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Editor: Frederick Wilkins
Suffolk University, Boston

Vol. XI, No. 2
Summer-Fall, 1987


(IN THIS ISSUE)

NEWS, NOTES AND INSIGHTS

1. THE BIG THREE. May and June of 1988 will be a rich if exhausting season for barnstorming O'Neillians, what with nearly back-to-back conferences in Belgium, Sweden and the People's Republic of China. The speakers at the Belgian conference in Han-sur-Lesse from 20 to 22 May were listed in the last issue (p. 53). For further details about the event, which is sponsored by the Belgian Luxembourg American Studies Association, note the address in the illustrated ad elsewhere in this issue.

The Nanjing conference on "Eugene O'Neill: World Playwright" (6-9 June) has issued fewer details thus far, but the scholarly and theatrical components sound both exciting and well balanced, and those who wish to attend or learn more can find the address of the conference director, Liu Haiping, in the conference's boxed ad elsewhere in this issue.

The Stockholm event in between (24-27 May) is a Nobel Symposium co-sponsored by the Royal Dramatic Theatre, whose bicentennial the event commemorates, and the Nobel Foundation. Its subject is "Strindberg - O'Neill - Modern Theatre." Among the scholarly participants will be Harry G. Carlson, John Henry Raleigh, Egil Tornqvist, Virginia Floyd, Travis Bogard, Donald Gallup, Tom J. A. Olsson, Edward L. Shaughnessy, and Paul Voelker. Theatrical participants scheduled to perform and/or speak include Jason Robards, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Jose Quintero, Arvin Brown and Ingmar Bergman. For a detailed program, write to Dr. Tom J. A. Olsson, Organisation Committee, Nobel Symposium, Royal Dramatic Theatre, Box 5037, Stockholm 102 41, Sweden.

2. O'NEILL AT CONFERENCES. In addition to "big three" and the annual O'Neill session at MLA this December (see details in this issue's Society section), O'Neill continues to be prominent in other conferences as well. Here are a few, past and future.

* American Culture Association's 1987 meeting in Montreal last March: a Drama Division session, "Reflections on O'Neill and Shepard," featured papers by Duane L. Vorhees ("Hitler: Jung: O'Neill--Psychoanalysis Dramatized") and Henry I. Schvey ("A Comparison of the Family Plays of Eugene O'Neill and Sam Shepard").

* New England Theatre Conference, Park Plaza Hotel. New Haven, CT, November 6-8. 1987: Frederick C. Wilkins will host a session entitled "Eugene O'Neill: A Pre-Centennial Primer," featuring informal remarks and discussion by scholar Jordan Y. Miller, Monte Cristo Cottage curator Sally Thomas Pavetti, and actor-playwright Paul Shyre, author of the television docudrama Eugene O'Neill - A Glory of Ghosts. Saturday, November 7. from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. in the Park Plaza.

* Modern Language Association 1987 Convention in San Francisco, CA, December 1987: in addition to the aforementioned Society-sponsored session on O'Neill, Marc Maufort will speak on "American Drama and New World Literature: Echoes of Moby Dick in the Plays of Eugene O'Neill," at an American Drama Society-sponsored session on "American Drama, Literature and Film: Studies in Generic Isolation and Confluence," chaired by ADS President Paul Voelker.

* Northeast Modern Language Association Convention, Providence, RI, March 24-26, 1988: this year's O'Neill session, directed by Martha Bower, will be devoted to "'Theatricality' and Experiment in O'Neill's Middle Years." Speakers and titles will be listed in the next issue of the Newsletter.

3. QUINTERO WINS AWARD. The 53rd annual New York Drama League Awards, announced on May 7, 1987, featured a special award, and a well-earned one, to director Jose Quintero for his "unique" contribution to American theatre with his revivals of the plays of Eugene O'Neill in the 1950's and 60's. Mr. Quintero, who may direct a production of Marco Millions in the People's Republic of China next year, is currently convalescing at his home after surgery. The editor takes the liberty of sending him, herewith, from the millions whose lives he has so deeply touched, the warmest of wishes for a speedy recovery.

