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Staging O'Neill

Wainscott, Ronald H.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988
First edition, with dust jacket

 
Eugene O'Neill's most exciting experiments with stage direction and design took place in his plays produced between 1920 and 1934.  The impact of these experiments on American theater and drama was enormous, an in this book Ronald H. Wainscott critically examines the staging of these innovative works.

Beginning with the first professional production of a new O'Neill play, Beyond the Horizon, and concluding with Days Without End, Wainscott recreates the initial performances of twenty-two works, including The Emperor Jones, Anna Christie, The Hairy Ape, and Mourning Becomes Electra.  Using a wide range of unpublished material including prompt books, ground plans, design elevations, publicity materials, letters, and manuscript notes, Wainscott provides fascinating details about the production of these plays.  He discusses their preproduction histories; how the actors, designers, directors, and theaters were selected; the design of plays, including set, costumes, lighting, music, and sound; the director's work; the acting; and the critical response.  He analyzes how the various artists approached stage composition and use of the performance space, as well as techniques and devices such as masks, sound effects, music, simultaneous settings, internal monologues, and split characterizations.  Revealing a great deal about O'Neill's relationships with directorsmost notably Robert Edmond Jones and Philip MoellerWainscott demonstrates that the era was a maturation period not only for American playwriting but also for American directing and design.dust jacket

 

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