Menu Bar

 

Editor: Frederick Wilkins
Suffolk University, Boston

Vol. X, No. 3
Winter, 1986


(
IN THIS ISSUE)

HARNESSING O'NEILL'S FURIES: PHILIP MOELLER DIRECTS DYNAMO

Eugene O'Neill's Dynamo is usually remembered as one of the playwright's intriguing follies in which a young man throws over the god of his family and ends up on his knees praying to an electrical dynamo at the local power works; or as a spectacular vehicle for an imposing powerhouse setting by Lee Simonson; or even as a memorable opportunity for enticing Claudette Colbert to flaunt her "tingling, invigorating femininity."1 Dynamo, however, was also a magnificent achievement in stage direction by Philip Moeller. For seven years this director demonstrated repeatedly an unusual sensitivity to the themes and styles of O'Neill's always changing experiments. Not only were all five of Moeller's O'Neill productions faithful presentations; they were also exciting and dynamic in his use of space and enhanced by intense acting performances. Despite the fact tat O'Neill asserted only three months after opening night that "Dynamo doesn't count,"2 Moeller's production brought the play very close to success.

Even in the failure of Dynamo, Moeller with his designer Lee Simonson created dramatic moments and bold stage pictures as provocative as any other in the theatre of New York. Moeller's simultaneous staging in confining houses and his economical use of the limited playing space on the four levels of a towering, majestic powerhouse provided O'Neill's play with a stunning production. The commitment of director, designer and actors to Dynamo kept the audience interested and often fascinated despite what many critics both then and in retrospect found to be tedious events and stilted language.

In his positive review of Dynamo, which opened on February 11, 1929,3 Brooks Atkinson observed that O'Neill had clearly "cut loose from the realistic drama, perhaps for all time."4 An overwhelming majority of reviewers, however, lamented the squandering of such an astonishing production on poor dramatic material. Richard Skinner, for example, called Dynamo "a case of immense talent in playwriting, acting and production all being wasted on the immature profundities of a man whose intelligence cannot catch up with his chaotic and intense feelings."5 As with the successful Strange Interlude of the previous season, Moeller and the Theatre Guild served O'Neill well with powerful, perceptive direction of problematic material; but Dynamo appeared to be a dramaturgical blunder.

At age forty-eight the talkative, inordinately sensitive but sophisticated, somewhat mannered and romantic director had been staging productions for the Theatre Guild and Washington Square Players since their inception. Before beginning with O'Neill, Moeller was associated primarily with comedy such as Arms and the Man and Mr. Pim Passes By. He had, however, also staged important experiments in Processional and The Adding Machine. Educated at New York University and Columbia, the articulate Moeller was a sometime playwright who displayed a strong interest in all the fine arts which attracted him to European plays and methods, and led him to an eclectic and almost cavalier directing style.6

"There are no excuses in the theatre,"7 Moeller was fond of saying, always willing to accept the responsibility for failure, but adamant in striving for just the right approach to a play. Yet he set about each directorial task rather casually and romantically, as if the assigned play were a sweeping piece of music which could be best appreciated and produced if interpreted intuitively rather than analytically.8 "I consider myself the orchestra leader," he said, "who must blend all the tones so that they become parts of one composition."9

After his triumph with Strange Interlude Moeller was suddenly regarded by critics and journalists as a very serious theatre artist. In an interview which appeared the day before Dynamo premiered, for example, Moeller was now described as "this intense and deeply mystical interpreter of O'Neill's tragedies."10 Subsequent reviews of Dynamo, after expressing bitter disappointment with O'Neill's work, praised Moeller's effectiveness, imagination, picturization, resourcefulness and clarity.11 Robert Garland, for example, wrote that Moeller's direction was "so skillful . . . so fortissimo with the good spots, so piano with the poor, that Mr. Moeller's mind would be interesting to read."12 Intending praise, Atkinson remarked that the committed performance and its direction were "as broad and audacious as [O'Neill's] story."13

Although in retrospect O'Neill blamed himself entirely for rushing the play to production and failing to attend any rehearsals because he had left the country with Carlotta Monterey,14 his absence may have helped to keep Moeller dedicated to the script, which needed much cutting and nursing. O'Neill began composition of the play in 1927, and it was not completed until the fall of 1928;15 yet he immediately submitted it to the Theatre Guild by mail and was never present to work on cutting or revision with Moeller.16