4. AUDIO ELMS IN ENGLAND. The Greenwich production of Desire Under the Elms, reviewed in this issue, was not the only British appearance of that play in the last year or so. In July of 1986, the BBC's Radio 3 offerings included an adaptation of the play by Michael Bakewell, directed by Ronald Mason. Malcolm Hay, reviewing the performance in Plays and Players (September 1986, p. 48), found the play more melodramatic than classical ("the basic ingredients are those of Jacobean tragedy or an average episode of Dallas"), but he liked the direction and the principal actors, and, unlike Albert Kalson in Greenwich, he could "see" the elms!

Mason's starkly realistic production managed to control some of O'Neill's wilder excesses without ever seeking to tame the raw, red-blooded energy of the writing. The passionate atmosphere slowly invaded the room as you listened. You could see in vivid detail not just the ... farmhouse, but O'Neill's two huge elms like "exhausted women resting their sagging breasts and hands and hair on its roof." Robert Beatty made a convincing Ephraim, ... [but] it was Sara Badel and Kerry Shale, in the key roles of stepmother and stepson torn between mutual suspicion and physical attraction, who succeeded so well in projecting their characters that for a few moments they almost had me believing in the plot.

5. THE MANILIUS CONNECTION: a note from Peter L. Hays, Professor of English, University of California, Davis.

The following piece of information may be old news for life-long O'Neill scholars, but I am happy to share it with others. I have been trying unsuccessfully for years to identify Professor Leeds' Latin quotation at the end of Act One of Strange Interlude:

"Stetit unus in arcem
Erectus capitis victorque ad sidera mittit
Sidereos oculos propiusque adspectat Olympum
Inquiritque Iovem;" . . .

Finally, Professor David Traill of our Classics Department located it for me. O'Neill is quoting from Book IV of Marcus Manilius's Astronomica, lines 905-908, a five-volume text no longer read even by Latin scholars. O'Neill may have encountered it in the edition by A. E. Housman (in Latin, but with notes in English); book four was published in 1920. Or perhaps he had a Latin teacher fond of Manilius. The context of the passage, as translated by G. P. Goold in the Loeb Classical edition, does fit Interlude: man, "triumphantly directing to the stars his star-like eyes. looks ever more closely at Olympus and inquires into the nature of Jove himself; nor does he rest content with the outward appearance of the gods, but probes into heaven's depths and, in his quest of a being akin to his own, seeks himself among the stars" (11. 906-910). [The use of "adspectat" in the third-quoted Latin line strengthens Housman's candidacy as source. Professor Hays notes that that is the spelling in the 1920 volume, whereas the Loeb edition has the more "modern" form, "aspectat." One would expect Professor Leeds, old-school traditionalist, to use the older form anyhow. In the same vein, Professor Hays adds, "that Professor Leeds is reading a text few other Latinists do, or even know about, is a sign of his pedantry." --Ed.]

6. NEW AND RECENT BOOKS. (Most will be reviewed in future issues.)

Cole, Susan L. The Absent One: Mourning Ritual, Tragedy, and the Performance of
Ambivalence
. Univ. Park: Penn. St. UP, 1985. (Pp. 160-165 on Iceman Cometh.)

Hirsch, Foster. Eugene O'Neill: Life, Work, and Criticism. Fredericton, N.B.: York Press Ltd., 1986. 48 pp. $6.95, paper.

Murphy, Brenda. American Realism and American Drama, 1880-1940. (Cambridge UP, 1987. 232 pp. $27.95, cloth. ISBN 0-521-32711-3.

O'Neill, Eugene. "As Ever, Gene": The Letters of Eugene O'Neill to George Jean Nathan, ed. Nancy L. Roberts and Arthur W. Roberts. Cranbury, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 1987. 248 pp., $35.00, cloth. ISBN 0-8386-3303-X. [130 letters from EGO to GJN, 1919-1949.]

Vena, Gary. Eugene O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh": A Reconstruction of the 1946 Theatre Guild Production. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press, 1987. (No. 47 in series, "Theater and Dramatic Studies.") 244 pp., $44.95.

