Monday, September 17, 2012

Local Author's Play Now at Library!

Katharine Clugston, ca. 1928
  Although she spent most of her life on her beloved Chebeague Island, Maine, playwright Katharine Thatcher Clugston spent some of her early days here in Crawfordsville. Katharine was the daughter of Emma Thatcher Clugston, a teacher, and Harry Clugston, law partner of vice president Thomas Riley Marshall and mayor of Columbia City, Indiana. After Harry's death, Emma relocated the family to Crawfordsville while Kate's brother attended Wabash College. Emma later remarried Wabash professor Donaldson Bodine. Kate graduated from Wells College in 1914 and went on to study at Radcliffe College and Yale. While studying under George Pierce Baker at Yale, she wrote a play titled "Finished." Thanks to a donation from Kate's family, the library now owns a copy of her play.
  "Finished" was produced in New Haven to great reviews, but when the show made the transition to Broadway in 1928 with a new title, "These Days" fizzled. Kate blamed the play's failure on two things: first, producer Arthur Hopkins ordered her to rewrite the play's third act. Reviews of the play noted that the change did not serve the plot well, and the tone of the third act was too serious for Kate's "faintly ironical comedy." Kate vowed she would never rewrite again.
  Another disappointment for Kate was in the casting of the lead role. Mildred McCoy was cast as Virginia McRae, a boarding school girl around whom the play centers. Kate would have preferred to cast a fresh-from-college Katharine Hepburn in the role, but Hepburn was still too green, and was given a small role as school-girl Veronica Sims. The Hartford Daily Times  predicted that "heaps of natural talent and an unusually attractive personality may well lead her, in time, to do things in the theater."
  Stop by the library and have a look at this rare play by an Indiana author, as well as photographs and documents about Katharine Clugston, shared with us by her family.

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