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Théâtre et nation

Jeffrey Hopes
Héléne Lecossois

(Re)définitions du mythe de la nation

Jig Cook’s Modernist Metadrama: Constructions of American Identity in The Athenian Women (1918)

Drew Eisenhauer

Texte intégral

  • 1 Wilmer S. E., Theatre, Society and the Nation, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 1
  • 2 Ibid., p. 99.
  • 3 Ibid., p. 100.

1In his Theatre, Society and the Nation, S. E. Wilmer explains his purpose is an “attempt to widen the discussion on cultural nationalism by demonstrating the importance of drama and theatrical performance in having contributed to and in continuing to influence the process of representing and challenging notions of national identity.”1 Wilmer traces the construction of such a national identity for America in a history of theatre from native American performances and colonial entertainments through anti-war and anti-establishment dramas of the 1960s. Considering early twentieth century performance, Wilmer contrasts traditional patriotic pageant celebrations in America with the “counter-normative” effects of left political theatre and demonstration. Wilmer describes such performances as the Chautauquas, annual cultural events which included plays, speeches, plays and other activities and notes that “while professing such foundational ideas as freedom of religion and equality, the dominant values expressed in Chautauquas were Protestant and capitalist.”2 Further, such events served to reaffirm “American values,” as well as encourage the assimilation of immigrant groups. However, Wilmer argues that American drama “increasingly responded” to patriotic performances with “the agitation for improved working and living conditions.”3 One of the earliest and certainly the largest of these responses was the Paterson Silk Strike Pageant of 1913.

  • 4 Ibid., 101.

2The strike by silk workers in Paterson, New Jersey, for shorter working hours and higher pay had been organized under the banner of the International Workers of the World. Two workers had been killed by police and almost 1500 arrested when Big Bill Haywood, the IWW leader, met with intellectuals in New York at the salon hosted by patron of the arts and writer Mabel Dodge. Dodge was at this time having an affair with leftist poet, journalist, and future communist John Reed; also at Dodge’s salon was the professional theatre designer Robert Edmond Jones (destined to work with Eugene O’Neill among many others). Dodge, Reed, and Jones resolved to stage a reenactment of the Paterson strike, as well as the shooting and funeral of a worker, onstage at Madison Square Garden, employing hundreds of the actual strikers as performers. The performance sold out the Garden’s 15,000 seats and succeeded in publicizing the plight of the strikers, although it was unsuccessful in ending the strike with terms favorable to the workers. Wilmer concludes: “The Paterson pageant subverted the conservative pageants (such as the Chautauqua’s) for revolutionary purposes. By contrast with normal pageants emphasizing national unity and instilling national pride, the Paterson pageant dramatized class warfare.”4

  • 5 Cowley M., Exile’s Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s, New York, Penguin, 1976, (Reprint of (...)

3The story of the Paterson Pageant underscores several issues regarding the role of theatre in the formation of American national identity in the early years of modernism. First, mass performances were a viable means used by members of both left and right political wings to attempt to influence public opinion. Second, the organization of the pageant shows the cooperative relationship between Greenwich Village intellectual bohemians and left labor activists. This was the balance Malcolm Cowley, chronicler of American modernism, ascribed to the prewar Village, between what he terms “two types of revolt, the individual and the social—or the aesthetic and the political, or the revolt against Puritanism and the revolt against capitalism—we might tag the two of them briefly as bohemianism and radicalism.”5 Although the relationship between the two revolts was tenuous, it was ultimately one of the key traits of the pre-War Village. The other issue here, though, is one of theatre historiography. Wilmer discusses the Paterson Pageant with its overt politics, but he does not consider other theatrical interventions, such as those happening in the infant art theatre movement, as both “challenging and representing” the rise of a modern American national identity. The purpose of this article is to consider whether other theatrical interventions on the part of Greenwich Village performers and writers were relevant to the formation of national identity. Thus I turn from these examples of mass performance to the more elite arenas of Greenwich Village theatres and the best-known, and still not yet fully explored work of the Village’s most famous troupe—the Provincetown Players.

