About the Show
Inheritors is a 1921 play by Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Susan Glaspell. The story focuses on Madeline Morton and her experiences at the college founded by her grandfather, Silas. While at Morton College Madeline must decide whether she will face prison under the Espionage Act by defending immigrant students' criticisms of America, or if she will follow the expectations of society and protect her family's name.
I discovered Inheritors in the summer of 2016, when discussions about immigration, free speech, and nationalism were at the forefront of public discourse, thanks to the ongoing presidential campaign. I chose to direct this play because I hoped that it could help to spark discussion of these issues in the Midwestern community in which it was produced, one not all that different from the unnamed town in which the play is set. While directing this show, I read biographies of Susan Glaspell, primary sources from her contemporaries, and academic analysis of her work. A decision was made in this production to cast a woman in the role of Professor Holden. This decision created an interesting opportunity for further research into women's historical roles in higher education and exploration into how change in a character's gender can affect the overall meaning of a script.
A talk back with members of the Susan Glaspell Society was held on September 24 after a matinee performance. Dr. Cheryl Black and Dr. Milbre Burch joined the cast and director for a discussion with members of the audience about the themes of the play and Glaspell's work.
Journal-Eureka: "Inheritors comes to Starlighters"
Journal-Eureka: "'Inheritors' is period play that speaks to today's issues"
by Debbie Beall