Category Archives: Eugene O’Neill and the College of Mount Saint Vincent

PHILIP DAWKINS: ‘CHARM’ (SV PICK, CHI) ·

(Hedy Weiss’s article appeared in The Chicago Sun-Times, 10/25.)

Philip Dawkins’ altogether beguiling new play, “Charm,” now receiving its world premiere in a Northlight Theatre production fittingly staged in the Steppenwolf Garage Theatre, could easily be summed up like this: Based on a true story, this is a look at what happens when a decidedly contemporary version of Emily Post arrives to teach an etiquette class at a place very much like the Center on Halsted, that gathering place dedicated to “securing the health and well-being of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people of Chicagoland.” But this would not even begin to suggest the play’s magic.

http://entertainment.suntimes.com/stage/perfectly-modern-manners-philip-dawkins-charm/

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FIDDLER ON THE ROOF AT 50 ·

 

(David Jays’s article appeared in the Guardian, 9/22.)

The appeal of Fiddler on the Roof is paradoxical – it’s a celebratory musical about loss. The show opened on Broadway on 22 September 1964, and is still revived 50 years on. Why did it succeed then, and why does it still hold audiences?

Fiddler is a history musical, set in 1905 in a tiny Russian village called Anatevka (“underfed, overworked Anatevka”). Tevye the milkman and his wife Golde are scraping a living and raising a family in a state where indifference turns to hostility. His story is told in book, music and lyrics by, respectively, Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick. They were badgered by Jerome Robbins, the show’s director, to define its emotional core, eventually replying “it’s about the dissolution of a way of life”. On a domestic level, Tevye’s daughters sidestep tradition, choosing husbands despite barriers of income, politics and religion. The entire Jewish community moves on in the wake of tsarist persecution – Anatevka’s fate figuring the upheavals across eastern Europe and the devastation of the shoah.

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/sep/22/fiddler-on-the-roof-at-50

EUGENE O’NEILL, THE COLLEGE OF MOUNT SAINT VINCENT, AND A RELIGIOUS AND LITERARY LANDMARK IN THE BRONX ·

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“I knew it. I knew it. Born in a hotel room, and God damn it, died in a hotel room," Eugene O’Neill famously said on his deathbed at age sixty-five, having been thrown into the offstage realities of life in the theatre from the start.  He also commonly–and just as uninhibitedly–pronounced, “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic”–an embattled legacy he took with him until the end. As these two forces collided, in 1895, America's only Nobel-winning playwright was sent to live at the College of Mount Saint Vincent in the northern Bronx; it was an attempt for a more normalized, if traditional, upbringing for the child.  In the shape of a hive-like shrine, built today from “the stone (and steel) found at Ground Zero,” it would also provide fodder for one of his greatest plays.

 

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