4The Provincetown Players are today most often associated with the advent of modern drama in America, usually through their discovery of Eugene O’Neill in 1916. More recently, the group’s other leading playwright, Susan Glaspell, has been rediscovered and her plays revived. Less well known is George Cram “Jig” Cook (1879-1924), Susan Glaspell’s husband, who led the original group from 1915-1922. During Cook’s tenure, the Players produced over ninety original plays by American authors, a feat unrivaled by any other art (or “little”) theatre in America in the era. The original membership of the Provincetown Players included a number of New York-based writers, poets, journalists, and painters, including John Reed and Robert Edmond Jones, two out of the three Paterson Pageant planners. Early Provincetown plays continued what was then a trend in Village circles—spoofing the cardinal values of the intellectuals’ rebellion against the larger society and questioning the usefulness of early modernists’ ability to effect social change. Cook and Glaspell commenced with a spoof of the then fad of psychoanalysis, journalist Neith Boyce parodied the abuse of free love by male members of the community—specifically John Reed—, well-known short story writer Wilbur Steele satirized the open marriage and the insipient classicism and racism inherent in the new mode of modernist Primitivism, among many other examples. Thus in their early efforts, the Provincetown Players were both constructing and deconstructing modernist ideologies. However, in both guises they focused exclusively on the modernism that was emerging in America.

  • 6 Glaspell S., The Road to the Temple, New York, Frederick a. stokes, 1927, p. 224.
  • 7 Kenton E., The Provincetown Players and the Playwrights’ Theatre, 1915-1922.Bogard T. and Bryer (...)

5Led by an analogy George Cram Cook promoted between their infant theatre and Greek Dionysian festivals, the players were, in fact, cultural nationalists, who sought to build up an exclusively modern national theatre in the United States. Prior to his work with the Provincetown Players, George Cook wrote for the Friday Literary Review of the Chicago Evening Post. Cook believed, like many who participated in the Chicago Renaissance of 1908-12, that a larger national cultural renaissance was needed and imminent in the United States: “An American Renaissance of the Twentieth Century is not the task of ninety million people, but of one hundred. Does that not stir the blood of those who know they may be of that hundred? Does it not make them feel like reaching out to find each other—for strengthening of heart, for the generation of intercommunicating power, the kindling of communal intellectual passion?”6 Cook thus invests cultural radicals with a national responsibility, viewing them as an elite subset of the population. It was this exceptionalism that then became the foundation for his theory of group creativity for the Provincetown Players collective. Edna Kenton, who served on the company’s executive committee, explained their founding in terms of Cook’s twin themes of American culture and group identity: “From the beginning it [the Provincetown Players] centered about the origin of a native drama—the ‘group spirit’ that mothered it—and it was boldly affirmed that only from a group working together for the expression of an idea held in common could the native drama of a people be born.”7 Thus, unlike most little theatres springing up across the United States, the Provincetown was dedicated exclusively to the production of American works, an idea also enshrined in their constitution. Cook’s religious impulse was Dionysian, but his aesthetic strategy was nationalistic, a quest for a drama that would serve the national identity of the American modernist.

  • 8 Glaspell S., op. cit., p. 267.
  • 9 Cook G., The Athenian women, Athens, Printig[sic] house «Estia», 1926, p. 2.

