onStage presents unique performance of Eugene O’Neill plays

onStage at Connecticut College presents “The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill, Vol. 2,” a performance by the New York Neo-Futurists, on Friday, Oct. 24, at 7:30 p.m. in Palmer Auditorium.

Yes, the stage directions. The Neo-Futurists strip plays of theatrical norms like plot, setting and character. A member of the troupe reads the stage directions and the other performers act them out, allowing the commands to define their roles, actions and relationships.

“Complete & Condensed” includes early works “Recklessness,” “Abortion,” “The Sniper,” “Warnings” and “Fog,” plays that reveal some of O’Neill’s deepest fears and his fixation with death and darkness. Yet they can become riotous physical comedies when the dialogue is removed and O’Neill’s stage directions — eloquent, eccentric, obsessive, controlling and very specific — are all that is left.

It’s an approach that did not immediately appeal to the College’s Director of Arts Programming Rob Richter ’82, an O'Neill scholar.

"In a sense, they're making fun of O'Neill," he said in a newspaper interview, "but they're really not making fun of O'Neill." Ultimately, he said, the result "can be extremely funny, very moving and poignant."

Richter added that the Neo-Futurists are an inventive, skilled ensemble who perform in a "downtown New York theatrical style."

Tickets are $22, $20 for seniors and $11 for students. For tickets and information, call 860-439-2787 or visit onstage.conncoll.edu.

The event is a collaboration between onStage at Connecticut College and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. The center’s 15th annual Eugene O’Neill Celebration begins with the performance at the College and continues the next day at 10 a.m. with free programming at O’Neill’s Monte Cristo Cottage in New London, including a play reading, a panel discussion, audience Q&A and free tours of the home.

October 17, 2014