1. The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a Chairman’s grant of $9,750.00 to the Provincetown Playhouse on the Wharf, Inc., in support of a series of theatre-related and media projects (a number of which will be of interest to O’Neillians) under the heading “Provincetown Playhouse--Eugene O’Neill Theatre Museum Project.” Adele Heller, Producing Director of the Playhouse, is Project Director. Funding was approved for seminars entitled, Changing Trends in American Theatre: From Eugene O’Neill to the Present, to be led by distinguished scholars and theatre professionals. seminars will be presented without charge and open to the public.
supported by the grant is the research, writing and printing of a book
on the Provincetown Players’ early years (to 1927). Entitled Provincetown: The Promise, it is being co-authored by Daniel Heller,
Associate Producer at the Hartke Theatre, Catholic University of
America, and Dr. Gary Williams, Assistant Professor at Catholic
University, and publication is imminent. Other grant-supported
projects include a pamphlet on the O’Neill Theatre Museum at the
Playhouse, and restoration or replacement of photographs in the museum
collection that were damaged or lost in the 1977 fire. Information
about any of these activities--or about the Playhouse’s summer
schedule, which always includes a work by O’Neill--can be obtained
by writing or calling the Provincetown Playhouse, Gosnold Street,
Provincetown, MA 02657. Tel. 617/487-0955.
eminence of O’Neill was very evident at a conference on modern
American drama held at the Palais Paiffy in Vienna from April 13 to
May 18. Sponsored by the Austrian Association for American Studies and
the American Embassy, it was co-chaired by Professors Herbert Foltinek
and Waldemar Zacharasiewicz of the Department of English, University
of Vienna. Dr. David Mayer, Senior Lecturer in Drama at the University
of Manchester (England), spoke on “The Theater of Eugene
O’Neill” on April 13; Jordan Miller, Professor of English,
University of Rhode Island, discussed “The Post-O’Neill Theater of
the 1940’s and 50’s” on April 20; and two films were shown--Face of Genius (about O’Neill) on April 13, and
The Iceman Cometh on April 17. Another session relevant to O’Neill
studies was held on May 11: “The American and European
Theatre--Mutual Influences.” (The editor hopes to obtain summaries
of the Mayer and Miller talks for a future issue of the Newsletter.)
3. At the MLA Convention in Chicago last December, American, European and Asian scholars met informally to discuss subjects of mutual interest and concern. The following are a few highlights of the discussion.
a. Elaine Reed, MLA Convention Coordinator, announced that the MLA will sponsor a special O’Neill event at its 1978 Convention in New York next December, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the playwright’s death. (The plan has proceeded excitingly since December, and the event promises to be outstanding. Dr. Virginia Floyd will announce its details in the September issue of the Newsletter.)
b. The need to get all of O’Neill’s plays on the boards was agreed to by all, though there were differing opinions as to whether such a project could best be achieved by having the plays staged by various university theatres throughout the country, or by establishing a professional company to do all the plays in one place--perhaps in Joseph Papp’s former theatre in Lincoln Center. But the need was unanimously agreed to, and 1988, the 100th anniversary of O’Neill’s birth, was urged as a desirable completion date for such a project.
c. The founding of a Eugene O’Neill Society was proposed, and Professors Horst Frenz, Virginia Floyd and Frederick Wilkins were asked to draft the bylaws for such a society and present them for discussion at an informal session during the MLA Convention next December.
d. A new and complete edition of O’Neill’s plays and one or more collections of his letters may soon become a reality. The former depends on the cooperation--or collaboration--of Random House and Yale University Press. Concerning the latter, Dr. Floyd read a letter from Donald Gallup announcing that “some progress is being made with the publication of the O’Neill letters. Contracts were signed more than a year ago for the letters to Kenneth Macgowan...to be edited by Travis Bogard and Jackson Bryer and to be issued by the Yale University Press. The letters to the Theatre Guild are being edited by George Jensen as a dissertation project at the University of South Carolina.... We have authorized also the publication of the letters to George Jean Nathan, but I have had no recent report on the progress of this scheme.”
e. Interest was’ expressed in a central source of information on what O’Neill plays are being (and have been) performed, and where. Accordingly, the Newsletter welcomes production lists from scholars and archivists throughout the world: what O’Neill is being performed in your state, province or country? and what are the titles and dates of previous productions (as well as the names of the theatres where they were presented)? The first installment in this project, a list of Hungarian productions of O’Neill from 1928 to the present, will appear in the September issue. It has been compiled from several sources and submitted by Professor Peter Egri of the University of Budapest, and it testifies, as Professor Egri says, “to the longstanding •and not diminishing interest in O’Neill on the Hungarian stage.” The editor regrets that space did not permit inclusion of the list in this issue, but promises its publication in September and hopes that many other scholars will emulate Professor Egri’s dedicated service to O’Neill studies.
