Fourteen (play)

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Written byAlice Gerstenberg, 1919
  • Dunham
  • Mrs. Pringle
  • Elaine
Date premiered1919
Place premieredArthur Maitland's Theatre, San Francisco
SettingThe dining room of a New York residence

Fourteen is a play by Alice Gerstenberg. This one-act social satire was first performed October 7, 1919 at the Maitland Playhouse, 332 Stockton Street, San Francisco, on a bill with three other one-act plays.[1] The San Francisco Chronicle remarked that it "gayly lampoons the question of dinner entertainments".[1] Arthur Maitland's company had just moved into a new 200-seat theater from its previous incarnation as the St. Francis Little Theatre Club in the Colonial Ballroom of the St. Francis Hotel.[2][3]

The play was originally published in the February 1920 issue of The Drama magazine. It is now a public domain work and may be performed without royalties.


The play has three characters:

  • Mrs. Horace Pringle, a woman of fashion
  • Elaine, a debutante and Mrs. Pringle's daughter
  • Dunham, the butler or maid


Mrs. Pringle is preparing to host a dinner party to introduce her daughter, Elaine, to the city's most eligible bachelor. Illness and a blizzard force some guests to cancel and the three characters are compelled to try to salvage the evening and the dinner-table layout.[4][5]


Writing in The Drama magazine, J. Vandervoort Sloan described Gerstenberg as "a progressive young playwright, possibly the best-known and most widely be-played by amateur groups in America" and Fourteen as belonging "in the 'a' class of her plays".[6] A reviewer for the American Library Association called it an "exemplary social farce".[7]

The play was among those "unqualifiedly recommended" for high-school productions in front of "mixed audiences" by a New Jersey public school drama adviser in 1923. The adviser described it as "portraying the contretemps of a dinner party".[8]

The play has continued to appeal to theater companies and audiences, with several modern productions.[4][9] Reviewing a 2007 production in the New York Times, Anne Midgette described Fourteen as delightfully dated.[10]


  1. ^ a b "This Week's Attractions: Maitland", San Francisco Chronicle: E7, October 5, 1919
  2. ^ "New Maitland Theater Opens for Inspection", San Francisco Chronicle: E5, September 14, 1919
  3. ^ "The Stage", Town Talk: The Pacific and Bay Cities' Weekly, 32 (1330): 16–17, February 16, 1918
  4. ^ a b "Synopsis of Fourteen by Alice Gerstenberg". Michael Weston Organisation Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  5. ^ Gerstenberg, Alice (1921). "Ten one-act plays". New York: Longmans. pp. 221–241. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  6. ^ Sloan, J. Vandervoort (October–November 1921). "Books". The Drama. 12 (1–2): 19.
  7. ^ Drury, Francis Keese Wynkoop (1925). Viewpoints in Modern Drama: An Arrangement of Plays According to their Essential Interest. American Library Association. p. 41.
  8. ^ Moses, Grace C. (April 1923). "Dramatics in the High School". Education Bulletin. New Jersey Department of Education. 9 (8): 137.
  9. ^ McSheffrey, Kevin (June 22, 2011). "One Act Play Festival attracts five plays to Elliot Lake". Elliot Lake Standard. Elliot Lake, Canada. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  10. ^ Midgette, Anne (September 12, 2007). "A Woman's Worth in Love, Marriage, Friendship, Murder". The New York Times. Retrieved February 5, 2015.

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