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Ever Young
A Cross Section of the Life and Character of Four Women

MRS. PAYNE-DEXTER: I want to make the débutantes and their smart young men side-step for me.
Their youth and prettiness is no longer mine, but I hold over
them the whip hand.
I am a dowager, a member of the society
 that once ruled New York,
and does still to a certain extent
and they shall bow to me
as long as I inhale one breath of life!
MRS. DORCHESTER: I do believe you are jealous of the present generation.
MRS. PAYNE-DEXTER: I am, I am fiercely jealous.
Newpaper hat portrait

"Chicago's No. 1 Playwright": Alice Gerstenberg (1885 - 1972)

Alice Erya Gerstenberg was born in Chicago, Illinois, the only child of Julia and Erich Gerstenberg. Gerstenberg’s grandfather was a founder and member of the Chicago Board of Trade in 1848, a position Gerstenberg’s father inherited later on, which meant that the Gerstenbergs enjoyed a higher standard of living than most middle-class families in Chicago at the time.  Growing up, Gerstenberg had ample travel experiences and social indulgences including commercial theater.   From her father she inherited endurance, and from her mother a love of theater.   She was the valedictorian at the exclusive Kirkland School in Chicago and attended all-women's Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania (1907).
Fairy Plays
After living in New York for a brief period, meeting with leading figures in New York theatre circles, including David Belasco and with an early avant-garde theatre group,  the Washington Square Players, Gerstenberg returned to Chicago, where she continued to write plays; became involved with the Little Theatre movement to forward her work; cared for her parents; and exercised a strong feminist dedication to bringing non-commercial theater to new playwrights, children, and Chicagoans.

Her previous involvement with the theater during her childhood, the plays she wrote at college, as well as the time spent in New York led her to continue writing plays for the rest of her life, working occasionally as an actress, and maintaining an activist role in the theater. Although the majority of her plays have largely been forgotten, her central work Overtones has continued to be produced since its publication in 1913.  It was first produced in November 1915 by the Washington Square Players at the Bandbox Theater in New York.   The play crystallizes her use of experimental form with a familiar dramatic conflict. The play enjoyed many productions due to its innovative use of the split subject, a technique Eugene O'Neill would later use in his play Strange Interlude. Overtones was presented recently by Metropolitan Playhouse as part of its virtual playhouse series as was: Gerstenberg's Fourteen, a light satire on the pettiness of high society dinner parties; and The Pot-Boiler, a comedy about the pretensions of conventional theater which appeared in Gerstenberg's second collection, Ten One-Act Plays (1921). They have appeared in numerous anthologies of one-act plays and have been produced by little theaters all over the U.S., England, and Australia.

Gerstenberg continued to write many one-act plays early on in her career, many of which were performed by regional or little theaters in and around Chicago.  Her best received full-length was an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland published in 1915, which met with great success, and remained the standard until the renowned Eva Le Gallienne wrote her version in 1932. 
Gerstenberg Protrait Gerstenberg’s influence on the theater is not limited to her early experimental playwrighting forms: she played a crucial role in the foundation and success of several theater companies as well as the Little Theater Movement in Chicago.  In 1921, she foundedthe Junior League Children’s Theater in Chicago; in 1922 she founded the Playwrights Theater; and finally she supported an amateur theater company that was eventually named for her at its foundation in 1955.

Her work with these theater companies demonstrates her commitment to making non-commercialized theater available to new playwrights, giving them the opportunity to see their plays produced; regional playwrights, demonstrating an appreciation for Chicago and the Midwest; and finally to children, giving them an early experience with the theater, the opportunities to act, write, and become involved. Furthermore, she hoped that her work would bring Chicagoans to support non-commercial theater.

Gerstenberg remained involved in the theater throughout her life, whether as a writer, actor, or activist. She had many opportunities to move to New York, but instead chose to remain in Chicago. Many of her female Midwestern colleagues, such as Zoe Akins and Susan Glaspell, began writing in the Midwest but moved to New York where their work was frequently produced, giving them a firmer canonical standing. Many criticize Gerstenberg for not moving to New York when she had the opportunity, believing that she is a playwright who had a great start in Chicago but failed to develop her style.  Others cite that Gerstenberg’s decision to remain in Chicago demonstrates her commitment to the Little Theater movement, women’s issues in the Midwest and a developed sense for the regional community that she wrote for and about.

