Susan Glaspell’s Inheritors was ahead of its time.
On the evening of March 21, 1921, a New York City audience crowded into a downtown theater to see the latest work by Provincetown Players cofounder Susan Glaspell. A United States Marshall was in the audience to make sure the play was unobjectionable. When the curtain rose on Inheritors the audience discovered a distinctly American story of frontier life and democratic ideals. Had the Marshall stayed past the play’s first act he would have discovered that it was truly radical, in form, in content, and especially in its treatment of the matter of immigration.
Writer Rob Hardy explains, “Inheritors is the first American play to deal with political issues and events as they affect ordinary American lives.”
In An Open House, Hardy tells the fascinating story of this revolutionary play, and asks why it was allowed to fall into obscurity.
Rob Hardy is a research associate in Classics at Carleton College and the first Poet Laureate of Northfield, Minnesota. He frequently writes about lesser-known writers. He’s also the author of a collection of poetry, a chapbook, an adaptation of Aeschylus’s Oresteia, and a commentary on selections from Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica.