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by Kenneth MacNichol


The first play presented on the sixth bill of the Players' first New York season was Pan, written by Kenneth MacNichol (Kenton titles it Fan), which had two characters: Pan, played by George Cram Cook; and A Young Girl, played by Edna James.  As Boyce had, Glaspell approached new director Nina Moise after watching her rehearse the previous bill's The Dollar and, according to Moise, “asked if I wouldn’t please help Jig direct Pan . . .”  After Moise had “made a great mistake” by calling Glaspell “Mrs. Cook,” and suggested Cook might prefer directing the play by himself, Glaspell assured her that wasn’t so “and I discovered after the first rehearsal that he needed a little help.”(1)  There is not an extant copy of the script to know the nature of the play.(2)  When interviewed by Sarlos in 1963, Moise could not remember anything about the play other than Zorach’s set design was “good.”(3)  Though not much is known about playwright Kenneth MacNichol other than he never had another play performed by the Players, he did continue his career as a writer of successful pulp fiction, credited with writing stories with titles like “The Man Without a Face” and “The Devil His Due” that were published until the 1940s in pulp magazines like Doc Savage and Argosy

Black’s Women of Provincetown also includes a photo of the set the Zorachs designed for Pan that shows actors Edna James and Cook in costume.(4)  The set is even more densely filled with layers of trees and plants than is the set attributed to Nordfeldt for The Dollar, and they have a bold and distinctive, almost expressionistic look, with strong outlines and geometric shapes, clearly the bolder style of the Zorachs.  Many layers of leaves, as if hanging down from trees, begin overhead downstage and continue to the back of the set.  Since the side leaves and trees used in the set of The Dollar look very similar, it is probable that Nordfeldt actually only created the backdrop of hills for The Dollar and used some of the Zorachs’ pieces to help complete his forest set.  While James is in a loose-fitting long dress, barefoot and with a flower in her hair, Cook is seen in the photo bare-chested but covered in dark makeup and he has held to his lip with both hands what one must assume is a set of pan pipes.  Kenton writes that Cook’s mother, Ma-Mie, sewed Pan’s costume.

Copyright 2007, Jeff Kennedy

(1) Nina Moise, letter to Edna Kenton, letter 140.2:5, Fales Collection, Bobst Library, New York University.

(2) In Greek mythology, Pan is the god who watches over shepherds and their flocks, and has the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat, in the same manner as a satyr or pane.  He was famous for his sexual prowess and continually pursued young women.  He played his musical instrument the pan pipes, which were created after a beautiful nymph he was chasing turned herself into river reeds to escape him and when the air blew through the reeds, it produced beautiful music. Pan used some of the reeds to make an instrument he called a syrinx, named to honor the nymph. 

(3) Black, Women 119.

(4) Black, Women 120.