6In March of 1918, Cook produced the Provincetown Players’ first full-length play, The Athenian Women. This was a notable accomplishment; one-act plays were the staple of the little theatre movement because of the impracticality of rehearsing, funding, and mounting full-length productions. Cook’s love of ancient Greece derived from both a scholarly interest in classical literature and from reading Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy. In The Athenian Women, Cook combined the story of Aristophanes’s Lysistrata with Thucydides’s account of the courtesan Aspasia and her relationship with Athenian leader Pericles, to explain the fourteen year peace during which the Athenians accomplished the building of the Acropolis. The overt purpose of Cook’s play is that of an anti-war allegory. Susan Glaspell reported that in the summer of 1917, prior to writing The Athenian Women, Cook was reading simultaneously both the daily news about the war in Europe and the Greek historian Thucydides, quoting aloud the ancient historian’s words: “In all human probability these things will happen again.”8 In Cook’s play, the situation of the Peloponnesian war is described in terms that sound very much like the First World War. In his preface to the published version of the play, Cook tells us: “Like the war which began three years ago, the Peloponnesian War was a long time brewing; it actually began with the invasion of Plataia, a small state whose neutrality, like that of Belgium, had been guaranteed by all the chief belligerents. The leading sea-power then as now fought in the name of democracy against the less democratic great power of the land.”9

  • 10 Kemper S., The Novels, Plays, and Poetry of George Cram Cook, founder of the Provincetown Player (...)
  • 11 –Kemper and Ozieblo also mention this parallel.

7However, in addition to the war allegory, Cook also uses his rather talky play to work out a series of ideas involving art and politics, and the role of both in the creation of national culture. Susan Kemper, in her dissertation, the only in-depth analysis of Cook’s writing, traces Cook’s opposition to the war in his columns and articles for the Friday Literary Review from 1914 onwards. Kemper argues the thematic conflict of the play is the choice between war and beauty, which she believes Cook implies “cannot hold sway at the same time; yet these contradictory impulses constitute a given in human society, and in the mind of most individuals as well.”10 Beyond the assertion of this incompatibility between art and war, Cook is also specific in his designation of who is responsible for beauty—a special set of artists surrounding Pericles and Aspasia—and this arrangement mirrors the ideas he had expressed about the task of the “one hundred” chosen to bring about a creative renaissance in America.11 Thus we can see in The Athenian Women not only an allegory of the senselessness of war, but an attempt on Cook’s part to work out the role of artists, positing that national culture and national identity were both represented by and challenged by those with a specific destiny to do so. In the end, Cook gives us a tragedy of the Greeks who are not able to choose peace, prosperity, and cultural development, an allegory of America’s difficulty in constructing its own national cultural peacefully.

  • 12 Kennedy J., The Artistic Life of the Provincetown Playhouse, 1918-1922, Diss New York university (...)
  • 13 Ibid., p. 428.
  • 14 Ibid.

8The Athenian Women premiered on March 1, 1918, and ran for seven performances (the typical run for a Provincetown Players’ bill). Though Cook centers the play on the four main characters, there were thirty-plus roles and, as Jeffrey Kennedy points out, the production “was the largest yet attempted by the Players on many levels. While three different sets would be common for a Players’ bill, the staging and costuming of twenty-five performers, five of which performed multiple roles […] [was] the real challenge, particularly considering the size of the Players’ stage [then the parlor of a Brownstone].”12 Nina Moise, the Players’ first professional director, directed the play. Ida Rauh, the Provincetown’s leading actress was given the lead as Aspasia (indeed Cook may have written the part with her in mind), and Cook himself played Pericles. Heywood Broun, reviewing for the New York Tribune, approved of the production overall, citing particularly Rauh’s performance, but believed that the two lead roles were “not well matched” and that the “part of Aspasia is so much better written and so much better played,” than was that of Pericles.13 Significantly, Broun felt the script was limited by “the too obvious attempt to state present-day problems in terms of Greece, causing the spectator to hurtle ‘out of the illusion’.”14

9The plot of The Athenian Women comes from Cook’s contention that a real-life event/person must have spurred Aristophanes’s writing of Lysistrata, the bawdy story of the sex-strike by the women of Athens to stop a war, and that Aspasia, who would become Pericles’s new wife just prior to the Thirty Year Peace of 445 B. C., was the most-likely candidate. The plot, then, has as its main players Aspasia, a foreigner in that she is not of Athenian blood and whose profession is courtesan; her lover Lysicles; Pericles; and Kallia, Pericles’s wife. In Act I, we meet the wise Aspasia who is instructing Lysicles to stop the re-election of Pericles because the latter seeks war with Sparta. Kallia is brought by a friend to Aspasia to seek her wisdom and power of influence. The act dramatizes the solidarity of the women and the work for peace, and there are numerous references throughout these scenes to the current war or metatheatrical moments or jokes, which communicate specifically to Cook’s Greenwich Village audience.