Cutting and revision were necessary, however, and O'Neill's notes and guidelines which accompanied his script gave Moeller and the Guild no specific instructions about cutting.17 As Lawrence Langner later wrote, "we greatly missed Gene at rehearsals for clarification and cutting, and had to do the best we could."18 Moeller, as always, tried to be as faithful as practical to O'Neill's intentions; but without the playwright for conference and approval, Moeller was forced to revise on the basis of his own predilections and with the endorsement of the Theatre Guild Board.19

While he made extensive cuts throughout the long play for streamlining, the promptbooks are much longer than the first edition.20 The most significant changes which affected staging, however, occurred in Act III. Moeller and Simonson eliminated the exterior of the powerhouse and created a large open construction which revealed all areas of the plant at once. As a result, O'Neill's two exterior and three interior scenes of Act III were played continuously with no scene changes.21

Moeller became obsessed with the ideas of Dynamo and managed to infect not only the cast but the production team with his enthusiasm and commitment. "Phil seemed almost to hypnotize himself with the mood of the play" Theresa Helburn recalled. "He became possessed by the unreal, mystic values."22 During preproduction preparations in December, and throughout rehearsals in January and early February, Moeller took Simonson and his stage manager Herbert Biberman on numerous field trips to power plants all over New York and Connecticut. (Stevenson, Connecticut was the specific site O'Neill had had in mind when writing the play.) In the first week of February Moeller even took the principal actors to Connecticut to get a first hand sense of a modern electrical power plant.23   The director clearly wanted to pursue all available preparatory avenues in O'Neill's absence.

As an experimental work, Dynamo used extensive asides as in Strange Interlude and simultaneous staging as in Desire Under the Elms; but the effects of these devices were considerably different here. In addition, the use of sound, especially non-musical sound, was more extensive than in any previous O'Neill play. The production's "continuous and generous use of sounds and noises"24 was specifically desired by O'Neill as recurring dramatic motifs intended to enhance the onstage action.25 He even considered sound a significant structural device for the play and stressed in his instructions to the Guild that the sound effects were "not incidental noises b significant dramatic overtones that are an integral part of . . . the whole play."26 Moeller and Simonson responded enthusiastically to O'Neill's plea by creating an impressive network of sound devices beneath and above the stage.

Throughout Act I, O'Neill wanted occasional thunder and lightning warning of a brewing storm which finally broke at the end of the act. His notes said the thunder should have "a menacing, brooding quality as if some Electrical God were on the hills impelling all these people."27  In production the thunderstorm was properly managed and effectively executed,28 for Moeller and Simonson responded with a five by five foot thunder drum mounted beneath the stage and amplified with a microphone. In addition they used a motor-driven wind whistle below and a rainbox at stage level.29 All sound effects were manipulated from a control panel 30 and executed periodically at special, often ironic points within the script.31

More impressive in the theatre, however, was the manipulation of the powerhouse sounds in Act III. Although Moeller introduced the ominous dynamo sound early in Act I ("its whirring rhythm sets the pace for all the proceedings"),32 the most dynamic uses of this sound occurred when the powerhouse setting was onstage. Seeking a background of rushing water and the "harsh, throaty, metallic purr of the dynamo,"33 O'Neill found this special sound "symbolic and mysterious and moving."34 Furthermore, he wanted the powerhouse sounds not only to pride an aural environment, but to seem to control or incite much of the onstage action.35 Moeller reported that the results provided "an unconscious accompaniment to the dialogue,"36 a device which was not only continuously at work in the background, but varied in intensity to accent the action of Act III.

These numerous sound cues were marked throughout the promptbook and became much louder and more frequent as the play built to a climax in the final scene.37 The effects were manipulated by adjusting the amplifier from the control board since the dynamo and water sounds were created by a small generator and a low pressure vacuum line, each equipped with its own microphone.38 Furthermore, the speakers for the dynamo's "siren hum"39 were mounted inside the onstage dynamo,40 thus enhancing the immediacy of the effect.

