On Her Shoulders: February 19 at 6:30PM

A FOOL OF FORTUNE
by Martha Morton, directed by Melody Brooks, dramaturgy by Sherry Engle
Wednesday, February 19 at 6:30pm
The Auditorium (Tishman Hall), 66 West 12th Street

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.

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