerly awaited.

In Staging America: The Artistic Legacy of the Provincetown Players, Jeffery Kennedy tells the unabridged story of the innovative theatre group, from their roots in colonial American traditions to the tragic division of the O’Neill and Cook factions in 1924. In a meticulously researched and comprehensive narrative drawing on many new sources that have only become available in the last three decades, Kennedy modifies, refutes, and enhances previous studies, while shining new light at every turn on the history of the Provincetown Players.

Kennedy has placed a re-evaluation of George Cram Cook at the center of his study, tracing Cook’s mission of “cultural patriotism,” which drove him toward creating a uniquely American identity in theatre. Kennedy also provides many detailed narratives of the originating Provincetowners, adding significantly to the biographical record of the Players’ forty-seven playwrights, including Susan Glaspell, Neith Boyce, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Floyd Dell, Rita Wellman, Mike Gold, Djuna Barnes, and John Reed. Kennedy also examines other important artistic, literary, and political figures who influenced the Players, including Emma Goldman, Charles Demuth, Berenice Abbott, Sophie Treadwell, Theodore Dreiser, Claudette Colbert, and Charlie Chaplin. Finally, Kennedy re-evaluates the contribution of Eugene O’Neill to the Provincetown Players, and the company’s contribution to his development.

In the words of O’Neill’s most recent biographer, Rob Dowling: “Jeffery Kennedy’s Staging America, a major event for theatre studies worldwide, is a magisterial chronical of George Cram Cook’s leadership of the Provincetown Players—‘a little theater group’ orchestrated by the uniquely inspiring Cook, a Midwestern dreamer who was, without question, directly responsible for the birth of modern American drama.”

Jeff at the Provincetown Players Wharf site leading a tour during the 2015 centennial celebration.

Three Midwestern Playwrights: How Floyd Dell, George Cram Cook, and Susan Glaspell Transformed American Theatre (Indiana University Press, 2022)

Marcia Noe’s impressive career as a Glaspell scholar began in 1983 with her publication of the first modern biography of Susan Glaspell, Susan Glaspell: Voice from the Heartland (Western Illinois University Press). Over the intervening years Noe contributed many feminist and formalist analyses of Glaspell’s plays, often illuminating their context in Midwestern culture. This body of work is now crowned with her publication of Three Midwestern Playwrights: How Floyd Dell, George Cram Cook, and Susan Glaspell Transformed American Theatre, which tells a part of the Provincetown story that has not yet been told.

In this book Noe argues that the progressive social, political, and cultural activities in which Floyd Dell, George Cram Cook, and Susan Glaspell were involved in early twentieth-century Davenport, Iowa, informed not only the plays that they wrote but also the aesthetic and theatre practice of the Provincetown Players (1915-1922), the theatre company that contributed significantly to the foundation of modern American drama. The philosophical and political orientations of Dell, Cook, and Glaspell, fostered in their Midwestern hometown, helped to create a theatre practice marked by experimentalism, collaboration, leftist cultural critique, rebellion, liberation, and community engagement.

This book situates the origin of the Provincetown aesthetic in Davenport, Iowa, a Mississippi River town in which a large German population provided a particularly fertile cultural environment, including a Socialist local in which Dell and Cook were active. In addition to their political activities, Noe establishes that Dell’s work as reporter and editor for The Tri-City Workers Magazine, Dell’s and Cook’s leadership in the Monist Society, and Cook and Glaspell’s role in the Davenport censorship controversy were reflected in the plays that they wrote for the Provincetown Players. She discusses how all three writers were able to see that radical politics sometimes begets radical chic and shows how, consequently, several of their plays satirize the faddish elements of the progressive political, social, and cultural movements in which they were active.

Although the Provincetown Players was located on the East Coast, several of Dell’s, Cook’s, and Glaspell’s plays were set in their native Midwest. Noe’s new book tells the story of how Dell, Cook, and Glaspell effected a marriage between early twentieth-century Midwestern radicalism and East Coast avant-garde theatre practice, a marriage that resulted in a fresh and energetic contribution to American theatre.

The Plea: The True Story of Young Wesley Elkins and His Struggle for Redemption (University of Iowa Press, 2022)

With this new book in the Iowa and the Midwest Experience series, Patricia L. Bryan and Thomas Wolf add to their already indispensable legal/historical work relevant to Glaspell’s oeuvre, which began with Midnight Assassin: A Murder in America’s Heartland (Chapel Hill, 2005), their exhaustive study of the Margaret Hossack case upon which Glaspell based Trifles /  “A Jury of Her Peers”. The Plea: The True Story of Young Wesley Elkins and His Struggle for Redemption tells the story of 11-year-old Wesley’s crime in Iowa in 1889—the murder of his abusive father and stepmother—and his incarceration as a child in an adult prison.  During the next twelve years, he educated himself, argued eloquently for his release, and won the support of prison wardens, educators, newspaper editors, and politicians.  For Bryan and Wolf, it is a story of heroic perseverance and an exploration of the social, political, and legal systems of the era.

Bryan and Wolf’s research continues to be an invaluable resource for Glaspell scholars. As a young reporter, Glaspell took an interest in youthful offenders, covering the Mitchellville Girls School riot of 1899 and, four years later, she wrote “In the Face of His Constituents,” based on the case of Wesley Elkins.  When Glaspell included the story in her 1912 collection, Lifted Masks, she retitled it “The Plea.” In this book, Bryan and Wolf devote part of a chapter to Glaspell’s reporting on the Mitchellville riot, and a full chapter to her fictional portrayal of the legislative debate over Wesley’s release from prison.