O'Neill gave all characters asides, usually initiating scenes with interior monologues and often inserting back-to-back asides in a manner similar to Strange Interlude. This time, however, the asides were less provocative, less vital and, most significantly, less contradictory with their spoken words. As Euphemia Wyatt noted, "the two families in Dynamo are very simple folk, their words and their thoughts usually tally." Consequently, she found the device "dull and repetitious."41 Likewise, Littell found that the asides "served rather more as necessary autobiography than as illumination of the secret places of the heart."42 Dynamo, unfortunately, lacked the individualized "subjective responses" of intelligent people which had made Strange Interlude so fascinating.43

O'Neill himself eventually realized the unsuitability of asides to Dynamo, recognizing that they were a "special expression for a special type of modern neurotic, disintegrated soul . . . [and they were] quite alien to essential psychological form of Dynamo's characters."44 This, more than production problems, seemed to O'Neill a chief failing of the play.

Moeller, however, admired the structure of Dynamo, whose asides served as "a sort of contrapuntal melody" to the dialogue.45 His method for delivery of the asides was similar to his use of arrested motion in Strange Interlude; but according to his description in the promptbook the method was more obvious and abrupt than before. "Whenever a thought is being said," he wrote,

all other people are static . . . and the person beginning the thought has the liberty of movement. When a person finishing a thought begins a speech to the others, all move out of their held positions simultaneously and the person speaking begins with an attack to emphasize the change in character of his or her speech. The held positions are not only normal repose, an extended hand or a gesture is held thru another persons [sic] thought.46

Furthermore, the actors were spread all over the stage on different levels, and thus the simultaneous reanimation seemed more pervasive.

As in Desire Under the Elms, O'Neill wanted simultaneous exterior and interior action, often in three or four different areas of the stage; but this time he needed a pair of two-story houses on stage at once with a playable area between. He even sent sketches of possible settings which clearly demonstrated what he had in mind--a removable wall scheme--but Moeller and Simonson constructed a very different environment while maintaining in principle the basic arrangement submitted by the playwright.47

Always more interested in setting designs as architecture than as painting--in designs which achieved "the balance of structural surfaces and the play of light upon them"48 --Simonson produced a pragmatic but stunning design which offered Moeller more freedom to manipulate and arrange onstage action than would have been possible in O'Neill's scheme. With Dynamo Simonson and Moeller harmoniously complemented one another's conceptions by producing and using a space which expressed the play's essential rhythms and moods.

Mounted in the four-year-old Martin Beck Theatre, a standard house with a shallow stage on the then "unfashionable" side of Eighth Avenue,49 Dynamo had two basic settings which varied markedly according to the selective lighting incorporated. Although O'Neill's suggested plans were realistic in appearance, he wrote the Guild that it would not be necessary to maintain a realistic format. Taking the playwright at his word and following his own principle of elimination of detail to heighten scenic effect, Simonson produced a constructivist design which served Moeller quite well,50 but troubled the playwright when he saw photographs. In retrospect O'Neill believed that Dynamo was too dependent upon director and stage designer to be effective as drama.51

Critics, however, were impressed by the settings and Moeller's use of them. He and Simonson boldly employed "a full stage--height and breadth"52 to create an environment which was "half symbol, half real,"53 but sweepingly effective, inventive and imaginative.54 Most significantly, Moeller created "many unforgettable pictures"55 utilizing the variety of levels provided by Simonson and the frequent simultaneous activity suggested by O'Neill.

Given the demands of the settings, Moeller needed the actual stage and finished sets earlier than usual, so the Martin Beck was made available by about February 3 or 4 (a week before opening). Although Simonson had the two set houses ready before the move, the power plant came late. In order to get the four levels and unusual height necessary to rehearse the scenes of Act III, Moeller and Simonson stacked additional platforms on top of one of the flat-roofed houses and connected the levels with rehearsal stairs while the complicated setting was being constructed.56

For the first two acts Dynamo needed two houses in contrasting styles, houses which could be opened to reveal upstairs and downstairs interiors that suggested very different life styles and value systems. Seeking a few details to suggest the whole, Simonson built what Robert Benchley labeled "erecto-houses,""57 outlines of homes with "skeletonized walls but practical doors."58 Neither house was shown in its entirety, as each unit was slightly raked with the offstage end of the house closer to the proscenium line. Each house disappeared right and left into the wings, suggesting that more lay beyond.59

