Theater department to show adaptation of Eugene O’Neill classic

Theater department to show adaptation of Eugene O’Neill classic

By Jacob Pierce |@JacobPierce1_DE |Daily Egyptian

The McLeod Theater will once again bring a legendary playwright to the stage.

The university’s theater department is hosting “Beyond the Horizon,” by Eugene O’Neill at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10-12 and at 2 p.m on Dec. 13. The show is directed by Nich Radcliffe and will end the 2015 season. 

O’Neil is a 20th century playwright who has written plays such as “The Iceman Cometh” and “Long Day’s Journey into Night.” He is a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and was awarded four Pulitzer Prize awards for Best Drama.

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Radcliffe, a graduate student in directing from Vinton, Iowa, said O’Neill is one of the country’s first important playwrights. He said O’Neill helped create a style that moved away from the English technique still coming from colonial times.

“When you look at the history of American theater, up until Eugeue O’Neill, we are really just seeing projections and imitations of what has come over from England,” he said.  

The American voice starts with O’Neill, as he wrote more complicated, diverse stories and characters in a way few playwrights had at the time, Radcliffe said.

He said “Beyond the Horizon” is about two brothers who end up falling in love with the same woman. Both siblings are very different from each other, with one being an intellectual and the other being more of a farmer type.

“It’s a love story, no matter what anyone tells you about how much death there is,” Radcliffe said. “And it’s not just a love story about a man and a woman. It’s a love story between two brothers.”

Mike Terrana, a sophomore from Carterville studying musical theater, said the play is about dreams, destiny and pursuing ones dreams. He said it involves never giving up hope and always finding the beauty in life.

“Ultimately, it comes down to their choice,” Terrana said. “And what they decide to do effects the rest of their lives.”

He plays Robert Mayo, one of the main characters, who is a poet and educated individual. To get ready for the role, he read a lot of Walt Whitman and Robert Frost.

Terran said the iambic pentameter-style rhythmic adaptation was a bit frightening at first, but is different than a lot of plays.

“You don’t just have to say the right line,” he said. “But you have to say them in the right way.”  

Graham Luker, a junior from Nashville, Tenn. studying musical theater, said the play was daunting when he first read it, as the language is weighty and difficult, but sincere. 

“95 percent of our preparation has just been what are we saying and why are we saying this,” he said.

Luker said he prepared for the script by spending a lot of time with it. He analyzed each paragraph, sentence and single line on its own.

He plays Andy Mayo, brother of Robert, who spends the play trying to save everyone.

At the beginning, he wants to save his relationship with Robert, so he leaves knowing he cannot be there through the Ruth and Robert relationship. The character then tries to protect someone in each act, Luker said.

“Andy is a wanabe hero,” he said. “He just wants to save somebody.”

“Beyond the Horizon” is $18 for adults and $6 for students, and tickets can be purchased at McLeod Theater and Arena box offices.

There will be a free preshow lecture at 1:30 p.m. Sunday in the MCMA Dean’s Conference Room. Radcliffe said he will talk about O’Neill and how he used his own life in his work.

Jacob Pierce can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JacobPierce1_DE. 

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