QCTW Presenting Drama By Pulitzer Prize Winning QC Writer
For the first production in its fifth season of stage entertainment, the QC Theatre Workshop will turn back the clock for its dramatic presentation Inheritors, running August 19 through September 4. Written by Davenport native Susan Glaspell, whose Alison’s House won the 1931 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Inheritors’ original New York Times review called it a work that “stands firm and skillfully distinguishes the false from the true social values,” and Glaspell’s 1921 play proves just as relevant in 2016 as it must have been nearly a century ago.
Inheritors will be presented at the QC Theatre Workshop (1730 Wilkes Avenue, Davenport, IA) August 19 through September 4, with Friday and Saturday performances at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday performances at 3 p.m. Doors open fifteen minutes before each performance, and due to some mild language and mature themes, the show is best-suited for ages 13 and older.
Glaspell’s rich, profound, frequently funny family drama tells of three generations of Americans and the erosion of fundamental rights, particularly free speech, in a time when nationalism was prevalent in American society. At the tale’s center is college student Madeline Morton, who must choose whether to defy her family and heritage in order to stand up for her beliefs, and as her saga is explored, Inheritors addresses numerous other themes – individuality, conformity, immigration, racism – that remain at the forefront of our conversations on national identity.
The idea to stage Inheritors as the Workshop’s season-opener began with a public reading of the script in February, when it was the first presentation in the company’s “RiverStages Play Reading Series” collaboration with the Davenport non-profit River Action. Tyson Danner, the Workshop’s Artistic Director, says that he was immediately taken with Susan Glaspell’s voice and talent, and eager to introduce others to both her 1921 stage achievement and the scarcely known information that Davenport boasts a Pulizer Prize-winning author who helped shape the course of modern theatre.
“When I first read the script, I kept second-guessing the publication date,” says Danner. “The play felt very contemporary and we immediately began discussing a full production. Aaron has created a show that honors Glaspell’s original, while making it urgent and accessible for modern audiences.”
Aaron Randolph III, whose script for 2013’s world premiere A Green River helped make that show a beloved Workshop hit, directed Inheritors’ February reading at the Figge Art Museum, and not only directs this new production, but provides a brand-new adaptation of Glaspell’s original play, which is now in the public domain.
“Most of the work I’ve done is in trimming and reorganizing the original,” says Randolph. “In the original script, Madeline doesn’t show up on stage until almost halfway through the play, and so by reorganizing the material so that she shows up in the first five minutes, I think it really helps focus things and make Madeline a more featured protagonist. I’ve also tightened the pace by cutting some material that, while rich in character development, was not completely essential to the story.”
Randolph is also excited about staging Inheritors because “the play has a great deal of contemporary relevance, which is a testament to Glaspell’s writing, but also a bit of an indictment for how little society has progressed, in some ways, in the last 100 years. Inheritors examines how, as a country, we often treat immigrants poorly, allowing nationalism to blind us to injustice and silence those who don’t follow the status quo.” Additionally, “it gives us a window into the past to realize that maybe our current political and cultural issues aren’t as new as we sometimes believe.
“But the play is also universally relevant,” Randolph adds, “because it challenges the audience to remember that we are all the beneficiaries of those who came before us, and we should be conscientious of what world we’re leaving to those who come after us. That message is just as important today as it was in 1921.”
Inheritors’ young protagonist Madeline Morton is portrayed by QC Theatre Workshop veteran Jessica Denney, who appeared in such productions as Tribes, How I Learned to Drive, and A Green River. And rounding out the ensemble is a septet of actors, most of them double-cast, with previous Workshop experience: Michael Carron (Tribes), Jeremy Mahr (The Bible: The Complete Word of God [abridged]), Brant Peitersen (Bat Boy: The Musical), Susan Perrin-Sallak (True West), Mike Schulz (The Pillowman), and Jordan McGinnis and Abby Van Gerpen (both from The Big Meal).
The QC Theatre Workshop will present Inheritors under the company’s “Pay What It’s Worth” pricing policy in which guests see the play first and then pay afterward, allowing patrons to determine what the experience was worth to them personally. This innovative strategy was designed to create a wholly accessible theatrical experience for audiences regardless of financial means, and the policy’s great success – ever since the Workshop’s debut with 2012’s RED – has allowed it to continue for Inheritors.
Inheritors performance schedule
Friday, August 19, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 20, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, August 21, 3 p.m.
Friday, August 26, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 27, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, August 28, 3 p.m.
Friday, September 2, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 3, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, September 4, 3 p.m.