Menu Bar


Editor: Frederick Wilkins
Suffolk University, Boston

Vol. XI, No. 3
Winter, 1987



1. "THE FACE OF GENIUS: IMAGES OF EUGENE O'NEILL" is the title of an exciting centennial exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York City 10029. Organized by Patrick Hoffman, Assistant Curator of the Museum's Theatre Collection, the exhibit opened on October 17 and will continue until May 8, 1988. This extraordinary collection of photographs and drawings, many of which were donated to the Museum by Carlotta Monterey O'Neill, is the first of two special exhibits planned by the Museum of the City of New York. The second, scheduled to open in the Fall of 1988, will feature the original manuscripts of O'Neill's sea plays and other one-acts. The photos on the next page and on this issue's cover are included in the present exhibit, and are reproduced here with the kind permission of the Museum.

2 THE "BIG THREE" ARE NOW FOUR. Move over, Belgium, Sweden and China: you have a new partner! Hosei University in Tokyo will host an international symposium on O'Neill's works as contemporary theatre, on Saturday and Sunday, 11-12 June 1988. The symposium is being organized by Yoshiteru Kurokawa, Professor of American Theatre at Hosei University. For more detailed information, write to Professor Kurokawa, 4-24-19, Wakabayashi, Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan, 154.

3. CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION IN INDIA. R. Viswanathan, Lecturer in English at Calicut University in Kerala, India, whose essay on Kipling's Jungle Books and O'Neill appeared in the last issue of the Newsletter (pp. 3-7), writes of his efforts to see that the O'Neill centenary is heralded in India. "I intend to translate two short plays into the local language, Malayalam--one to be broadcast over the radio and the other to be staged. I am also preparing to organize a seminar at the Calicut University Department of English, which will feature papers by some teachers who have done special reading in O'Neilliana." We salute the efforts, are confident of their success, and look forward to an after-the-event report giving all the details. -Ed.

4. CENTENNIAL SYMPOSIUM IN CALIFORNIA. Saint Mary's College in Morgana, CA, will host an O'Neill centennial symposium from Thursday, February 11 to Sunday, February 14, 1988. Lecturers include Robert K. Sarlos ("Eugene O'Neill and the Provincetown Players: Watershed in the American Drama") on the 11th; Daniel Cawthon ("Major Themes in O'Neill's Plays") on the 12th; and Michael Krasny ("O'Neill's Place in Modern American Theatre") on the 13th. Also featured will be a festival of O'Neill films (including Long Day's Journey, Electra, and Iceman), a guided tour of Tao House on Sunday morning, and, that afternoon, a performance of A Touch of the Poet by the Walnut Creek Civic Arts Repertory Company. For information about fees, etc., call (415) 376-7521, or write to Prof. Daniel Cawthon, Chairman of Performing Arts, Saint Mary's College, P.O. Box 283, Moraga, CA 94575.

5. THE LEGACY OF EUGENE O'NEILL will be the subject of the keynote address delivered by former O'Neill Society President Albert Wertheim (Indiana University) at the 1988 Comparative Drama Conference at the University of Florida next March 24-27. For information about the conference, contact its director, Prof. Karelisa Hartigan, Dept. of Classics, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

6. INTERRELATED CENTENARIANS? Paul Voelker, noting that 1988 is not O'Neill's year alone, has proposed, for the 1988 MLA Convention in New Orleans, a Special Session devoted to the topic, "Eugene O'Neill (1988-1953) and T. S. Eliot (1988-1965): 'Bi-Centenary' Studies in Confluence and Influence." Send queries or proposals to Professor Voelker, University of Wisconsin Center-Richland, Richland Center, WI 53581. Phone: (608) 647-6186. The deadline for submissions is 15 February 1988.

7. MORE ON O'NEILLIANA IN ST. LOUIS: a follow-up news note 11 in the last issue (p. 49). Harley Hammerman's extensive O'Neill collection went on display at the Washington University Library in St. Louis on November 1, where it will remain on exhibit to the end of January 1989. Also featured on campus were a student production of an O'Neill work and an O'Neill centennial symposium organized by Society member Henry Schvey, new Chair of WU's Performing Arts Department.

8. O'NEILL AT SETC '88. The 1988 annual convention of the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC), to be held in Atlanta March 1-6, will host the second in a series of panels on "American Theatrical Realism." The topic for the 1988 panel, to be chaired by Dr. Betty Jean Jones of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, is "Realism in the Plays of Eugene O'Neill." Information on the papers to be delivered can be obtained from Dr. Jones, Department of Communication and Theatre. UNC-Greensboro, NC 27412-5001.