Although the houses, at first viewing, seemed to offer little differentiation in their uniform incompleteness, matching door, stair and window placement, and identical color (a nondescript grey-brown),60 closer examination reveals that the Fifes' house at stage-left was flat-roofed with a curving, pseudo-Spanish facade along the downstage and stage-right roof lines. By contrast, the Lights' house, stage-right, had a peaked, gabled roof. Furthermore, the furnishings were very distinct in style and color. Dark Victorian furniture in the Lights' house was upholstered in grey, black and dark red; while the Fifes' furniture was of modern design, primarily wicker, colored in green, brown, pink and flowered patterns. Most significant, however, were the oil lamps of the Lights that contrasted to the electric lights of the Fifes.61 Overall, David Carb found that the houses expressed "the temperament of the people who live in them exactly, were excellent for the purpose, and pictorially effective."62

Perhaps the most striking aspect of this setting was the open space below and between the houses contrasted by the tiny, confining, low-ceilinged rooms inside the houses. Only two set properties appeared on stage outside the houses: a thin, low, grey picket fence running perpendicular to the curtain line and defining the property line,63 and a tall telephone pole up left-center strung with power lines and watching over the Fife house. Otherwise the stage was bare and backed by a transparency for daytime scenes, and for nocturnal scenes a dark blue cyclorama. The transparency was lit from behind with the projection of a powerhouse in the distance, and the entire stage picture was outlined by black drapes just inside the proscenium arch.64

The greatest service such a set provided for the play was the capability of simultaneous staging and scene changing by simply raising and lowering light intensity instead of shifting panels. Therefore, the scenes of Act I which O'Neill meant to be played as if no time lapsed between them were done with no interruption.65 Atkinson verified that the action in the four rooms moved "in quick succession";66 indeed, here were the smoothest scene transitions in an O'Neill play to date.

One of Moeller's biggest staging problems with this setting was creating interesting compositions despite the small confining rooms of the houses: the possibilities for significant movement or interesting composition seemed all but impossible. Therefore, Moeller gave very specific movement directions to actors when inside the houses, but allowed them his usual freedom when outside. For example, a typical direction of Moeller's in another O'Neill promptbook will read, "cross right," whereas in Dynamo the direction may read "cross 3 steps right."67

Of course, this problem was mollified by Moeller's ability to display action simultaneously in different rooms and houses as well as outside. Moeller not only followed O'Neill's indications of simultaneous action, but by showing all areas at once, continued with additional domestic action which would have been unseen if O'Neill's wall scheme were utilized. Production stage directions indicate that actors in both houses were always on stage and in view. Lights were lighter on the scenes with dialogue and asides, but no area was entirely extinguished.68 Consequently, when characters or a family were not in the written scene, they assumed "a semblance of living naturally in their quarters,"69 or as the promptbook states, "small business may be engaged in by those in the dimmed areas." When a character began an aside, however, all characters in all parts of the stage froze.70

Moeller often had actors at work in all parts of the setting at once. In the first scene, for example, Reverend Light was in his house downstairs while Mrs. Light was upstairs, Reuben was outside at the fence, and the Fife family were in their house both upstairs and down. Asides were delivered from three different locations, so the freezes moved about the stage.71

Simonson's powerhouse setting of Act III remains one of his most memorable achievements. Barrett Clark called this design and Moeller's use of it "a remarkable piece of stage setting and directing."72 Nearly all critics echoed these sentiments, finding the three-dimensional metal, glass and wooden structure which extended high into the air beyond the proscenium arch imaginative and accurate, modern and beautiful, clean and gleaming, "satanic and awesome" in its reality as the literal was heightened to an impressive stage symbol.73

The setting had four different acting levels which Moeller and Simonson called "A," "B," "C," and "D." Stage level ("A") had a large grey dynamo stage-right, backed by a high wall with narrow windows extending up to the proscenium arch. The stage-left side was filled with a tri-level switch gallery ("B," "C," and "D"). "B" could be reached by stairs from "A" or a door on the upstage wall of "B." Another staircase rose from "B" to "C" and a third stairway rose from "C" to "D." The playable space grew progressively smaller as the performers climbed, and actors could leave the performance area from "D" and exit upstage to the unseen water dam. Nearly all construction was metal pipe and aluminum sheeting, or wood painted to resemble metal. Everything was painted grey, black or white except for a green plate-glass floor for "C," the underside of which could be seen by much of the audience.74 When working on these upper platforms, Moeller found again that he had to be specific with movement directions, especially since areas were often isolated with lights.75

