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New O’Neill Drama Is Found by Swede

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 year.

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.

In 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.”

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