Friday, July 13, 2018

1st August - Long Day's Journey into Night

Firstly, I am really sorry that some of  you missed our little 'Celebration' of thanks for your wonderful Christmas gift!  I felt that as Tim & I had had such a fabulous evening, you deserved a little pampering and it was our pleasure to offer you some fizz and a mini-afternoon tea!  

For those of you who enjoyed the incredibly easy lemonade. You do need a food processor:

100g sugar per 2 unwaxed lemons. (I had 8 lemons if that helps with your quantities and made it up in 2 batches)
  • Whizz up the sugar in your mixer until it's fine.
  • Add the lemons, topped, tailed & quartered.
  • Add some water.
  • Whizz on fastest speed 3x
  • Strain. Add some more water to the lemon, stir & strain again.
  • Then pour over ice and add water to taste. I also added some fresh mint.
And now for our August and September Meetings ... this is going to be a long entry on the blog!


Long Day's Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953)

Long Day's Journey into Night  was written by American playwright Eugene O'Neill in 1941–42 but first published in 1956: the following year O’Neill posthumously received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The play is widely considered to be his magnum opus and one of the finest American plays of the 20th century.

The play has an interesting history.   Because it contained so much of his own life in it, O'Neill did not want it ever produced as a play, and did not even want it published during his lifetime, writing to a friend: "There are good reasons in the play itself... why I'm keeping this one very much to myself, as you will appreciate when you read it.

O'Neill did not copyright the play. In 1945 he had a sealed copy of the manuscript placed in the document vault of publisher Random House, instructing that it not be published until 25 years after his death. He sent a second sealed copy to the O'Neill collection at Yale University.

Soon after O'Neill's death, his widow Carlotta Monterey demanded that Random House contravene O'Neill's explicit wishes and publish the play at once. "We refused, of course," wrote publisher Bennett Cerf in his memoirs, "but then were horrified to learn that legally all the cards were in her hand. … I do not regret that we took the stand we did, because I still think we were right.  Monterey had the play published by the Yale University Press in 1956, with the bulk of the proceeds deeded to Yale's Eugene O'Neill Collection and for scholarships at its drama school.

The Play

The play takes place on a single day in August 1912, from around 8:30 a.m. to midnight. The setting is the seaside Connecticut home of the Tyrones' Monte Cristo Cottage. The four main characters are the semi-autobiographical representations of O'Neill himself, his older brother, and their parents.

This play portrays a family in a ferociously negative light as the parents and two sons express accusations, blame, and resentments – qualities which are often paired with pathetic and self-defeating attempts at affection, encouragement, tenderness, and yearnings for things to be otherwise. The pain of this family is made worse by their depth of self-understanding and self-analysis, combined with a brutal honesty, as they see it, and an ability to boldly express themselves. The story deals with the mother's addiction to morphine, the family's addiction to whiskey, the father's miserliness, the older brother's licentiousness, and younger brother's illness.

Here are a couple of pictures of the set which I hope will give you an idea of the setting and the atmosphere. 

O'Neill gives very specific instructions about set and costume, and so the following information may well help your enjoyment of the play.


James Tyrone, Sr. – 65 years old. He looks ten years younger and is about five feet eight inches tall but appears taller due to his military-like posture and bearing. He is broad-shouldered and deep-chested and remarkably good-looking for his age with light brown eyes. His speech and movement are those of a classical actor with a studied technique, but he is unpretentious and not temperamental at all with "inclinations still close to his humble beginnings and Irish farmer forebears". His attire is somewhat threadbare and shabby. He wears his clothing to the limit of usefulness. He has been a healthy man his entire life and is free of hang ups and anxieties except for fear of "dying in the poorhouse" and obsession with having money. He has "streaks of sentimental melancholy and rare flashes of intuitive sensibility". He smokes cigars and dislikes being referred to as the "Old Man" by his sons.

Mary Cavan Tyrone – 54 years old, the wife and mother of the family who lapses between self-delusion and the haze of her morphine addiction. She is medium height with a young graceful figure, a trifle plump with distinctly Irish facial features. She was once extremely pretty and is still striking. She wears no make-up and her hair is thick, white and perfectly coiffed. She has large, dark, almost black, eyes. She has a soft and attractive voice with a "touch of Irish lilt when she is merry". Mary has been addicted to morphine since the difficult birth of her youngest son Edmund. The doctor who treated her simply gave her painkillers, which led to a longtime morphine addiction that continues to plague her.

James "Jamie", Jr. – 33 years old, the older son. He has thinning hair, an aquiline nose and shows signs of premature disintegration. He has a habitual expression of cynicism. He resembles his father. "On the rare occasions when he smiles without sneering, his personality possesses the remnant of a humorous, romantic, irresponsible Irish charm – the beguiling ne'er-do-well, with a strain of the sentimentally poetic". He is attractive to women and popular with men. He is an actor like his father but has difficulty finding work due to a reputation for being an irresponsible, womanizing alcoholic. He and his father argue a great deal about this. Jamie often refers to his father as "Old Gaspard", a character from the opera Les cloches de Corneville, who is also a miser.

Edmund – 23 years old, the younger and more intellectually and poetically inclined son. He is thin and wiry. He looks like both his parents but more like his mother. He has her big dark eyes and hypersensitive mouth in a long narrow Irish face with dark brown hair and red highlights from the sun. Like his mother, he is extremely nervous. He is in bad health and his cheeks are sunken. Later he is diagnosed with tuberculosis. He is politically inclined to have socialist leanings. He traveled the world by working in the merchant navy and caught tuberculosis while abroad.

Cathleen – "The second girl", she is the summer maid. She is a "buxom Irish peasant", in her early twenties with red cheeks, black hair and blue eyes. She is "amiable, ignorant, clumsy with a well-meaning stupidity".

Several characters are referenced in the play but do not appear on stage:

Eugene Tyrone – A son born before Edmund who died of measles at the age of two. He was infected by Jamie who was seven at the time and had been told not to enter his room but disobeyed. Mary believes that Jamie had the intent of hurting 

Bridget – A cook.

McGuire – A real estate agent who has swindled James Tyrone in the past.

Shaughnessy – A tenant on a farm owned by the Tyrones.

Harker – A friend of James Tyrone, "the Standard Oil millionaire", owns a neighboring farm to Shaughnessy with whom he gets into conflicts, often postulated to be based on Edward Harkness, Standard Oil heir, who had a summer home nearby in Waterford, Connecticut.

Doctor Hardy – The Tyrones' physician, whom the other family members don't think much of.

Captain Turner – The Tyrones' neighbor.

Smythe – A garage assistant whom James hired as a chauffeur for Mary. Mary suspects he is intentionally damaging the car to provide work for the garage.

The mistress – A woman with whom James had had an affair before his marriage, who had later sued him causing Mary to be shunned by her friends as someone with undesirable social connections.

Mary's father – Died of tuberculosis.

James's parents and siblings – The family immigrated to the United States when James was 8 years old. Two years later the father abandoned the family and returned to Ireland where he died after ingesting rat poison. It was suspected suicide but James refuses to believe that. He had two older brothers and three sisters.

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