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Editor: Frederick Wilkins
Suffolk University, Boston

Vol. VII, No. 1
Spring, 1983




The Fourth Annual Meeting of the Eugene O'Neill Society was held on December 28, 1982, during the Modern Language Association convention in Los Angeles. Because of the site, the meeting, like the convention, was sparsely attended. The major business of the attenders was the adoption of two amendments to the Society's By-Laws, which follow, and which members should insert in their copies of the by-laws. (Society Secretary Jordan Miller will be pleased to send a copy of the complete by-laws to any member requesting one.)

Section III.1: Terms of Membership

a) Membership in the Society shall be open to all interested persons upon payment of annual dues in the amount determined by the Officers and Directors.

b) The membership year shall be from January 1 through December 31. Dues are payable as of January 1.

c) Any member who does not renew membership by March 1 will be notified by the Secretary; if dues payment is not received by April 1, the Secretary will drop the member from the rolls.

d) New members joining before October 1 shall have their memberships credited as of the current year and shall receive the Newsletter as of that date.

e) New members joining on October 1 or later shall have their dues credited to the following year, when they will begin to receive the Newsletter.

Section VIII:1: Election of Officers and Directors

The Board of Directors shall serve as a Nominating Committee. Six (6) months prior to the Annual Meeting the Board shall, by whatever means it wishes, consult with the membership concerning possible nominations. The Board shall prepare a slate of those members willing to serve and present it to the membership at the Annual Meeting. Further nominations of those willing to serve may be made from the floor, and voting shall take place at that time.


Also on December 28, at the aforementioned Modern Language Association convention, an event organized and "unofficially" sponsored by the Society was featured: a special session on "O'Neill and Film," led by Eugene K. Hanson of the College of the Desert, Palm Desert, CA. It is fortunate, since L.A. drew far fewer attenders than is usually the case at MLA, that two of the three papers written for that session can now be shared with a larger "audience" in the pages of the Newsletter. Those papers, by Linda Ben-Zvi and William L. Sipple, begin on pages 3 and 10 of this issue, and the editor is grateful to the authors and Professor Hanson for (respectively) permitting and arranging for their publication. (Actually, the first paper will now have its first audience, as Professor Ben-Zvi was prevented by a Colorado snow storm from reaching Los Angeles!)

The third paper, by Professor Vera Jiji, was not revised in time for this issue. Her talk, entitled "O'Neill and TV," considered the problems inherent in the "translation" of any stage work to the television medium such problems as the smallness of the screen, which eliminates the "larger than life" quality of theatrical performance, and the removal of any audience choice in what to watch, since the entire stage picture is omitted and we therefore lose, for instance, the significant facial reactions of listeners in a given scene; the corresponding virtues of television performance, such as its superiority over theatre in its ability to concentrate, up close, on the human face; and the virtues and flaws in three small-screen adaptations of work by O'Neill—The Iceman Cometh (1960), A Touch of the Poet (1974), and Mourning Becomes Electra (1978). She found Electra a decidedly diminished thing, not so much because of the inadequacies in Roberta Maxwell's portrayal of Lavinia, but because the play's "transcendent level" was entirely lost, leaving little besides (in tv parlance) "soap." But the 1960 Iceman, as a record of Jason Robards' searing last-act confession, won her total praise:

The black and white recording uses one camera, which stays on Hickey's face almost uninterruptedly (except when O'Neill has others speak) for a half hour. There are no cuts, shifts of angle or other editing tricks. There is just one man speaking—and us watching him up close. If tv did nothing else for O'Neill but record and preserve this performance, it would be enough to make up for all the other bits of foolishness.

Television performances of great drama, she concluded, are worthwhile, despite inevitable drawbacks, because they can inspire new attenders of real theatre, because they can provide the bases for comparison with other performances of the same work, and because, as in the case of Robards' Hickey, they provide valuable documentation for posterity of the great players of our day.


"Reevaluating O'Neill: New Approaches, New Discoveries" is the title of a special session on O'Neill that will be chaired by Professor Michael Hinden at the MLA convention in New York City next December (shortly after Christmas, at a date and hour to be announced in a future issue). Three papers will be featured:

1. "Toward a Post-Structuralist Approach to O'Neill's Later Plays," by Michael Manheim, University of Toledo.

2. "Current Trends in O'Neill Publication," by Frederick Wilkins, Suffolk University, Boston.

3. "An Agenda for O'Neill Studies, " by Paul Voelker, University of Wisconsin Center-Richland.

For copies of the papers, write to the panelists after November 15. And plan to attend both this session and the Society's Fifth Annual Meeting, which will probably be held shortly before or after it. On this too, fuller information will be provided in a future issue.



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