NEWS, NOTES AND QUERIES
1. NEWS FROM MONTE CRISTO. Two festive receptions were highlights of the first half of 1982 at the Monte Cristo Cottage in New London. On Sunday, February 7, Geraldine Fitzgerald was present for the debut of "The Monte Cristo Cottage," a combination film and slide presentation about O'Neill's boyhood summer home, which she narrated. (The film is shown to visitors during the Cottage's open hours—1-4 p.m., Monday through Thursday.) And on Thursday, May 20, the Friends of Monte Cristo Cottage hosted a celebration of the publication of "The Theatre We Worked For": The Letters of Eugene O'Neill to Kenneth Macgowan (reviewed in this issue), at which its editor, Jackson R. Bryer, autographed copies of the book. The Cottage, by the way, now boasts a small but handsome brochure that includes photos of O'Neill as boy and man, a drawing of the house, and a map showing how to get there. For a copy, write to the MCC, 325 Pequot Avenue, New London, CT 06320.
Also noteworthy is the receipt by the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center of a grant of $1,000 from the Friars Foundation to aid in the Cottage's renovation and upkeep. Having been wowed, in May, by the progress of the restoration so ably guided by Sally Pavetti and Lois MacDonald, I offer a hearty second to the words of the EOTC's Carol Graves: "If you haven't visited the Monte Cristo Cottage--do, for you have a treat in store for you." —Ed.
2. The August issue of Yankee has a piece by Steve Kemper on "The Playwright of Monte Cristo" (p. 15)—an ultra-brief note on the restoration of the Cottage; O'Neill's youthful reporting for the New London Telegraph, whose editor could wield a brickbat at "literary" reporters with pinpoint accuracy; and the still-cool relations between the town and its loftiest luminary. As Sally Pavetti puts it in Kemper's one-pager, "There is a two-generation hangover of antagonism against him here." A nich photo of the Cottage's front helps to fill the lean page, but it is cropped at both sides.
3. P'TOWN REMEMBERED. Joel O'Brien, Provincetown resident and son of writers Joe O'Brien and Mary Heaton Vorse, recounted the "Birth of the Provincetown Players," of which his parents were among the founding members, in the August 13-19, 1982 issue of Provincetown Magazine (p. 7). The beach picnic fireside chat at which the idea was first considered; Lewis Wharf (a recent acquisition of the O'Briens) and its abandoned fish shed that became the theater; and the second-season premiere of Bound East for Cardiff, which, thanks in part to cooperative fog and foghorns, "would never again be so magically produced": it's all there, particularly enlivened by two paragraphs from Mary Vorse's book, Time and the Town.
5. THE ROCKY ROAD TO TAO HOUSE. Wrangling continues between (in this corner) neighbors of Tao House, who claim that widening the road thereto would cut into their property and that a flood of sightseers would increase the threat of fire, crime and death in the neighborhood; and (in the opposite corner) the combined forces of the National Park Service and the Eugene O'Neill Foundation, Tao House, who are attempting to turn the 1976-designated national historic site into a living reality—a creative tribute to the man who had it built in 1937. The hope of the latter groups, who also plan to restore the house to its original appearance, inner and outer, by removing later accretions and distortive partitions, is to use it for three sorts of events: interpretive tours for individuals and groups; "creative and educational activities" (such as seminars for scholars and theatre practitioners, and fellow-ships for artists-in-residence); and theatre performances—the vision being the staging of twelve performances of O'Neill plays there per year. The latest skirmish in the ongoing saga (reported in the New York Times on May 29, 1982, p. 10, under the title, "Dispute Stalls Opening of O'Neill Home") was a May 27 public hearing on the NPS's draft General Management Plan for Tao House, that had incensed neighbors vowing to gain a 20-year reprieve by hiring a legal hotshot, and led EOFTH vice president Travis Bogard to point out what mad fantasies had possessed the natives: "The residents think of villainous, half-naked hippies wandering around their hills," he said, whereas, in actuality, the planners for Tao House's future "would like to use it in the spirit that O'Neill used it, as a kind of retreat." The NPS plan is available from Howard Chapman, its Western Regional Director, at 450 Golden Gate Avenue, Box 36063, San Francisco, CA 94102. The next episode will be dutifully reported herein.
6. REMEMBERING INGRID BERGMAN: THE O'NEILL CONNECTION. Fans around the world mourned the passing, at 67, of stage and screen star Ingrid Bergman on August 29 in London. Her association with O'Neill was touched on in Murray Schumach's article, "by way of obit," in the August 31 New York Times (pp. A1, B5):
Thanks to Virginia Floyd's collection, Eugene O'Neill: A World View (New York: Ungar, 1979), we have a description, in Miss Bergman's own words, of that hastily mentioned meeting (pp. 293-296). Those of us who heard her speak those words, at the 1978 MLA Convention in New York City, will never forget that very special moment. Ingrid Bergman will be missed.
7. DEWHURST ON ACTING O'NEILL. "Fortunate the day I started with O'Neill," Colleen Dewhurst said in an interview with John Corry in the New York Times ("A New Test for Colleen Dewhurst," Sept. 26, 1982, Sec. II, pp. 1, 4). "In the beginning, I tried to act him just like any other playwright. Thank God that José Quintero came along and directed me. Look at O'Neill's stage directions: You're supposed to laugh, cry, I don't know what—all in three seconds. You look at that and you say, that's impossible. And O'Neill is impossible, and he can look ridiculous unless everyone on stage really comes across."
8. RECENT AND FORTHCOMING PRODUCTIONS.
Ah, Wilderness!, dir. Dale Kaufman. Trinity Theatre Ltd., Trinity Lutheran Church, New York City. In repertory, October 7-31, 1982.
Ah, Wilderness! GeVa Theatre, Rochester, NY, March 26 - April 17, 1983.
Desire Under the Elms, dir. Vinnette Carroll, with songs by Micki Grant. Urban Arts Theatre, New York City, April 30 - May 23, 1982.
Desire Under the Elms, dir. Gregory Hurst. Pennsylvania Stage Co., Allentown, PA, Feb. 16 - March 13, 1983.
Desire Under the Elms, dir. Tom Haas. Indianapolis Repertory Theatre (140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204; tel. 317-635-9415), March 18 - April 10, 1983. To be reviewed in a future issue.
The Emperor Jones. Fusion Project, 28th St. Theater, New York City, October 4-16, 1982.
Hughie, dir. Rob Mulholland. The NYU Studio Theatre production, presented in New York last season and reviewed in these pages, was a part of this summer's Edinburgh Fringe Festival (August 24 - Sept. 4) with the same cast of Joseph Dobish and Hal Easton as Erie and the Night Clerk respectively. R.D.S. Jack, reviewing the production in The Scotsman, "Scotland's National Newspaper" (August 30), praised both performers and noted how, "in this sensitive production ... the poignancy of the situation is slowly revealed." (The production is now available for dates at American colleges. For information, write to Harold Easton, Box 519, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10003.)
Long Day's Journey Into Night. Pittsburgh Public Theater, PA, March 24 - May 8, 1983.
A Moon for the Misbegotten, dir. Gregory Boyd. Playmakers Repertory Company, Chapel Hill, NC, Oct. 27 - Nov. 14, 1982.
A Moon for the Misbegotten. Lyric Stage (54 Charles St., Boston, MA), Feb. 9 - March 13, 1983. To be reviewed in the Spring 1983 issue.
Strange Interlude. Long Wharf Theatre (222 Sargent Dr., New Haven, CT 06511), Feb. 17 - March 27, 1983. This "first major production of this award winning drama in over 20 years" will be reviewed in the Spring 1983 issue of the Newsletter.
A Touch of the Poet, dir. Arnold Mittelman. The Whole Theatre Company, Montclair, NJ, Oct. 12 - Nov. 7, 1982.
A Touch of the Poet, dir. Kevin Coleman. The American Stage Co., St. Petersburg, FL, Feb. 24 - March 27, 1983.
A Touch of the Poet. Yale Repertory Theatre (222 York St., New Haven, CT 06520), May 3-21, 1983. To be reviewed in the Summer-Fall 1983 issue.
9. SWEDEN BRINGS O'NEILL TO BLEEKER STREET. O'Neill's part in the current fifteen-month U.S. salute to "Scandinavia Today" will be brief but exciting. Artists of the Royal Dramatic Theatre of Sweden will present a "Strindberg-O'Neill Celebration" at the Circle in the Square, 159 Bleeker Street, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, November 11. An appropriate pairing of the two theatres that did more than any others in fostering the still-growing revival of interest in a once-near-forgotten American dramatist.
10. HERE BEFORE YOU...EUGENE O'NEILL, the monodrama by David Wheeler that was featured in the last issue of the Newsletter (pp. 3-15), was performed by its author at the Helen Shlien Gallery in Boston on October 2nd, and at the Jamestown Playhouse in Rhode Island on October 16th. The next performance will be at 8:30 p.m. at the Washington Project for the Arts Gallery in D.C. on Monday, November 8th.
11. O'NEILL RETURNS TO CABLE. Following last season's successful cable television production of Hughie, starring Jason Robards, the ABC ARTS cable network will present a production of Long Day's Journey this fall, with Ruby Dee and Earle Hyman heading the cast.
12. SERVITUDE ON TAPE. As Paul Voelker mentioned in this issue, in his report on what was probably the American premiere of Servitude, a videotape of the production is available for anyone interested in acquiring it. If you wish one, specify which of the following formats you need--
and send a check for the appropriate amount (made out to IMDC) to Professor Voelker, RFD 4, Box 258, Richland Center, WI 53581. (The initials refer to the University of Wisconsin's Instructional Media Distribution Center in Madison, and the price covers dubbing, videocassettes, and postage and handling.)
13. RECENT PUBLICATIONS ON O'NEILL.
Adler, Thomas P. "The Mirror as Stage Prop in Modern Drama," Comparative Drama, 14 (1980), 355-373. (Includes A Touch of the Poet.)
Ditsky, John. "O'Neill's Evangel of Peace: The Iceman Cometh," in Ditsky's The Onstage Christ: Studies in the Persistence of a Theme (London: Vision, 1980), pp. 93-110.
Fink, Ernest O. "Audience Aids for Non-Literary Allusions? Observations on the Transposition of Essential Technicalities in the Sea Plays of Eugene O'Neill," in Ortrun Zuber, ed., The Languages of Theatre: Problems in the Translation and Transposition of Drama (Oxford: Pergamon, 1980), pp. 69-81. (Incidentally, Fink and Zuber are co-winners of the Newsletter editor's PACTA [pithy and catchy title award for 1982.)
Moin-Ul-Islam. "O'Neill and the Expressionistic Techniques of Drama," Journal of Research: Humanities (U. of the Punjab), 14 (1979), 59-69.
Ooi, Vicki C. H. "Transcending Culture: A Cantonese Translation and Production of O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night," in Zuber [see Fink citation above], pp. 51-68.
Prasad, Hari M. "Symbols of Fog and Home in the Plays of Eugene O'Neill," Rajasthan Journal of English Studies, 10 (1979), 1-9.
Schvey, Henry I. "'The Past Is the Present, Isn't It?': Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night," Dutch Quarterly Review, 10 (1980), 84-99.
14. RECENT BOOKS WITH CHAPTERS ON O'NEILL. A. D. Choudhuri's The Face of Illusion in American Drama (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1979) contains a chapter on "The Iceman Cometh: Necessity of Illusion" (pp. 74-93). And John Orr's Tragic Drama and Modern Society (Barnes & Noble, 1981)—a sociological study which describes as "tragedy of bourgeois alienation" the modern theatre's replacement for the discarded models of Greek and Renaissance drama--cites Long Day's Journey Into Night as the best of the lot:
Given the explosiveness and illuminated darkness, one can agree with Brian Rotman (Times Literary Supplement, June 11, 1982, p. 644) that "Orr's eulogy is overblown," but it merits the attention of O'Neillians. (The British publisher is Macmillan.)
15. SHEAFFER WINS GRANT FOR NEW O'NEILL BOOK. Louis Sheaffer, Pulitzer Prize biographer of O'Neill, has been awarded a grant-in-aid by the American Council of Learned Societies in connection with his next book, a survey of the major writings on the playwright. This is the third time he has been so honored, as he received two grants from the ACLS while he worked on his two-volume life of O'Neill. Our congratulations to Mr. Sheaffer. We look forward to the book.
16. CALL FOR PAPERS. James J. Martine (Dept. of English, St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, NY 14778) is editing a collection of O'Neill criticism to be published in G. K. Hall's Critical Essays on American Literature series. Inquiries and previously unpublished essays are welcome; essays should be sent directly to Martine.
17. ILLUSTRATED ICEMAN. The Limited Editions Club (551 Fifth Ave., New York 10017) has published an edition of The Iceman Cometh with illustrations by Leonard Baskin.
18. O'NEILL IN RUSSIAN. As Theodore Shabad reported in the August 31 New York Times ("American Writers Seen Through a Soviet Glass," p. C9), the Soviet Government has published the first eight volumes of a 45-volume "Library of the Literature of the United States," an anthology that will include 60 prose writers and 80 poets. One volume contains the plays of O'Neill and Tennessee Williams. One hopes that our own "Library of American Literature" will follow suit.
19. DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS IN PROGRESS.
Kemper, Susan C. "The Pragmatic Realism of George Cram Cooke and the
Miller, Ronald R. "Eugene O'Neill's Vision of American History: A Study of the Cycle Plays," dir. Esther M. Jackson. Theatre and Drama, U. of Wisconsin, 1983.
Mooney, Michael J. "William Thompson Price and George Pierce Baker: Playwriting Teachers," dir. Larry D. Clark. Speech and Dramatic Art, Missouri (Columbia), 1982.
Smith, Madeline C. "A Study of Sacramental Ritual in Eugene O'Neill's Plays," dir. Richard Eaton. English, West Virginia, 1982.
20. O'NEILL AT '82 ATA CONVENTION. One of the sessions sponsored by the Religion and Theatre Program at the 1982 Convention of the American Theatre Association last August was a discussion of "Religious Archetypes in Eugene O'Neill: Greek, Hebrew, Christian," an amplification of a paper delivered at last year's convention and reported on in this journal. This year's discussants were Norman J. Fedder (Kansas State University), Daniel Larner (Western Washington University), Shelly Regenbaum (Kansas State University) and Judith Royer (Loyola Marymount University). Lacking a report of the event (which I'd still welcome for printing hereafter), I offer the advance announcement of the session by Robert A. Nelson (Theatre News, Summer 1982, p. 14), who said that it "will examine O'Neill's search for form and vision in the light of his interest 'not ... in man's relationship with man, but man's relationship with God.' Panelists will explore three major influences on O'Neill: drama and mythology of the Greek golden age, the Hebrew tradition of the Old Testament, and the New Testament and Catholicism."
Another feature of the August convention was a paper by Robert K. Sarlós, "Nina Moise Directs Eugene O'Neill's The Rope," a revised version of which will appear in a future issue of the Newsletter.
21. CHAPLIN-O'NEILL THEATER SEEKS FUNDS. (The following is excerpted from the "Briefs on the Arts" section of the New York Times, July 12, 1982, p. Cll.) "The new Chaplin-O'Neill Theater in Los Angeles has begun a $150,000 fund-raising drive, with Oona O'Neill Chaplin as its first donor.... José Quintero is artistic director of the Chaplin-O'Neill [and] Neal Du Bock, founder and former executive producer of the Studio Arena Theater in Buffalo, is producing director." The Chaplin-O'Neill will "use different theaters to develop projects in workshops," some of which, according to Mr. Quintero, "may work their way out to full production, even beyond Los Angeles, ... although Broadway is not part of our thinking."
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