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Editor: Frederick Wilkins
Suffolk University, Boston

Vol. II, No. 1
May, 1978



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.

Another project 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.

2. The 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 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 September Newsletter.)


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.

f. See 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” section.


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.)

6. The 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.

7. Television’s 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. 

1.  Title of course, school or university, and instructor.
  How often offered? (Every quarter, every semester, once a year, biennially, etc.)
  O’Neill titles included in the course.
  A brief description of the course’s content: solely literary (textual)? investigation of theatricality as well? leads to a production or staged reading? etc.

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.

9. Several 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 next generation.

10. A 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 issue.)

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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