9. O'NEILL AT NEMLA '88. Martha Bower of the University of New Hampshire will chair the O'Neill session at the 1988 convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association in Providence, RI, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 24 in the Providence Marriott. The session topic, "'Theatricality' and Experiment in O'Neill's Middle Years," will be addressed by three speakers: Ellen Kimbel, Penn State University-Ogontz ("Strange Interlude: The Play and the Critics"); Bette Mandl, Suffolk University ("Theatricality and Otherness in All God's Chillun Got Wings"); and playwright-actor Paul Shyre ("Behind the Masks: O'Neill"). Steven Bloom of Emmanuel College will serve as Secretary and will (the editor hopes) provide a summary of the proceedings in a future issue.

10. TEACHERS AT TAO HOUSE. A Fall Teachers Conference. co-sponsored by the National Park Service and the Eugene O'Neill Foundation, Tao House, was held on three Saturdays in the Fall of 1987 at Tao House. The first day (September 19), on "O'Neill, the Man," was directed by Travis Bogard, University of California, Berkeley. The second (September 26), on "O'Neill, the Playwright," was directed by William Reardon, University of California, Santa Barbara. The third (October 10), devoted to "Plays in Depth," was co-directed by Raymon Stansbury, Diablo Valley College. and Edward R. Weingold, Artistic Director of the Civic Arts Repertory Company in Walnut Creek, CA.

11. "THE IRISHNESS OF EUGENE O'NEILL" was the title of a talk delivered by Virginia Floyd at the New England Section of the American Conference for Irish Studies, held at Fitchburg (MA) State College on Saturday, October 24, 1987. It was the first paper in a session on "Irish Theatre in America," chaired by Dr. Floyd.

12. O'NEILL AT NETC. Fred Wilkins hosted a special session, entitled "Eugene O'Neill: A Pre-Centennial Primer," at the 1987 convention of the New England Theatre Conference in New Haven, CT, on Saturday, November 7. ("Primer" was intended to convey, at least in print, both its short- and long-i meanings: an introduction to the man and his works for neophytes, and a chance to "prime" the assembled for the many centennial activities that are ahead. And the three speakers were ideal at doing both.) Sally Thomas Pavetti, Curator of the Monte Cristo Cottage in New London, described the renovation of the O'Neills' summer home to its appearance in their day; related the cottage to the plays it figures in--Ah. Wilderness! and Long Day's Journey; and outlined the imminent activities of the Collaborations III group and the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Jordan Miller, of the University of Rhode Island, surveyed the ups and downs--frequently simultaneous--of O'Neill's critical reputation. And playwright Paul Shyre, who wrote the script for the PBS docudrama Eugene O'Neill--A Glory of Ghosts, offered insights into the playwright's later years, many of them gained from Mr. Shyre's long friendship with Carlotta Monterey O'Neill. The session concluded with a free-for-all discussion that definitely got the celebration ball rolling for a group of "primed" participants. --FCW.

13. "EUGENE O'NEILL: ONE HUNDRED YEARS LATER" was the subject of a session at the 1987 Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association at the Sheraton-Boston Hotel on November 7. The titles of papers presented were "Eugene O'Neill and the Sea Plays" (Robert Willebrink, University of Central Arkansas), "Eugene O'Neill: The Religious Impulse, 1914-1923" (Gerald Lee Ratliff, Montclair State College), "Expressionism and Eugene O'Neill" (Ronald Shields, Bowling Green State University), and "A Deconstructive Analysis of Desire Under the Elms" (Joel Murray, Indiana-Purdue University, Fort Wayne).

14. O'NEILL IN THEATRE ANNUAL. As was noted in an insert to the last issue, the 1988 edition of The Theatre Annual will comprise a celebration of the centennial of O'Neill's birth. The editor of this special issue is Paul Voelker, Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin Center-Richland.

15. "EUGENE O'NEILL IN MOURNING" is the title of an essay by Stephen A. Black that appeared in the Winter 1988 issue of Biography (pp. 16-34). The author offers the following abstract of his essay.

The article offers a modification of Louis Sheaffer's principal interpretive thesis concerning O'Neill's life--that the playwright remained his parents' son all his life. As Sheaffer puts it in the Foreword to his first volume:

Unfortunately for O'Neill the man, but fortunately for O'Neill the writer, he never really "left" his mother and father. The evidence is to be found again and again in his writings, ultimately most clearly, most hauntingly in the posthumously released A Long Day's Journey Into Night. Hence my stressing of this element of his make-up, as reflected in the title O'Neill, Son and Playwright.

