The Mary MacLane Project

The definitive website on the life and work of the pioneering feminist writer, film-maker, and media personality Mary MacLane (1881-1929)

Mary MacLane's Play

In mid-1911, newspapers began running stories on a play described as being completed by MacLane for possible performance in Chicago later that year. The play does not appear to have been produced, and the manuscript is yet to be found - we do not even have a title or an indication of subject. Typical of the information that was released is the following from a Montana paper.

"Mary MacLane, Genius of Buttte, Writing a Drama - 'American Marie Bashkirtseff' at Work on a Problem Play Which She Avers Will be More Startling Than Her Famous Autobiography - Now Living Quietly in Butte - Mary MacLane, the eccentric genius of Butte, Mont., who flashed in to sudden fame with her startling autobiograph a few years ago is 'coming back,' says the New York Review. She is writing a drama which is nearing completion and which she expects will be produced in Chicago in the fall. - The drama is the most objective form of art. So far Miss MacLane's literary work has been devoted to the study of her own ego. As the bias of her genius has been so purely subjective a doubt might naturally suggest itself itself as to whether she can hope to handle dramatic forms effectively. Certainly, Miss MacLane believes in her ability to do this. Her genius may have another side as brilliant as that she presented in her self-analysis. The world can only wait and see. - Miss MacLane as yet has vouchsafed little concerning her play. It is to be a problem play - that much is known. That means it will deal with sex relations. But upon what angle of sex or what triangle it will be based - that is still Miss MacLane's secret. - 'My drama is going to be as startling to the conventional world as the red Mary MacLane book was,' said the young authoress at her Butte home recently. 'I shall not anticipate my play by giving even a hint of what it is about. But, believe me, that part of the dear public that prides itself on being proper and respectable will find in it something to talk about. It will tell a strong, simple story. There is nothing very complicated about the plot and there will be but few characters - not more than six. By simplifying the mechanism I have, I believe, achieved some fine, if not stupendous[,] dramatic effects.'" (Butte Miner, July 16, 1911.

This section will be expanded as more information is found.

Plays/performances by Others

- 1902 - The Stubborness of Geraldine by Clyde Fitch. Amy Ricard created the role of Vi Tompson from "Butte City, Montana," which was inspired (if in location alone) by MacLane. IBDB page here. Ran Nov-Dec 1902 at the Garrick Theatre, New York City; performed elsewhere thereafter, cf. e.g. Goodwin's Weekly, 9 May 1903, p 8. Made into a movie in 1915.

- 1902-1903 - Twirly-Whirly - musical review by Weber and Fields - contained extended parody of The Story of Mary MacLane starring Louise Allen and her husband William Collier as "Mary McPaine" and her Devil. Ran Sept. 1902-Apr. 1903; performened elsewhere thereafter, cf. e.g. Indianapolis Journal, 24 May 1903, Pt. 1, p 5. Publicity photo of Allen and Collier here.

- 1980 - Parkinson Harvard

- Late 1980s - Abandoning Mary by Ada McAllister. Unpublished dream-play based on MacLane’s life 1890s-1910. Written late 1980s, produced irregularly thereafter.

- Feb. 1994 - "Just Benath My Skin" - solo piece by Patricia Scanlon - part of Wordfire Festival at Watermark Theater. See N.Y Times, 12 February 1995. Dir. Nela Wagman. Alo New York magazine, 13 Feb 1995, p 120.

- Jan. 2010 - Oh, Dear, Sweet, Bitter Olive - "Written and Directed by Trish Harnetiaux (and Mary MacLane) - Starring Emily Davis and Corey Tazmania* - Violinist: Julia Koo - 1902 Butte, Montana introduces us to adolescent sensationalist memoirist confessionalist, 19 year-old Mary MacLane. Mary wishes to marry the devil, or run away with her schoolteacher (Fanny Corbin!), but sometimes, she’s content just sitting and eating an olive. - https://marymaclane.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/mary-maclane-confessionalist/

- March 2011 - I, Mary MacLane by Joan Melcher - written c. 1991, debuted in Butte in March, 2011 - news coverage here and here. Starred Haley Nelson as Mary MacLane, dir. Andree O’Shea. Received previous dramatic readings in California and Montana. Author page here.

- MONTH, 2011 - The Story of Mary MacLane by Herself - by Bojana Novakovic wit contributions by musician Tim Rogers and director Tanya Goldberg as director. Appeared under aegis of Malthouse Theatre, Merrigong Theatre Co. and Griffin Theatre Company. Toured Australia and was extensively reviewed.

- 2017 - i await the devil's coming - by Philippe Dumaine + Danièle Simon - with Danièle Simon - solo52 min - bilingual (en + fr) - June 3, 2017, 10:30 pm - Monument-National, Montréal, for Body Politic at OFFTA – live arts festival - "i await the devil’s coming follows various leads built around Mary MacLane’s 1902 autobiography of the same title. A dive into the workings of a sulphurous, feminist, illuminated mind, i await the devil’s coming explores the nascent desire, the solitude of a gray dawn, the troubles of a restless identity. While in the distance a red red line appears, and a smell of mint hangs, Mary MacLane longs for the devil that never comes." - https://projetshybris.org/projects/iatdc/

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