The Clever Artifice of Harriet and Margaret is adapted from a play called Overtones, written in 1913 by American playwright, Alice Gerstenberg (1885-1972). Gerstenberg spent most of her career as an actress and playwright in Chicago. Overtones is considered her most well known work, and the earliest example of a play that dramatizes the unconscious on stage. Early performance history of Overtones includes its first production in 1915 by the Washington Square Players at the Bandbox Theatre in New York City, a 1916 vaudeville production at the Palace Theatre in Chicago and a subsequent staging in London in 1917.
A contemporary audience may look upon Harriet and Margaret’s situation with different eyes than audiences of the 1920s. In it’s historical context, Overtones portrayed emerging feminist themes and Freudian concepts of the early twentieth century. Harriet and Margaret play traditional roles of women in American society at the time, in their dependence upon their husbands for social status and economic stability. The staging of their outer and inner selves (Harriet/Hetty and Margaret/Maggie) as a construct of the play, mirrors Freud’s concept of the struggle of the Ego and the Id. What remains perpetually “contemporary” is their poignant desperation for a life they do not have, their regret over choices made, and their longing for love. Hetty and Maggie express all of these emotions that Harriet and Margaret cover over in a veneer of politeness and amiability.
See the following links for the entire Overtones script and study guides:
 Beth Kattelman and the Gale Group Incorporated. “Overtone Alice Gerstenberg 1915” in Dramas for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context, and Criticism on Commonly Studied Dramas, Volume 17 (Farmington Hills, MI: Thompson Learning, Inc., 2003), 181.