The Plea is not just an impeccable piece of historical scholarship, but a gripping work of narrative nonfiction. Devoid of any taint of sensationalism, the book vividly reconstructs the fascinating, long-forgotten case of an eleven-year-old committing parricide, the boy’s long struggle to rehabilitate himself, and his ultimate redemption. An immensely readable and thought-provoking book—one with particular relevance in our own age of increasing juvenile homicides—it will captivate both American history buffs and fans of true crime.”—Harold Schechter, author

The Plea: The True Story of Young Wesley Elkins and His Struggle for Redemption (Iowa and the Midwest Experience): Bryan, Patricia L., Wolf, Thomas: 9781609388393: Amazon.com: Books

 

11th International Conference on Eugene O’Neill at Suffolk University, Boston, MA USA, 6 – 9 July 2022

“Glaspell in Context” Roundtable, featuring from left to right: Drew Eisenhauer, Stuart Hecht, Ellen Gainor, Marcia Noe, Jeffery Kennedy

Once again the International Susan Glaspell Society and the Eugene O’Neill Society linked arms to celebrate the achievements of the mother and father of modern American drama, Susan Glaspell and Eugene O’Neill, in the context of the Provincetown Players. The topic of the 2022 11th International Conference on Eugene O’Neill was “Longing and Belonging.”

The ISGS Panel was entitled “The Provincetown Players — Longing and Belonging in the Beloved Community,” chaired by  J. Ellen Gainor and featuring the following papers:

  • Marcia Noe (University of Tennessee at Chattanooga), “Three Midwestern Playwrights: How Floyd Dell, George Cram Cook, and Susan Glaspell Transformed American Theatre”
  • Drew Eisenhauer (University of Le Havre, Normandy), “Longing for Democracy – Beyond the Other Players: Alfred Kreymborg and the Commonplace”
  • Jeffery Kennedy (Arizona State University), “’As Bright a Wit and as Fertile a Fancy’: New Discoveries and Thoughts on Susan Glaspell”

The ISGS also presented a Roundtable: Glaspell in Context, Chaired by J. Ellen Gainor and featuring the following discussants:  Drew Eisenhauer, University of Le Havre, Normandy; Stuart
Hecht, Boston College; J. Ellen Gainor, Cornell University; Jeffery Kennedy, Arizona State University. This was followed by a reception co-sponsored by the Eugene O’Neill Society,
the Susan Glaspell Society, and Penn State University Press.

Stuart Hecht and Ellen Gainor

Marcia Noe and Jeffery Kennedy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, the ISGS presented a staged reading of Glaspell’s recently discovered short allegorical play, Free Laughter, published for the first time in Susan Glaspell the Complete Plays, edited by Linda Ben-Zvi and J. Ellen Gainor (McFarland, 2010). Written in 1919 about the same time as Glaspell’s three-act masterpiece, Inheritors, Free Laughter represents Glaspell’s parody of the repressive political and social climate that became known as the Red Scare; both plays critique the era’s suppression of free speech, xenophobia, and jingoism embodied by the popular rubric of the time, “100 percent American.” The reading was directed by Stuart Hecht (Boston College) and featured the following cast:

Emily Ranii as “Native Born” with Anne Fletcher as “Executor”

Drew Eisenhauer as “Foreign Born”
Anne Fletcher as “Executor”
Ellen Gainor as “Spirit of Laughter”
Jeff Kennedy as “Trend of the Times”
Marcia Noe as “Patriot”
Emily Ranii as “Native Born”

 

 

Marcia Noe as “Patriot”

 

Drew Eisenhauer as “Foreign Born”

6th International Conference on American Drama and Theatre, Madrid, 1-3 June 2022

The 6th International Conference on American Drama and Theatre was hosted by the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and co-sponsored by the Spanish universities of Cádiz and Sevilla and the University of Lorraine in France, working in partnership with the American Theater and Drama Society (ATDS), the International Susan Glaspell Society, the Arthur Miller Society, the Eugene O’Neill Society, and RADAC (Recherches sur les arts dramatiques anglophones contemporains). The Conference topic was “‘Game Over!’: U.S. Drama and Theater and the End(s) of an American Idea(l)” and was dedicated to the study of ends and new beginnings, games and gaming, players and playing, especially during, but not limited to, the coronavirus pandemic.

ISGS member Linda Ben-Zvi (Professor Emeritae, Colorado State University and Tel-Aviv University) was included as one of five eminent keynote speakers. The ISGS held its biannual Society Business Meeting at this conference.  In attendance in Madrid were Noelia Hernando-Real, Nieves Alberola Crespo, Linda Ben-Zvi, Basia Ozieblo, Alex Roe, Drew Eisenhauer, and Emeline Jouve. In attendance online were Ellen Gainor, Jeff Kennedy, and Martha Carpentier. See the  minutes in post below

Four papers were presented by ISGS members:
Emeline Jouve (University of Toulouse), “Susan Glaspell and the Provincetown Players: From Ideas to Ideals”
Nieves Alberola Crespo (Universitat Jaume I), “The Poetics of Loss and Grief in Susan Glaspell’s The Outside
Drew Eisenhauer (University of Le Havre, Normadie), “Glaspell: Bending (Breaking?) Genres on the Air and in Hollywood)
Alex Roe (Artistic Director, Metropolitan Playhouse), “Virtual Players: The Metropolitan Players Response to the 2020-21 Pandemic”

The ISGS presented a staged reading of Glaspell’s moving one-act play, “The Outside,” directed by Alex Roe, ISGS member and Artistic Director of the Metropolitan Playhouse in New York City.