Wainscott, Ronald H. Hitching Pegasus and Harnessing Furies: Staging the Plays of Eugene O'Neill, 1920-1934. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, forthcoming (1988). [The book will include material from Prof. Wainscott's essay on Philip Moeller's 1929 direction of Dynamo that appeared in the Winter 1986 issue of the Newsletter (pp. 3-13).]

7. NEW AND RECENT ARTICLES IN BOOKS AND PERIODICALS.

Dahl, Lisa. "The Connective Links Between the Dialogue and the Interior Monologue Passages in Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude." In Studies in Classical and Modern Philology (Helsinki: Tiedeakatemia, 1983), pp. 23-32.

Egri, Peter. "Az Amerikai bola Természetrajza es Tgrsadalomtortenete: Eugene O'Neill Dramaciklusaro." Filologiai Kozlony, 31 (1985). 57-78.

Egri, Peter. "The Epic Tradition of the European Drama and the Birth of the American Tragedy." In Actes du ViIIe Congrčs de l'Association Internationale de Littérature Comparée, ed. Bela Köpeczi et al. Stuttgart: Kunst and Wissen, 1980, Vol. I (of 2), 753-759. (Emphasis on Strange Interlude.)

Halfmann. Ulrich. "Formen und Tendenzen des sozialcritischen amerikanischen Drama der zwanziger und dreissiger Jahre." In Das amerikanische Drama, ed. Gerhard Hoffmann. Bern: Francke. 1984. pp. 144-181.

Hoffman, Gerhard. "Eugene O'Neill: Realismus, Expressionismus, Mystizismus." In Hoffman (see previous entry), pp. 76-120.

Ji. Ouyang. "Daoist Ideas in O'Neill's Play About Marco Polo." China Reconstructs (North American Edition), 36 (June 1987), 26-28. [Marco Millions not only reflects O'Neill's great interest in and study of Eastern religions in general in the early 1920s; it also epitomizes. in its characters and conflicts, the basic tenets of Daoism specifically.]

Kohler, Klaus. "The Dual Self: Portraits of the Artist in American Drama." Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin: Gesellschaftsund Sorachwissenschaftliche Reihe. 33 (1984), 435-436.

Koljevic, Nikola. "Postanak i Razvoj Americke Drame," and "Tri Velikana Americke Drame." Pozoriste, 25 (1983), 415-436 and 437-455, respectively.

Lusha, Ximen. "Eugene O'Neill Revival." China Reconstructs (North American Edition), 36 (June 1987). 24-25. [Report on the growing interest in O'Neill in China, culminating in the February 1987 O'Neill Symposium in Beijing.]

Maufort, Marc. "Eugene O'Neill and the Shadow of Edmond Dantes: The Pursuit of Dramatic Unity in Where the Cross Is Made (1918) and Gold (1920)." In American Literature in Belgium, ed. Gilbert Debusscher. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1987.

Müller, Wolfgang. "Der Bewusstseinsstrom im Roman und auf der Buhne: James Joyces Ulysses und Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude." In Amerikanisierung des Dramas und Dramatisierung Amerikas: Studien zu Ehren von Hans Helmcke, ed. Manfred Siebald & Horst Immel. Frankfurt: Lang, 1985, pp. 115-129.

Raleigh, John Henry. Survey of scholarship on O'Neill since the early 1970s. In supplement to Sixteen Modern American Authors, ed. Jackson R. Bryer. New York: Norton, forthcoming.

Robinson, James A. "Convergences and Divergences: Father and Son in A Touch of the Poet and The Iceman Cometh." American Literature (October 1987).

Seidel, Margot. "Der Einfluss asiatischer Religionen auf Eugene O'Neill." Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, 34 (1986), 47-59.

Wainscott, Ronald H. "Exploring the Religion of the Dead: Philip Moeller Directs O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra." Theatre History Studies, 7 (1987), ed. Ron Engle, Univ. of North Dakota.

Watt, Stephen. "O'Neill and Otto Rank: Doubles, 'Death Instincts.' and the Trauma of Birth." Comparative Drama, 20 (1986), 211-230. [Emphasis on Mourning Becomes Electra and More Stately Mansions.]

