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Title:Eugene O'Neill's stage directions
Author(s):Sands, Jeffrey Elliott
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hobgood, Burnet M.
Department / Program:Theater
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Literature, American
Abstract:Most studies of O'Neill's plays have adopted a literary perspective which tends to overlook the essentially theatrical nature of his art. Among those elements of O'Neill's dramaturgy which have been largely neglected are his stage directions. Critics tend to view the stage directions as merely one component of a literary text, yet the historical and textual evidence supports the idea of looking at the stage directions as serious instructions written by O'Neill, intended to guide the actor in his presentation of a role. This study is an attempt to discover the means by which O'Neill uses his stage directions to this end, and the ways in which the actor can find useful information in the playwright's parenthetical remarks.
The examination begins with the historical background of O'Neill's plays in production during his lifetime. A pattern of difficult relations with actors and directors indicates that O'Neill seldom appreciated the stage presentation of his plays. Evidence is presented to show that O'Neill included stage directions in the earliest drafts of his plays, and that the published versions contain stage directions more or less identical to those found in the production scripts. The discussion then turns to the identification of "the actor's perspective," as distinct from the literary. Critics are asked to read the plays as scripts, and to examine the stage directions' character and utility according to the background, needs, and interests of an actor in the role.
The remainder of the study comprises an analysis of how the stage directions reveal O'Neill's method of guiding the actor in the preparation and presentation of the role. Issues discussed include: the forward motion of the performance in time; the identification of Stanislavskian units and objectives; rhythm; character descriptions; the expression of emotion; and the ways in which O'Neill worked with the essentially visible and aural media of the theatre in order to make clear his intentions through the stage directions. The study concludes with a discussion of the actor's options in working with the stage directions.
Issue Date:1989
Rights Information:Copyright 1989 Sands, Jeffrey Elliott
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI8924936
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI8924936

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