The two most dynamic moments in the staging of Act III occurred with Ada's seduction of Reuben, and Reuben's suicide. In a volatile moment which led to a "scarlet interlude hidden by a virtuous curtain" (as Percy Hammond would have it) Ada, a young Claudette Colbert who was costumed provocatively "in a leggy red dress,"76 first distracted Reuben before growing frightened as he grabbed and kissed her passionately and bent her backward toward the floor, ending on top of her just before a blackout. The action took place high on level "C" and was accentuated by the green glass through which much of the audience could watch the couple sinking to the floor. This was the only point within the act where Moeller interrupted the action briefly and discreetly with a curtain.77

At the play's climax Reuben killed himself by climbing on top of the dynamo and thrusting his hands into the open top in a "vivid . . . exhibit of electrocution."78 Critics found this representation graphic and realistic, "a blue, sparkling suicide"79 which required the careful and imaginative coordination of several special effects. The head of the dynamo was equipped with a spark-gap mechanism with two points just visible on top. An eight-inch spark jump was created at this point and was heightened by red and blue strip lights mounted inside the dynamo, which had many openings through which the colored light could stream. When Glenn Anders as Reuben seemed to shove his hands into the dynamo (his hands were actually about a foot or so away from the two rods), a bluish-white spark was fired for approximately ten seconds. At the same time the dynamo's red and blue lights came up, the regular set lighting dimmed to below half, and the dynamo's humming sounds stopped abruptly. When the spark ended and Reuben fell dead, all was deathly quiet for about one page of dialogue and action. Then the dynamo sound started up again lights were restored, and the dynamo built to a very loud humming which ended the play.80

In general the acting was highly praised for believable, human characterization even if it sometimes became rather rhetorical and homiletic in vocal delivery.81 This was especially true in Act III when the play suddenly became more mystical and hysterical.82 "Charged with a mad fury,"83 the characters relentlessly pursued their devastating goals as the actors performed "in bold, free strokes and booming voices."84 Moeller had inspired his actors and carried "the cast with him on a wave of enthusiasm"85 which resulted in powerful and dedicated performances.

Two performances especially demonstrated the verve of the production and the freedom granted the actors by Moeller. Claudette Colbert's young flapper was distressing to a few reviewers, who found her displaying self-consciously her vibrant, flippant energy and alluring physical charm;86 but Moeller achieved useful contrast in mood by essentially leaving the actress to her own devices except for basic movement and compositional placement. She imbued the role with vivacity, and she often posed in a straightforward and vivid manner which bespoke a commonness of character and lack of sophistication which was not only appropriate for the role but simultaneously enticing.87 Fittingly described by Wyatt as a "Gee-but-you're-a-peach young woman,"88 Colbert's characterization served to set in stark relief the religious and fervent depiction of Reuben Light.89

Glenn Anders, by contrast, created a sincere, passionate, confused young man. His Reuben, who was alternately powerful and lachrymose, commanding and whining, frequently brooded, cried and tore his hair and remained intense and defiant throughout,90 with "sweeping earnestness" and "extraordinary fiery passion."91 Ultimately, the role was the devastated product of obsession and religious adoration which theatregoers usually found admirable for the actor's stirring commitment, but absurd within the world of the play.92 Littell, for example, wrote that Anders played "with a fine, cutting sincerity and passion . . . in a part which seemed to me often quite foolish,"but the critic went on to say, "I do not see how it could have been played better."93 Despite the leading actor's ardor and zeal in the midst of spectacular staging, O'Neill's hero and his dramatic situation were deemed by many as silly and ridiculous.

Stark Young complained that both play and production attempted to make too literal a story and conflict which should have remained ethereal and mystical.94 Most critics, however, rightly or wrongly agreed with Ernest Boyd's assessment: "neither the excellent acting . . . nor the fine production could conceal the essential shallowness and adolescent pretentiousness of the play."95 Moeller, nevertheless, remained "blind," in Helburn's words, "to the obvious faults of the play"96 while in production and managed to mount an impressive, trenchant spectacle. Perhaps O'Neill cast his material in the wrong dramatic form and Moeller was close to the truth when he said that Dynamo "would make a magnificent modern opera."97

--Ronald H. Wainscott

NOTES

1 David Carb, "Seen on the Stage," Vogue, March 30, 1828, p. 102.

2 Eugene O'Neill (May 1828) in Horst Frenz, Eugene O'Neill, trans. Helen Sebba (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1871), p. 65.

