A few years back, director, accidental Eugene O’Neill enthusiast, and TMLMTBGB actor Christopher Loar thought up a fun little sketch for that long-running, long-titled New York Neo-Futurists show (if you don’t know it from the acronym, click this link, then go see the show this weekend, or any weekend!) — strip away O’Neill’s dialogue, brilliant as it is, and just say and perform what was meant to be performed and not said: the stage directions.
If you’ve ever read an O’Neill, you probably know that such a drastic cut would still leave you with a whole lot of text. The exercise of turning that text into a staged event unto itself proved successful in TMLMTBGB, so Loar’s next step? Make an evening out of it with The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill, Volume 1: Early Plays/Lost Plays, which received a Drama Desk nomination for “Unique Theatrical Experience.”
Now Loar and the Neo-Futurists are back with The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill, Volume 2 — because why mess with a good thing, right?
Listen in as Christopher and I discuss the utility of stage directions, staying out of the way of your performers/collaborators/interpreters, and O’Neill’s moment vs. this 2014 moment in downtown theatre.
“I think in the stage directions there’s the intention of what the writer wants to happen onstage or happen with that character…but I guess that’s what I like so much about this…I too come from a background where I was trained to ignore all of the stage directions…”