ON HER SHOULDERS to Present Staged Reading of A FOOL OF FORTUNE

ON HER SHOULDERS to Present Staged Reading of A FOOL OF FORTUNE

On Her Shoulders will present a staged reading of A Fool of Fortune by Martha Morton, directed by Melody Brooks with dramaturgy by Sherry Engle who delivers The Play in Context, a special component contextualizing the script in its historical time and place at the top of the evening. Doors open at 6:30pm for a 6:45pm curtain; tickets are free to the public. The performance is at the New School, John L. Tishman Auditorium, 63 Fifth Avenue. R.S.V.P to OnHerShouldersReservations@gmail.com

This is the inaugural reading of the second season of On Her Shoulders, which is a program of staged readings from the 1,000-year old canon of women playwrights. For a complete list of plays presented to date, please visit our website at http://onhershoulders.weebly.com/index.html

MARTHA MORTON (Playwright) in her prime, was called by the press and the theatre community the "Dean of Women Playwrights." Between 1888 and 1915, she contributed fourteen plays to the New York stage (and numerous touring companies), becoming the first American woman to sustain a lengthy career as playwright. 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 as we grapple with another Gilded Age. Morton focuses on two "national follies" popularly examined 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 victory is bittersweet.

MELODY BROOKS (Director) founded New Perspectives Theatre Company (NPTC) in 1991 and serves as Artistic Director and CEO. NPTC's mission and goals are a result of her long experience working in the Off- and Off-Off Broadway arenas and reflect her commitment to true diversity and arts as education. Melody directs the Women's Work LAB, which develops short and full-length plays by 6-10 members per year; she also serves as Executive Producer for NPTC's Voices From the Edge Festival, which has showcased more than 75 new works by African-American writers and performers since 1998. Through these programs Melody has developed and directed and produced numerous award-winning original and classic plays. In 2009 Melody created Theatre Is Served!, a program of concert readings of plays from across the historical and cultural spectrum, performed with a matching meal-which led to her involvement as co-producer of ON HER SHOULDERS. She is an advisor to the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre new play lab; has served as an Associate Producer for Education for the NY Musical Theatre Festival; and was an Asst. Professor of Theatre at LIU/Brooklyn from 1999-2009. She is a co-founder of 50/50 in 2020: Parity for Women Theatre Artists, a grassroots initiative named by nytheatre.com as a 2009 "Person" of the Year, and a member of the League of Professional Theatre Women, serving on the Heritage and International Committees.

SHERRY ENGLE (Dramaturg) is the author of New Women Dramatists in America, 1890-1920 (NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), which focuses on five prominent women playwrights, including Martha Morton. Her ongoing interest in women playwrights is reflected in published articles and conference papers. She is Associate Professor at Borough of Manhattan Community College in the Department of Speech, Communications and Theatre Arts. She also writes film scripts and plays, receiving a production of The 1936 Project, a Living Newspaper by BMCC faculty and students. Active in the Susan Glaspell Society, she recently participated in a seminar on the Provincetown Players at the Orange Tree Theatre in London during the world premiere of Glaspell's Springs Eternal.

ANDREA LEPCIO (Producer) is the Dramatists Guild Fellows Program Director. Her play Looking for the Pony was a finalist for the Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award and for the NEA Outstanding New American Play Award. It was presented in a "Rolling World Premiere" Off-Broadway at Vital Theatre Company in New York and Synchronicity Performance Group in Atlanta and subsequent productions. Plays and musicals under development include Tunnel Vision, Me You Us Them, Dinner at Home between Deaths, Strait of Gibraltar, Central Avenue Breakdown, Room 16, Lf&Tms and Ballad of Rom and Julz. Andrea holds an M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from Carnegie Mellon University, and a B.A. in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic. She lives in Harlem, New York and Seal Cove, Maine.

On Her Shoulders was founded in 2012 to present monthly staged readings of plays by women from across the spectrum of time, with contemporary dramaturgs contextualizing--and in some cases adapting--them for modern audiences. The program seeks to make it impossible to deny or ignore the great tradition and value of women's contribution to the theatrical canon. On Her Shoulders intends to motivate producers and directors to champion and produce these plays in New York and regionally, and to incite audiences to demand to see them. The Play in Context, the dramaturgical and scholarly presentation component to the program, is sponsored in part by the League of Professional Theatre Women, a not-for-profit organization promoting visibility and increasing opportunities for women in theatre since 1982. www.theatrewomen.org

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