(The editor, who was
not present at the Chicago discussion, thanks Dr. Virginia Floyd for
submitting the information recorded here. If any distortions have been
introduced by the editor’s summarizing, he apologizes and invites
discussants to clarify or expand on any of the above issues in the
4. RECENT AND FORTHCOMING PUBLICATIONS AND WORK IN PROGRESS.
a. Frederic Ives Carpenter is preparing a revised and updated edition of his book on O’Neill in the Twayne U.S. Authors series.
b. Paul Voelker’s “Eugene O’Neill’s Aesthetic of the Drama” has just been published in Modern Drama (March 1978, pp. 87-9.9). An abstract will appear in the next issue of the Newsletter.
c. Professor Voelker has also written an essay on “Bound East for Cardiff” that is soon to appear in Studies in Bibliography.
d. Micheline Puech, Assistant Professor at the Paris Sorbonne, is writing a thesis on “Eugene O’Neill: A Modern Tragic Writer.”
e. The University of Chicago Press has just published What Is an Editor? Saxe Comrnins at Work, a memoir of O’Neill’s editor and closest friend by the editor’s widow, Dorothy Commins. About a third of the 232-page book deals with O’Neill and contains much material not previously published. The book will be reviewed in the September issue of the Newsletter by Louis Sheaffer.
also abstracts, earlier in this issue, of works by Gelb, Josephson
and Oliver (pp. 13 & 16) and the note on a forthcoming book on
the Provincetown Players at the start of this “News and Queries”
5. RECENT O’NEILL PRODUCTIONS
Ah, Wilderness! dir. Tom Haas. Playmakers Repertory Company, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Closed on April 2.)
Long Day’s Journey Into Night, dir. Sonia Moore. American Stanislavski Theatre, at Greenwich Mews Theatre, 141 W. 13th Street, New York City. (Closed on May 21.)
Welded. Academy Arts Repertory, 330 E. 56th Street, New York City. (Closed on April 23.)
Chicago Radio Theatre’s recent production of The Hairy
Ape (in an abbreviated
45-minute version) has been distributed by Public Broad- casting
Associates of Berkeley, California, to 140 public radio stations
nationally (the airing date in Boston was April 22). Many of the
accents were awkwardly done, and Mildred and her aunt sounded
amateurish, but the crowds (stokers, Fifth Avenue strollers, birds and
monkeys) were aurally effective and the actor playing Yank captured
the protagonist’s blend of bruiser and poet.
mini-series fad will soon dip into O’Neilldom. Work has begun
on a production of Mourning Becomes Electra,
which is scheduled to be shown as a series of several programs next
season on PBS’s Great Performances.
8. A number of subscribers have expressed interest in learning the current status of O’Neill studies in higher education--who’s teaching what, and where. If all readers who are involved in courses that include O’Neill or know of such courses (general drama surveys, American drama courses, as well as courses and seminars devoted fully to O’Neill) would send in the following information, the editor will be happy to tabulate it and present the results in the January 1979 issue.
Naturally such a
survey will be of little value if the response is small; so please do
respond. (Any requests for confidentiality will be honored!) The
results should be of interest well beyond the walls of academe.
subscribers have made another suggestion, closely related to the
last: how about devoting an issue of the
Newsletter to current student writing about O’Neill? Wouldn’t it
provide fledgling scholars ‘the chance for a brief trial flight, and
at the same time offer insights into the paths that future O’Neill
studies will take? The editor welcomes the idea if subscribers
approve, and if there are sufficient contributions that merit
inclusion and that meet the journal’s necessarily stringent
restrictions on length: a 500-word maximum, which can in extremely
meritorious circumstances be increased to 1,000. All instructors who
have such materials (short essays; abstracts or sections of longer
works) are urged to submit them by November 10. If enough are
received, the January issue can, in addition to the above-mentioned
survey, be devoted to the work of the O’Neill establishment of the
few copies of the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre’s special publication
on O’Neill, Ah, Wilderness!
and Long Day’s Journey, abundantly illustrated
and featuring essays by John Dillon, Louis Sheaffer, Sally Thomas
Pavetti, Travis Bogard, John Henry Raleigh, Horst Frenz and Frederick
Wilkins, are still available to subscribers at no charge except the
cost of postage. (See full information on page 21 of the January 1978
11. The editor continues to invite theatregoers’ dusted-off memories of standout performers and performances of O’Neill. What has been submitted is being saved until there is enough for a special section. In addition, looking toward another special issue in the future, notes and essays are requested on the film versions of O’Neill and on adaptations of his work for other media. As ever, all submissions will be welcome--notes and queries, responses and rebuttals, brief essays, abstracts of essays published elsewhere, and reviews of O’Neill performances. But the response to the special section on The Hairy Ape was gratifyingly enthusiastic, making the editor eager to try more such sections.
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