ANNOUNCEMENTS, ABSTRACTS, NOTES AND QUERIES
1. DAT OLE DAVIL SONG: A MINI-CONTEST. There's a song that Chris sings and whistles in the first act of Anna Christie and sings again in the third act: "My Yosephine, come board de ship.
All he says about the song is that he learned it from an "Italian fallar" on another barge. Would he had said more, for the song is hard to locate. In response to a subscriber's query, the editor offers a free one-year Newsletter subscription to the first reader to send in a copy of the melody and complete lyrics to "Yosephine." Information on the song's origin would also be appreciated. Please: no new melodies! We do want the original.
2. AN OFFER TO NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS. The November 1977 issue of Prologue, a six-times-a-year publication of the Milwaukee Rep, is devoted to the two O'Neill plays the company is currently staging, Ah, Wilderness! and Long Day's Journey Into Night. Edited by Richard Bryant with literary supervision by Paul Voelker, it is a handsome and valuable publication. Its 32 pages are packed with photographs--of Monte Cristo Cottage (exteriors, the front parlor, the banister which Eugene defaced with the letters M. C., the spare room that looms so ominously above the living room in Long Day's Journey, and father and sons sitting on the porch); of the family (James and Ella Quinlan O'Neill, Eugene and Carlotta); and of New London (seaside scenes, "Beach Day" crowds early in the century, and the Pequot Avenue lighthouse, whose foghorn so memorably punctuates the action of Long Day's Journey). Besides its pictorial brilliance, the volume features a number of new articles on O'Neill and the two plays: "At Home in New London," by Louis Sheaffer; "Monte Cristo Cottage: The Restoration," by Sally Pavetti; "Dreams of Joy, Dreams of Pain," by Travis Bogard; "Two Sides of an American Past," by John Henry Raleigh; "Long Day's Journey: The First Performance," by Horst Frenz; and "O'Neill in Repertory: A Chance and a Challenge," by Frederick Wilkins.
The MRTC has offered to provide one free copy (free except for post-age) for every Newsletter subscriber who requests one. (Postage within the U.S.: 60c for first class, 30c for third class. Postage outside the U.S.: $1.50.) To get your copy, send your name and address, and the postage fee applicable to you, to "O'Neill Newsletter Offer," Suffolk University, Boston, MA 02114. You will be sent a copy as soon as they arrive from Milwaukee. Since supplies are limited, this offer is avail-able to subscribers only--though of course anyone who includes a subscription check with his request will qualify as a recipient!
3. William J. Scheick, in "The Ending of O'Neill's Beyond the Horizon" (Modern Drama, September 1977, pp. 293-298), offers a well-reasoned response to the many critics who find the play's last scene structurally unconnected, unresolvedly ambiguous, or unconvincingly affirmative. As for structure, the final scene provides a coda for the "death motif" that spans the play (not only the physical deaths of Mayo, Mrs. Mayo, Mary and ultimately Robert; but the many smaller, intellectual and emotional "deaths" that the play shows life to be--"a recurrent experience of dying"--an experience underscored by an emphasis on a different major character's "deadness" at the end of each act). As for lack of resolution, the play traces the destruction of a self-deluded dreamer, Robert, whose eloquent description of his dream in Act I (which really comprises little more than "elusive abstractions") is, after the experiences of Acts II and III, "fragmented and brokenly articulated." Since O'Neill is stressing "the ultimate unknowableness... of life in general," complete resolution of the play's "problem" would be impossible. As for Robert's last-scene affirmation being unconvincing, it must be, says Scheick, since O'Neill's point is that "the meaning, mystery or secret of existence remains beyond the horizon of human life, language and dreams." Hence the "tendency toward silence" that Scheick traces throughout the play. [If Robert is a lover and poet in Act I, he seems to complete the Shakespearean triad by becoming a lunatic in his last hours. This is not Scheick's contention, but his stimulating essay can give rise to such an inference. --Ed.]
4. Halina Filipowicz-Findlay, of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Kansas, is the author of Eugene O'Neill (Warsaw: Wiedza Powszechna, 1975; 296 pp.), the first and only book on O'Neill in Polish. The first chapter is biographical; the second treats the American theatrical situation at the time O'Neill's career began; nine chapters are devoted to detailed analyses of O'Neill's major plays; and a last chapter describes Polish radio, television and theatrical productions of O'Neill's works. The book contains 25 illustrations, and its bibliography includes a list of ten essays on O'Neill published in Poland between 1948 and 1974. Ms. Filipowicz-Findlay is currently preparing an essay on the reception of O'Neill's plays in Poland. It will appear in the September 1978 issue of the Newsletter, and is eagerly awaited by the editor, whose first exposure to A Moon for the Misbegotten was at the Teatr Nowy in Lodz in 1967.
5. DISSERTATIONS IN PROGRESS.
a. "Eugene O'Neill: The Philos-Aphilos of a Mother's Eternal Son" is the dissertation topic of Judith W. B. Williams, who is completing a Ph.D. in Acting and Directing at the University of Michigan. Ms. Williams offers the following report on her study:
"The purpose of this study is to posit the hypothesis that the
Philos-Aphilos (love-hate) relationship between Eugene O'Neill and
his mother, and its dramatic ramifications, will provide a new focus
for the critical-analytical exploration of the O'Neill canon.