ISGS members Barbara Ozieblo, Drew Eisenhauer, Dorothy Chansky, Noelia Hernando-Real and Alfonso Ceballos Muñoz read Glaspell’s The Outside, directed by Alex Roe (standing)

ISGS President Emeline Jouve with Josefa Fernández Martín, co-organizer of the conference

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ISGS Membership and Finance Officer Drew Eisenhauer with son Louis enjoying the conference

2022 International Susan Glaspell Society Business Meeting Minutes

1. President’s report

The Business Meeting took place at the June 2022 American Drama and Theatre Conference at Universidad Autonoma de Madrid and online. In attendance in Madrid: Noelia Hernando-Real, Nieves Alberola Crespo, Linda Ben-Zvi, Basia Ozieblo, Alex Roe, Drew Eisenhauer, Emeline Jouve
In attendance online: Ellen Gainor, Jeff Kennedy, Martha Carpentier

A. Acknowledgement
Thank you to Noelia Hernando-Real for her organization of the 6th International Conference on American Drama and Theater and for having arranged the logistics for this meeting.
Thanks to Noelia Hernando-Real as past president of the ISGS and to Cheryl Black as past EC members.
Thanks to Kirsten Shepherd-Barr and Jeff Kennedy for volunteering to join the Executive Committee.
Thanks to Judy Barlow for once again supervising the recent ISGS election process which resulted in the election or re-election of Emeline Jouve as President, Martha Carpentier as Vice President, Drew Eisenhauer as Membership and Finance Officer.

The president reported on the large number of activities engaged in by society members on behalf of the art and legacy of Susan Glaspell.

B. Partnerships + Panels organized by the ISGS
Federal Theatre Project (1935-1939): context & enjeux, Toulouse Jean-Jaurès University (France), Oct. 2019.The ISGS was a financial partner and presented a Provincetown panel.

Sixth International American Theatre and Drama conference, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), June, 2022. The ISGS was a financial partner and presented a Provincetown panel as well as hosted a reception.

Eleventh International Conference on Eugene O’Neill, Suffolk University (USA), July 2022. The ISGS was a financial partner and presented a Provincetown panel as well as contributing to a wine and cheese event.

C. Conferences papers or post-show discussions presented

CONFERENCE PAPERS
Alberola Crespo, Nieves. “Susan Glaspell y los Provincetown Players”, El humor y el espectáculo en la sociedad actual, Universitat Jaume I de Castelló. Spain. Campus de Castelló, Castellón (Spain), 7 March 2022.
Alberola Crespo, Nieves. “Itinerarios emocionales en la obra de Susan Glaspell (1915-1918),”
Emociones y humor en la sociedad actual, Sagunto, Universitat Jaume I (Spain), 13 May 2022.

Eisenhauer, Drew, “Glaspell: Bending (Breaking) Genres on the Air and in Hollywood,” 6th International Conference on American Drama and Theater, MIRAFLORES DE LA SIERRA (Spain), 1 June 2022.

Hernando Real, Noelia. “The Provincetown Players and the Federal Theatre: The Essay Susan Glaspell Never Wrote.” International Federal Theatre Conference. University of Toulouse- Jean Jaurés (France), 17th October 2019.

Jouve, Emeline. Pour une herméneutique de l’insignifiant : interprétation et émancipation dans Trifles (1916) de Susan Glaspell. Gest lecture, CLIMAS Research Group, Bordeaux Montaigne University, 10th December 2021.

POST-SHOW PANELS/DISCUSSIONS
Friedam, S. The Outside, Metropolitan (Virtual) Playhouse, Online, 06/02/2021- 10/02/2021
Kennedy, J. “Trifles, a Feminist Drama,” Newberry Library, virtual presentation with Susan Glaspell scholar Martha Carpentier, May 13, 2021. Followed presentations with question and answer session moderated by Liesl Olsen.
Kennedy, J. “Performing the Heart of the Nation: The Provincetown Playhouse,” Greenwich Village Preservation Society, virtual presentation, April 12, 2021. Followed presentation with question and answer session moderated by Ariel Kates.
Ben-Zvi, .L. Trifles, Metropolitan (Virtual) Playhouse, Online Reading, 08/05/2021 – 12/05/2021

D. Publications
BOOKS
Gainor, J. Ellen, (ed). Literature in Context: Susan Glaspell. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Fall 2022.

Hernando-Real, Noelia. Rosas en la arena. Los relatos de Susan Glaspell. Valencia: Publicaciones Universitat de Vàlencia, 2022.

Kennedy, Jeffery. Staging America: The Artistic Legacy of the Provincetown Players. University of Alabama Press, Fall 2022.

Noe, Marcia. Three Midwestern Playwrights: How Floyd Dell, George Cram Cook, and Susan Glaspell Transformed American Theatre. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2022.

ARTICLES
Cox, James H., and Alexander Pettit. “Indigeneity and Immigration in Susan Glaspell’s
Inheritors.” Comparative Drama, vol. 53, no. 3, 2019, pp. 31‒58.

Hernando-Real, Noelia. “Susan Glaspell.” Oxford Bibliographies in American Literature. Ed. Jackson Bryer. New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.

Hernando-Real, Noelia. “Suicide Across the Waves: On the Feminist Possibilities of Dramatic Suicide in Plays by Susan Glaspell, Marsha Norman and Naomi Wallace.” Suicide in Modern Literature Social Causes, Existential Reasons, and Prevention Strategies. Ed. Josefa Ros Velasco. Springer, 2021.