Sheaffer continues to make the point central throughout his second volume, which he calls O'Neill, Son and Artist.

The article presents evidence that O'Neill had reached emotional independence around 1918, his changed relation with his father from that time being one mark of belated emancipation. It distinguishes between the lifelong dependency of Jamie and the prolonged dependency of Eugene, who was finally able to make his own career and families as his brother never could.

The article claims that the preoccupation one finds in the plays with the O'Neill family members derives not from a lifelong dependency, but from a process that appears quite similar--mourning. For just as O'Neill was finally struggling free from his prolonged dependency, there began a 39-month-long trauma when all the other members of his parental family would die. The three deaths coming so close together, and the deaths of Ella and Jamie coming unexpectedly and in grotesque circumstances, plunged the playwright into a state of melancholia which would take O'Neill twenty years to work through.

The article traces the course of mourning through the plays written in the remainder of his working life, claiming that the more one understands the course of O'Neill's mourning, the better the plays may be known; and further, that major aspects of most of the plays remain inscrutable until one grasps the author's underlying preoccupation. It accepts the widely held three-phase model of mourning: that one first denies a loss; then accepts it, plunging into despair; and then, at last, gives up one's ghosts. In the three great last plays, O'Neill finally allows his dead to be dead. --S.A.B.


Stephen A. Black, "Eugene O'Neill in Mourning," Biography, 11:1 (Winter 1988), 16-34. (An abstract appears above.)

Travis Bogard, Contour in Time: The Plays of Eugene O'Neill, Revised Edition. Oxford University Press, 1988. 544pp. $37.95, cloth (ISBN 505341-9), $12.95 paper (ISBN 504548-3). The revision (throughout) of this admired classic "includes new and unpublished material on A Tale of Possessors, Self-dispossessed...."

Marc Maufort and Francine Lercangée, Eugene O'Neill: An Annotated Bibliography. Garland Publishing, Inc., forthcoming. (The volume, due for publication in late 1989, will focus on the period 1972-1988.)

Brenda Murphy, "Beyond the Horizon's Narrative Sentence: An American Intertext for O'Neill," Theatre Annual 41 (1986), 49-62.

Patrick Nolan, Memory in Modern American Drama, 1920-1940. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, forthcoming. (It should be no surprise that Professor Nolan's book contains a substantial chapter on O'Neill.)

Benenett Simon, "Poetry, Tragic Dialogue and the Killing of Children in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's. Journey Into Night," Hebrew University Studies in Literature and the Arts (Jerusalem), 14 (Autumn 1986), 66-105. (An abstract will appear in a future issue of the Newsletter.)

Gary Vena, "Congruency and Coincidence in O'Casey's Juno and O'Neill's Journey," English Studies: A Journal of English Language and Literature (Netherlands), 68:3 (June 1987), 249-263. (An abstract will appear in a future issue of the Newsletter.)

17. TEACHER OF THE YEAR? [We offer no such ennial encomia, nor do we think it fair to O'Neill's legion of pedagogic promoters to slight the many by lauding a few. But sometimes we hear of a classroom approach that merits both praise and emulation. And one such instance was brought to our attention by Karen Illingworth, who earned an M.A. in Theatre at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1986, and took an O'Neill course during her last semester. The teacher was Dr. Betty Jean Jones; and Ms. Illingworth's reminiscence of the course, slightly abridged, suggests that if such as award were a tradition, Dr. Jones would definitely be in the running! -Ed.]

I'd always been bothered that classroom references to O'Neill were usually fleeting and often patronizing. The length of his plays and the sophistication of his characterization, it was implied, put O'Neill beyond the reach of even advanced students. The falsity of that assumption was proven to me and eight fellow graduate students when, in the Spring of 1986, we were offered an intimate, experiential approach to O'Neill in a course in Applied Directing conducted by Dr. Betty Jean Jones. Her untraditional approach offered us an opportunity to truly experience O'Neill and to appreciate the accuracy of his title as America's greatest playwright.

Continuing the legacy of her mentors--Professors Esther Jackson and John Ezell at the University of Wisconsin, where she earned her doctorate--Professor Jones combined literary analysis with attention to theatre history, O'Neill's dramatic vision and the effect of his plays in performance, in an approach that she hopes will ultimately produce the next generation of American theatre practitioners.

