A professional concert reading of Trifles was presented on October 4, 2016, at the Metropolitan Playhouse, 220 East 4th St., New York City, organized by AD Alex Roe and ISGS members Sharon Friedman and J. Ellen Gainor, to celebrate the centennial of Trifles. ISGS members participated in a post-reading discussion at this moving tribute to Glaspell’s most iconic play.
Once again the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, U.K., is proving its commitment to reviving the works of America’s greatest female playwright, Susan Glaspell, with their world premiere of her final play, Springs Eternal, directed by Sam Waters. For those of you who are near or can make the trip to London, Springs Eternal runs until October 19th, and the ISGS will hold a seminar on October 12th featuring Barbara Ozieblo, Emeline Jouve, Linda Ben-Zvi, Sherry Engle, Drew Eisenhauer, Noelia Hernando-Real, and J. Ellen Gainor.
Once again, too, theatre critic Michael Billington in The Guardian has praise for Glaspell and for Walters’ “extremely adroit cast,” including David Antrobus as Stewie, Antony Eden as Bill, Miranda Foster as Harry, Stuart Fox as Owen, Julia Hills as Margaret, Lydia Larson as Dottie, Jeremy Lloyd as Jumbo, Auriol Smith as Mrs. Soames. The Theatre Guide London calls the play “a small gem well worth the rediscovery. As ever, Sam Walters directs with grace and fluidity on the in-the-round stage of which he is a master and … gets first-rate performances from his entire cast.” To read more go to Links page on this site and click on Orange Tree.
Barbara Ozieblo, from the University of Malaga, will open the seminar at the Orange Tree on October 12 with a brief introduction to the origins of the Provincetown Players and the first two seasons. Emeline Jouve, from Champollion University and Toulouse II University, will continue with a short history of the Provincetown Players. Linda Ben-Zvi, Professor emeritae from Tel Aviv and Colorado State Universities, will focus on George Cram Cook, whose dream of a modern American theatre gave birth to the group. The seminar will then focus on two of the main highlights of the Provincetown Players: Sherry Engle, from Borough of Manhattan Community College will talk about the women of the group and Drew Eisenhauer, from Coventry University, about the father of American drama, Eugene O’Neill. The last part of the seminar will deal with Susan Glaspell and the theme of war. Noelia Hernando-Real, from the Instituto Franklin and the University Complutense of Madrid, will talk about the Provincetown Players and the theme of war and Glaspell’s treatment of war in her plays, a theme J. Ellen Gainor, from Cornell University, will develop as she explores Susan Glaspell’s Springs Eternal.
Billed as “two gripping marital mysteries by two playwrights who helped bring modern drama to America,” the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lakes, Ontario, presents Glaspell’s Trifles on the same bill as Eugene O’Neill’s A Wife for a Life from May 29 to October 12 at the Court House Theatre as part of their “lunchtime one-acts” program.
Now in its 52nd season, with 10-12 productions each year performed in four theatres for an audience of more than 250,000, the Shaw Festival is a Canadian cultural icon, producing a diverse mix of plays from the past and present, performed by their talented Acting Ensemble. This production is directed by Meg Roe and designed by Camellia Koo, with lighting designed by Louise Guinand and music composed by Alessandro Juliani. It features Kaylee Harwood as Mrs. Peters, Julain Molnar as Mrs. Hale, Benedict Campbell as Mr. Hale, Jeff Irving as the attorney, and Graeme Somerville as Mr. Peters.
Comments from Daina Giesler, a theatre director who saw Trifles and A Wife for Life:
“At the Shaw, the set was the same for both plays (an artistically old, grey, dim cabin, very bare) with only small prop changes. It was in one of the smaller theatres with a 3/4 thrust so the audience could feel like they were inside. The plays worked quite well together — both with characters in isolated areas and with secrets, and because the main focus of both was ‘the wife’ that was spoken of and yet never seen, except by the description of others who seemed not to really know “her”… The actors were excellent and so was the response, but it seemed to me they were both shorter than I remembered them — with only 50 minutes for the two.”
To read more go to shawfest.com or to the Links page on this site and click on Shaw Festival link.
Prof. Cheryl Black directed Trifles and Milbre Burch presented her original monologue directed by Emily A. Rollie, “Sometimes I Sing,” a moving sequel to Trifles, as part of a triple bill including a new adaptation by cfrancis blackchild of Zora Neale Hurston’s “Sweat” entitled “The Devil’s Own” and directed by Laura M. Nelson, all under the umbrella title “Justice Served.” The interdisciplinary symposia at University of Missouri featured visiting scholars Patricia L. Bryan (Chapel Hill), ISGS member and author of Midnight Assassin: Murder in America’s Heartland, and Hurston biographer Valerie Boyd (University of Georgia). The performances were sold out and the postshow discussions, led by Bryan and Boyd, were fabulous! MU faculty from the Law School, School of Journalism, School of Social Work, English and Women’s and Gender Studies Depts. attended and participated in the discussions. The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival respondent raved, and the students in the casts felt like they were part of something very special and important.