In 1938 Gerstenberg won the Chicago Foundation of Literature Award for her work in American drama.

Ever Young and Anna Morgan (1851 - 1936)

Ever Young was written in Chicago an
Anna Morgand first produced at Anna Morgan's Studio Theatre 1920.  Anna Morgan (right) was to have a significant affect on Gerstenberg's work and career.

When Alice Gerstenberg first returned to her home in Chicago from Bryn Mawr in 1908, she came under the influence of drama teacher Anna Morgan who encouraged her to write one-act plays and to publish A Little World: A Series of College Plays for Girls (1908)four two-act plays written at Bryn Mawr which examine the lives and choices of young college women and their fight for status, recognition and identity.  In these plays she deals with contemporary issues of androgeny and class. Two of these plays, The Class President (in which Gerstenberg appeared) and Captain Joe were presented at the Anna Morgan Studios, March 12, 1908(See clipping from the Chicago Tribune, March 13, 1908 to the right).  In her autobiography, My Chicago (1918) Morgan acknowledges:

lydiaAlice Gerstenberg, another member of my professional classes, a little later began her career as an author while in the studios by writing a one-act play, "Captain Joe," the title part being especially designed for Miss Josephine Lydston, a fellow student.  (See clipping to the right.)

Gerstenberg's work was brought to the attention of David Belasco (See the clipping to the left, "Chicago Girl Writes Play for Belasco" from The Times Munster, Indiana, Wednesday, May 11, 1910).  And she made her way to New York, to meet with Belasco and establish a New York "beachhead" with the experimental theatre scene in New York, notably the Washington Square Players, who were later to produce Overtones.

Returning to Chicago in 1912, Anna Morgan continued to present Gerstenberg's work
belasco clippingand to involve her in the Chicago theatre scene, the creative community Gerstenberg would call home for the rest of her life.

Anna Morgan was a significant though unheralded force in the development of the midwest little theatre movement.  She was a Chicago teacher who raised the standards of study for theater and speech during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During a time when dramatic readings were usually affected and artificial, Morgan strove for a naturalistic style. She also tended toward more sophisticated material than was common but continued to perform standard popular pieces as well. From 1880 to 1883 she traveled extensively, and visited New York, Boston, and major cities in the Midwest. She joined the new Chicago Opera House Conservatory (later the Chicago Conservatory) as a dramatics teacher, and it was there that she nurtured and developed her skills in this field - and later opened her own school, the Anna Morgan Studios (1899–1925), in Chicago's Fine Arts Building.

The school's mission was not only to train actors (James Carew and Sarah Truax attended, who became leading players of the period), but also to give students a solid background in the dramatic arts. Stage, literary and political history, playwriting, and practical courses in acting and stagecraft were offered. Students were expected to study deportment and etiquette and learned about house decorations and wearing jewels as well. She also embraced the Delsarte Method, a system of conveying emotion through gesture and body position. Morgan was responsible for bringing many advanced plays and innovative staging ideas to Chicago. She did not attempt to stage professional productions, instead holding most of her programs in intimate settings such as the conservatory's stage or her own studio. She presented everything from Greek tragedies and Shakespeare to the works of Henrik Ibsen, George Bernard Shaw, and Maurice Maeterlinck, experimental dramatizations of novels and poems, and new plays by then-unknown dramatists, including Alice Gerstenberg and Marjorie Benton Cooke . Under Morgan's direction, Ibsen's The Master Builder (1895), Carlo Goldoni's The Fan (translated by Henry B. Fuller, 1898) and Shaw's Candida (1898) had their American premieres. She also produced the premiere of Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra in 1902 with an all-female cast. This engendered a rather humorous exchange when Shaw learned that his Caesar would be brought to life for the first time in the United States not by a professional, but by an amateur, and young woman at that (reversing the custom of Shakespeare's day):

Dear Miss Mor
Great Heaven! Is my Julius Caesar going to be created at last by a Chicago young lady!
Oh, Anna, Anna, how can I show my face in Chicago after this?
Yours Stupe
nded, G. Bernard Shaw.