10Before the arrival of the aristocratic Kallia, a slave called Eunice and a servant, Rhodopis, gossip about their upcoming visitors:

  • 15 Cook G., op. cit., p. 28.

“RHODOPIS: More of these virtuous dames who come to be shocked.
EUNICE: The young ones really want to hear Aspasia’s gospel.
RHODOPIS: What they want is a peek at a little depravity. Slummers!
EUNICE: The cooped up married women have begun to envy us our freedom.”15

  • 16 Ibid., p. 36.

11This exchange would have had obvious resonances for the Greenwich Villagers in Cook’s audience who complained about “slummers” and the commercialization of their Latin Quarter. The discussion of sexuality women’s rights, too, is calculated to interest the contemporary audience. Cook could count on many members of the Village’s feminist organization, the Heterodoxy Club (to which his wife Susan Glaspell belonged), to be in attendance. Thus he presents a somewhat detailed discussion of equality in which Kallia takes up the traditional position that women should leave politics to the men, or as her friend Antiphone puts it, the women of Athens believe women “should be in the home,”16 and, in contrast, Aspasia challenges conventional marriage as servitude. Aspasia’s stance on gender equality makes her part of a small minority of liberated free-thinkers in Athens and thus reveals the lineage of Cook’s play in the many one-act plays of modern ideas produced by the Provincetown, which often featured the conflict between conventional and unconventional modern attitudes.

12The debate about feminism is furthered by Cook’s introduction of the question whether “intelligent” women can be fit mothers—a cardinal debate about the woman artist during the progressive era:

  • 17 Ibid., p. 38.

“HERMIPPOS: That’s it. You Ionian women are dangerous to the city because you make yourselves intelligent and charming at the expense of the future.
ASPASIA. Must it hurt the future to have its children born of intelligent and charming women?
KALLIA: Yes, if the women’s personal life is so absorbing that they decline to sacrifice any of it for the children.
ASPASIA: My mother did not sacrifice any of her interesting life for me. She let me share it. We sat at table with philosophers—hunters keen on the trail of the causes of things.”17

  • 18 Ibid., p. 97.
  • 19 Black C., The Women of Provincetown, 1915-1922, Tuscaloosa, University of Alabama Press, 2002, p (...)

13Cook weighs in on the progressive side of the debate in this exchange, which was appearing in numerous contexts in the era. In Beyond Good and Evil Nietzsche had said when a woman is interested in scholarship, there is “something wrong with her sexual nature”,18 and in general the bohemian lifestyle was seen as inconsistent with bourgeois child-rearing practices—one reason the women of the Village embraced alternative educational methods such as Montessori. The issue was given a tragic dimension in another Provincetown Players production, Rita Wellman’s Funiculi-Funicula (1917), where the abandonment and death of a child by her bohemian parents suggests subversively that there is no “natural” bond between mother and child.19 Meanwhile, on Broadway Rachel Crothers would have her sculptor-heroine capitulate to tradition, abandon her career, and stay home to take care of her wayward teenage daughter in He and She (1920). Susan Glaspell would provide the deepest exploration of the issue of the woman artist in the era in her expressionist drama The Verge (1921).

  • 20 Cook G., op. cit., p. 78.
  • 21 Ibid., p. 80.
  • 22 Ibid., p. 34.

