NEWS, NOTES AND QUERIES
1. The editor is saddened to report the death, on August 8th after ten months of struggle against cancer, of Leonard Chabrowe. "At the end," writes a friend, "he was resigned, regretting many lost opportunities and, most immediately, the impossibility of saying goodbye in the personal way he would have liked." Readers of Mr. Chabrowe's Ritual and Pathos—the Theatre of O'Neill, whatever their reactions to its content, will doubtless join the editor in mourning the loss of a dedicated O'Neill scholar.
2. O'Neill and Carlotta, a dramatic collage by Barbara Gelb, was given two staged readings at Joseph Papp's Public Theater in New York City last October 14. Coming just two days before the ninety-first anniversary of the playwright's birth (October 16, 1888), the performances marked the first in an annual series of O'Neill birthday events, sponsored by the twelve-person Theater Committee for Eugene O'Neill, and culminating in an O'Neill Centennial Celebration in 1988. O'Neill and Carlotta combined sections from letters and interviews by the playwright and his third wife, passages from O'Neill's published non-dramatic writings, and scenes from a number of his plays. The format was an abridged version of the one used in the Gelbs' 1962 biography of O'Neill. "Though I narrowed the focus to O'Neill and Carlotta for the stage reading," Mrs. Gelb noted, "I used the same technique we used in the biography. I tried to intertwine his life and his work, and illustrate his emotional climate with dialogue from his plays. What I have tried to write is a kind of introduction to O'Neill's genius." Directed by Robert Allan Ackerman, the collage was performed by Jason Robards, Colleen Dewhurst, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Jose Quintero (in his acting debut), Philip Anglim and Madeleine Kahn. Also included was the 1961 tape-recorded voice of Carlotta herself—a touch that, according to New York Times reporter Michiko Kakutani, "added a ghostly presence" ("A Long Evening's Journey Into a Past," October 15, 1979, p. C15).
3. The second activity to be sponsored by the Theater Committee for Eugene O'Neill will occur at the Public Theater next summer: a repertory season of O'Neill plays directed by Jose Quintero and performed by a company including Jason Robards, Colleen Dewhurst and Geraldine Fitzgerald. Further information, if available, will appear in the May issue of the Newsletter.
4. O'Neill, Son and Artist, the Pulitzer Prize biography by Louis Sheaffer, was among the approximately 300 books in the American display at the Moscow International Book Fair last fall. The American exhibit was put together by a committee chosen by the Association of American Publishers. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., chairman, said that the committee was "left entirely on its own after receiving these simple instructions: 'Please make a small but representative display of current, popular and readily available books which will give our friends in the Soviet Union some notion of America's amusements and arts and concerns right now.'" The catalog for the display said the following of the Sheaffer entry:
5. Normand Berlin, Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, whose recent essay on O'Neill and Hamlet is abstracted in this issue, has signed a contract with Macmillans of London to write a book on O'Neill for their forthcoming series, Macmillan Modern Dramatists.
6. Provincetown Playhouse on the Wharf has signed a contract with the Frederick Ungar Publishing Company of New York to write a full-length book on the Provincetown Players. - The authors are Dr. Gary Williams, Associate Professor of Theatre at Catholic University, and Daniel Heller, Associate Producer of the Hartke Theatre at Catholic University. Stanley Kauffman, theatre and film critic, will write the Introduction. The book is scheduled for publication in 1980 and is the first in a series of theatre publications on the Players, O'Neill, and other theatre-related subjects to be produced by the Provincetown Playhouse. Portions of the book were supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
7. Travis Bogard has made an exciting discovery: motion picture footage that features O'Neill himself. The following is his report of this significant "find," a model of scholarly sleuthery:
8. THE GREAT O'NEILLIAN FILMIC FREEBIE. On Sunday, October 14, prior to a week of individual showings at regular prices, Joseph Papp's Public Theater kicked off its O'Neill centennial festivities with a free marathon screening of five films based on O'Neill plays:
One other O'Neill film, though not included in the long day's screening, was added to the quintet during the subsequent week: The Emperor Jones (1933), dir. Dudley Murphy, screenplay by DuBose Heyward, with Paul Robeson and Dudley Digges. For the capsule evaluations of these six and one other film of an O'Neill play that appeared in The New Yorker last October, see "O'Neill on Screen: New Yorker in Audience" on page 21 of this issue.
9. RECENT, CURRENT AND FORTHCOMING O'NEILL PRODUCTIONS.
Ah, Wilderness! Boston University Stage Troupe, Hayden Hall, Boston University, Oct. 26 - Nov. 3, 1979.
