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Eugene O’Neill and Ireland: A Talk by Dan McGovern

April 25, 2019 @ 6:30 pm

AIHS Members: Free
General Public: $10

Eugene O’Neill, the only American playwright to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, wrote, “The one thing that explains more than anything about me is the fact that I’m Irish. And, strangely enough,” O’Neill complained, “it is something that all the writers who have attempted to explain me and my work have overlooked.”

In his speech “Eugene O’Neill and Ireland” Dan McGovern, president of the Eugene O’Neill Foundation, Tao House, will remedy that oversight. It was at Tao House in Danville, California, where O’Neill wrote his greatest plays, including Long Day’s Journey Into Night and The Iceman Cometh.

McGovern is particularly well qualified for the task. He is the co-founder, along with Sean Reidy, of the Eugene O’Neill International Festival of Theatre in New Ross, Ireland, the port from which O’Neill’s father James emigrated as a small boy. Also a Visiting Scholar in the theater department at the University of California, Berkeley, McGovern recently published “Eugene O’Neill’s Place in Irish Theater Today: Interviews with Irish Theater Scholars” in the Eugene O’Neill Society Review published by Pennsylvania State University Press.

Eugene O’Neill is America’s greatest playwright, but O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night is “the great Irish play.” That’s what the great Irish playwright Frank McGuinness told McGovern last September, and it is the lens through which McGovern will examine the significance of Ireland for O’Neill and for his Long Day’s Journey, in particular.

This insight will also inform the production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night in the Old Barn at Tao House during the 20th Annual Eugene O’Neill Festival in Danville, California, in September.

The Danville production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night will then travel to New Ross, Ireland, for the Eugene O’Neill festival there October 9th to 12th. Other productions at the New Ross O’Neill festival will include O’Neill’s Strange Interlude directed by Ben Barnes, former artistic director of the Abbey Theatre; Wexford playwright Billy Roche’s The Diary of Maynard Perdu; and O’Neill’s SS Glencairn one-act sea plays performed on the Dunbrody, a replica of a famine ship.

Before retiring and pursuing his interest in theater, McGovern served in three presidential administrations. He was the second-ranking lawyer in the U.S. State Department, the general counsel of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) in the western U.S. In state government, McGovern was the general counsel of the California Department of Transportation and a Deputy Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the California Attorney General’s Office. He also served on the staff of the California Supreme Court.

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April 25, 2019
6:30 pm
Event Category:


American Irish Historical Society
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The American Irish Historical Society
The American Irish Historical Society is a cultural institution featuring a library and archive, public arts programming, and events space.
991 Fifth Avenue
New York
United States

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