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