Monthly Archives: July 2020

July 25, 2020: Performance of Howells’s The Smoking Car


The perils of doing a good deed

The Smoking Car
by William Dean Howells

Saturday, July 25
8 pm


Mr. Roberts is entrusted with a priceless package
by a stranger on his train: her infant child.
She is particularly anxious, and her tale is not particularly
convincing, but he’s barely paying attention.
What could possibly go wrong.

In the Rail Car Series of WD Howells’s plays (such as The Parlor Car, read on May 9),
AND an Edward Roberts/Willis Campbell story–a series in which Howells developed his trenchant satire–
The Smoking Car is a light-hearted alert to the dangers of coming to the aid of a fellow human being.

Lest we forget!

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Directed by John Long

Howard Pinhasik
Marlaina Powell
Jennifer Reddish
Hannah Sharafian
Blaine Smith

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Thank you very much.

Practice Social Distancing.
Love One Another.


Thank you very much. We look forward to seeing you you back at the theater!


Howells in the News: On Civil War Monuments

An alternative history of American Civil War monuments

In the spring of 1866, William Dean Howells wondered what monuments to the American Civil War would look like. Howells, who later became the celebrated ‘Dean’ of American literary realism, had served as American Consul in Venice for the war’s duration, and his hopes for commemorative statuary in the triumphant North betray the remove from which he experienced the war’s emotional and physical ferocity. His vision was progressive and productive: instead of mourning the dead, he contended, public monuments to the war should have the power to reform the communities that encountered them.

With the full force of northern victory and Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation behind him, he told the readers of the Atlantic Monthly that ‘[t]he idea of our war seems to have interpreted itself to us all as faith in the justice of our cause, and in our immutable destiny, as God’s agents, to give freedom to mankind; and the ideas of our peace are gratitude and exultant industry.’ Commemorating war from a position of peace, he maintained, involved building on the war’s gains rather than dwelling on its devastation and losses; in proving their ‘right to citizenship’ in a Union freshly dedicated to freedom, commemorative architecture and sculpture must prove ‘themselves adequate to express something of the spirit of the new order we have created here’.

Howells’ suggestive invocation of the new ‘rights to citizenship’ granted to emancipated and self-emancipated African Americans drives his point home: to earn their place in the post-war public sphere, monuments to the war must work collectively to bring the ‘new order’ declared by the Emancipation Proclamation into being. [read the rest at the link to Apollo Magazine.]