Susan Glaspell Questions and Answers

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What are Susan Glaspell's important contributions to theater?

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In addition to her role in the Provincetown Players and The Little Theatre, Susan Glaspell was a very important female writer during the early twentieth century. In a time where it wasn't common, she brought a feminist narrative to theatre and writing. She was known as being a master of dialogue and brought a richness and realness to her characters on stage. She also brought in political and social commentary to her plays, which were set on the backdrop of where she lived: Provincetown and the American frontier. Her experimentation with form and infusing humor into depictions of feminist, social, cultural, and political issues was unique.

Additionally, in the 1930s, the Federal Theatre in Chicago made Glaspell the director of Midwest Play Bureau. In this role, she was able to feature Midwest talent and played an important part in the creation of Living Newspapers, a type of theater form that presented current events to live audiences.

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Susan Glaspell's contributions to American theater are considerable. She co-founded, with her husband, George Cram Cook, the first American modern theater company, the Provincetown Players, a place for developing plays that would not necessarily have found, at that time, an audience on Broadway. She is credited with discovering American playwright Eugene O'Neill.

Glaspell is considered by many to be the first significant American female playwright, creating fifteen plays, including Trifles (1916), a classic of American drama with themes of feminism, justice, and morality.

Glaspell won the Pulitzer Prize in 1931 for her play Alison's House, a drama said to have been inspired by the poems and life of Emily Dickinson. During the Great Depression, Glaspell was appointed bureau director for the Federal Theater Project, a project sponsored by the government to fund live theater.

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