14More generally, women are depicted as promoters of peace and the arts, and thus Act I ends with Aspasia convincing Kallia to carry out her plan of peace. The women of Athens are to partake in a three-day feast to Demeter at “Artemi’s temple on the summit,” where they will cover “the whole hill with a thousand tents.”20 The women are then to come back into town in a procession on the third day, but Aspasia convinces Kallia: “You shall not come back! You shall stay together in the Temple, touched by no man, till men make peace with Thebes and peace with Megara, peace with Corinth, and everlasting peace with Sparta!”21 Act I concludes with Aspasia and Kallia forming a bond as women and friends in solidarity against the war. Only then does Aspasia learn Kallia is the wife of Pericles. Thus Cook sets up the sex strike in terms of an anti-war sisterhood across class lines, which resonated with the feminists in the audience. The Woman’s Peace Party of New York commissioned a special performance of Cook’s play. This national organization had been in existence since January 1915 and worked to end the European war, as Aspasia proposes in the play, “by making ridiculous that perpetual masculine arrogance which breeds perpetual war.”22

  • 23 Ibid., p. 100.
  • 24 Ibid., p. 172.
  • 25 Ibid., p. 170.
  • 26 Ibid., p. 207-208.

15Act II, entitled “The Women’s Peace,” is the story of how the women of the Thesmophoria enact Aspasia’s plan. The women occupy the temple and send away all authorities who try to dissuade them until they know for certain that there are negotiations for peace underway with Sparta. Pericles himself comes before the gates and speaks to Aspasia, who, in a series of speeches convinces him that he has allowed the practicality of warfare to detract from his original imaginative vision for Athens. She reminds him that he has spent on war the money that could have built the Parthenon, the national symbol of Greece; thus, war is posited as a destructive power diametrically opposed to the creative power and to the national greatness of a culture. Pericles has told Aspasia: “My purpose is the greatness of this city—My means to it are the means of the actual world—power through victorious war. What is false is your dream of another kind of world. It may be more beautiful, but it is not so!”23 However, Aspasia advocates art as the means to national identity. Aspasia’s reply is to “conquer” with a superior culture: “A ring of conquered neigh-boours [sic] will not make Attica safe. Conquer them as often as you please and they will still revolt. Another spear undoes what a spear has done. Instead of ringing us round with fear and hatred, let trowel and chisel and brush create meaning to master Megara, beauty to conquer Corinth.”24 Pericles soon succumbs to Aspasia’s charms, both the power of her ideas and her beauty. He wants her to help him in his drive for military dominance, but now with her entreaties to him as “a creative man”25 and with the power of “chisel and brush” wins him over to the promise of creation—in the guise of a dream of the city beautiful; rather than the warrior, “Athens shall become Artist,”26 she explains. Aspasia then shows him how to stay in power using a broad program of peace-time building and cultural achievement in the development of the Acropolis and the glory of Athens.

  • 27 Sarlós R., Jig Cook and the Provincetown Players: Theatre in Ferment, Amherst, University of Mas (...)

16Susan Glaspell in The Road to the Temple stressed how Cook was devoted to the concept of the ideal city. In Chicago in 1913, Cook had briefly known Maurice Brown who developed perhaps the first American “little” theatre. Browne saw the arts in religious terms, linking theatre to St. Augustine’s image of the city of God. Cook apparently adapted this idea to his own quasi-religious feelings about Dionysus.27 The ideal city is also an idea with deeply American cultural roots from a country constantly in the midst of expanding and creating new communities. It appears in a number of works by Cook or Glaspell—most notably in Glaspell’s Inheritors as a college built on a hill in the Iowa landscape. The city beautiful idea was a romantic challenge by early modernists to the industrialization and lack of cultural development in many of America’s emerging urban areas.

  • 28 Cook G., op. cit., p. 2.

