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Editor: Frederick Wilkins
Suffolk University, Boston

Vol. I, No. 1
May, 1977



1.  The team of Jason Robards and Jose Quintero will soon bring new life to another O’Neill masterwork, A Touch of the Poet, which will arrive on Broadway in late December 1977, or early January 1978, after runs in Toronto (opening on September 18) and the Kennedy Center in Washington (opening on November 7). Elliott Martin will produce. Considering past Robards-Quintero collaborations--The Iceman Cometh (1946), Long Day’s Journey (1956), Hughie (1958 and 1976) and Moon for the Misbegotten (1973)--one may hazard the optimistic guess that the Broadway Melody of 1978 et seq. will be Cornelius!

2.  Liv Ullmann, star of the Quintero-directed production of Anna Christie at New York’s Imperial Theatre, discussed the playwright in “Liv Ullmann’s Love Affair with Eugene O’Neill,” an interview with Robert Berkvist in the Sunday, April 10 issue of The New York Times (Section II, pp. 1, 9). “O’Neill,” she said, “speaks in capital letters and isn’t afraid to do so. I think that quality is what made him more loved at times in Scandinavia than in his own country. I also think we Scandinavians accept symbols more readily, the elemental things which were so large in his work. In this country people seem to be more afraid of the . . . blood emotions.” As for Anna Christie, she finds that it is not the old-fashioned piece she’d originally thought it to be, but a “very modern play,” one of the few “that give women’s liberation such a wonderful . . . celebration.” She compares Anna to Josie in Moon for the Misbegotten and to Nora in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House; discusses the play’s ending; and concludes that “so much of everything that is O’Neill is in this play.” The interview merits the attention of O’Neillians.

3.  The Massachusetts Center Repertory Company will mount a new production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night at the Shubert Theatre in Boston (May 3-15). James and Mary Tyrone will be played by Jose Ferrer and Kate Reid, and the play will be directed by Michael Kahn. For information, call 617-426-3664.

4.  Leonard Chabrowe’s recent book, Ritual and Pathos: The Theater of O’Neill (Bucknell U. Press, 1976), has received considerable critical attention and praise. Concerned that we have come only to a marginal understanding of “precisely how O’Neill achieved what he did in the theater, just what aesthetic workings he laid into his plays and why,” Mr. Chabrowe has produced a study that “focuses directly on O’Neill as a craftsman. It both illuminates and evaluates his attempts to restore to the theater .its ancient religious function and to create a modern form of tragedy.” This is Albert Bermel’s response to the book: “It’s a most salutary and refreshing antidote to the laboriously philosophical and biographical treatments of O’Neill’s work. Pray God, some day people will realize that in discussing literature and the arts aesthetics comes before philosophy, is the content and most of the meaning; if this does happen your book will have made a valuable contribution.... I particularly like your ingenious chapter on Iceman and the section on Desire Under the Elms. You schematize them rather heavily, but this is really imaginative criticism.”

5.  The Gunthrie Theatre of Minneapolis will include a production of A Moon for the Misbegotten in its 1977 repertory season. The play is scheduled to open on June 8, and the production will be reviewed for the Newsletter by Paul D. Voelker.

6.  Professor Lennart Josephson of Stockholm, Sweden, all of whose valuable essays on O’Neill have been published in Swedish hitherto, hopes to publish an English-language book on O’Neill next year.

7.  “Eugene O’Neill and George Pierce Baker: A Reconsideration,” an essay by Paul D. Voelker, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin Center, Marshfield, Wisconsin, appears in the May 1977 issue of American Literature. An abstract of the article, as well as one of Professor Voelker’s 1974 doctoral dissertation, “The Early Plays of Eugene O’Neill, 1913-1915,” will appear in the next issue of the Newsletter.

8.  Other recent publications on O’Neill (summaries of which will appear in the next issue):

Gabbard, Lucina P. “At the Zoo: From O’Neill to Albee,” Modern Drama (December 1976), pp. 365-374.

Robinson, James A. “O’Neill’s Grotesque Dancers,” Modern Drama (December 1976), pp. 341-349.

Scrimgeour, James R. “From Loving to the Misbegotten: Despair in the Drama of Eugene O‘Neill,” Modern Drama (March 1977), pp. 37-53.

Törnqvist, Egil. “Miss Julie and O’Neill,” Modern Drama (December 1976), pp. 351-364.

9.  Doctoral dissertations on O’Neill.

Onevelo, Sharon. An Analysis of Characters in Selected Plays of Eugene O’Neill According to Erik H. Erikson’s Identity Theory. New York University. Dir., Lowell Swortzell. 1977.

Phillips, Julien L. The Mask: Its Literal and Symbolic Function in O’Neill’s Plays. U. of Minnesota. Dir., Wendell Josal. 1976.

Wilson, Jonathan. The Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill. U. of Wisconsin, Madison. Dir., Edward Amor. 1976.

10.  Cornelia Otis Skinner’s new book, Life With Lindsay and Crouse, tells the interesting story of the O’Neills’ affectionate relationship with Russell Crouse, who helped them through marital difficulties, went to many hockey matches with the playwright, was one of the few persons whom Carlotta permitted to visit her ailing husband at the Shelton Hotel on Bay State Road in Boston, and who hosted a party at which O’Neill sang from memory a surprisingly large number of Irving Berlin songs--seated at the piano beside his accompanist, the composer.

11.  That America’s greatest playwright still stalks the American stage is hardly to be denied. And it would be no surprise if his ongoing influence were political as well as artistic. But the name of one current political luminary makes the dramatist’s political presence seam even more formidable than it actually is. Witness the headline of the January 28, 1977 issue of The Boston Herald American: “O’NEILL CHASTISES CARTER”!



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