At an early meeting, Dr. Jones provided a list of O'Neill's major plays, and each of us was required, after discussion on our own, to choose one play that we would analyze and from which we would select a scene to direct. The chosen nine were Moon for the Misbegotten, The Iceman Cometh, Mourning Becomes Electra, Marco Millions, Strange Interlude, The Great God Brown, More Stately Mansions, All God's Chillun, and (the one I had wanted and succeeded in claiming) Long Day's Journey Into Night.

Dr. Jones's emphasis on the role of the dramaturg necessitated our beginning early in the semester to understand the complete script, even though our practical work would be limited to one extracted scene. The classes were unusual because we were developing theories and ideas--from using masks to examining character motivation--that we would put into practice at rehearsals beginning in late February.

We were urged not to over-involve ourselves in the scenic elements, since we were limited to a small laboratory theatre; but we knew it was necessary to create a certain amount of atmosphere for the actors and the audience. And we had to find acting students who were both available and of the right sex. (The last was not always possible, and a female had to play Kublai Kaan because there just weren't enough males to go around.)

I had chosen a scene involving all four Tyrones, but because of this lack of males I had to change my choice to the scene between Mary and Cathleen, and to cut the lines of James Tyrone. Another problem was one of age: how could a twenty-year-old actress be believable as Mary? (My Mary didn't challenge Geraldine Fitzgerald, et al., but she did a creditable job as a credible Mary.)

Time was of the essence--with the nine scenes scheduled for performance on four Mondays in April--and much of it was out-of-class time: rehearsing, pulling from the costume stock and choosing props and set pieces. Class time was devoted to working out and communally solving difficult interpretive problems that we were encountering during rehearsals.

For myself, I was feeling pretty good about all the hard work, and I certainly knew more about nine plays of O'Neill than I had thought one semester could bring. The scene from Long Day's Journey was not without incident. Poor Mary had to grope around in semi-darkness due to the failure of the lab theatre's main fuse. And the only decent fog horn I could find--in an attempt to establish the aforementioned atmosphere--sounded more bovine than oceanic. But the actors pulled it off, and many in the audience thought our jerry-rigged lighting had set an effective mood. I felt, ultimately, that the scenes best lending themselves to student production were those from The Great God Brown and All God's Chillun, though the extract from Marco Millions made me eager to see a full production.

We all came away with a better understanding of actor/character relationships and development, the rhythms and tempos within a scene--and all within the framework of O'Neill. Any departure from the usual format of professorial lectures is welcomed by students, but in this case we were challenged and enlightened and we learned to depend on one another in our exploration of the heart of O'Neill's art. I hope that others will follow Dr. Betty Jean Jones's lead and allow students, by becoming involved with the works of O'Neill, to fall in love with them as we did.


Ah Wilderness! Virginia Stage Company, Norfolk, October 13-31, 1987.

Ah Wilderness!, dir. Ron Lagomarsino. Berkeley (CA) Repertory Theatre. Closed on December 3, 1987.

Ah Wilderness! Merrimack Repertory Theater, Lowell, MA, February 19 - March 13, 1988.

Ah, Wilderness!, dir. Joy Zinoman. The Studio Theatre, Washington, DC, March 16 -April 17, 1988.

Beyond the Horizon, dir. Rick Scott. Palmer Auditorium, Connecticut College, New London, November 19-21, 1987. [Part of the Collaborations III series of O'Neill centennial events listed in the last issue.]

The Hairy Ape, dir. George Ferencz. Pittsburgh Public Theater, Fall 1987.

The Hairy Ape, dir. George Ferencz, with score by Max Roach and featuring Sam Tsoutsouvas in the title role. Berkeley (CA) Repertory Theatre, November 5-29, 1987. [Ferencz's imaginative staging, making use of two movable scaffolds with the audience seated on both sides of the action, was first tried out in a New York City production in the 1970s. This latest version was performed at the Theater Artaud in San Francisco. Bernard Weiner, praising the production in the San Francisco Chronicle (November 9, p. F6), liked especially the initial movements and sounds of the ensemble--divided between the avian and the anthropoid; the wild but theme-related costumes; the italicizing effect of sound and lighting; and the sympathy for the protagonist aroused by the charismatic Tsoutsouvas. -Ed.]

Hughie. Long Island Stage Company, Hempstead, NY, April 19 - May 8, 1988.