17Cook, a socialist at some points in his career, is aware that the creation of a national identity through civic works is connected to the realities of politics in Athens, and by analogy like those of the United States is about compromise. In achieving the city beautiful Aspasia is only too willing to give up another dream—equality for all Athenian citizens. Aspasia had formerly been a lover of Lysicles, and the two had plotted a communist uprising in Athens. Susan Kemper criticizes the historical leaps Cook makes in assuming a Communist movement existed in Athens; however Cook anticipates such objections in his preface, arguing a play need only “be true to its own orbit”28 and not therefore literally to history. Communism in The Athenian Women is consistent with the trajectory of the play’s metadramatic discourse, which along with the references to feminism, the woman artist, and pacifism, shows Cook’s aim was to engage his audience of Village cognoscenti.

18When Aspasia wins Pericles’s attention, she must justify her new aristocratic friend to her lover Lysicles. At first she attempts to explain that Pericles has both artistic vision and political connection:

  • 29 Ibid., p. 194.

“Pericles is not a soldier only. He shall be a poet who works in realities, a dreamer who makes his dreams come true. No man has had a fairer vision for a city. To embody it he alone has the connections, the traditions, the political power, […]. the skill to lead.”29

19Aspasia must assuage both Lysicles’s personal jealousy and his fear that in turning away from him she is turning away from the promise of political revolution as well.

  • 30 Ibid., p. 196.

“ASPASIA: The communism we dreamed is not the only truth. […] Pericles too sees truth.
LYSICLES: With the same old needless sacrifice of all the poorer citizens? The slaves to remain slaves? All those the mind of Pericles is unable to realize as human—nothing to be done to give them human lives—in order to go on piling up great fortunes for the few?
ASPASIA: Perhaps now it is the few who must bring beauty into the world; and later a time when the many shall share it. Wealth can be in common only as a result of a harmony of men’s minds. If Athens makes herself a work of art, she will come to have the artist-mind, which out of discordant things shapes harmony.”30

  • 31 Ibid., p. 206.
  • 32 Ibid., p. 132.
  • 33 Cowley M., op. cit., p. 58.
  • 34 Cook G., op. cit., p. 210.

20That it is “the few” who must “bring beauty in the world,” mirrors Cook’s belief cited at the beginning of this article that an American renaissance will be brought about by the chosen “one hundred” for the larger society. It is the perfect expression of Cook’s bohemian philosophy and the group ideal of the Provincetown Players. This ideal, however, now postpones revolution. Cook had earlier written a novel, The Chasm, about the conflict between Nietzschean aristocratic thinking and socialist equality. In The Athenian Women, he blithely defers political change, subordinating it to culture. Further, the artist and the nation-state become one for Cook, at least as Pericles understands the purpose of cultural works. This is also symbolized by the personal relationship that develops between Aspasia and Pericles. As Pericles proclaims to Aspasia, “The Truce of Thirty Years shall be sworn to, and carved on stone, and the stone set up. Athens shall become Artist. But the Artist which is a City shall not be born save of the love between you and me!”31 Although he romanticizes it, Cook is here aware of the price of a society’s commitment to its cultural identity and, in the Nietzschean vein, is unapologetic. As Barbara Ozieblo has pointed out, in The Athenian Women Cook had “appropriated Nietzsche’s aristocratic vision of culture as a unifying force that dissipates conflict”.32 In fact, one senses Cook wants to sidestep the issue of politics altogether, but in the end he produces a modernist treatise on the greater importance of culture over political action. Sidestepping revolution is also probably indicative of a split between the aesthetic bohemians and the political radicals in the village, which would become almost complete after 1919.33 Cook does not retreat completely into aestheticism either. Art serves the identity of the nation-state and has a clear public role in the creation of national identity, which is given by Aspasia as a commandment to the audience of modern artists, writers, and humanist intellectuals: “Listen, you carvers and builders, shapers of form! This means that Athens must be made the foremost city, not by her soldiers, but by you!”34 Cook, though, seems blissfully unaware that the project of building cultural identity might easily be co-opted by the very nationalistic and philistine forces he wishes to overthrow, nor does he seem aware that national culture is often used in pro-war propaganda.

