Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Arts Reporting: New Yorker Publishing Lost O'Neill Play

From the Guardian newspaper, UK:

Guardian UK culture

Eugene O'Neill 'lost' play published, 91 years on

Rediscovered text of Exorcism, a one-act play drawing on O'Neill's suicide attempt aged 24, appears in New Yorker

Matt Trueman,, Tuesday 18 October Eugene O'Neill via guardian,

A lost play by Eugene O'Neill, arguably America's greatest dramatist, has been published by the New Yorker magazine. [ALT note: not yet available on-line]

The one-act play, entitled Exorcism, was staged in March 1920 by the Provincetown Players, but, according to the New Yorker's theatre critic John Lahr, O'Neill destroyed what he believed to be every copy of the play in order to save his father, celebrated romantic actor James O'Neill, embarrassment after a stroke.

But a copy of the play was discovered earlier this year in the possession of screenwriter Philip Yordan, who had received it from O'Neill's ex-wife Agnes Boulton. Yale University Press will publish the script next spring.

Exorcism's resurfacing is significant for historical as well as artistic reasons, since it sheds light on the playwright's own suicide attempt aged 24. Written seven years later, Exorcism centres on Ned Malloy, a 24-year-old with "an appearance of conflict, of inner disharmony," who takes an overdose, before being discovered by his friend Jimmy. In the final moments of the play, Ned exclaims: "The Past is finally cremated. I feel reborn, I tell you!"

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