Lost and found: One 1924 drama with one talking bird, two labor agitators, and a lot to chew on.

Lillian Foster

There is a little theater in New York called the Cherry Lane Theater, the newest of the host of little semi-professional playhouses in which Manhattan abounds. One day Roy Walling, formerly a stage director and actor for [A. H.] Woods, asked the latter to come down and see a dress rehearsal of a new play which Mr. Walling was staging and which he thought Mr. Woods would be interested in. Mr. Woods went down to the little corner of New York where the playhouse is situated, saw the greatest play and bought it at once. “Conscience” is the play. – The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 1 1925

Conscience had a four-month run on Broadway in 1924, occasional revivals in later years, and then seemed to disappear. In early 2020, while scouting material just entering the public domain, we read a capsule review of Conscience. The play was seemingly never issued by any publisher, however.

We tracked Mullally’s original manuscript (still with the working title “Futility”) to a special collection of the New York Public Library, and with the generous cooperation of the library staff and Madison transplant Greg Hudson, obtained a scan. The scan accidentally omitted a page and was sent in a format inconvenient for publication.

We’ve cleaned it up, restored the missing page as best as we can, and share it here. This may be the first airing of Conscience since a 1929 revival produced by lead actress Lillian Foster.