21Fourteen years pass between Act II and III, during which time Athens under Pericles becomes the city of beauty and perfection that Aspasia had helped him dream about. There are lyrical, wistful moments as the artists who have built the Acropolis and created the artworks sit with Pericles and Aspasia to reflect on what they have accomplished. Phidias, in charge of the public art work, Ictinos, architect of the Parthenon, and Mnesicles, architect of the Propylaia, along with Pericles and Aspasia are held up as the ideal bohemian collective, Jig Cook’s Republic. While Plato throws the poets out of his ideal city, Cook dreams of an artist-led empire—in which free-thinking vanguardists succeed in creating and controlling the national culture.

  • 35 Ibid., p. 234.
  • 36 Ibid., p. 308.
  • 37 Ibid., p. 316.

22However, Kallia, Pericles’wife, her son Xanthippos, and others use false accusations in an attempt to bring down Pericles and Aspasia as Athens once again drifts towards war. Echoing many of the “conventional characters” in the earlier Provincetown plays about cultural conventionality and modernism, Kallia bitterly questions the social usefulness of the artist: “It is a charming irony. It will end these artists who build superfluous temples to the gods and worship nothing but the work of their own hands.”35 When Aspasia meets with Kallia, hoping to join forces again in the cause of peace, as they had earlier, she argues against ideological differences, “Democracy! Aristocracy! Don’t you know in your heart, Kallia, that there is no other such disaster as this war of exhaustion which has been the nightmare of our lives?”36 Aspasia is able to assuage some of Kallia’s resentment, but it is too late; Athens kills prisoners from Thebes and the war begins. The play ends in the house of Pericles as it is storming outside; Aspasia and Pericles are there with their artist-friends lamenting “this life which has created beauty—we have been but a candle burning in the darkness.”37

23Cook suggests that the power of an elite group of artists to both “represent” and to “challenge” the existing national identity cannot succeed on aesthetic grounds alone. Although beauty is an effective force against destruction, it has no lasting power in the cyclical history of war. However, as much as he wants to replace the hegemony of the military aristocratic state with the power of the artists, he offers only their taste as a mediation against the discharge of power. The Athenian Women is thus a manifesto that is less concerned with critiquing institutions of art, than advocating the sublation of existing cultural structures by modernists. Although, Cook embraces much of the radical politics of Village modernists—feminism, pacifism, communism—in the play, “challenging” patriotism and Puritanism, he also wants his generation to accept the mantle of “representing” national culture as well, a project that leads eventually to the theatre of Eugene O’Neill but away from the progressive politics of pre-war Greenwich Village.



Black C., The Women of Provincetown, 1915-1922, Tuscaloosa, University of Alabama press, 2002.

Bürger P., Theory of the Avant-Garde, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1984.

Cook G., The Athenian Women, Athens, Printig [sic] house “Estia”, 1926.

Cook G., “Change your style”, Heller J. and Rudnick L. (eds.), 1915, The Cultural Moment: the new politics, the new woman, the new psychology, the new art, and the new theatre in America, New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press, 1991, p. 292-299.

Cowley M., Exile’s Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s, New York, Penguin, 1976, Reprint of 1951 edition.

Glaspell S., The Road to the Temple, New York, Frederick A. Stokes, 1927.

Gilbert S. and Gubar S., Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman writer and the nineteenth-century literary imagination, New Haven, Yale university press, 1979.

Kemper S., The Novels, Plays, and Poetry of George Cram Cook, founder of the Provincetown Players, Diss. Bowling Green State University, 1982. Dissertations & Theses: Full Text, ProQuest. Web. 22 Nov. 2009.

Kennedy J., The Artistic Life of the Provincetown Playhouse, 1918-1922, Diss. New York University, 2007. Ann Arbor: UMI, 2007. Page numbers refer to the typescript of the dissertation.

