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Editor: Frederick Wilkins
Suffolk University, Boston

Vol. VI, No. 3
Winter, 1982



5. "An Historical Analysis of Three New York Productions of Long Day's Journey Into Night": an abstract of a 1982 doctoral dissertation (New York University, dir. Lowell Swortzell) by Doris Hart.

The purpose of this study was to provide an historical record of three major New York productions of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night: the 1956 Broadway premiere at the Helen Hayes Theatre, the 1971 off-Broadway presentation at the Promenade, and the 1976 Bicentennial production at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In addition, the investigation aimed to discover interpretations of the text made by the director, actors, and designers of each production and to learn in what ways, if any, these interpretations added to an understanding of the drama.

The study begins with an explication of the text, referring to Aristotle's six elements of tragedy: plot, character, thought, diction, song, and spectacle.

Chapter Two presents a history of the 1956 premiere, including the director's interpretation of theme, the development of characters, information about lighting, costume and set designs, and critical reaction to the production. Similar information is presented in subsequent chapters for the 1971 and the 1976 productions.

Interviews with eleven persons involved in these presentations, including actresses Zoe Caldwell and Paddy Croft, stage managers, technical designers, plus talks presented by directors Jose Quintero and Jason Robards yielded valuable information. Especially helpful were materials from the Theatre Collection at Lincoln Center, including scrapbooks, reviews, and a videotape of the 1971 production.

The final chapter provides a comparison of the productions and presents conclusions of the study, among which are the following:

1. Studying productions of plays provides greater understanding of the texts.

2. Each production of Long Day's Journey offered insights into the drama, particularly in interpretations of the mother. In 1956, Mary was presented as a victim; in 1971, she was interpreted as aggressive and sexually attractive; in 1976, she became an instigator of problems and the central figure of the drama.

3. Revivals of outstanding plays provide deeper understanding of life in the contemporary world.

4. Long Day's Journey is a masterpiece which can accommodate many variations and for each generation is likely to yield new significance, which would be reflected in theatrical revivals.

—Doris Hart



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