Abridged Script of Chains of Dew

The Susan Glaspell Society is pleased to make available an abridged version of Susan Glaspell’s play, Chains of Dew, adapted and with a prologue by Cheryl Black, Associate Professor & Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Theatre, University of Missouri-Columbia.

This version, free to all, will enable theatre groups and universities to stage this witty and provocative play, the last ever produced by the original Provincetown Players in 1922. The only restriction is the request that Prof. Black and The Susan Glaspell Society be acknowledged in any program or print advertising connected with the production, by including the following note: “The script for this performance was adapted from the original by Cheryl Black, with the permission of Valentina Cook, and in cooperation with the Susan Glaspell Society.”

Abridged “Chains of Dew”

Abridged Script of Inheritors

The Susan Glaspell Society is pleased to make available an abridged version of Susan Glaspell’s play, Inheritors, edited by Iris Smith Fischer, University of Kansas. This version, free to all, will enable more theatre groups and universities to stage this relevant and moving play. The only restriction is the request that Prof. Fischer and The Susan Glaspell Society be acknowledged in any program or print advertising connected with the production by including the following statement: “The script for this performance was adapted from the original by Iris Smith Fischer, with the permission of Valentina Cook, and in cooperation with The Susan Glaspell Society.”

Inheritors – Fischer’s Introduction
Inheritors Act I
Inheritors Act II Scene I
Inheritors Act II Scene II
Inheritors Act III

Chains of Dew at the Orange Tree Theatre 2008

Ruth Everett as Nora, Charles Daish as Leon in Orange Tree production directed by Kate Saxon, March-April 2008. Other performers included Helen Ryan as Mother, David Annan as Seymore, Katie McGuinness as Dotty, and Gwynfor Jones as James O'Brien. Photo courtesy of Robert Day.

The Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond U.K., revived Glaspell’s Chains of Dew, directed by Kate Saxon, on 12 March – 5 April 2008, to very favorable reviews:

Michael Billington at the Guardian wrote, “As part of its female playwrights’ season, the Orange Tree has unearthed this astonishing play by Susan Glaspell: a contemporary of Eugene O’Neill. Writing in 1922, she tackles not only birth control, but the timeless battle between progressive east-coast liberalism and entrenched midwest conservatism.”

Sam Marlowe at the London Times wrote, “That Glaspell ends the play not with neat resolution, but with a sour twist, shows a bracing realism: she was clearly under no illusions about how far the struggle for equality still had to go.”

“Given the easy chuckles and enthusiastic applause that greeted Susan Glaspell’s provocative comedy on press night, it seems astonishing that this is the first and only revival of the play since its premiere at the Provincetown Playhouse on Cape Cod in 1922.” John Thaxter, British Theatre Guide.

” . . . Few male writers of the period or since could have Glaspell’s awareness of the games men’s minds and vanities play, and of the ways women are forced into the role of supporting their self-delusions. And a major strength of the play is that Glaspell’s righteous anger only complements, and doesn’t get in the way of the predominantly light comic tone.” Gerald Berkowitz, TheatreguideLondon.

18th Annual American Literature Association Conference 2007

May 24-27, Boston MA.
Panel: “The Grotesque in the Work of Susan Glaspell, Djuna Barnes, Zora Neal Hurston
and Their Modernist Contemporaries.”
Chair: Mary E. Papke, University of Tennessee.

As Philip Thomson argues in his The Grotesque, the grotesque depends for its effect on disharmony and ambiguity, an interruption of the normal by an eruption of the freakish, the ominous, and the estranged. He goes on to argue that it most often appears in art and literature during periods of great strife, radical change, or profound disorientation, periods, that is, like that of the modernists in which artists responded in their works to both national and international crises and possibilities. The American literary grotesque is exemplified in the work of Edgar Allan Poe and Flannery O’Connor, but it is not totally surprising that it also figures in important ways in the work of early modernists who were determined to break with the sentimental and romantic movements that preceded their emergence and to make of American literature something shockingly new. The grotesque in art is typically defined as work in which the natural and the monstrous are intertwined in bizarre or fanciful combinations; somewhat strangely, then, the grotesque character elicits from the reader both disgust and empathy in that such a character repulses us even as it whets our desire to understand its otherness. In Glaspell’s work, we see the grotesque emerge both in her plays (such as The Verge) and in her novels (Fugitive’s Return, for example), two examples that indicate well the different uses to which the grotesque can be put. Other modernists employ the grotesque in similarly innovative ways.

