A Fool of Fortune by Martha Morton February 19th, 2014Directed by: Melody Brooks Dramaturgy by: Sherry Engle
Martha Morton In her prime, Martha Morton was called by the press and the theatre community the "Dean of Women Playwrights." Between 1888 and 1915, she provided fourteen plays for the New York stage (and numerous touring companies), becoming the first American woman to sustain a lengthy career from playwriting. Morton's greatest legacy to the American theatre lies in her example for and encouragement of other women dramatists and her leadership in the formation of the Society of Dramatic Authors—a guild formed in 1907 when women were barred from joining the American Dramatists' Club. ~~~~~ A Fool of Fortune is an 1896 Wall Street melodrama that still resonates for today. Martha Morton focuses on two “national follies” popular on the stage: the reckless pursuit of wealth by speculation and the hunt for titled bridegrooms. Elisha Cuningham, the central character, is a successful, self-made broker who has just returned from Europe with his eldest daughter. During his absence, his partner has involved him in a speculation which, through the treachery of a financial associate, reduces him to penury. A year later, although he has maintained his integrity throughout, he is a wreck; when matters are at their worst, his prosperity is restored with the help of his daughter’s suitor as they turn the tables on the man who would ruin him. But the ordeal takes its toll on Cuningham and he does not live to enjoy his victory.
Sherry Engle is the author of New Women Dramatists in America, 1890-1920 (NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), which focuses on five prominent women playwrights, including Martha Morton. Her ongoing interest in women playwrights is reflected in published articles and conference papers She is Associate Professor at Borough of Manhattan Community College in the Department of Speech, Communications and Theatre Arts. She also writes film scripts and plays, receiving a production of The 1936 Project, a Living Newspaper by BMCC faculty and students. Active in the Susan Glaspell Society, she recently participated in a seminar on the Provincetown Players at the Orange Tree Theatre in London during the world premiere of Glaspell’s Springs Eternal.
On Her Shoulders - A Fool of Fortune
Women have been writing plays for over 1000 years. How many can you name?