Hernando-Real, Noelia. “On the Page and on the Stage: The Influence of H. D. Thoreau on Susan Glaspell’s Works”. “To live deep and suck all the marrow of life.” The Legacy of Henry David Thoreau. Eds. Eulalia Piñero and Laura Arce. Delaware: Vernon Press, 2020. 25-38.

Hernando-Real, Noelia. “How to Teach Susan Glaspell’s Trifles.” How to Teach a Play: Exercises for the College Classroom. Eds. Miriam Chirico and Kelly Younger. London: Bloomsbury, 2020. 139-141.

Jouve, Emeline. « ‘Murderous Hug’: 1922 et la tragédie des Provincetown Players, » in 1922 et son esprit, Elise Brault-Dreux (ed.), Paris : Sorbonne Université Presses, 2022.

E. Productions
Alex Roe, Producer, Suppressed Desires, Metropolitan (Virtual) Playhouse, Online Reading, 16/05/2020 – 20/05/2020
Alex Roe, Producer and Director, The People, Metropolitan (Virtual) Playhouse, Online Reading, 18/07/2020 – 22/07/2020
Alex Roe, Producer, Woman’s Honor, Metropolitan (Virtual) Playhouse, Online Reading, 26/09/2020 – 30/09/2020
Alex Roe, Producer, The Outside, Metropolitan (Virtual) Playhouse, Online Reading, 06/02/2021- 10/02/2021
Alex Roe, Producer, Trifles, Metropolitan (Virtual) Playhouse, Online Reading, 08/05/2021 – 12/05/2021

Burch Milbre, Sometimes I Sing (inspired by Susan Glaspell’s Trifles), Live 2021 United Solo Theatre Festival, 10/21/21.

Pléyade Trampantojo Players, El honor de una mujer, Susan Glaspell (Woman´s Honor by Susan Glaspell), Teatro Raval, Castellón (Spain), 30/04/2022-1/05/2022.

F. Facebook
ISGS FB page was launched in January 2015. Emeline is the FB “webmaster”: she has been updating the page for the past years with feeds about performances and news from the society: members are invited to share with her info/news they would like to advertise on FB
= Total Page followers: 297

2. Vice President and Finance and Membership Officer Report
We have been working for over a year trying to organize our membership renewal process, bank account, and PayPal account in order to make funds available internationally for receipt as well as payout. It has not been easy but we do finally have a workable system:

A. Bank account:
Since previous Membership and Finance Officer Doug Powers established it, our bank account is with M&T Bank, which is an East Coast US bank with branches in various states. We have removed Doug and now Drew is the only person on the account. However, it is a business account and as CEO, Drew created an employee account for Martha to give her access to everything in case he were to be incapacitated. However, to get Martha or anyone else legally on the account, Drew must physically meet the person at any M&T branch. Drew and Martha continue to hope they will be able to make this happen someday soon. In the meantime, we regard the M&T account as the ISGS “savings account”. But in general, PayPal is our active online account for receipt of dues and payout of funds in the U.S. and internationally.

B. Paypal:
We had many difficulties trying to set up an international business account in Paypal for ISGS, particularly one that would directly receive membership dues from the ISGS web site. Dues payment links from the ISGS web site now go directly into this account and we can pay out from this account, both in Europe and in the U.S.

C. Non-profit status:
We have verified that we are set up in the U.S. as an incorporated non-profit society. Martha has the official IRS confirmation letter.

D. Membership
Updated membership list: After a long membership renewal drive, which included repeated appeals to the group as well as to individual members, our membership is now at 30, with 5 honorary members among those. Eleven long-term members are as yet unrenewed. It has been decided that we will reach out for them as If anyone would like to reach out personally to any on this list, please do so. we would be sorry to lose these friends.

Lifetime Members: In addition to our first Lifetime Member, J. Ellen Gainor, we welcome three new Lifetime Members: Marcia Noe, Carol DeBoer Langworthy, and Milbre Burch. Thank you!

E. Website:
With Martha’s retirement from Seton Hall University, which hosts the ISGS web site, we were worried that we might have to purchase a provider and create a new site. However, good news is that Seton Hall will continue to host this site. Martha urges members to send her information to update the website.

F. Emendations to By-Laws

Article VII: Grants and Awards, Section 2 were discussed. Noelia argued that keeping the awards for best published paper and best conference paper would be in the best interests of the Society and everyone agreed. However, Martha suggested removing the word “biannual” from the current By-Law. Others felt it should stay and a proposal to emend as “The Society will review submissions to award biannual prizes. . .” was made. It was agreed that the language of this By-Law will be revised by Emeline and Martha and submitted via email for voting.
Emendations to Article VII: Grants and Awards, Section 3 (translations awards) were discussed. Ellen proposed changing the language from “prize” to “subvention”. There was general agreement to this idea, but Noelia proposed revising the language of the whole section and it was agreed that Ellen, Noelia, and Emeline will draft a revision of this By-Law and submit via email for voting.

All of these By-Laws revisions must be voted on first by the EC and if approved, submitted to the Membership for voting. Then the By-Laws must be updated accordingly on the website.
Revisions accepted after on-line votes (June, 28th, 2022)

G. Future Plans:
Discussion about our continuing collaboration with the Eugene O’Neill Society: Emeline announced that she had conferred with current President of EONS Katie Johnson. It was proposed and agreed that presidents of sister drama societies should be made honorary members of each other’s societies for the duration of their presidencies. How this would be implemented was not discussed however we decided to start with the E. O’Neill Society.

Under the topic of working together with other dramatists societies, Martha reminded everyone and Basia agreed that in previous years we had formed the “Five Dramatists Society” with the EONS, Thornton Wilder Society, and Edward Albee Society, but this never went anywhere. Should we revive this joint venture for future panel and conference proposals? The venue was discussed. Although previously the Five Dramatists Society had taken place at ALA, Jeff suggested that it had been difficult to get Alfred Bendixen (President of ALA) to cooperate on joint panel times, etc. He suggested that CDC might be a better venue for future joint plans. It was agreed that Emeline would reach out to the other society presidents and get their input about going forward with the “Five Dramatists Society” idea and which venue would be best.

Emeline discussed the December 2023 ISGS 20-year anniversary celebration. While Oxford may still be a possibility, Emeline is willing to host the event in Toulouse: two events could be hosted. Possibly we could use the event in Toulouse as a way to draw the other Five Dramatists Societies into a joint relationship. Specifics of this event were not discussed but need to be. Also, we neglected to discuss the stalled special Glaspell issue of the Eugene O’Neill Review.

Ellen announced that her upcoming panel, “Glaspell Panel Provincetown Players,” at the EONS conference at Suffolk University, Boston, will feature three speakers, including Drew Eisenhauer and Marcia Noe, but they need a third paper. ISGS will present a reading of the one-act Glaspell wrote for the centenary of landing on Plymouth Rock and roundtable a discussion of Ellen’s book featuring contributors. Drew might present from his chapter of new research on Glaspell.
Emeline suggested we develop on a flyer to hand-out at conferences. Martha has flyers from the past that she will update and send to Ellen and Emie and Jeff for revision/approval.

2019 Federal Theatre Project (1935-1939): context & enjeux, Toulouse Jean-Jaurès University

ISGS VP Emeline Jouve (front center) with conference co-organizer Geraldine Prévôt (Paris-Nanterre Université); ISGS President Noelia Hernando-Real and members Linda Ben-Zvi (second row), Jeffery Kennedy and Drew Eisenhauer (third row)

In October 2019, the ISGS co-sponsored, along with the American Theatre and Drama Society, a Conference on the Federal Theatre Project in France at Toulouse Université Jean Jaurès.

The International Susan Glaspell Society was excited to sponsor a panel on the role Susan Glaspell and her fellow members of the Provincetown Players had in the development of the Federal Theatre Project. While the Federal Theatre Project stands as an original adventure in the history of American theatre and drama, it is also true that former theatrical experiments led the way to its creation. The achievements of the Provincetown Players, created with the main goal of finding – and encouraging – new American plays, reverberated in Hallie Flanagan’s theatrical plan for the Federal Theatre project in the 1930s. Indeed, this is why, as Glaspell biographers have noted, Susan Glaspell accepted the role of Chair of the Midwestern Bureau from September 1936 to April 1938. She saw in the Federal Theatre Project the chance to continue, renew, and improve what she felt was Jig Cook’s, and her own, theatrical dream and legacy.

The ISGS Panel featured papers by

  • Noelia Hernando-Real (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid): “The Provincetown Players and the Federal Theatre: The Essay Susan Glaspell Never Wrote”
  • Linda Ben-Zvi (Professor Emerita Tel Aviv University): “A Pioneering Playwright for a Pioneering  Job: Susan Glaspell, Spirochete, and the Midwest Bureau of the Federal Theatre Project”
  • Drew Eisenhauer (Université de Strasbourg): “Alfred Kreymborg: Federal Troubador”

Following the panel, the ISGS hosted a convivial cocktail hour.

Exhibit on Susan Glaspell and the Provincetown Players at the Humanities Library, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, “Susan Glaspell, pionera del teatro experimental.”

On the occasion of the centenary of her key work, Trifles, in 2016, this exhibition, curated by Noelia Hernando-Real, celebrates the figure of Susan Glaspell (1876-1948), “a little known jewel of American literature”. Winner of a Pulitzer Theater Award, author of fifteen plays, eleven novels, a biography, more than fifty stories, a children’s book, reporter and actress as well as dramatist and fiction writer, Susan Glaspell was a pioneer of experimental theater in the United States. Together with her husband, George Cram (Jig) Cook, she founded the Provincetown Players, the small amateur theater company that changed the direction of the performing arts in the United States towards the avant-garde.

The first part of the exhibition provides visitors with an overview of the articles Glaspell wrote for the Des Moines Daily News about the murder of John Hossack and the trial of his wife, a crime that inspired Trifles. The showcases of this exhibit invite visitors to glimpse the life and works of Susan Glaspell, to understand the emergence of the Provincetown Players within the social, political and cultural movements of New York in the first decades of the twentieth century, as well as enjoy the exciting history of the Provincetown Players. To view the exhibit online, go to Links page for URL.

2019 Business Meeting Minutes

Toulouse 2019 ISGS Business Meeting Agenda
IN ATTENDANCE: In Toulouse: President Noelia Hernando-Real, Vice President Emeline Jouve, Membership Finance Officer Drew Eisenhauer, member Jeff Kennedy, rep. for EONS. Via internet: Executive Committee members Cheryl Black, J. Ellen Gainor, Martha Carpentier.

