The O'Neill


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The Transformation of Modern American Theater

Jeffrey Sweet; Photographs edited by Preston Whiteway; Forewords by Michael Douglas and Meryl Streep

View Inside Format: Hardcover
Price: $60.00
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A lavishly illustrated celebration of the fifty-year history of the most influential theatrical organization in America, the O’Neill Theater Center

"At the O'Neill, we were all engaged with full-hearted passion in sometimes the silliest of exercises, and all in service of finding that wiggly, elusive creature, a new play."—Meryl Streep

"I would not be who or where I am today without the O'Neill."—Michael Douglas

As the old ways of the commercial theater were dying and American playwriting was in crisis, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center arose as a midwife to new plays and musicals, introducing some of the most exciting talents of our time (including August Wilson, Wendy Wasserstein, and Christopher Durang) and developing works that went on to win Pulitzer Prizes and Tony Awards. Along the way, it collaborated with then-unknown performers (like Meryl Streep, Michael Douglas, Courtney Vance, and Angela Bassett) and inspired Robert Redford in his creation of the Sundance Institute. This is the story of a theatrical laboratory, a place that transformed American theater, film, and television.
Jeffrey Sweet is an award-winning playwright and theater historian whose previous books include Something Wonderful Right Away, a history of the famed Second City improvisational theater. He serves on the Council of the Dramatists Guild and is one of the most active participants in the Chicago theater renaissance.
“What would the American theater be without the O'Neill Theater Center? It was at the O'Neill—from August Wilson to Chris Durang and Wendy Wasserstein—that the great playwrights of the last half century honed their plays and transformed the American theater. Thanks to Jeffrey Sweet for writing this essential book.”—Emily Mann, Artistic Director and Resident Playwright, McCarter Theatre
“At the O’Neill, we were all engaged with full-hearted passion in sometimes the silliest of exercises, and all in service of finding that wiggly, elusive creature, a new play.”—Meryl Streep
“I would not be who or where I am today without the O’Neill.”—Michael Douglas
“The O’Neill is where it all begins. There is no finer place to begin work on a new play in America.”—Kevin Spacey
“The O’Neill to me is certainly one of the most important places in my theatrical history, and I also think in the last half of the twentieth century in American theatrical history.”—Wendy Wasserstein
“I felt I was on the flying trapeze all the time. I got a lot of confidence in my first instincts. I was a much better actor after that.”—Jill Eikenberry
“To be asked to the O’Neill was a very big honor. Miraculous. I didn’t care whose play I was in. I just was so amazed and glad to be a part.”—Courtney B. Vance
“You didn’t come to the O’Neill just to get your play done. You came to the O’Neill and made yourself available to other playwrights—as did directors, designers, actors—and that created this wonderful, productive community.”—Lloyd Richards

“A wonderful, over-sized book . . . that cmombines archival photos with excellent text.”—Joe Meyers, The Connecticut Post

“The O’Neill is famous among show folk, but [The O’Neill] will give civilian theater buffs a chance to share the ‘O’Neill experience’ vicariously.”—Ethan Mordden, The Wall Street Journal

“This handsome tribute to the venerable Eugene O’Neill Theater Center combines Jeffrey Sweet’s knowledgeable text with a marvelous array of black-and-white photographs.”—The Washington Post

“Accompanied by fascinating archival photographs, this sweeping history of the country’s foremost new play laboratory is as striking as it is informative. Theatre buffs will marvel at the effect the O’Neill has had on American culture—launching everyone from August Wilson to Meryl Streep—and the unlikely stories that led to its creation.”—TDF Stages magazine
ISBN: 9780300195576
Publication Date: May 27, 2014
336 pages, 8-1/2 x 11
250 b/w illus.