8. FOUR 1987 DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS ON O'NEILL.

Burr, Suzanne. "Ghosts in Modern Drama: Ibsen, Strindberg, O'Neill." Univ. of Michigan, English. Dir. Enoch Brater.

Kuharski, Allen James. "The Tragic Transcendentalist: From Meaning to Form in the Theatre of Eugene O'Neill." Univ. of California. Berkeley, Dramatic Art. Dir. Travis Bogard.

Lowel, Marleen. "Herman Melville and Eugene O'Neill: The Search for a Nocturnal Paradise." George Washington Univ.. English. Dirs. Christopher W. Sten and Robert Combs.

Sands, Jeffrey. "Playwright and Actor: A Study of O'Neill's Stage Directions." Univ. of Illinois-Urbana, Theatre. Dir. Burnet Hobgood.

9. O'NEILL TURNS TWENTY-FIVE. Harper & Row has issued a new printing of O'Neill, the biography by Arthur and Barbara Gelb, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its original publication in 1962.

10. CARLOTTA AT THE CAPITAL. My Gene, the play by Barbara Gelb that was reviewed in the last issue of the Newsletter (pp. 19-21), opened a four-week run at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater in Washington, D.C., on June 8, with Colleen Dewhurst repeating her performance as Carlotta Monterey O'Neill.

11. O'NEILLIANA IN ST. LOUIS. Washington University in St. Louis will present an exhibition of O'Neill manuscripts and artifacts, complemented by a presentation sponsored by the university's Bookmark Society, to commemorate the 1988 centennial of O'Neill's birth. The exhibition, which will take place some time in the first half of 1988, comprises the extensive O'Neill collection of Harley J. Hammerman, M.D. Persons interested in knowing the specific dates of the exhibition or the contents of Dr. Hammerman's collection can write to him at 211 Hewlett Ct., Creve Coeur, MO 63141. The editor hopes that Dr. Hammerman's reminiscences as an ardent O'Neill collector will be featured in a future issue of the Newsletter.

12. RECENT AND FORTHCOMING O'NEILL PRODUCTIONS (see also this issue's "countdown" sec.).

Ah Wilderness! American Heartland Theater, Kansas City, MO, June 24 - August 2, 1987.

Ah, Wilderness!, dir. Abigail Adams. The People's Light and Theatre Company, Malvern, PA, July 8-26, 1987.

Ah, Wilderness!, dir. Sheila Hickey Garvey. Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, April 1988.

Anna Christie. Ohio University Players, Monomoy Theater, Chatham, MA, August 4-8, 1987.

Hughie. East West Players (Second Stage), Los Angeles, CA, June 11-21, 1987.

Long Day's Journey Into Night and Ah, Wilderness!, starring Colleen Dewhurst and Jason Robards, in rotating repertory. Yale Repertory Theater, New Haven, CT, March 22 - May 21, 1988, followed by performances at the International Arts Festival In New York City that summer. [Reports vary about this package--whether it will entail two plays, or one play, and if one play, which play. Fuller information will be provided as production date approaches.]

Une Lune Pour Les Desherites (A Moon for the Misbegotten), dir. Alain Francon. Theatre de la Renaissance a Oullins, CAC d'Annecy, at the Festival d'Avignon, France, June 24-31, 1987.

Mourning Becomes Electra, dir. Edward Payson Call. Trinity Repertory Company, Providence, RI, Sept. 25 - Oct. 25, 1987. (A review will appear in a future issue of the Newsletter.)

13. IN MEMORIAM. Clarence Brown, who directed Greta Garbo in the 1930 film of Anna Christie, died in a Santa Monica, CA hospital on August 17, at the age of 97. The editor is sorry to have to report as well the passing of James R. Chance of New York City on June 10. A member of the Eugene O'Neill Society and a Friend of Monte Cristo Cottage. Mr. Chance will be remembered by many who attended the 1986 O'Neill conference in Boston for his jaunty air and his infectious enthusiasm for O'Neill and his plays. The Society sends its condolences to his family. We have lost a cherished friend.

(IN THIS ISSUE)

 

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