July 28 – August 1. Off-Off Broadway Zephyer Rep presented Chains of Dew at
the Wings Theatre, 154 Christopher St., NYC. Directed by Gretchen Ferris.
The San Francisco Cabaret Opera presented the WORLD PREMIERE of Trifles, the opera, with music by John G. Bilotta and libretto by John F. McGrew at the 10th Annual Fresh Voices Festival, June 17 & 19, 2010, Live Oak Theater, Berkeley, along with four other operatic and vocal works by American composers presented by Goat Hall Productions, directed by Harriet March Page with a chamber ensemble conducted by Martha Stoddard.
Another group reviving Susan Glaspell’s drama is Richard Foreman’s Ontological-Hysteric Theater Incubator program for emerging artists at St. Mark’s Church, 131 E. 10th Street and 2nd Avenue, New York City, which sponsored the recent production of Trifles by The Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf on Jan. 28 – Feb. 14, 2010. Glaspell Society members J. Ellen Gainor, Sharon Friedman and Sally Heckel facilitated post-performance discussion on Saturday evening, Jan. 30. The Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf is noted for its intrepid adaptations . . . For Trifles, director Brooke O’Harra and Composer Brendan Connelly teamed up with the new music ensemble Yarn/Wire to approach Glaspell’s text as part concert, part play, and part sculpture. For New York Times review:
In November 2009 the Ontological-Hysteric Theater’s Incubator program for emerging artists produced The Verge directed by Alice Reagan and Performance Lab 115. New York Times critic Claudia La Rocco wrote, “It would be easy to reduce The Verge, Susan Glaspell’s 1921 play, to a feminist tract. Society forces Claire Archer into the boxes it deems acceptable; in attempting to escape those boxes, Claire goes mad. But that summary ignores the work’s wild heart, which, like its fragile, monstrous heroine, is somehow irreducible.”
SGS members were in attendance and, while La Rocco thought that Reagan’s use of video interludes (by Jeff Clarke) of voluptuously flowering plans was “heavy-handed,” SGS member Michael Winetsky felt that the video as well as Claire’s dance performed by Rebecca Lingafelter “were effective and were in the spirit of Glaspell’s expressionism.” For full text of La Rocca’s Nov. 10 2009 review:
Sam Walters’ Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond U.K. produced Glaspell’s Pulitzer-Prize winning play Alison’s House in Oct- Nov. 2009, receiving even more ecstatic reviews than their 2008 production of Chains of Dew. The Orange Tree is proving beyond a doubt that Glaspell’s plays – and not just Trifles – entertain and speak to today’s audiences, perhaps even better than in their own day. This production, directed by Jo Coombes, featured Christopher Ravenscroft as John Stanhope, Jennifer Higham as Ann, Mark Arends as Eben, Dudley Hinton as Ted, Emma Pallant as Louise, Grainne Keenan as Elsa, and Nicholas Gadd as Richard Knowles. Michael Billington at the Guardian wrote, “Susan Glaspell . . . is American drama’s best-kept secret. . . . In 1930 Glaspell’s play was dismissed as too literary. But, like all the best American drama, it combines acute understanding of the dynamics of family life with an ability to pierce the heart.” For full Oct. 11 2009 review…
And Jeremy Kingston at the London Times wrote, “Until 13 years ago few of us had heard of the American playwright Susan Glaspell, and she was scarcely better known in the States, for all that she won the 1931 Pulitzer Prize for this terrific play. But Sam Walters at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond has been introducing us to almost all her plays, and Alison’s House is the one that has excited me most. It succeeds on all levels. The story it tells is absorbing, steadily tightening its grip as it approaches the climax . . . [while] different threads are cleverly woven into the play’s structure. Bringing the tension into further relief are the moments of stillness. Time pauses while an evidently profound experience is absorbed.” For full Oct. 14 2009 review…
The San Francisco Free Civic Theatre performed the first professional American revival of Chains of Dew since 1922, on April 2-12 2009, directed by Glenn Havlan. The cast included Kelly Rinehart as Nora Powers, John Hull as Leon Whittaker, Ariel Herzog as James O’Brien, Greg Gutting as Seymore Standish, Mamie Rheingold as Dotty Standish, and Kristin Anundsen as Mother Standish.