Kenton E., The Provincetown Players and the Playwrights’ Theatre, 1915-1922, Bogard T. and Bryer J. (eds.), Jefferson, McFarland, 2004.

Ozieblo B., Susan Glaspell: A Critical Biography, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2000.

Sarlós R., Jig Cook and the Provincetown Players: Theatre in Ferment, Amherst, University of Massachusetts Press, 1982.

Wilmer S. E., Theatre, Society and the Nation, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002.


1 Wilmer S. E., Theatre, Society and the Nation, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 1.

2 Ibid., p. 99.

3 Ibid., p. 100.

4 Ibid., 101.

5 Cowley M., Exile’s Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s, New York, Penguin, 1976, (Reprint of 1951 edition), p. 66.

6 Glaspell S., The Road to the Temple, New York, Frederick a. stokes, 1927, p. 224.

7 Kenton E., The Provincetown Players and the Playwrights’ Theatre, 1915-1922.Bogard T. and Bryer J. (eds.), Jefferson, McFarland, 2004, p. 14.

8 Glaspell S., op. cit., p. 267.

9 Cook G., The Athenian women, Athens, Printig[sic] house «Estia», 1926, p. 2.

10 Kemper S., The Novels, Plays, and Poetry of George Cram Cook, founder of the Provincetown Players, Bowling Green State University, 1982. Dissertations & Theses: Full Text, ProQuest. Web. 22 Nov. 2009, p. 123.

11 –Kemper and Ozieblo also mention this parallel.

12 Kennedy J., The Artistic Life of the Provincetown Playhouse, 1918-1922, Diss New York university, 2007/Ann Arbor, UMI, 200, p. 424 (Page numbers refer to the typescript of the dissertation).

13 Ibid., p. 428.

14 Ibid.

15 Cook G., op. cit., p. 28.

16 Ibid., p. 36.

17 Ibid., p. 38.

18 Ibid., p. 97.

19 Black C., The Women of Provincetown, 1915-1922, Tuscaloosa, University of Alabama Press, 2002, p. 53.

20 Cook G., op. cit., p. 78.

21 Ibid., p. 80.

22 Ibid., p. 34.

23 Ibid., p. 100.

24 Ibid., p. 172.

25 Ibid., p. 170.

26 Ibid., p. 207-208.

27 Sarlós R., Jig Cook and the Provincetown Players: Theatre in Ferment, Amherst, University of Massachusetts Press, 1982, p. 11.

28 Cook G., op. cit., p. 2.

29 Ibid., p. 194.

30 Ibid., p. 196.

31 Ibid., p. 206.

32 Ibid., p. 132.

33 Cowley M., op. cit., p. 58.

34 Cook G., op. cit., p. 210.

35 Ibid., p. 234.

36 Ibid., p. 308.

37 Ibid., p. 316.


Drew Eisenhauer is 2010-2011 City of Paris Postdoctoral Fellow at the University Paris Diderot – Paris VII, where he is researching French influences on plays by and about American visual artists, such as Robert Henri and Everett Shinn, through the lens of Benjamin’s conception of the artist as flâneur. Drew is a Ph. D. in Literature (2009) from the University of Maryland, College Park ; his dissertation, « “Something Sweetly Personal and Sweetly Social” : Modernism, Metadrama, and the Avant Garde in the Plays of the Provincetown Players », was directed by Jackson R. Bryer. Drew is currently co-editing with Brenda Murphy « Intertextual Exchanges », a collection of essays on American dramatists from members of the American Literature Association and has also published a number of articles on American drama and performance. He has presented papers at national and international conferences, such as « La traduction/la transmissibilité », École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, France (2010) ; American Literature Association Conference, Boston, Massachusetts (2009) ; and « Violence on Stage : III International Conference on American Theatre and Drama », Universidad de Cadiz, Cadiz, Spain (2009).

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