Case 4--The Broker Of Bogota

The Broker of Bogota, the tragedy of a father betrayed by his son, was among Bird's major theatrical successes. Dr. Bird's mature plays, such as The Broker, drew large and enthusiastic audiences, even in England. When Forrest and his company toured that country--then, perhaps even more than now, suspicious of American pretensions to "culture"--his repertory daringly and successfully alternated Shakespeare . . . and Bird.

Until Quinn edited it in 1917, The Broker was known only through Forrest's productions. The various manuscripts show how much care Bird lavished on its composition. Also exhibited is a heavily annotated copy of a late edition of Quinn's printed version. It shows the care with which Quinn's Penn students--Godfrey Frank Singer, who marked this copy, was one of them--had to read it.

The great Penn champion of American drama Professor Arthur Hobson Quinn sought long and hard to establish a genuinely American dramatic tradition and history independent of England's. He found in Bird's plays much "fine achievement"; but his judgment strikes later readers as overstated and Bird's plays have generally disappeared from American theater history. This disappearance is a loss. If they are less wonderful than Quinn believed, they still repay reading.

10-13. "The Broker of Bogota. A Tragedy." (Not illustrated.)

Four manuscripts. Bird Collection, Department of Special Collections, Van Pelt Library.

14. The Broker of Bogota: A Tragedy. In Representative American Plays from 1767 to the Present Day, ed. Arthur Hobson Quinn. 5th ed., rev. New York: Century, 1930. (Not illustrated.)

Singer-Mendenhall Collection, Department of Special Collections, Van Pelt Library.
This copy has the manuscript annotations of Godfrey Frank Singer.

Last update: 22 April 1996.