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Ah, Wilderness!
The Theatre Guild On The Air
Broadcast: ABC - Sunday, October 07, 1945
Adapted: Arthur Arent     Director: Homer Fickett

Narrator - Eugene O'Neill, Jr.
Nat Miller
- Walter Huston
Tommy - Teddy Rose
Essie Miller - Katherine Raht
Mildred - Judy Parrish
Arthur - Richard Widmark
Aunt Lily - Eda Heinemann
Sid Davis - Walter Kinsella
Richard - Jack Kelk
Mr. Ma
comber - Will Geer
Wint - Tony Barrett
Belle - Dennie Moore
Bartender - Frank Lovejoy
Muriel - Susan Douglas
Salesman - Russell Collins


 

What makes it a pleasure to adapt to radio any play by Eugene O'Neill is the fact that every scene in it is sure to have a beginning, a middle, and an end.  This is more extraordinary than it sounds, since many plays (some successful ones included) are so woodenly contrived that any effort to break them down for purposes of radio adaptation results in chaos and the subsequent building of a brand new structure.  All O'Neill's scenes, however, build to their curtains with an awesome inevitability heart-warming to the adapter.

The dominant motif of "Ah, Wilderness!" being nostalgia, it was necessary to create this mood at the outset.  thus the Narrator speaks of "blacksmiths and Merry Widow hats and zithers and black lisle stockings with lace openwork."   His speeches are musically underscored with "Bedelia," a song of the period.  He then introduces the Miller family one by one, as they come into the parlor after lunch, thus evoking the easy informality of the period, and, more particularly, this household.

Since the play was written in four acts, a certain shifting of scenes was inevitable, the new act curtains giving them a slightly different emphasis.  But with the exception of Dick's scene with his sister Mildred, which I arbitrarily set in his bedroom for purposes of variety, no relocation of scene was necessary.

By and large, so solid and inevitable was the line of this play that it required less juggling and rearranging than any I have ever adapted.  As Proof of this, the only changes made in rehearsal were a minute and a half cut from the running time and the insertion, at Lawrence Langner's suggestion, of the bluefish episode.   -- Arthur Arent

From Theatre Guild on the Air, H. William Fitelson (ed), 1947


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