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By Jeffrey Ullom (auth.)

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22 Grace Treat had become a public figure for the suffrage movement beginning with her 1913 request to Cleveland Congressman William Gordon, seeking support for the creation of a committee to explore issues concerning women’s suffrage. A few months later, Treat and other suffragists drew attention to their cause when they occupied East Cleveland City Hall night after night in hopes of persuading members of a Charter Commission to vote for an amendment favorable to women’s rights. 23 The influence and contribution of these two extraordinary women—Brooks and Angell—remains largely ignored by the simplistic accounts of the founding of the Play House, even though both were present for the initial meeting at the Brooks’ home.

This reception must have been a welcome change from Fiske’s previous engagement in Pittsburgh, where the controversial ending of the play left audiences confused. While some Steel City theatergoers opted not to attend because they believed A Doll’s House to be a children’s show, others who witnessed the third act “settled down to wait for a fourth act and the penitent return of the wife. The house lights went up, and down, and up—and still they failed to take the hint. ”14 By comparison, Forest City theatergoers were more cosmopolitan and better educated as to the latest trends in playwriting and theatre production, and the positive response to Fiske’s production of A Doll’s House and other professional touring productions of modern European plays directly impacted the play selection of the Play House.

38 America’s First Regional Theatre Numerous conflicts erupted between the combative O’Neil and various members of the Play House, but one event in particular elucidated the outstanding issues between O’Neil and the membership. Fulfilling its purpose as an “art theatre” and following the example established by the Kokoon Klub, the Play House provided local artists with many opportunities to present their work for others to enjoy, including piano recitals, dance performances, and painting exhibits.

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