O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh. Reconstructing the Premiere

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This text reconstructs the premiere of what some critics consider to be O'Neill's most controversial play -- it marked his return to the theater after more than a decade, and was also the last stage production he'd oversee. The reconstruction incorporates the playwright's own set drawings; scene plans designed by the Guild's production manager, Karl Nielsen; set renditions designed by Robert Edmond Jones; interpretations of original lighting designs; and photographs of the original cast. Facilitated by Theatre Guild promptbooks and an actor's rehearsal text, the reconstruction provides a detailed story of the play and a step-by-step analysis of director Eddie Dowling's final achievement. Comments contributed through personal interviews with selected cast members and Guild personnel further illuminate the event. Carefully detailed textual modifications between the published play and the Guild's rehearsal script appear in the first appendix. Extracts from more than fifty theatre reviews appear in the second. With bibliography and index.


"Verbrugge's explication of fund-raising in antiquity is noteworthy and his analysis of ancient texts, including epigraphic sources, extends our form-critical understanding. . . . his work provides valuable information in all these areas and will serve as a useful resource for other scholars in these fields." - Journal of Biblical Literature

"Gary Vena offers us in his meticulously detailed book a clear picture of the premiere of The Iceman Cometh, as precise in fact as if we had been present in the audience room. . . . His book sets, in my opinion, a major model for all those scholars interested not only in the study of O'Neill but in the theory of performance reconstruction." - Revue Belge de Philologie et d'histoire

"Gary Vena has assembled and presented the pertinent records most ably and clearly. This is the definitive scholarly work on the subject, and will be indispensable to serious students of O'Neill's work." - Theatre Research International

"Certainly one of the finest theatre books to surface recently. . . . Mr.Vena has rendered a truly amazing feat of theatrical scholarship." - The Palisadian

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