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Your Price: $14.95 CDN
Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne
Adapted by: Maurice Valency
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 33
Pub. Date: 1963
ISBN-10: 0822203944
ISBN-13: 9780822203940
Cast Size: 3 women, 7 men

About the Play:

Feathertop is a one-act drama adapted by Maurice Valency, based on the nineteenth century short story of the same name by Nathaniel Hawthorne. A scarecrow is brought to life by a witch and made to pose as a nobleman. Set in colonial New England, this delightful fantasy pokes fun at the pretenses and shortcomings which, even in those early days, often made men less than they should be. Especially recommended for school and contest use.

Feathertop opens in the year 1770. In the sinister recesses of her kitchen, Mother Rigby, the witch, fashions a scarecrow and then, christening him Lord Feathertop, she sends the scarecrow off to the house of Judge Gookin, a rich and haughty man who has repeatedly claimed that no young suitor in the town is good enough for his daughter. Lord Feathertop impresses Gookin as a person of refinement and importance, and he quickly invites the town's leading citizens to meet this most eligible of young men. His daughter, Polly, who is already in love with another, is not equally taken with the mysterious stranger, but her father, sensing that Feathertop's supposed connections with the powerful lords of England will be of benefit to him, flatters and cajoles his guest and even offers to betray his rivals in the Colony. Having little in his head to begin with, Feathertop has even less to say in response to all this, which convinces everyone that he is indeed a wise and weighty man. Then Polly catches a glimpse of him in a mirror, and what she sees is not the glittering Lord whom the others have deluded themselves into accepting but the scarecrow that he really is. Polly faints at the sight of him, and Feathertop, struck with the sham of his existence, forces the others to look too, and then goes back to Mother Rigby in sad dismay. He no longer wants to live knowing what he is and what others are like beneath their veneer, and casting his pipe aside, he becomes once more the straw-filled scarecrow – albeit one with a real tear of human emotion trickling down his painted cheek.

Feathertop was adapted for television by Maurice Valency and was presented in 1955 on CBS-TV as part of the General Electric Theater. It has become a popular choice for middle school and high school drama contests and one-act festivals.

Cast: 3 women, 7 men

About the Playwright:

Maurice Valency (1903-1996) was an American playwright, author, critic and professor of drama, an erudite man of the theatre best-known for his successful Broadway adaptations of award-winning plays by Jean Giraudoux and Friedrich Duerrenmatt. He taught at Brooklyn College, Columbia University as a professor of dramatic literature and the Juilliard School, where he served as director of academic studies. He was also a member of the New York bar and spoke seven languages.