Anna Morgan w
rote three books: An Hour with Delsarte (1889), Selected Readings (1909), and The Art of Speech and Deportment (1909), and during the early 1900s enjoyed and thrived in the company of many Chicago artists. Her studio became a salon which Richard Mansfield, Joseph Jefferson, Ellen Terry , Henry Irving, and Maxine Elliott visited.  During trips abroad, Morgan met both Maeterlinck and Shaw. She declined numerous offers to teach in major cities around the world, choosing instead to remain in Chicago. Anna Morgan published her autobiography, My Chicago, in 1918, and died in that city in 1936.
Advert for Morgan
 Alice Gerstenberg (alongside premiere actress Ellen Terry!) endorsed Anna Morgan, in her school's advertisement in the Drama, 1923:
 I began my career in Anna Morgan's studio and from that time have always admired her enthusiasm in ever developing new and modern methods in dramatic productions.  She has a sure, swift way of encouraging individual talent and has always been the leading instructor of dramatic art.  She has been the first to introduce new poets and dramatists.


Promoting Forever Young

NOtice of first
                                            readingLet it not escape notice that Alice Gerstenberg was a savvy show business entrepreneur as well as a prolific writer. Her promotion of Ever Young is a good example of promoting a play into the Little Theatre circles of the 1920s.

With the success of her 'college plays for women' and with Overtones, she followed up, deliberately conceiving plays that called for casts of only women.

In December, 1920 (and soon again in February, 1921) Miss Anna Morgan Studio again presented Gerstenberg's work, this time Ever Young.

Gerstenberg made sure it found its way quickly and often into print, to encourage productions:

  • The periodical, the Drama, December, 1920 - the same month as the first public reading - ran this advertisement, offering the manuscript for production (to the right):
  • The Drama, February, 1922 - a full version of the play was included in the journal.
  • A Treasury of Plays for Women, 1922, Little Brown & Co. edited by Frank Shay, the owner of the Washington Square Book Store, a board member of the Washington Square Players, and the principal publisher of plays from the experimental Greenwich Village theatre groups like the Washington Square Players and the Provincetown Players.  Along with Ever Young, Shay included A Patroness (1917) a one-woman twenty page monologue, that portrays a day in the life of a sociry woman from wake-up to bed down.   Among the other plays were works by Eugene O'Neill, Maeterlink, Millay and The Stronger One and Motherly Love (which modern translations have named The Stronger and The Mother) by August Strindberg.
  • Book of One-Act Plays, 1922, Bobbs-Merrill, compiled Barbara Louise Schaeffer who writes in her intro, about the variety of form in one-acts:
On the other hand, some one-act plays are simply impressions but powerful impressions.  In fact there is little to forget, because there is so little action.  As in ... Ever Young the illumination is great just because there is no thesis, there is simply a transcendent picture of life. In even so short a compass the reader's experience is permanently enriched; he learns for the first time the life of a new world.
  • Four Plays for Women 1924, Brentano by Alice Gerstenberg, in which Ever Young is published alongside Mah-jongg, Their Husband and Seaweed, she wrote:Nedwsprint
"Ever Young" is one of Miss Gerstenberg's favorite plays. She herself says of it: “It is a dramatic exercise in writing, a play with very little 'business' (such as moving around the stage, etc.), but the dramatic action, mental, emotional and comic, holds an audience tense. For study in technique, it ought to be interesting as it shows how much emotional drama can be enacted on an almost static stage.” The characters in this play are not at all the motherly, sweet old ladies so common to the story and the drama. Nevertheless, the author is holding the  mirror before a real phase of American life. The young reader should remember that the author here merely paints an interesting and amusing picture- she does not exhibit models!"
She lists the production history and includes testimonials in her intro, as both a source of pride and an inducement to other groups considering production:Ever Young.  An unusual comedy for four women which is growing in popularity each year.
First Production at the Anna Morgan Studios, Fine Arts Bldg., Chicago; Later at the Cleveland College Club; Indianapolis Women's Club; Theatre Arts Club, Detroit; Community Theatre, Waterloo, Iowa; Gloucester School of the The Little Theatre, Gloucester, Mass.;  Women's Club, Worcester, Mass (five repetitions); Veradale, Wash.; Delaware, Ohio; Los Angeles, Cal.; Witchita, Kansas, etc.

"My dear Miss Gerstenberg:  Both Mrs. Stratton and I wish you to know how keenly pleased were at the production, "Ever Young" by the Cleveland College Club.  It was a delightful handling of your intensely interesting material.  I think the characterizations are among the best you have ever done.  Cordially yours, Clarence Stratton (of the Cleveland Board of Education and author of "Producing in Little Theatres.")