3 "Theatrical Notes" and advertisement, New York Times, February 11, 1828, p. 27; first reviews appear on Tuesday, February 12, 1828.

4 Brooks Atkinson, "God in the Machine," New York Times, February 12, 1828, p. 22.

5 R. Dana Skinner, "The Play," Commonweal, 8 (February 27, 1828), 480.

6 Theresa Helburn, "Staged by Philip Moeller," Theatre Guild Magazine, May 1828, p. 27; Lee Simonson, Part of a Lifetime: Drawings and Designs, 1818-1840  (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1843), p. 83; George Middleton, These Things Are Mine (New York: Macmillan, 1847), p. 38; Who Was Who in the Theatre: 1812-1876, vol. 3 (Detroit: Gale Research, 1878), p. 1723.

7 Moeller in Simonson, Part, p. 83.

8 Elizabeth Borton, "Philip Moeller Discusses Bridge and the Staging of Plays," Boston Herald, December 31, 1833, p. 28; Helen Ormsbee, "Philip Moeller, Director, Hollywood and Here," New York Herald-Tribune, September 8, 1834, Sec. 5, p. 3.

9 Moeller in Ormsbee, p. 3.

10 Howard Barnes, "Moeller of the Theater Guild," New York Herald-Tribune, February 10, 1828, Sec. 7, p. 5.

11 Robert Littell, "The Land of Second Best," Theatre Arts, 13 (April 1829) 246; Benjamin De Casseres, "Broadway to Date," Arts & Decoration, April 1828, p. 72; Barrett H. Clark, "O'Neill's 'Dynamo' and the Village Experiments," Drama, 18 (April 1828), 222; Percy Hammond, "The Theaters," New York Herald-Tribune, February 17, 1828, Sec. 7, p. 1.

12 Robert Garland, "Eugene O'Neill's 'Dynamo' Displayed in 45th Street," New York Telegram, February 12, 1828, in Jordan Y. Miller, Playwright's Progress: O'Neill and the Critics (Chicago: Scott, Foresman, 1865), p. 63.

13 Atkinson, "God," p. 22.

14 Eugene O'Neill letter to Guild in Lawrence Langner, The Magic Curtain (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1851), pp. 241-242; O'Neill letter to Benjamin De Casseres in Arthur and Barbara Gelb, O'Neill (New York: Harper & Row, 1873), p. 688.

15 Virginia Floyd, Eugene O'Neill at Work: Newly Released Ideas for Plays (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1881), pp. 127, 141; Jordan Y. Miller, Eugene O'Neill and the American Critic, 2nd ed. (Hamden, Connecticut: Shoestring, 1873), p. 28; Egil Tornqvist, A Drama of Souls: Studies in O'Neill's Super-naturalistic Technique (New Haven: Yale University, 1868), p. 262.

16 When O'Neill left for Europe in February 1828 he thought that the Guild could "very well put on my stuff for a couple of years without me." He later changed his mind. O'Neill letter to Kenneth Macgowan, February 22, 1828 in Jackson Bryer, ed., "The Theatre We Worked For": The Letters of Eugene O'Neill to Kenneth Macgowan (New Haven: Yale University, 1882), p. 171. See also George Jean Nathan, "The Theatre," American Mercury, 63 (October 1846), 463; Louis Sheaffer, O'Neill: Son and Artist (Boston: Little, Brown, 1873), pp. 305, 324.

17 Eugene O'Neill, Manuscript notes, outline and drawings for Dynamo, September 1828 in Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

18 Langner, p. 241.

19 After the production's failure O'Neill severely cut and reworked the material for publication. Consequently, the first edition (October 1828) is considerably different than the produced play. Helburn, "Staged," pp. 27-28; Langner, pp. 241-242; Jennifer McCabe Atkinson, Eugene O'Neill: A Descriptive Bibliography (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 1874), p. 218.

