By Eugene O’Neill Adapted By Scott Edmiston
Opens At The Lyric Stage April 6th
Runs Through May 6th
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, O’Neill’s classic is a surprisingly contemporary play that crackles with fierce physicality, humor, and drama. After a 20-year separation, a coal barge captain (Lyric Stage favorite Johnny Lee Davenport) is reunited with the daughter he unknowingly abandoned to a life of hardship. When Anna falls in love with a shipwrecked sailor, her father and her suitor come to recognize their own culpability in her plight, and all three struggle in their own way for salvation. Following his acclaimed production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Scott Edmiston takes a fresh look at one of America’s greatest playwrights.
A note from Director Scott Edmiston:
“In an era when most American plays were set in posh drawing rooms populated by wealthy white characters, O’Neill depicted a world of sea shanties, slums, and barrooms inhabited by the working class and immigrants, the outcast and oppressed, the lost and misbegotten. O’Neill offered them dignity and respect. He accepted them because he was one of them. He wrote complex female characters who were liberated beyond their time. He explored African American identity in the two groundbreaking works, The Emperor Jones (1920), which examines race-based violence, and All God’s Chillun’s Got Wings (1924), which portrays an interracial marriage. He refused to allow white actors in blackface in his plays and insisted on casting African American actors in the leading roles. Anna Christie, which premiered on Broadway in 1921 and earned him the second of his four Pulitzer Prizes, can be viewed as an early feminist drama. Tales of a
woman with a past were not new to the stage, but O’Neill dispelled the Victorian notion that prostitution was a result of female licentiousness. He tells Anna’s story with compassion and an awareness of gender economics. Consequently the role of Anna has become a favorite of great actresses including Ingrid Bergman, Liv Ullman, Natasha Richardson, and most recently Ruth Wilson. Greta Garbo chose the role for her first talking picture in 1930.
In adapting the play for 21st-century audiences, I’ve tried to remain true to O’Neill’s themes and the unique poetry of his hardscrabble dialogue. I’ve removed a few superfluous sailors, a bit of period slang, and the phonetically spelled dialect (Chris was originally Swedish). It’s my hope that this will intensify the conflict between the ill-fated trio of Chris, Mat, and Anna and place them center stage where their fight to find redemption remains as compelling to me as it was nearly 100 years ago.”
Nancy E. Carroll, Johnny Lee Davenport, Lindsey McWhorter, James R. Milord, Dan Whelton
The Lyric Stage, 140 Clarendon Street, Copley Square, Boston, MA 02116
Box Office: 617-585-5678 lyricstage.com