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Editor: Frederick Wilkins
Suffolk University, Boston

Vol. I, No. 3
January, 1978



New York's Perry Street Theater opened its 1977-78 season last fall with a highly-praised production of The Emperor Jones, directed by Donald J. Schulte, with an Afro-Cuban score by Eric Diamond and ritual-dance choreography by Randy Thomas. Holly Hill, in the New York Theatre Review (December 1977, p. 40), described designers Sara Denning and Willy Corpus's effective use of the theater's "small, red-brick-sided rectagle": "With just a few trappings--stringy muslin webs and paper mache masks on the walls, pinpoint-accurate red, blue, gold and white lighting--and an asymmetrical audience seating arrangement, [they] have created the alien, stifling atmosphere of O'Neill's West Indian island. Stationing natives in shadowy positions behind the audience helps to carry it along on the pursuit of the Emperor as he flees his people's uprising."

Rob Baker, reviewing the production in After Dark (November 1977, p. 94), praised the acting of Rodney Hudson (Jones) and Philip Karnell (Smithers) as "exemplary, showing just the right mix of control and barbaric yawp necessary for O'Neill." Mel Gussow's review in the New York Times (September 23, 1977, p. C5) had particular praise for Hudson's portrayal of Jones: "Placing his knuckles on his hips and raising his bearded, imperious face, he conveys Brutus Jones's haughtiness and dignity without sacrificing the man's craze for self-preservation, his incipient cowardice.... With some of the king-size humor and exuberance of James Earl Jones, Mr. Hudson makes us feel his character's radiant confidence, a healthy conceit that carries the actor over the shoals of O'Neill's rocky dialect. There is a feeling of comic imposture--putting on for the white man--in his use of 'dat' and 'dem.' As he flees through the forest, beleaguered by his guilt and by monstrous night forces--a choreographed chase--he communicates the character's insane imbalance. In the end, as his name indicates, the emperor is his own Brutus, his own destroyer."



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