"My dear Mr. Swarthout: (Gerstenberg's agent) In the name of the Drama Department of the Woman's Club I wish to thank you for the privilege of producing "Ever Young."  It is a delightful bit of satire that any Woman's Club would keenly enjoy.  Sincerely, Elizabeth J.B. Schoenfeld of Indianapolis Woman's Club.)

The World of the Play

The Royal Poinciana Hotel


As descr
ibed in the play:
[A corner of the lobby of the Poincianna Hotel, Palm Beach, showing wicker chairs (with cretonne
cushions) sheltered by palms. From the distance come faint strains of an orchestra.]

 Despite the fact that the story of Royal Poinciana Hotel ended many years ago, people of different age and from various places cherished it in their minds and hearts. The Royal Poinciana was not just a hotel – it was something remarkable and brilliant.
Henry Flagler was the person who gave a start to everything and payed great attention, money and time in order to create this pearl.

A lot of the richest and fussiest travelers found refuge and had a rest there. The Royal Poinciana opened its doors for the first time on the 11th of Feb
ruary, 1894. That day marked a new page of the history of Florida. At the beginning the number of visitors was pretty low, only 17 guests enjoyed their hotel rooms, but in the near future the situation dramatically changed. Advantageous location of the Royal Poinciana – near the main line of his Florida East Coast Railway – was one of the many benefits it provided.
 Later a spur line was built to Palm Beach across Lake Worth, and especially rich guests could arrive at the entrance of the Royal Poinciana in private railway cars. The electric lighting was also attracting guests, for modern audience it hard to understand what special the electric lighting has, but at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries it was an innovation of that time. Anyway Flagler’s business was flourishing, so the capacity of the hotel increased to 1000 and later to 2000 guests.

The scale of the hotel was impressive not only by the standards of that time, but even today. The hallways had the length of 3 miles. The telephone was still a luxury, so hotel employees used bicycles when they had to carry messages from the front desk to guest rooms.  There is one very interesting fact, the Royal Poinciana was considered as the biggest structure made of wood in the world. Such a marvelous hotel-palace became the destination for those who aimed to leave the North in winter, forget about the cold and soak up the sun. The hot season for the Royal Poinciana lasted from mid-December to February, for that reason high society guests needed some entertaining, and they could find it. Playing golf, swimming in the pool, orchestra performances (orchestra played every day in the hotel pavilion) were available for the guests. Guides took those who were found of fishing into the Atlantic. Sometimes the guests were tired of this “usual” luxury and activities, and the staff organized special events. For example, one of those was a floating parade when decorated boats sailed in front of the Royal Poinciana Hotel. No doubts, that event amazed and entertained both the guests and patrons of the hotel.

Palm Grill Considering the staff of the Royal Poinciana who kept the hotel running, its number was extremely big. In the best times of the hotel Henry Flagler hired over a thousand workers. Some sources claim that the number was about 1600. In any case large and varied labor force was required in order to provide top quality services and keep the Royal Poinciana in excellent condition. Henry Flagler even built quarters for his workers across Lake Worth from the hotel. People had to use rowboats to get to and from workplace. Palm Beach was not only picturesque place, but also very clean. When designing the hotel the use of the railroad and automobiles was limited. Even the staff almost didn’t use animals (horses, mules and others) for transportation. The mains means of transportation on Palm Beach were pedi-cabs and bicycles.

The Royal Poinciana was a synonym for luxury and the best service for many years, but it gradually lost its popularity. The nearby Breakers Hotel was rebuilt in 1925; it had better updated amenities, so many guests preferred the Breakers Hotel to the Royal Poinciana. In 1928 another disaster happened – the Okeechobee Hurricane seriously damaged the north wing and shifted it off hotel’s foundation. The Great Depression had a negative effect on the Royal Poinciana too, and finally the doors of the Royal Poinciana Hotel were closed 1934 – 40 years after their opening.