Ah, Wilderness!, dir. Will Maitland Weiss. Apple Corps, New York City, Nov. 8 - Dec. 1, 1979.
Ah, Wilderness!, dir. R. Falls. The Wisdom Bridge Theatre, Chicago, March 19 - April 20, 1980.
Ah, Wilderness!, dir. James E. Runyan. American Theatre Company, Tulsa, Oklahoma, March 21 - April 5, 1980.
Ah, Wilderness!, dir. A. Fletcher. American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco, April 3 - May 30, 1980.
Beyond the Horizon, dir. Christian Renaud. 78th Street Theater Lab, New York City. Closed on Nov. 18.
Desire Under the Elms, dir. Irene Lewis. Playwrights Horizons, Queens, New York, Oct. 13 - Nov. 4, 1979.
Desire Under the Elms, dir. Robert Berlinger. Dartmouth Players, Warner Bentley Theater, Hopkins Center, Hanover, New Hampshire, Feb. 26 - March 1, 1980. (An illustrated review will appear in the May issue of the Newsletter.)
The Emperor Jones, with Stephen D. Agins as Brutus Jones. Presented by "American Theatre Experiment" at Fordham University Theatre, New York City, Sept. 10-22, 1979.
Hughie. In repertory in the Black Swan Theatre, Oregon Shakespearean Festival, Ashland, Oregon, July-Sept., 1980.
The Iceman Cometh, dir. Larry McCarthy. Performed by Pegasus at the New Theater (Hasty Pudding Playhouse), Holyoke Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 10-27, 1980. This revival of a successful former production by a young and highly-praised company will be performed in repertory with a new play that will also be of interest to O'Neillians: Scrimshaw, by Robert Rees Evans, which opens on April 11 and will alternate with Iceman thereafter. The play, originally commissioned by the Provincetown Playhouse, concerns an aging and diseased author who reviews his life when his artistic conscience is confronted by acquisitive exploiters. The protagonist is a composite of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner and O'Neill, and much of the flashback material was derived from the Gelbs' biography of O'Neill. Illustrated reviews of both productions will appear in a future issue of the Newsletter.) Information about both may be obtained from Professor Evans, who teaches drama at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Tel. (617) 287-1900, ext. 2971. Closer to production time, ticket information will be available at the New Theater box office: (617) 547-6360.
Long Day's Journey into Night. Queens College Summer Theatre, Flushing, New York, August 9-11, 1979.
Long Day's Journey into Night. Stratford Festival, Stratford, Ontario. In repertory, Summer 1980.
A Moon for the Misbegotten, dir. C. Nolte. Meadow Brook Theatre, Rochester, Michigan, Feb. 28 - March 23, 1980.
A Touch of the Poet, dir. George C. White. Actors Theatre of St. Paul (Minnesota), Feb. 7 - March 1, 1980.
A Touch of the Poet. Lyric Stage, 54 Charles St., Boston, Massachusetts, 02114, Feb 13 - March 22, 1980. Tel. (617) 742-8703.
Welded, adapted by Robert Andrew Bonnard, dir. Irene Horowitz. No Smoking Playhouse, New York City. Closed on Nov. 10.
10. O'NEILL PUBLICATIONS NOT PREVIOUSLY REPORTED.
Conradie, P.J. "Mourning Becomes Electra en O'Neill se Griekse droom." Standpunte, 127 (1977), 17-36.
Egri, Peter. "The Short Story in the Drama: Chekhov and O'Neill." Acta Litteraria Academiae Scientiarium Hungaricae, 20 (1-2), 1978, pp. 3-28. (An abstract will appear in the May issue of the Newsletter.)
Evans, Gareth L. "American Connections: O'Neill, Miller, Williams and Albee." The Language of Modern Drama (London: Dent, 1977), pp. 177-204.
Garzilli, Enrico F. "Long Day's Journey into Night (Mary) and Streetcar Named Desire (Blanche): An Inquiry in Compassion." Theatre Annual, 33 (1977), 7-23.
Green, Charmian. "Wolfe, O'Neill, and the Mask of Illusion." Papers on Language and Literature, 14 (Winter 1978), 87-90. (On Mannerhouse and Great God Brown.)
Haas, Rudolf. Theorie und Praxis der Interpretation: Modellanalysen englischer und amerikanischer Texte. Berlin: Schmidt, 1977. (Pp. 198-204 concern Mourning Becomes Electra.)
McDonald, David. "The Phenomenology of the Glance in Long Day's Journey into Night." Theatre Journal, 31 (October 1979), 343-356. (An abstract will appear in the May issue of the Newsletter.)
Muller, Kurt. "Die Behandlung der Rassen- und Klassenproblematik in den expressionistischen Stucken O'Neills," Konventionen und Tendenzen der Gesellschaftskritik in expressionistischen amerikanischen Drama der zwanziger Jahre. Frankfurt: Lang, 1977. (All God's Chillun and The Hairy Ape are discussed on pp. 97-127.)
Scheller, Bernhard. "O'Neill und die Rezeption spatburgerlich-kritischer Dramatic," in Bruning, Eberhard, et al., Studien zum amerikanischen Drama nach dem Zweiten Weltkreig. Berlin: Rutten & Loening, 1977, pp. 265-273.
Törnqvist, Egil. "O'Neill's Work Method." Studia Neophilologica, 49 (1977), 43-58.
Watson, James G. "The Theater in The Iceman Cometh: Some Modernist Implications." Arizona Quarterly, 34 (Autumn 1978), 230-238.
Welch, Dennis M. "Hickey as Satanic Force in The Iceman Cometh." Arizona Quarterly, 34 (Autumn 1978), 219-229.
11. O'NEILL FESTIVAL COMETH IN ILLINOIS. On May 7, 1980, Lake Forest Academy-Ferry Hall, a prestigious college preparatory school in the suburbs of Chicago, will devote its annual Fine Arts Festival to Eugene O'Neill. Organized by Carla-Maria Sullwold, Chairman of the Arts, and by members of the Fine Arts Department, the festival, which will be an all-day, all-school effort and will take place both indoors and on the school's extensive grounds, is open to the public. All arts classes will prepare culminating activities concerning O'Neill, and members of the other academic disciplines will be asked to participate in the event by teaching about O'Neill and his era in their classrooms.
The events will include several one act plays, some workshop productions and readings of scenes from the longer O'Neill plays, the film of The Iceman Cometh, a photography exhibit of O'Neill's life and times, a gallery show inspired by themes in O'Neill's work, a lecture on the architecture of O'Neill's homes, an original piece of choreography based on Desire Under the Elms, and selections from Take Me Along, the musical version of Ah, Wilderness! Additional lectures on O'Neill's life and the history of his times are being considered. For further information, contact Ms. Sullwold at the Academy, 1500 West Kennedy Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045. Tel. (312) 234-3210.
12. O'NEILL FORGOTTEN? That's what actor-director Charles Hallahan thinks, and he's doing his best to jog our memories. Lawrence Christon reported Hallahan's views and activities in an issue of the Los Angeles Times last winter:
The appearance of Bound for Cardiff and Hughie at the Theater of Arts is a reminder that, with the exception of Long Day's Journey Into Night, which played the Ahmanson and Colony theaters last year, Eugene O'Neill seems to have become a forgotten playwright. "Americans don't give a damn," said Charles Hallahan, who will direct the first play and appear in the second. "We tend to take him for granted or else produce him badly. The 'Electra Trilogy' that was done on PBS recently was treated in modern style that made no attempt to solve the characters' behavioral problems, so it came off like a soap opera.
"The impetus to do these plays came from a trip some of us took to Russia last year. I was with ACT in San Francisco, and when we mounted Desire Under the Elms I was amazed at how high Russian audiences got from seeing O'Neill, and how much they knew about him."
13. When the Theater Hall of Fame, housed in Broadway's Uris Theater, held its first awards ceremony in six years last November 18, five of the fifty-one initiates summoned memories of monumental O'Neill activities in the past. The five (in alphabetical order): Harold Clurman, Katherine Hepburn, Sir Laurence Olivier, Jose Quintero, and Jason Robards. Worthies all! We applaud the much-deserved tribute.
14. Paul Voelker, resident O'Neill consultant to the Milwaukee Repertory Theater Company during its 1976-77 production package of Ah, Wilderness! and Long Day's Journey Into Night, reports the results of an audience survey conducted during the two-play run. Of the 1,353 persons who responded, 97% attended both productions. 21% preferred Journey, 47% preferred Wilderness, and 26% expressed no preference. 71% said they wanted to see more O'Neill plays, and 62% said that their wish to see more O'Neill was a result of the MRTC project. (Only 47% had seen an O'Neill play before.)
15. The reopening of Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater, under a new six-member board of directors, has been postponed until the fall of 1980. Richmond Crinkley, the Beaumont's executive director, has announced (New York Times, October 25, 1979, p. C15) that a new production of Long Day's Journey Into Night is "being discussed" as part of an eight-play first season.
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