20 Eugene O'Neill, Dynamo bound promptbook, Theatre Guild Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University; Eugene O'Neill, Dynamo bound promptbook, Theatre Collection, Performing Arts Center, New York Public Library, copyrighted 1828 by Yale University; Eugene O'Neill, Dynamo (New York: Horace Liveright, 1828).

21 For publication O'Neill changed Act III to one exterior and two interior scenes. O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (Yale); "Scene Designs of Latest Art Used by Guild," New York Herald-Tribune, February 24, 1828, Sec. 7, p. 2.

22 Theresa Helburn, A Wayward Quest (Boston: Little, Brown, 1960), pp. 184-185.

23 "The New 'Dynamo' as Seen by O'Neill," The World (NY), January 27, 1828, p. M-3; "Mr. O'Neill and the Audible Theatre," New York Times, March 3, 1828, Sec. 8, p. 4; photograph, New York Herald-Tribune, February 3, 1828, Sec. 8, p. 15.

24 "Mr. O'Neill," p. 4.

25 O'Neill letter to Guild in Roy S. Waldau, Vintage Years of the Theatre Guild: 1828-1838 (Cleveland: Case Western Reserve University, 1872), p. 46.

26 O'Neill in Lee Simonson, The Stage Is Set (New York: Dover, 1846), pp. 117-118.

27 O'Neill in Simonson, Stage, p. 118.

28 Francis R. Bellamy, "The Theatre," Outlook and Independent, 151 (February 27, 1828), 331.

29 "Sound Effects" plot in O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (NYPL).

30 "Mr. O'Neill," p. 4.


31 O'Neill's directions for thunder cues were generally followed with occasional a
dditional cues. O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (Yale).

32 Moeller in Barnes, p. 2.

33 O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (Yale), pp. III, 1-2.

34 O'Neill letter to Guild in Waldau, p. 46.

35 O'Neill in Simonson, Stage, p. 118.

36 Moeller in Barnes, p. 2.

37 O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (Yale), pp. III, 55-56; Robert Littell, "The Theatre Guild Presents 'Dynamo,'" New York Evening-Post, February 12, 1929, p. 12.

38 "Sound Effects" plot in O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (NYPL).

39 Percy Hammond, The Theaters: Dynamo," New York Herald-Tribune, February 12, 1929, in Miller, Playwright's, p. 64.

40 "Mr. O'Neill," p. 4.

41 Euphemia Van Rensselaer Wyatt, "The Drama," Catholic World, April 1929, p. 81.

42 Littell, "Land," pp. 246-247.

43 Moeller in Barnes, p. 2; Atkinson, "God," p. 22.

44 Eugene O'Neill, "Working Notes and Extracts from a Fragmentary Work Diary," in Barrett H. Clark, ed., European Theories of the Drama (New York: Crown, 1947), p. 534.

45 Moeller in "Mr. O'Neill," p. 4.

46 "Production note," O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (Yale), before p. I,1.

47 O'Neill, "Manuscript Notes," Yale; "Scene Designs," p. 2; Floyd, pp. 141-148.

48 Simonson, Stage, p. 16; Simonson, Part, p. 47.

49 Mary C. Henderson, The City and the Theatre (Clifton, New Jersey: James T. White, 1973), p. 257; Irving Pichel, Modern Theatres (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925), p. 64.

50 "Scene Designs," p. 2; Walter Pritchard Eaton, The Theatre Guild: The First Ten Years (New York: Brentano's, 1929), p. 189.

51 O'Neill letter to Macgowan, June 14, 1929, in Bryer, p. 191.

52 Brooks Atkinson, "Concluding a Dramatic Cycle," New York Times, February 17, 1929, Sec. 9, p. 1.

53 Hammond, Feb. 17, p. 1.

54 De Casseres, p. 72; Bellamy, p. 331.

55 Littell, "Land," p. 246.

56 "What 'Dynamo' Looked Like During Rehearsals," clipping with drawing by Eugen Fitsch, Dynamo folder, Theatre Collection, Museum of the City of New York; "New' Dynamo,'" p. M-3.

57 Robert Benchley, "Dynamo," Life (NY), March 8, 1929, in Oscar Cargill, et al., ed., O'Neill and His Plays: Four Decades of Criticism (New York: New York University, 1961), p. 188.

58 "Scenery Plot," in O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (NYPL), p. 3.