The New Thought Movement

at is it?
MRS. PAYNE-DEXTER: (Using lorgnette) Truth and Youth.
MRS. BLANCHARD: This book says that every cell in our body is completely new every nine months.
MRS. DORCHESTER:  I heard about that. My daughter was reading a book about that, I forget what it
was called.
MRS. BLANCHARD: Each cell repro
duces itself according to the impression given to it by our
subconscious mind. As we grow old we hold a thought of age and impress our cells with that thought, but
if we rid ourselves of the illusion of old age we can remain ever young.
MRS. PAYNE-DEXTER: Let me have this book. I would pay a fortune for youth.
MRS. BLANCHARD: We do not have to pay for youth. We just have to think it and be it. It is very simple
they say, when you have faith.

Life expectancy for a woman in 1920 was fifty-four years old.  Alice Gerstenberg turned thirty-five the year she wrote Ever Young and suggests that the older women in her play are in their 50s and 60s, therefore clearly on borrowed time.   In Palm Beach, they are too far south of where Ponce de Leon found the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine.  Each character has found ways to keep her impending doom at bay.  Mrs. Blanchard has recently gone on a self-improvement tare, fasting on fruits and nuts, gotten divorced, taken up gambling, and determined to stop using her cane - has this come about through her interest in a power of positive thinking called at that time the New Thought Movement?

The New Thought movement (also Higher Thought) is a spiritual movement that developed in the United States in the 19th century, a loosely allied group of religious denominations, authors, philosophers, and individuals who share a set of beliefs concerning metaphysics, positive thinking, the law of attraction, healing, life force, creative visualization, and personal power.   It spawned Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Science and also what has come to be known as the Universalist Church ("Unity").

Mrs. Blanchard is not the only character prone to positive thinking:

MRS. PAYNE-DEXTER: The doctors are my worst enemies. ... They tell me I am getting old, that I must rest. I do not wish to rest, I simply won't grow old.
MRS. COURTNEY-PAGE: Oh! yes there are--as long as you hold the thought of love, you will find those you can love--and as long as you love it will attract it in return.

Was Alice under the influence?  Or was it "in the air" is this progressive American period.  Alice Gerstenberg traveled in the same Chicago society circles as it's leading adherent,  Emma Curtis Hopkins (September 2, 1849 – April 8, 1925 age 75) who was an American spiritual author and leader. She was involved in organizing the New Thought movement and was a primary theologian, teacher, writer, feminist, mystic, and prophet who ordained hundreds of people, including women, at what she named (with no tie to Christian Science) the Christian Science Theological Seminary of Chicago.  Emma Curtis Hopkins was called the "teacher of teachers" because a number of her students went on to found their own churches or to become prominent in the New Thought Movement.

Gerstenberg does not mention the book she was satirizing, but in her hometown, Chicago, there was a very busy press,
Advanced Thought Publishing Co.  William Walker Atkinson, publisher, was an active promoter of the New Thought movement as an editor and author.  He was thought to have written under many pseudonyms.  All of the supposedly independent authors were released by a series of publishing houses with shared addresses and they also wrote for a series of magazines with a shared roster of authors. Atkinson was the editor of all of those magazines and his pseudonymous authors acted first as contributors to the periodicals, and were then spun off into their own book-writing careers, published by Atkinson's own publishing houses.  His alter egos included Yogi Ramacharaka, who wrote of Hinduism, Swami Bhakta Vishita, wrote of the Occult, Theron Q. Dumont, a Frenchman who specialized in personal magnetism, and then there is Robert B. Armitage, MD author of "How to Stay Young" and books that targeted women's sexual concerns, including "Never Told Stories: How Girls are Deceived", "Private Sex Advice to Women: For young wives and those who expect to be married."

The Boxer Rebellion
Boxer Rebellion

MRS. DORCHESTER: And you never heard from him again? You know the Boxers stormed the Legation--he fought desperately and
valiantly, the Chinese servant described all that--how he was taken prisoner and tortured so he almost lost his mind. At night he raved in delirium. He called a woman's name, but there was no one of that name in the Legation--

In 1900, in what became known as the Boxer Rebellion (or the Boxer Uprising), a Chinese secret organization called the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists led an uprising in northern China against the spread of Western and Japanese influence there. The rebels, referred to by Westerners as Boxers because they performed physical exercises they believed would make them able to withstand bullets, killed foreigners and Chinese Christians and destroyed foreign property.