Papers:  “‘Getting at things in terms of the preposterous’: The Satiric Grotesque in Susan Glaspell’s World War I-Era Stories,” Martha C. Carpentier, Seton Hall University;

“Macabre Revelations: The Grotesque and Eugenics in Glaspell and MacKaye,” Kimberly A. Miller, Fort Hays State University;

“The Grotesque Tradition and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God,” Mary McAleer Balkun, Seton Hall University.

¿ Nimiedades Para La Eternidad ? (Ellago Ediciones 2007)

Nieves Alberola Crespo and Yvonne Shafer edit this collection of works by American women writers for the Biblioteca de Autoras Norteamericanas. Published by Ellago Ediciones, it includes plays by Susan Glaspell, Zona Gale, Alice Gerstenberg and Zora Neale Hurston, plus critical introductions with details about the authors’ lives, careers, and works, making these short plays available for the first time in Spanish.
ISBN 978-84-95881-97-7

American Century Theater produces Trifles and Suppressed Desires 2007

From February 23 to March 24, 2007, The American Century Theater (TACT) of Arlington, Virginia produced two Susan Glaspell works, Trifles and Suppressed Desires, as part of a bill of seven one-act plays written by American women dramatists from around the Prohibition era. The bill of one-acts appears to have been the brainchild of TACT Director Steven Scott Mazzola, who assembled the plays in conjunction with Lillian Hellman biographer Deborah Martinson. . . . Glaspell’s Trifles, the second play on the bill, received a simple, heartfelt rendering by Mazzola and cast. Perhaps the most unusual feature of the staging was the nontraditional casting of Tanera Hutz, a highly effective African-American actress, in the role of Mrs. Peters . . . Critic Jackson termed Trifles “a masterpiece,” and Doug Krentzlin for Examiner.com found the play “by far, the most effective” of those produced. Susan Berlin, writing for TalkingBroadway.com, showed that much work is still needed in resuscitating Glaspell’s reputation by referring to the production of Trifles as an “interesting discovery.” . . . Glaspell and George Cram Cook’s Suppressed Desires rounded out the bill, followed only by a brief coda from Stein’s Photograph. The play was performed with broad gusto by Mary McGowan, William Aitken, and Jennifer B. Robison, and the playfulness of the early twentieth-century satire clearly still resonated, evoking frequent and long laughter throughout. Krentzlin found the play “a hilarious send-up of Freudian psychoanalysis” and the critic for Alexandria’s Del Ray Sun termed it “deliciously sardonic.” Trey Graham of the Washington City Paper offered perhaps the most succinct and memorable response: “Glaspell’s head-shrink play is a riot.” . . .

TACT dramaturg Andy White organized a post-show seminar on March 17 with prominent scholars associated with the produced playwrights. The seminar, initially suggested by Glaspell Society member J. Ellen Gainor, included Sarah Bay-Cheng (Stein scholar), Kathy Perkins (Spence), Jerry Dickey (Treadwell), White and director Mazzola. Gainor began the seminar with information on Glaspell and the background to Trifles and Suppressed Desires.

Submitted by Jerry Dickey, University of Arizona

Alison’s House at Illinois Wesleyan University 2007

Photo by PeterGuither

Directed by Sara Freeman at Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois
January 30-February 4, 2007.

Set Design by Megan Henderson
Costume Design by Kelly Britt Shaw
Lighting Design by Rob Carroll
Sound Design by Brian Kowalski
Assistant Director Marshall Garrett
Dramaturg Catherine Blake Smith
Stage Manager Katie King


Agatha Stanhope: Loren Jones
Eben Stanhope: Tony Lopez
Elsa Stanhope: Stephanie Grady
Father Stanhope: Justin Banta
Ted Stanhope: Tim Dunn
Louise Stanhope: Lauren Summers
Anne: Bryonha Parham
Mrs. Hodges: Carol Rose
Mr. Hodges: Bradley Smoak
Knowles: Kyle Blair
Jennie: Julia Vanderveen