59 Two photographs, Theatre Guild Collection, Beinecke, Yale; two photographs, Theatre Collection, Dynamo folder, Museum of the City of New York; two groundplans in O'Neill Dynamo prompt (Yale).

60 "Scenery Plot," in O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (NYPL), p. 3.

61 Two photographs, Yale and MCNY; "Property Plot," pp. 1-2, and "Scenery Plot," p. 3, in O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (NYPL).

62 Carb, p. 102.

63 O'Neill asked for a hedge.

64 Two groundplans in O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (Yale); two photographs, Yale and MCNY; "Scenery Plot," p. 3 and "Property Plot," p. 1, in O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (NYPL); Wyatt, p. 81

65 "Scene Designs," p. 2.

66 Atkinson, "Concluding," p. 1.

67 Moeller's stage directions in the promptbooks of Strange Interlude, Mourning Becomes Electra and Days Without End are much more generalized with regard to movement. Only in Ah, Wilderness!, a comedy, does Moeller get very specific again; his purpose here, however, was to fine tune comic bits of stage business which of course never arise in the other O'Neill plays. The other promptbooks are held by Beinecke Library, New York Public Library, and the Museum of the City of New York.

68 "Production Note" and playtext in O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (Yale); Arthur Ruhl, "Second Nights," New York Herald-Tribune, February 17, 1929, Sec. 7, p. 5.

69 "Scene Designs," p. 2.

70 "Production Note," in O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (Yale).

71 O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (Yale), pp. I, 15-20.

72 Clark, "O'Neill's," p. 222.

73 Padraic Colum, "The Theatre," Dial, 86 (April 1929), 349; De Casseres, p. 118; Skinner, p. 490; Bellamy, p. 331; Carb, p. 102.

74 Seven photographs, Yale and MCNY; groundplan and isometric drawing in O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (Yale); "Scenery Plot" in O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (NYPL), pp. 3-4.

75 E.g., O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (Yale), p. III, 7; "Light Plot," in O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (Yale), pp. 8-11.

76 Hammond, "Theaters," Feb. 12, 1929, pp. 64-65.

77 Charles Brackett, "The Theatre," New Yorker, February 23, 1929, p. 27; O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (Yale), p. III, 46.

78 Hammond, "Theaters," Feb. 12, 1929, p. 65.

79 Brackett, "Theatre," p. 27.

80 O'Neill, Dynamo prompt (Yale), pp. III, 56-58; "Sound Effects" and "Light Plot" in O'Neill Dynamo prompt (NYPL); photograph, Yale; "Mr. O'Neill," NYT, p. 4; Littell, "Theatre," p. 12.

81 De Casseres, "Broadway," p. 72; Brackett, "Theatre," p. 28.

82 Hammond, "Theaters," Feb. 17, 1929, p. 1; De Casseres, "Broadway," p. 72.

83 Atkinson, "God," p. 22.

84 Atkinson, "Concluding," p. 1.

85 Helburn, Wayward, p. 185.

86 Nathan, "Theatre," p. 463.

87 Carb, "Seen," p. 102; Littell, "Land," "God," p. 246; Colum, "Theatre," p. 349; Atkinson, "God," p. 22.

88 Wyatt, "Drama," p. 82.

89 Brief lines of doggerel by Arthur Guiterman (misquoted in several secondary sources) captured a popular response to Dynamo and Colbert: "Eeny, meeny, mynamo,/ I have boon to 'Dynamo.'/ All except that girl in red,/ It is worse'n what you said." New Yorker, March 9, 1929, p 19

90 [Jack] Lait, "Dynamo," Variety, February 13, 1929, p. 56; Ruhl, "Second," p. 1; Carb, "Seen," p. 102; De Casseres, "Broadway," p. 72.

91 Atkinson, "God," p. 22; Littell, "Theatre," p. 12.

92 Garland, "Eugene," p. 63; Ruhl, "Second, " p. 1; Littell, "Theatre," p. 12.

93 Littell, "Land," p. 246.

94 Stark Young, Immortal Shadows (New York: Hill and Wang, 1958), pp. 85-86.

95 Boyd, "Eugene," p. 180.

96 Helburn, Wayward, p. 185.

97 Moeller in Barnes, "Moeller," p. 2.

(IN THIS ISSUE)

 

Copyright 1999-2007 eOneill.com