PRESIDENT’S REPORT:
Thank you to Emeline Jouve for her organization of the present conference on the Federal Theatre Project and the use of her apartment for this meeting.
Thanks to Sharon Friedman and Basia Ozieblo as past EC members.
Thank you to Judy Barlow for supervising the recent ISGS election process. Report on shift of offices. Thank you to Ellen Gainor and Martha Carpentier for returning and being re-elected to the executive committee.
Congratulations on the large number of activities engaged in by Society members on behalf of the art and legacy of Susan Glaspell:

Conferences, post-show panels/discussions, and staged readings:
“Trifles at 100” at the Metropolitan Playhouse, October 2016. Talk back discussion organized by AD Alex Roe with ISGS members Sharon Friedman and J. Ellen Gainor. Participants: J.Ellen Gainor, Sharon Friedman, Cheryl Black, Basia Ozieblo, Emeline Jouve and Noelia Hernando-Real.
Trifles seminar at Fordham University, 5 October 2016. Participants: Emeline Jouve, Basia Ozieblo, Noelia Hernando-Real.
Modern Drama Seminar on Susan Glaspell and the Provincetown Players at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 16 October 2016. Keynote speakers: Basia Ozieblo, Emeline Jouve and Linda Ben-Zvi. In addition an exhibit was displayed at the Humanities Library, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, “Susan Glaspell, pionera del teatro experimental.”
Toulouse Seminar on invisible violence in Trifles, 30 March 2017. Keynote by Noelia Hernando-Real. Seminar on Trifles organized by Emeline Jouve and Céline Nogueira at Toulouse University, France with Guest of Honor Noelia Hernando-Real.
Production of Inheritors at Starlighters II, Anamosa, Iowa, September 2017, directed by Jennifer Lynn Byll. Talkback with Cheryl Black and Milbre Burch.
The International Susan Glaspell Society joined the Society for the Study of American Women Writers at Université Bordeaux Montaigne, France, 5-8 July 2017, for their conference, “Border Crossings: Translation, Migration, & Gender in the Americas, the Transatlantic, & the Transpacific,” directed by Stéphanie Durrans. The ISGS panel was chaired by ISGS VP Emeline Jouve and titled “Beyond Borders: Susan Glaspell and her Sisters from the Provincetown Players,” featuring:
A. “From Page to Stage and Stage to Page: the Trans-literary Career of Susan Glaspell,” Cheryl Black, University of Missouri;
B. “Mud and the Water: Transcultural Explorations of Transgressive gender. Louise Bryant’s From Paris to Main Street and Djuna Barnes’s Three from the Earth,” Drew Eisenhauer, Paris College of Art;
C. “Paradigm of the ‘outside’ among the Provincetown Players, especially Susan Glaspell and Marguerite Zorach: from myth to history?” Géraldine Prévot, Université de Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, France
D. STAGED READING OF FUGITIVE’S RETURN, written and directed by Cheryl Black

The Tenth International Conference on Eugene O’Neill, Galway Ireland, July 2017. ISGS Panel: The Women of the Provincetown Players and the Abbey Theatre
Chaired by Drew Eisenhauer, Paris College of Art, and featuring:
A. Linda Ben-Zvi, Tel Aviv University, “‘A Different Kind of the Same Thing’: Echoes of Synge and the Abbey Theatre Style in Glaspell’s Early One-Act Provincetown Plays”;
B. Marla Del Collins, Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus, “The Verge: To Grow or Die; Irishness and the Forces Unleashed”;
C. Drew Eisenhauer, Paris College of Art,”An Irish Triangle: Transatlantic Comedies of Manners in Djuna Barnes’s An Irish Triangle, Louise Bryant’s From Paris to Main Street, and Susan Glaspell’s Woman’s Honor

5th International Conference on American Drama and Theater, Nancy, France, June 2018. ISGS Panels: “Susan Glaspell and her Sisters from the Provincetown Players: Migrating beyond Forms and Places, I & II.”
Chaired by Emeline Jouve, INU Champollion/Université Toulouse Jean-Jaurès, and featuring:
A. Emotions on the Move in Susan Glaspell’s One-Act Plays (1915–1917),” Nieves Alberola Crespo, Universitat Jaume I (Castelló, Spain);
B. “Who’s ‘100% American’? Staging Susan Glaspell’s Inheritors in the 21st Century as a Critique of Nativist Fervor in a Nation of (Im)migrants,” Milbre Burch, Independent Scholar;
C. “Susan Glaspell’s Hybrid Theatre: European Modes and Motifs in The Verge,” Sharon Friedman, Gallatin School of New York University;
D. “‘The delicate tracery of Paris and the high terraces of Lyon’: Zelda Fitzgerald, Djuna Barnes: les Flâneuses Américaines,” Drew Eisenhauer, Paris College of Art;
“Journeying Past the Village: Provincetown Player Women Playwrights Whose Plays Extended Beyond American Borders,” Jeffery Kennedy, Arizona State University

Performances in 2019
• March 9, 2019: Susan Glaspell Celebration for International Women’s Month at the Bas Bleu Theatre Company with lecture by Linda Ben-Zvi;
• April 5, 2019: Guerl-rilla Theatre presents: Trifles and He Killed my Bird. Talking Horse Theatre with postshow discussion by Cheryl Black;
• April 2019: The Lasell College Performing Arts program and Drama Club produced Trifles along with a contemporary play called The Refugee Women on a double-bill called “The Strength of Women.” Performances were on March 28 – 30, 2019 on the Lasell College campus in Newton, Massachusetts. Trifles was directed by Steven F. Bloom, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Eugene O’Neill Society;
• World Premiere of Free Laughter in Fort Collins with discussion by Linda Ben-Zvi;
• August 2019: Reading of Free Laughter at ATHE featuring J. Ellen Gainor and Cheryl Black