The study will answer the following questions: Why was the
mother-son relationship chosen? Can this ambivalent relationship be
shown to be the fountainhead of many of O'Neill's emotional
"The published canon of O'Neill's plays will be chronologically analyzed. Those plays which can be shown to be strongly influenced by O'Neill's intense Philos-Aphilos feelings towards his mother will be closely examined. Are they influenced by symbolism, characterization, and/or plot construction? What are the dramatic and theatrical results of this influence?
"O'Neill's working out of this emotional love-hate duality through the medium of his plays will provide a clearly discernible thematic interpretation of the canon of his plays."
b. Alice J. Kellman, Assistant Editor of The Drama Review, is completing a Ph.D. in Drama at New York University with a dissertation documenting the New York productions of the Provincetown Players. In the course of her research she completed a 70-page report on the very first productions of The Emperor Jones and The Hairy Ape, dealing with theme, structure, parallels with German Expressionist works, the theatre itself, and the set designs, and concluding with a description of the only available production photographs. Newsletter readers may expect a summary of that report, and of Ms. Kellman's dissertation, in future issue.
6. James A. Robinson, whose essay on "Christianity and All God's Chillun Got Wings" will appear in the next issue of the Newsletter, is presently engaged in a new O'Neill project and would welcome the assistance of knowledgeable O'Neillians: "I am currently conducting research on Oriental philosophy in O'Neill's plays from 1920 to 1930, and would greatly appreciate any information concerning specific sources, i.e., which texts and editions of Oriental sacred literature O'Neill read. (He admitted on several occasions that he had indeed read a substantial amount of it, but never got very specific.)" Anyone with pertinent information can contact Professor Robinson at the Department of English, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 20742.
7. Richard R. Centing, editor of Serials Review and the newsletter, Under the Sign of Pisces: Anais Nin and Her Circle, has sent in a copy of the program for the 1968 Circle in the Square production of A Moon for the Misbegotten, directed by Theodore Mann and starring Salone Jens, Mitchell Ryan and W. B. Brydon. He'd like to offer it to a collector of O'Neilliana, and the editor will happily send it to the first subscriber who requests it. Many thanks, Professor Centing.
8. Another chapter in the O'Neill family biography closed tragically just before midnight last June 22, when Shane O'Neill, son of the playwright and Agnes Boulton O'Neill, jumped to his death from the fourth floor of a Brooklyn apartment building. (Twenty-seven years before, in 1950, his older half-brother, Eugene O'Neill, Jr., had also committed suicide.) Summarizing the biography of Shane, in an article revealing the suicide in the New York Times (December 7, 1977, p. 42), Richard F. Shepard noted that, though O'Neill had specifically disinherited both Shane and his sister Oona (whose husband, Charlie Chaplin, died on December 25), Shane's legacy from his father was considerable: "The issues that ran through so many of O'Neill's plays--alcohol, drugs, insecurity and a certain sense of entrapment by one's roots--seem to have dominated the life of the son. He had taken to drink, tried narcotics and suicide and had drifted through life in perplexity about what role he might play in the world."
9. RECENT, CURRENT AND FORTHCOMING O'NEILL PRODUCTIONS (exclusive of those mentioned elsewhere in this issue).
The Great God Brown, dir. E. Baierlein. Germinal Theatre, Denver, Fall 1977. Barbara Mackay praised the cut but "stunning" production in the December 1977 New York Theatre Review, p. 32: "Clear plastic masks are used and are unusually effective. With-out obscuring the actors' faces, the masks completely alter each individual's features enough to suggest total transformation."
Long Day's Journey Into Night, dir. F. Wittow. Academy Theatre, Atlanta, March 23 - April 21, 1978.
Marco Millions, dir. Tom Haas. Playmakers Repertory Company, Chapel Hill, N. C., March 16 - April 2, 1978.
A Moon for the Misbegotten (ubiquitous!):
a. Intiman Theatre Company, Seattle; dir. M. Booker. Ended on October 15, 1977.
b. Oregon Shakespeare Festival production, at Tao House, September 24 and 25, 1977. (Performed in front of the old barn, an SRO smash like The Hairy Ape before it.)
c. Cohoes Music Hall, New York State; dir. Tom Greunewald. December 31, 1977 - January 22, 1978.
d. Worcester (Mass.) Foothills Theatre Company, January 11-29, 1978.
e. Berkeley (Cal.) Repertory Theatre; dir. M. Leibert. April 21 - May 28, 1978.
Sea Plays, dir. Arvin Brown. Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven, Conn., March 9 - April 9, 1978. Tel. (203) 787-4282.
A Touch of the Poet, dir. Jose Quintero. Helen Hayes Theatre, NYC. Current. Tel. (212) 246-6380.
PAPERS SOUGHT. Professor Vera Jiji is organizing a special session on "Love in the Plays of Eugene O'Neill" for the December 1978 MLA Convention in New York City. Persons with ideas or papers should contact Professor Jiji immediately at the Department of English, Brooklyn College of the City of New York, 11210.
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