1893-94: New South

Cotton Chronology

The year 1893 marked a new phase of Cotton's career, or, more accurately, a new circulation on the theatrical routes of the legitimate stage.  His roles continued to be minor ones played in blackface. To get the part of Sol in "The New South" he probably capitalized on his acquaintence with Joseph Grismer and Phoebe Davis, the lead actors, themselves both graduates of California theatre.  

"The New South" was written by Clay M. Greene and Grismer.  The production featured James A. Herne as a double dealing black man whose scheme to manipulate a Georgia election is rebuffed by the hero, a federal military official.  The play is set in the Reconstruction era, within the corrupt system of convict leasing.  Herne got rave reviews for his performance as an evil doer, but the leasing system went unremarked. 

Idalene also wound up on Broadway that year, in a play titled "Brother John," written by Martha Morton.  After a New York run, it toured.  In Nebraska the show was reviewed by Willa Cather, a young critic with the local paper.  Cather praised Idalene's performance but was not impressed by the playright's characterization of the women in the script:  

The men in the play are well done, the women are simply treated as articles of convenience, which is a pleasant way which female authors have of handling their own sex.  Women can never take women seriously.  Men, it seems, can.  Women can paint picures and write novels but never while the world stands will a woman mould a great statue or write a great play.  No woman has ever done anything good in marble and the limitations of the drama are as severe as those of scuplture.  If a woman has perfect liberty and plenty of rope she may do something good but she cannot be good within limitations.    The State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska), April 5, 1894.