American Communist Idealism in George Cram Cook’s The Athenian Women (1918)
Keywords:Athenian Women, George Cram Cook, communists, left-wing theatre in the USA
The Athenian Women, written by the American George Cram Cook with input from Susan Glaspell, is a serious, substantial play drawing chiefly on Lysistrata and Thesmophoriazusae. It premiered on March 1st 1918 with the Provincetown Players. Cook was convinced of parallels between the Peloponnesian War and World War I. He believed there had been communists in Periclean Athens comparable to those who were making strides in Russia (in 1922 to become the USSR) and the socialists in America, amongst whom he and Glaspell counted themselves. The paper examines the text and production contexts of The Athenian Women, traces its relationships with several different ancient Greek authors including Thucydides as well as Aristophanes, and identifies the emphatically stated socialist and feminist politics articulated by the two main ‘proto-communist’ characters, Lysicles and Aspasia. Although the play was not particularly successful, its production had a considerable indirect impact on the future directions taken by left-wing theatre in the USA, through the subsequent dramas of Glaspell and Eugene O’Neill for the Provincetown Players.
Copyright (c) 2018 Edith Hall
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors are confirming that they are the authors of the submitting article, which will be published (print and online) in Keria by Znanstvena založba Filozofske fakultete Univerze v Ljubljani (University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Aškerčeva 2, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia). Author’s name will be evident in the article in journal. All decisions regarding layout and distribution of the work are in hands of the publisher.
- Authors guarantee that the work is their own original creation and does not infringe any statutory or common-law copyright or any proprietary right of any third party. In case of claims by third parties, authors commit their self to defend the interests of the publisher, and shall cover any potential costs.
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work.