Hughie, dir. Ed Baierlein. Germinal Stage Denver (CO), May 12 - June 12, 1988.

The Iceman Cometh. Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland. In repertory, July 30 -October 29, 1988.

Jimmy Tomorrow (adaptation/expansion by Michael Lynch of O'Neill's story "Tomorrow"), dir. Simon Levy. One Act Theatre Company, San Francisco, July 15 - August 14, 1988.

Long Day's Journey Into Night, dir. Jackson Phippin. Berkeley (CA) Repertory Theatre. Closed on December 5, 1987.

Long Day's Journey Into Night, dir. Martin L. Platt. Octagon Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Mongomery, AL, November 19 - December 13, 1987.

Long Day's Journey Into Night, dir. Malcolm Morrison. Denver (CO) Center Theatre Company, January 4 - February 13, 1988.

Long Day's Journey Into Night and Ah, Wilderness! in repertory with Robards and Dewhurst heading the cast. Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, CT. LDJ: March 22 -May 21, 1988. AW: April 5 - May 21, 1988.

A Moon for the Misbegotten and Marco Millions. University of Pittsburgh (overlapping productions), Spring 1987.

A Moon for the Misbegotten, dir. Mark Cuddy. Sacramento (CA) Theatre Company, October 27 - November, 1987.

A Moon for the Misbegotten, dir. Judith Williams. West Virginia University, Spring 1988.

A Moon for the Misbegotten, dir. John Lion. San Francisco Magic Theatre, April 20 -June 5, 1988.

Mourning Becomes Electra, dir. David Hammond. PlayMakers Repertory Company, Chapel Hill, NC, January 26 -- February 28, 1988.

A Touch of the Poet, dir. Betty Jean Jones. University of North Carolina at Greensboro, November 4-8, 1987. [The production was the topic of convention sessions at the North Carolina Theatre Conference, which took place in Greensboro during the production's run. A commemorative program was published to accompany the production (featuring substantive articles by Dr. Jones, Ronald R. Miller, Robert M. Calhoon, and Karen Illingworth), and the Sunday matinee on November 8 was followed by an open community forum featuring Dr. Ronald Miller of the University of California-Santa Barbara, who spoke on "A Touch of the Poet: Values, Character and Culture in the Drama of Eugene O'Neill." Such para-performance activity is extremely valuable, since it builds an informed and discerning audience, and Dr. Jones is to be commended for carrying out a complex task so successfully. -Ed.]

A Touch of the Poet, dir. D. Thacker, with Vanessa Redgrave and Timothy Dalton in the leads. The Young Vic, London. Opens on January 28, 1988.

19. JACKSON INTERLUDE REDUX. Glenda Jackson, acclaimed for her performance as Nina Leeds in London's West End and on Broadway, brought her incandescent performance to the television screen in a three-evening PBS miniseries on January 18-20, 1988. While the 4 1/2 hours, divided, may lack the impact of the stage totality, few would balk at the relative ease of three 90-minute episodes. This is not a film of the stage production but a much recast and redirected entity. The television version, directed by Herbert Wise, retained only Jackson and Edward Petherbridge (as Charles Marsden) of the Broadway cast. Professor Leeds is now Jose Ferrer, with Ken Howard and David Dukes, respectively, as Nina's husband and lover. English settings provide the outdoor locales for the expanded film treatment--the Thames near Oxford for the regatta scene, and a house in Kent subbing as an upstate New York manor. The famous "asides" are handled in a way appropriate to the tubular medium: the actors speak their thoughts, "but with a filtering technique in the recording [to] give these words a slight but noticeably different timbre from the [public] speeches," according to Charles Champlin in the Los Angeles Times ("Jackson's Thirst for Challenge," Calendar Section, September 20, 1987, pp. 3, 42).

20. A RESOURCE FOR SCHOLARS OF O'NEILL FILMS. In his tireless search for O'Neill letters, Jackson R. Bryer came up empty-handed at the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. But he did get a reply from Museum Archivist Samuel A. Gill that might be of interest to delvers into the relations between O'Neill and "Hollywood." Gill mentioned a research guide compiled by Anthony Slide in 1976 on the subject of "Eugene O'Neill on Film." Here is the relevant part of Mr. Gill's letter:

"This research guide provides an alphabetical listing of all O'Neill plays which had appeared in film form up to 1976, with year of release and production information ... and source information regarding material held by the Academy, 16mm film rental source, print preservation source, screenplays and other items in our repositories, and a few selected bibliographic notes:

"I might add that since the compilation of this research guide, the Academy has received the Production Code Administration files of the Motion Picture Association of America, containing files on many of the films included in this list, which would provide ... scholars ... with an inside look at how the Production Code responded to aspects of the play and/or script drafts in order to be acceptable to the Code and to meet censor board requirements.