Publications since 2016
• Polster, Joshua. “Gendered Spaces: Law and Justice in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles.” Stages of Engagement: U.S. Theatre and Performance 1898-1949. London and New York: Routledge, 2016.
• Jouve, Emeline. Susan Glaspell’s Poetics and Politics of Rebellion. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2017.
• Alberola, Nieves. Susan Glaspell y los Provincetown Players. Laboratorio de emociones. Valencia: PUV, 2017.
• Hernando-Real, Noelia. “An Exorcism on The Outside, or Looking into Trifles – Before Breakfast: Geopathic Crises in the Plays of Eugene O’Neill and Susan Glaspell.” Eugene O’Neill Review, Special Issue on “The Women in O’Neill’s World.” Ed. Judith Barlow, 2017, pp. 74-92.
• Hernando-Real, Noelia. “On The Verge of the American Female Gothic: Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ in Susan Glaspell’s Theater.” A Critical Gaze from the Old World: Transatlantic Perspectives on American Studies. Collection Transatlantic Aesthetics and Culture. Eds. Isabel Durán, Eusebio De Lorenzo, Rebeca Gualberto, Carmen Méndez & Eduardo Valls. Brussels: Peter Lang, 2018. pp. 55-74.
• Friedman, Sharon. “Susan Glaspell.” Visions of Tragedy in Modern American Drama. Ed. David Palmer, Bloomsbury, 2018.
• American Literature in Transition, 1920-1930 ed. Ichiro Takayoshi, Cambridge UP, with a chapter by Cheryl Black on the “Stage” with special attention to the Provincetown Players and to Susan Glaspell defined as “the quintessential trans-literary dramatist of her era.”
• Arciniega, Lourdes. “Home as an Activist and Feminist Stage: Women’s Performative Agency in the Drama of Susan Glaspell.” Performing Dream Homes. Eds. Emily Klein, Jennifer-Scott Mobley & Jill Stevenson. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019. 45-64.
New Additions to the Literary Encyclopedia:
• Black, Cheryl. “Ambrose Holt and Family”. The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 14 September 2018. https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=16009
• Carpentier, Martha. “The Morning is Near Us”. The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 27 October 2017. https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=16010
• Carpentier, Martha. “Norma Ashe”. The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 27 October 2017. https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=16012
• Ben-Zvi, Linda. “Free Laughter”. The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 03 September 2019. https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=38966
The President asked for volunteers to complete these entries:
Lifted Masks (Drew Eisenhauer and Martha Carpentier agreed to collaborate),
Her America, Jury of Her Peers, The Road to the Temple, The Visioning.

Works in Progress:
• Jeff Kennedy is working on final revisions to his history of the Provincetown Players, to be published by University of Alabama Press; Drew Eisenhauer and Jeff are working on a volume of essays on the 100th anniversary of the Provincetown Players.
• J. Ellen Gainor reported very reactive contributors and good progress on her forthcoming collection on Cambridge UP on Glaspell in Context.
To encourage future scholarship on Glaspell, Jeff Kennedy noted that the EONS Review wants our participation. Our continuing collaboration with the Eugene O’Neill Society was discussed. Jeff Kennedy, past president of EONS, suggested we propose a Glaspell special issue of the Eugene O’Neill Review. Action: Jeff Kennedy and Martha Carpentier will explore with EONS editor (and ISGS member) Alex Petit.

Awards:
1.) Best Conference Paper: Milbre Burch won for best paper with a unanimous vote of EC members.
2.) Best published article: No agreement was reached by EC members on the two entries that were submitted. Although each article had distinct merits, true deficits were also discovered and the EC felt it was inappropriate to recognize either by an award. It was agreed that the CFP for the awards should in future better clarify how submissions should advance Glaspell Studies.
3.) Translation (Thank you to Ellen for suggesting translator.) The EC voted to send an Honorary mention to both nominees.

Glaspell Estate:
Death of Ariadne (Cook) Lurie. Her sons have expressed to the President their willingness to go on with our collaboration. ISGS website now lists them as copyright holders but there is no contact information, as we are waiting for their confirmation to make this information available.

VICE PRESIDENT’S REPORT:
Ariel’s Corner

VP Emeline Jouve explained that “Ariel’s Corner” is a specific section of the ejournal Miranda hosted by Toulouse University and dedicated to theatre. The aim is not to publish “conventional scholarly articles” but rather interviews, reviews, essays on theatre. Emeline edits this section of the journal and seeks contributions to promote Glaspell’s work. President Noelia Hernando-Real sent a call for contributions to the members’ list last year.

Past issues featured:
• Denise Doherty Pappas, “Susan Glaspell Revisited: Century Old Play Returns to its Roots,” review of The Verge at the Provincetown Theater, MA, USA—November 11-22, 2015, Miranda 12, 2016
• Noelia Hernando-Real, “Celebrating Susan Glaspell when Trifles turns 100,” an interview with the founders of the ISGS, Basia Ozieblo and Martha Carpentier, Miranda 13, 2016
• Milbre Burch,“The Relevance of Susan Glaspell’s Inheritors in the 21st Century,” an interview with Cheryl Black following the Fall 2017 production of Glaspell’s play Inheritors by the Starlighters II Theatre, Miranda 16, 2018,
• Quetzalina Lavalle Salvatori, “Celebrating Susan Glaspell and Trifles in Spain,” a review of the exhibition “Susan Glaspell (1876-1948): pionera del teatro experimental. Trifles, los Provincetown Players y el teatro de vanguardia,” Miranda 14, 2017
Emeline concluded contributions are welcome! So please, contribute!
Action: Jeff Kennedy requested the information to distribute Miranda through the EONs newsletter.

