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Posts Tagged ‘Mark W. Estrin’

What kind of theater has no actors? The theater of the mind, of course.

“I hardly ever go to the theater, although I read all the plays I can get. I don’t go to the theater because I can always do a better production in my mind than the one on the stage. I have a better time and I’m not bothered by the audience. No one sneezes during the scenes that interest me. Nor do I ever go to see one of my own plays—I have seen only three of them since they started coming out. My reason for this is that I was practically brought up in the theater—in the wings— and I know all the technique of acting. I know everything that everyone is doing from the electrician to the stage hands. So I see the machinery going round all the time unless the play is wonderfully acted and produced. Then, too, in my own plays all the time I watch them I am acting all the parts and living them so intensely that by the time the performance is over I am exhausted—as if I had gone through a clothes wringer.”
Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953)
New York Herald Tribune/1924
Pulled from Conversations with Eugene O’Neill, edited by Mark W. Estrin

By the way, one of the things that paved the way for O’Neill to become one of the greatest American playwrights is before he won the Nobel Prize for Literature and four Pulitzer Prizes for Drama, he was coming up in an era of theater that was immersed in the works of Ibsen, Chekhov and Strindberg. And like so many others great writers I have discovered through doing this blog he also had Catholic schooling (even lived in a Catholic boarding school while his father toured the country as an actor) and suffered from depression and alcoholism.

Unfortunately, that combination does not make for a peaceful life— but it’s a wicked formula for powerful writing.

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Scott W. Smith

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