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The Eleventh International Conference on Eugene O’Neill

"Longing and Belonging"

The Eugene O’Neill Society will be coming home to the very place the Society's first international conferences were held in the 1980s and 90s, Suffolk University, for its next International Conference on July 6-9, 2022. Suffolk University is located in the heart of Boston’s downtown and close to several attractions, historical landmarks, and outstanding restaurants. Conference co-chairs Steven Bloom and Beth Wynstra, both Boston-area residents, have been planning for three years for this event (originally planned for 2020 and rescheduled because of the pandemic), held traditionally every three years at a site that held meaning to O'Neill in some capacity. We’ve put together an amazing conference that includes scholarly panels, staged readings, roundtables of theatre artists, and a bus tour of O’Neill’s Boston that culminates at his grave.

As we head into the twenties of the 21st century, we mark the centennial of key O'Neill plays that introduced his voice to a wider audience. Beyond the Horizon premiered on Broadway in 1920 and ushered in a uniquely American tragic form. The Emperor Jones also opened in 1920 at the Provincetown Playhouse and soon moved to Broadway and was a work that both experimented with emerging expressionist theatrical techniques and broke the color line on Broadway. The Hairy Ape, staged by the Provincetown Players in 1922, criticized capitalist structures and pointed out the fragility and fallibility of the American Dream. During this fertile and prolific period in O'Neill's writing life, Exorcism, and Anna Christie also premiered and his willingness to experiment was taking off, so the conference will be exploring O'Neill's own experimentation in his life as well as experimental approaches to O'Neill in our own time. Scholars, historians, directors, playwrights, actors, and teachers will examine new ways of engaging O'Neill, thereby expanding our own scholarly and pedagogical horizons. This conference will present papers, panels, and speakers that interrogate and investigate the notions of longing, the horizon beyond, the unattainable, the pipe dream, and/or belonging, fitting in, and feeling "at home."

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