Report on Facebook Page:
Emeline Jouve reported that we launched the ISGS FB page in January 2015 and as the FB “webmaster” she has been updating the page for the past 4 years with feeds about performances and news from the society. She urged members to send information and updates for posting on the page and recapped the numbers: 176 “followers” with a rate of responsiveness of 33%
Action: Jeff promised to add an active link from the EONS FB link to Glaspell FB

MEMBERSHIP/FINANCE OFFICER’S REPORT:

Funds: Drew Eisenhauer reported that existing balances are healthy with no major deductions since the last business meeting. A technical problem prevented him from accessing the M and T bank balance from France. Martha Carpentier may have access to the account and agreed to check and establish U.S. accessibility

Expenditures 2018-2019: Drew explained expenditures from the last business meeting to the present, illustrating expenses were very much in the same range for the same purposes with a small increase in the amount spent on conferences. All agreed the expenses were appropriate for the level of the society.
Membership: Drew explained while membership was relatively stable, it had decreased somewhat and effort needed to be made to get new young scholars and graduate students involved. The good news was six new members since the last meeting had joined, but some who had not renewed meant the average active membership decreased from about 53 to 47, or a net loss equal to the new members.
Membership in numbers:
61 individuals (including 6 new members).
47 members in good standing:
14 non-renewed

Some former members (3) did not renew for technical reasons, but remain interested and will no doubt return. Others did not renew and did not return contact (11). The EC discussed removing these individuals from the list. The EC decided that each should be re-contacted one more time and then removed if not response. Action: Drew will send one last message; Martha will reach out specifically to Marcia Noe.

Amendments to the By-Laws
The president proposed that Section 1, part a. should be revised to read:
Section 1:
a. The elected officers shall be the Vice President, Membership and Finances Officer, and three Standing Members to serve on the Executive Council, all elected for three-year terms by a majority of members who vote in the election. The President and the Vice President will be eligible for one further term of office if they so desire and if re-elected. The Membership and Finances Officer will be eligible for further terms if s/he so desires and if elected. The Vice President shall be the President designee and will assume the office of President upon completion of one or two terms as Vice President. The outgoing President will be an ex officio member of the Executive Council for one year.
The motion was seconded and the vote was unanimous for the change.

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND FUTURE PLANS:
• International Eugene O’Neill Conference, Boston 2020. The ISGS has sent three proposals: a panel, a roundtable, and a reading of Free Laughter, plus introduction and discussion.
• 2022 American Drama and Theatre Conference in Madrid. Noelia Hernando-Real is a co-organizer of the conference and would like the Society to be present.
• ALA 2021 (Boston): Last time our round table had to cancelled, so should we focus on SSAWW instead? Issue remains open.
• Next Business Meeting: date and place of meeting remains open.

5th International Conference on American Drama and Theater, Nancy, France, June 2018

ISGS Panels: Susan Glaspell and her Sisters from the Provincetown Players: Migrating beyond Forms and Places, I & II

Chaired by Emeline Jouve, INU Champollion/Université Toulouse Jean-Jaurès

Acclaimed by drama and theater scholars for their artistic and political significance, the Provincetown Players have been acknowledged as “one of the first theater companies in America in which women achieved prominence in every area of operation.” This amateur company brought together women who greatly participated in the shaping of a Bohemian culture: Mary Heaton Vorse, Ida Rauh, Susan Glaspell, Neith Boyce, Marguerite Zorach, Louise Bryant, Djuna Barnes, Edna St. Vincent Millay, to name only a few, were iconoclastic figures who pushed the frontiers of conventional American lifestyle and art. This panel presented papers on the mostly neglected “Sisters of the Provincetown Players” in accord with the conference topic, as migrants, highlighting the ability of these artists to physically and metaphorically cross borders. Travelling the world, the women from the Provincetown Players were inspired by their lives as expatriates. The sense of re-location and dis-location was infused into their writing which dealt thematically with the notion of migration or which played with this notion by incorporating formal displacements. Sharon Friedman and Jeffery Kennedy presented on geographical border-crossing in Susan Glaspell’s, Rita Wellman’s and Djuna Barnes’s plays by considering the “Europeanness” of some of their American plays. Special attention was given to the migration of forms with Marie-Pierre Maechling analyzing Susan Glaspell’s shift from drama to the short-story in her adaptation of Trifles, and Drew Eisenhauer examining how Zelda Fitzgerald and Djuna Barnes incorporated theatricality into their novels.

“Emotions on the Move in Susan Glaspell’s One-Act Plays (1915–1917),” Nieves Alberola Crespo, Universitat Jaume I de Castelló

“Who’s ‘100% American’? Staging Susan Glaspell’s Inheritors in the 21st Century as a Critique of Nativist Fervor in a Nation of (Im)migrants,” Milbre Burch, Independent Scholar

“Susan Glaspell’s Hybrid Theatre: European Modes and Motifs in The Verge,” Sharon Friedman, Gallatin School of New York University

“‘The delicate tracery of Paris and the high terraces of Lyon’: Zelda Fitzgerald, Djuna Barnes: les Flâneuses Américaines,” Drew Eisenhauer, Paris College of Art

“Journeying Past the Village: Provincetown Player Women Playwrights Whose Plays Extended Beyond American Borders,” Jeffery Kennedy, Arizona State University