The Siege of the International Legations occurred in the summer of 1900 in Peking (today commonly spelled Beijing), the capital of the Qing Empire.  Menaced by the Boxers, an anti-Christian, anti-foreign peasant movement, 900 soldiers, marines, and civilians, largely from Europe, Japan, and the United States, and about 2,800 Chinese Christians took refuge in the Peking Legation (Diplomatic Corp) Quarter. The Qing government took the side of the Boxers. The foreigners and Chinese Christians in the Legation Quarter survived a 55-day siege by the Qing Army and Boxers.  The siege was broken by an international military force which marched from the coast of China, defeated the Qing army, and occupied Beijing. By the terms of the Boxer Protocol, which officially ended the rebellion in 1901, China agreed to pay more than $330 million in reparations.



MRS. BLANCHARD: Magnificent pearls!
MRS. COURTNEY-PAGE: This strand--the shortest and smallest--was given to me by Harlow Bingham
upon our engagement. You know he died--(she sighs)--before we were married--an accident--horse-racing.
MRS. DORCHESTER: Did you marry Mr. Courtney-Page after MR.--what's his name died-- Your first
MRS. COURTNEY-PAGE: No. I became engaged to Philip Harlow, an Englishman. He
brought me this second strand--the second largest and longest--from India. He went ahead to South
Africa but he died of fever...
MRS. PAYNE-DEXTER: And the other strands--you have two more--
MRS. COURTNEY-PAGE: This third one was the gift of my husband, Mr. Courtney-Page. I would not let
him give them to me until after we were married.
MRS. DORCHESTER: That was a wise precaution.
MRS. PAYNE-DEXTER: It is surprising that he risked giving you pearls at all.
MRS. COURTNEY-PAGE: So he finally purchased a strand in Vienna--larger and longer than the other.
MRS. BLANCHARD: And then did he die too?

It's about status.  Throughout history, the pearl, with its warm inner glow and shimmering iridescence, has been one of the most highly prized and sought-after gems. Countless references to the pearl can be found in the religions and mythology of cultures from the earliest times. The ancient Egyptians prized pearls so much they were buried with them. Cleopatra reportedly dissolved a single pearl in a glass of wine and drank it, simply to win a wager with Mark Antony that she could consume the wealth of an entire nation in just one meal.

In ancient Rome, pearls were considered the ultimate symbol of wealth and social standing. The Greeks held the pearl in high esteem for both its unrivaled beauty and its association with love and marriage. During the Dark Ages, while fair maidens of nobility cherished delicate pearl necklaces, gallant knights often wore pearls into battle. They believed the magic of these lustrous gems would protect them from harm. The Renaissance saw the royal courts of Europe awash in pearls. Because pearls were so highly regarded, a number of European countries actually passed laws forbidding anyone but the nobility to wear them.

During the European expansion into the New World, the discovery of pearls in Central American waters added to the wealth of Europe. Unfortunately, greed and lust for the sea-grown gems resulted in the depletion of virtually all the American pearl oyster populations by the 17th century. Until the early 1900's, natural pearls were accessible only to the rich and famous. In 1916, famed French jeweler Jacques Cartier bought his landmark store on New York's famous Fifth Avenue -- by trading two pearl necklaces for the valuable property.


MRS. PAYNE-DEXTER: I don't see her.
e moved behind the column.
MRS. PAYNE-DEXTER: I can't see her. Why didn't you tell me before the column got in the way?
MRS. DORCHESTER: If you were not so vain, Phoebe, you would wear decent glasses like mine.

MRS. PAYNE-DEXTER: Indeed, I can see perfectly well.

MRS. DORCHESTER: Well, I don't blame you for using your lorgnette. It does add distinction to your Payne-Dexter manner.

 The word lorgnette is derived from the French lorgner, to take a sidelong look at, and Middle French, from lorgne, squinting. The lorgnette was usually used as a piece of jewelry, rather than to enhance vision. Fashionable ladies usually preferred them to spectacles. These were very popular at masquerade parties and used often at the opera. They were worn popularly in the 19th century.

Amber Lockets and Watch Charms

D: That last day before he went, I met him clandestinely in the Park. I cut off a bit of my hair that day. It was golden then, like golden amber he said, and he put it into an amber locket he wore on his watch charm.

A watch charm may
be placed into a locket and worn on a chain, and that locket face may be amber.  Amber is fossilized tree resin, which has been appreciated for its color and natural beauty since Neolithic times. Much valued from antiquity to the present as a gemstone, amber is made into a variety of decorative objects.