"In addition, there is a sizeable clippings file on Eugene O'Neill in the Biography Files, and a substantial number of photographic stills on all of the MGM films in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Collection of photographs which is MGM's archival set of stills preserved here at the Academy."

Interested scholars can contact Mr. Gill at the Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211-1972. Tel. (213) 278-4313.

21. O'NEILL'S FAVORITE O'NEILL FILM IN WELLESLEY. The Long Voyage Home (1940), which the playwright called "the best picture made from my stuff," will have two free showings (at 2 and 7:30) at the Wellesley (MA) Free Library, 530 Washington Street, on Thursday, April 14, 1988: The library is on both routes 16 and 135 near Wellesley Square, two miles west of Wellesley Hills. For further details, call Ted Kingsbury at (617) 235-7478. And tell him the Newsletter sent you!

22. AN ENCOUNTER AT WOODSTOCK: a reminiscence by William I. Oliver, Department of Dramatic Art, University of California, Berkeley.

This occurred some years ago (possibly the summer of 1948) while I was a young actor working at the Woodstock Playhouse in New York.

Having finished a performance or rehearsal, I went to a local bar to celebrate my pay day. I stood at one end of the bar and ordered a drink. Then I noticed another man at the bar. He was quite drunk. His speech was slurred and labored, as if his lips were numb. After a while, and probably due to some exchange between myself and the bartender, who knew I worked at the Playhouse, the drunk "chimed in" with a question or two about the current play. He was at pains to let us know that he "knew about theatre."

When I finished my drink the man insisted on buying me another. There was no escaping his offer. After a few remarks about the local Playhouse, he returned to his affirmations "that he really knew about theatre." He dropped several names of plays and authors. It was becoming obvious that he probably did know something about the theatre.

Then, quite abruptly, he sighed/belched and turned quite maudlin. Perhaps maudlin is not quite the right word ... Yes, he felt sorry for himself, but his self pity was laced with anger. His life was a waste, etc., etc. Then he looked up into my face and blinked and said ... "You know ... you know ... wha' my trouble is? My trouble's that ... that I'm my father's son!" Then he nodded for emphasis. I glanced at the bartender, who shrugged. Feeling I had to keep up my end of this conversation since he had bought me a drink, I asked the man who his father was. He replied, "Djeen O'Neill."

I glanced at the bartender again and he raised his eyebrows and shrugged. After
that exchange the drunk returned to his painfully labored talk about the theatre.

It was a few years later that I saw a TV program (possibly on Dumont TV) interviewing a group of scholars and critics on questions concerning Greek tragedy or some such thing. I was impressed by the appearance of the same drunk I had met in Woodstock. The drunk had been, in fact, Eugene O'Neill's son. What was heart-breaking was the fact that the poor man was again drunk. Once O'Neill made his opening remarks, the camera proceeded to do an adroit dance around him for the rest of the program. However, try as they might to keep the camera off O'Neill, he kept trying to speak and one could hear the slurred and drunken remarks off camera.

When I learned the details of his death, I was again reminded of the misery of the drunk at the bar in Woodstock. I would venture to say that he considered his achievements as a critic and editor of the Collected Greek Plays to be of no real consequence. It's as though his life had been hollowed-out by his father's achievement.

23. GILPIN ON STAGE. The Emperor Charles, a play by Spencer Vibbert starring Charles Dumas as actor Charles Gilpin, played in New York City last fall, at the Church of the Holy Trinity on East 88th Street, where performances by the Triangle Theater Company ended on November 29. C. Gerald Fraser, interviewing the playwright and star in the New York Times (November 28, 1987, p. 9), revealed that, in a strange way, history was repeating itself. O'Neill had eventually fired Gilpin when the actor wouldn't stop changing lines, particularly lines he considered racially demeaning. And Dumas found himself doing the same thing with Vibbert's script. "Instead of 'highfalutin bleeping sick playwright' I would say 'highfalutin Irish playwright,' and I was making the exact same kind of adjustment. I'm not doing it now; I'm trying to use the language and fit into my character." It may not be for that reason, but Mr. Dumas, unlike Mr. Gilpin, retained his starring role until the end of the run!



© Copyright 1999-2011