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Editor: Frederick Wilkins
Suffolk University, Boston

Vol. VIII, No. 1
Spring, 1984



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HEATON VORSE, featured singer in the movie Reds and early Provincetown Player whose mother's wharf provided the Players' first theater, entertains during "Beginnings," the evening of Provincetown Playhouse reminiscences featured last March at the conference on "EUGENE O'NEILL--THE EARLY YEARS" cosponsored by the Eugene O'Neill Society, Suffolk University, and the Newsletter. (All conference photographs are by John Gillooly. More appear below.)

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They came from twenty one states and the District of Columbia; from India, Belgium, Poland, Japan and the people's Republic of China; professors and teachers, actors and writers and theatergoers, 150 strong, all united by a love for Eugene O'Neill and a desire to celebrate his "early years" at a four-day conference at Suffolk University from 22 to 25 March 1984. As clouds surrendered to sunshine, and the pieces of a complex undertaking fell smoothly into place (thanks to the firm guiding hand of Tom Sullivan), my year of trepidation melted into awe. Every scheduled speaker appeared; everything happened at its appointed time; and, judging from the letters I have since received, everyone was delighted with the results.

One page is too little even to detail the March activities, let alone thank the many who contributed to the conference's success and who will, I hope, accept this blanket expression of gratitude. (Some of them are pictured elsewhere in this issue--pp. 10, 15 and 28.) The speakers who delivered papers are listed with their titles at the start of the News section herein. But that list does not include the Thursday banquet's stirring keynote address, "Haunting Ghosts," in which Barbara Gelb suggested the sleuthery involved in preparing O'Neill and played a tape of Carlotta describing the moment when Eugene learned of his mother's addiction; nor the eight film adaptations of O'Neill's plays, ably introduced by John Orlandello; nor the Media Room, where participants availed themselves of tapes, records, photos of the original productions and a display of O'Neill memorabilia; nor the special viewing of the American premiere of Servitude hosted by its director, Paul Voelker; nor the panel discussion on "Teaching O'Neill," led by Jordan Miller, in which Kristin Morrison, Gary Vena, Randy Harris and Lowell Swortzell offered insights that roused a wide-ranging discussion; nor the Saturday trip to the Monte Cristo Cottage in New London, CT, whose curators, Sally Pavetti and Lois McDonald, not only showed us through the cottage but gave us a tour of the town and the O'Neill Theatre Center in nearby Waterford; nor the three evenings of theatre--a montage of O'Neill scenes by the Suffolk Student Theatre on Thursday; an "O'Neill Celebration" on Friday that included performances by orator Thomas F. Connolly, poet Norman Andrew Kirk and playwright David Wheeler; and a Saturday program entitled "Beginnings," in which the members of the Provincetown Playhouse recreated the Players' very first double bill (of 1915), with reminiscences by the original members' descendants.

As that breathless list implies, the four days were rich and rewarding. While supplies last, I will mail a full program to anyone who sends $1.00 to the Newsletter to cover postage. Also available is the handsome conference poster ($5.00 each)--a limited edition of 100, numbered and signed by the artist, Marshall Brooks.

Enough! This is not a time for hucksterism, but for looking ahead. The March 1984 conference is "more than a memory" for two reasons. First of all, as revised papers arrive, I am seeking a publisher who will preserve them in a book for all who missed the event and for scholars and readers in the future. The University Press of America has expressed an interest in the proposal. Given the papers' brilliance, I expect good news ere winter.

Secondly, I have had second thoughts since I announced, at the conference's end, "if anyone has the thought of a conference on the late years, its chairmanship is up for grabs!" If it's still up there, I would like, on the basis of the March experience and the support of all whom I have sounded out about the idea, to reach for it and propose, herewith, a conference on "EUGENE O'NEILL--THE LATER YEARS," to be held at the same site as the last, and to take place in the late spring of 1986--probably a Friday-to-Sunday period in late May or early June--dates to be determined after I learn the preferences of a sizable number of volunteer participants.

I will say more about the 1986 conference in the next issue of the Newsletter. But I would appreciate hearing before then from anyone who has a paper to propose, an activity to suggest, or a 1984 conference problem that we should remedy next time. With the early years in 1984, and the later years in 1986, everyone should be splendidly prepared for the biggest year of all--the O'Neill centennial year of 1988! I await your thoughts, and offer thanks again to the many who made the 1984 conference a memory to cherish. --F.C.W.

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Conference Photos, 1984

Jordan Y. Miller, Secretary of the Eugene O'Neill Society and its most dedicated proselytizer, was triply busy at the conference--as speaker, moderator and membership booster--the last role abetted by the ready supply of applications in his pocket!

Fred Wilkins turns from congratulating Frank R. Cunningham, Steven D. Bloom (moderator and the assistant director of the conference) Brenda Murphy and Albert Bermel, featured speakers in Session B, "O'Neill and the Isms, Part I."

Kristin Morrison, Jordan Miller (moderator), Randy Harris, Gary Vena and Lowell Swortzell after their stimulating panel discussion on "Teaching O'Neill."

Fred Wilkins (1.) and Arthur Gelb (r.) greet Elliot Norton, renowned dramatic critic, at the Thursday night banquet.

Haskell Block, Fred Wilkins and Travis Bogard discuss Charles Ellis' seldom-exhibited painting of Jig Cook and the Provincetowners (O'Neill is at the far right). The painting was loaned to the conference by Ellis' widow, Norma, who, like her husband and sister Edna St. Vincent Millay, was among the original Provincetown Players.

At the Thursday banquet: Fred Wilkins, Arthur and Barbara Gelb, Liu Haiping, Michael R. Ronayne, Dean of Suffolk University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Daniel H. Perlman, President of Suffolk University. Messrs. Perlman and Ronayne greeted the conference participants, and Mrs. Gelb delivered the keynote address, "Haunting Ghosts," after the dinner.

Richard Hornby, Yvonne Shafer, Haskell Block and
Paul D. Voelker (moderator)--the personnel of
Session I, "O'Neill and the Isms, Part II."

Liu Haiping, Jordan Miller, Ward B. Lewis, Marta
Sienicka (moderator) and Edward L. Shaughnessy,
speakers in session on "Reactions at Home and Abroad."

International participants: Liu Haiping (People's Republic of China), Yasuko Ikeuchi (Japan), Marta Sienicka (Poland), R. Viswanathan (India), and Marc Maufort (Belgium).

Lois McDonald, Associate Curator, and Sally Pavetti, Curator of the Monte Cristo Cottage, our exemplary guides to the Cottage and its New London and Waterford environs on Saturday, 3/24.

The Eugene O'Neill Newsletter, Vol. VIII, No. 1 ISSN: 0733-0456. Copyright (c) 1984 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. & Canada, $10/year for libraries, institutions and all overseas subscribers. Only one-year subscriptions are accepted. Members of the Eugene O'Neill Society receive subscriptions as part of their annual dues. Back issues available @ $3 each. Address: The Eugene O'Neill Newsletter, Department of English, Suffolk University, Boston, MA 02114 U.S.A.


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