The wearing of charm bracelets may have begun as a form of amulet or talisman to ward off evil spirits or bad luck.  Charm bracelets have been the subject of several waves of trends. The first charm bracelets were worn by Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, and Hittites and began appearing from 600 – 400 BC. Queen Victoria wore charm bracelets that started a fashion among the European noble classes.  And this is how they have come down to th
e ladies of "Ever Young."  Victoria was instrumental to the popularity of charm bracelets, as she “loved to wear and give charm bracelets." When her beloved Prince Albert died, she even made “mourning” charms popular: lockets of hair from the deceased, miniature portraits of the deceased, charm bracelets carved in jet.


watch charm

Francois Marcel (1852–1936) and Marcelled Hair


Her white hair is perfectly marcelled ...
MRS. DORCHESTER follows MRS. PAYNE-DEXTER. She is a sweet placid-faced woman with white
hair, not marcelled

Marcelling is a hair styling technique in which hot curling tongs are used to induce a curl into the hair. Its appearance was similar to that of a finger wave but it is created using a different method.

The inventor and stylist emigrated to the United States and changed his name to François Marcel Woelfflé, sometimes reported as François Marcel.  He was granted U.S. patents for implements for performing the technique; the first, U.S. patent 806386, entitled "Curling-Iron", was published in 1905, and the second, entitled "Hair-Waving Iron", for an electric version, under the name François Marcel, was published in 1918.

Gerstenberg's Contribution


ce Gerstenberg supported a number of different theatre organizations dedicated to expanding the reach of American theatre - to new playwrights, to theatre education, childrens plays, to local artists and audiences - all this alongside her acting and her playwriting, and her  novels and her extensive theatre journalism.

Eugene O'Neill said he was influenced by the psychological dimensions of Gerstenberg's characterization.  The influence of psychoanlysis was clear. lt's apparent in Gerstenberg's Overtones (1913),
Alice In Wonderland (1915), and her more experimental works The Buffer (1916) and Beyond (1917) and it was not until O'Neill's play Desire under the Elms (1923) that he explored the implications of psychoanalytical theory through drama.  O'Neill's interest in parapsychology also emerged in Desire under the Elms, but again Gerstenberg was first to examine the sixth sense in such early one-act plays as Attuned (1918) and The Unseen (1918).

Gerstenberg's characters, mostly women, inhibited by out-worn institutions and by their own fears, make choices that lead to honest self-expression.   While her characters are usually upper-middle-class women, they reflect their times in their desires for meaning and identity outside of marriage and motherhood without sacrificing romance.  Often her endings are sentimental, but she poignantly examines the trauma associated with women's pressures to marry so that they can maintain social position, the economics of marriage and its effects on the entire family, and the terrible cost of forcing young women to choose.

Needing new dramatic forms to express the daring of her unconventional themes characters, Gerstenberg took the comic form and gave it not only a variety of structures but a modern psychological dimension as well. Gerstenberg's dramaturgy reflects her own vitality as a woman and as a playwright dedicated to a new theater which placed artistic integrity as its highest goal.

As for theatre development, Gerstenberg made her most significant contribution to America's little theater movement, which grew in her lifetime into a national community of amateur theatrework and into an established network of professional regional theatre companies.   She cites her founding of the Playwright's Theatre of Chicago (1922-45) as her most important contribution to the movement, as it offered the midwestern playwrights (and audiences) an opportunity to see their local work produced.   For her work as playwright and producer, Gerstenberg won the Chicago Foundation for Literature Award in 1938.

Other Works: A Little World (1908). Unquenched Fire (1912). The Conscience of Sarah Platt (1915). Four Plays for Four Women (1924). The Land of Don't Want To by L. Bell (dramatization by Gerstenberg, 1928). Water Babies by C. Kingsley (dramatization by Gerstenberg, 1930). Star Dust (1931). When Chicago Was Young (with H. Clark, 1932). Glee Plays the Game (1934). Within the Hour (1934). Find It (1937). London Town (dramatization by Gerstenberg, 1937). The Queen's Christmas (1939). Time for Romance (with M. Fealy, 1942). Victory Belles (with H. Adrian, 1943). The Hourglass (1955). Our Calla (1956). On the Beam (1957). The Magic of Living (1969).


The Last Word

In her Playb
ill Who's Who, for a war-time farce, Victory Belles (1943), Gerstenberg offered the highlights of her life in the theatre: