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Editor: Frederick Wilkins
Suffolk University, Boston

Vol. VI, No. 2
Summer-Fall 1982



To bring Eugene O'Neill out from under the ponderous shadow of the MLA and ATA and give him the central prominence he unquestionably deserves, Suffolk University, on Boston's Beacon Hill, will host a major international O'Neill conference in the Spring of 1984. The conference, whose general subject is EUGENE O'NEILL: THE EARLY YEARS, is planned for the period from Thursday to Sunday afternoon during the university's spring vacation (probably in late March), a time when theatre and classroom facilities will be available for panels, papers, performances and films, and local hostelries will not yet be too tourist-glutted to house the conference's visitors from around the world. ('Tis more than a bit presumptuous, I know, to announce an international conference until international participants announce their intention to attend! But I must stifle any doubts and boldly give service to what is not, I pray, a hopeless hope! Do, dear overseas readers, prove that my faith was justified!)

While all is mistily tentative at present, and nothing specific can be promised until readers of this announcement reveal their interests and suggestions, I can offer the following series of likely possibilities for what should be an exciting and informative 3˝-day immersion in the life, times and works of Eugene O'Neill from 1888 to 1925.

Certainly the centerpiece of the conference will be the Saturday series of small, individual sessions—on the era, life, plays and groups of plays of America's greatest dramatist. Anyone interested in presenting a paper (20-minute limit for delivery) should inform me of that interest—including a copy or a summary of its intended contents—as soon as possible, and no later than Monday, March 28, 1983. Anyone interested in chairing or participating in a panel discussion, or in serving as recorder of such a session, should inform me, also as soon as possible, of that interest, suggesting a likely topic: the sea plays, autobiography on stage, O'Neill as critic of the 1920's, overlooked masterworks--whatever. (I'd be particularly pleased to hear from nearby O'Neillians willing to join me in the arduous pre-convention planning that will fill the fall and winter prior to the event.) As many of the papers as possible, and the reports of discussion-session recorders, will subsequently be published in the Newsletter—and, if funding materializes, in a book thereafter. (I need not repeat that I am eager to hear from as many of you as possible!)

Also featured--on Thursday, Friday and possibly Saturday--will be screenings of film versions and videotaped performances of O'Neill plays. (I hope we'll be able to view the tape of Servitude, for instance, and discuss it with its director, Paul Voelker.) With such gems to choose from as The Long Voyage Home, Anna Christie (either the Blanche Sweet or the Garbo version or both), the Robeson Emperor Jones, and the William Bendix-Susan Hayward Hairy Ape (if anyone can find it!), we can't lack for worthy and discussable screenings. In addition (Attention, local and distant theatre groups!), two or three stage performances will highlight the evenings--both of O'Neill plays and of David Wheeler's Provincetown monodrama, Here Before You... Eugene O'Neill, which Mr. Wheeler has expressed an interest in performing for us.

Nor will we be limited to classrooms and auditoria. A chartered bus will take us, on Friday morning, to New London for a tour of the Monte Cristo Cottage and a viewing of the new film about the phenomena (and noumena) in its history. Also near Beacon Hill are O'Neill's grave, in Forest Hills Cemetery (abutting the grave of e. e. cummings), and Eugene and Carlotta's home in Marblehead. And there's a slight but glowing possibility of a chartered air trip to Provincetown, where it all began.

If my advance suppositions prove sound, the following is a likely schedule:

Thursday, early afternoon: registration, a film and discussion.

Thursday, late afternoon and evening: late registration, cocktail reception, dinner with welcoming speeches and keynote address, and stage performance #1.

Friday, early a.m.: late, late registration and bus trip to Monte Cristo Cottage in New London; returning in time for

Friday evening: stage performance #2.

Saturday, early morning through afternoon: paper presentations and panel discussions (8:30-10:00, 10:30-12:00, 2:00-4:00, and 4:30-6:00).

Saturday evening: stage performance #3 (or film).

Sunday morning: charter plane trip to Provincetown (tentative), OR additional paper and discussion sessions (depending on the number of proposals that are received), OR—at the very least—a bye-bye brunch!

A token advance-registration fee of $10 ($15 at the conference itself) will assist in the advance preparations and conference expenses; but all participants, whether on the program or not, must provide their own transportation, rooms (I will prepare a list of nearby hotels well in advance, and if I can talk them into offering reduced rates I'll hasten to let you know!) and meals--except the Thursday dinner and possible Sunday brunch, which, like all the conference events except the bus and plane trips, will be complimentary.

I should also mention that I will be preparing an extensive display of O'Neill books, programs, posters, production shots and other memorabilia to complement the activities of the conference, and I welcome any submissions for inclusion therein. Naturally, I will also prepare, and send out at the earliest possible date, a detailed program guide to the entire conference. This will permit participants to decide in advance what events they wish to attend, since, if your response is sizable, films and discussion sessions may well occur simultaneously or overlap.

Enough for the present, I think. And more than enough to fill a long spring weekend with memorable activities. I've said my piece; let not the rest be silence! I await your responses, and look forward to welcoming you to what I hope will be the first of many conferences devoted solely to the life and work of Eugene O'Neill.

--Frederick Wilkins


Spatial restrictions prevent the inclusion of a "Persons Represented" section for this issue. The editor apologizes to the scholars whose wisdom fills the foregoing pages and promises that the "Persons Represented" section in the next issue (Winter 1982) will include the authors in this issue as well.

One item must be included, however: the answer to the quizzical quickie. The play in question was The Great God Brown, privately performed for the Stage Society in London during the 1928-29 theatre season. Miss Lansbury's mother, Moyna Macgill, shared the stage with Mary Claire and Sir John, who reported in his book, Early Stages (New York: Taplinger, 1976, p. 87), that he thought the use of masks "rather a pretentious and unsatisfactory convention."



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