BY Arthur Gelb
FROM The New York Times, March 18, 1957
O’Neill Play, Feared Destroyed,
Unearthed by Swedish Producer
A Eugene O’Neill manuscript in four acts, which was
never published and until recently was believed to have been destroyed
by the author, has been acquired for possible production by the Royal
Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, Sweden.
Entitled “More Stately Mansions,” the drama is the
fourth in a monumental cycle of nine plays to which Mr. O’Neill devoted
many of the last years of his life. Because they needed revision and
cutting, six of the plays were destroyed by the ailing playwright and
his wife in the Boston hotel where they were living before Mr. O’Neill’s
death in 1953.
Up to now, the only play of the cycle that was
definitely known to exist in a form suitable for production was “A Touch
of the Poet,” which will have its first production in Stockholm on March
28. It was also in Stockholm that the world premiere of “Long Day’s
Journey Into Night” took place on Feb. 10, 1956.
According to a report from Stockholm yesterday, Dr.
Karl Ragnar Gierow, director of the Royal Dramatic Theatre, learned
recently that the script of “More Stately Mansions” had not been
destroyed. Dr. Gierow, whose work was greatly admired by Mr. O’Neill,
took a plane trip to New York several weeks ago and located the script
with the assistance of Mrs. O’Neill.
Mrs. O’Neill could not be reached yesterday
regarding details of how or where the play was found.
The manuscript, dated 1938, would take ten hours to
perform in its current version. However, Dr. Gierow made a trip to Yale
University two weeks ago and, in searching through the O’Neill
collection there, he came across some notes by the author on how the
play could be cut. Dr. Gierow would like to put it on in Stockholm next
Besides “A Touch of the Poet” and “More Stately
Mansions,” the other plays in the cycle were “Greed the Meek,” “Or Give
Me Death,” “The Calms of Capricorn,” “The Earth Is the Limit!”, “Nothing
Lost Save Honor,” “The Man on Iron Horseback” and “The Hair of the Dog.”
The plays, collectively known as “A Tale of
Possessors Self-Dispossessed,” carried a family through the whole span
of American history. The central theme was the malevolent effect of
possessions on their possessors.
discussing the cycle, Mr. O’Neill once said that each play was an
individual drama, but was related to the others as an essential link in
the chain. Concerning the family of his creation, Mr. O’Neill once
described it as “a far from model American family.”