Magazine article American Theatre

Slow and Steady 'Hughie'

Magazine article American Theatre

Slow and Steady 'Hughie'

Article excerpt

OMAHA, NEB.: "I knew it. I knew it," said Eugene O'Neill on his deathbed at the Sheraton Hotel in Boston. "Born in a hotel room, and God damn it, died in a hotel room." The hotel of his birth in Times Square is now a Starbucks. But one can't help but wonder how the writer, known as much for his poetry as his pessimism, would respond to the news that one of his plays--originally set in a hotel--is being done in a wind turbine in Nebraska.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Hughie, written in 1942 and first performed in 1958, will be staged at site-specific locations around Omaha July 6-28, including a vacant lot, an old Northern Power Company historic warehouse, a bankrupt national chain store and a bluff overlooking the Missouri River. Director Kevin Lawler, producing artistic director of the Great Plains Theatre Conference and co-founder of Omaha's Blue Barn Theatre, discovered the little-produced O'Neill play, a one-act, during a particularly lonesome bout of his own. "I fell in love with the play, and then there was no turning back," he says.

Like much of O'Neill's work, Hughie boasts virtuosic stage directions of epic proportions that Lawler incorporates into his production. "The stage directions are some of the most extensive that O'Neill wrote--and that's saying a lot," he jokes. "Oddly, a large percentage of the stage directions describe, in incredibly vibrant detail, the inner life of the night clerk, Charlie, who only has a handful of actual lines in the play. …

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