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Editor: Frederick Wilkins
Suffolk University, Boston

Vol. III, No. 2
September, 1979



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'Tis, as readers of this issue will discover, a season for analogues and influences in O'Neill studies. Strange Interlude owes much to Ibsen's Wild Duck, as does A Touch of the Poet, which also owes much to Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. The Hairy Ape may owe much to John Howard Lawson's play, Standards. And Tennessee Williams' Kingdom of Earth owes much to Desire Under the Elms, which in turn owes much to Emerson, Hawthorne, Melville and Whitman. Indeed, seldom has there been a season in which O'Neill's particular thread has been so ably and detailedly related to the warp and woof (especially the woof) of modern literature. Which is all to the good. Far from being a unique, exotic sport, he was a full-fledged citizen of the world, as forthcoming books by Horst Frenz and Virginia Floyd will further emphasize. (On the subject of Professor Floyd's volume, see "New Book on O'Neill: A Preview" in this issue.) The Newsletter, whose 185th page this is, hopes, with the aid of its thoughtful contributors, to continue such a delineation of O'Neill's complex place in the fabric of modern drama and thought. "Only connect," urged E.M. Forster. Eugene O'Neill definitely did. Whatever the fate of his lonely protagonists, he himself assuredly "belongs."

Speaking of belonging, all lovers of O'Neill will wish to belong to the nascent EUGENE O'NEILL SOCIETY, whose birth was announced in the last issue (pp. 11-13). Its first meeting, which will include the adoption of by-laws and the election of officers to be nominated from the floor, will be held at Tao House, near San Francisco, on Saturday, December 29, during the 1979 MLA Convention. Since the details of the meeting and of transportation to its site have not as yet been formalized, fuller information will shortly be mailed to all current members and to all Newsletter subscribers. (Non-subscribers may receive information by writing to Jordan Y. Miller, the Society's pro-tem Secretary, at the Department of English, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881. Tel. 401-792-2576.) While memberships will be available at the door on the 29th, I urge all who intend to join to do so in advance. Membership dues, at the amounts listed on page 12 of the May issue, may be sent to Professor Miller at the above address. The larger the number of prepaid members, the more festive the send-off! I hope all readers will try to be on hand for this historic event.

Another historic event--admittedly smaller but at least as colorful--may be ocularly obvious to readers of the next issue of the Newsletter, if funds permit. I had planned to include in the current issue an illustrated review of a marvelous August production, at Dartmouth College's Hopkins Center, of The Hairy Ape. But I have decided to wait until the January 1980 issue to print the review--partly because the production has now ended anyway; and partly because insufficient space is available to do it justice here; but mostly because, in addition to the review, black and white photographs of the production, and an essay by its director, Michael Rutenberg, I hope to include full-color drawings of the eight sets designed for the production by the Hopkins Center's resident designer, Bernard J. Vyzga. In addition to their considerable artistic merit, they reveal how variations in a basic unit set can bring a symbolic unity to O'Neill's multiple shifts of locale while also making those shifts technically feasible, even when the mise en scène of The Hairy Ape must share limited space, as it did at Dartmouth, with sets for Tartuffe and The Winter's Tale. This is, as I said, a hope and not a promise; black and white may remain ubiquitous. But if costs permit, and the color reproduction process is successful, the next issue could offer a feast for the eye as well as--I trust--the mind!

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Two scenes from the 1976 production of The Hairy Ape, directed by George Ferencz, at the Impossible Ragtime Theatre in New York City. Yank (Ray Wise) is seen in confrontations with Mildred Douglas (Annette Kurek) and the gorilla (Jonathan Frakes). Photos by Michael Zettler.

The Eugene O'Neill Newsletter, Vol. III, No. 2. Copyright (c) 1979 by the Eugene O'Neill Newsletter. Copyright © 2011 by Harley J. Hammerman. Editor: Frederick C. Wilkins. Assoc. Editor: Marshall Brooks. Subscriptions: $6/year for individuals in U.S. and Canada, $10/year for libraries and institutions and all overseas subscribers. Only one-year subscriptions are accepted. Back issues are available @ $3 each. Address: The Eugene O'Neill Newsletter, Department of English, Suffolk University, Boston, MA 02114 U.S.A.


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