Eric Damon Smith
James Tyrone, Sr.
by Eugene O'Neill
Directed by Susan Padveen
October 26 to December 5, 2010
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Polarity Ensemble Theatre opened the 2010/2011 season with Eugene O’Neill’s classic, Long Day’s Journey into Night. "This is a rare opportunity to see an ensemble cast in an intimate 54-seat space performing what many consider to be the best American play of the 20th century," said Artistic Director Richard Engling. "We wanted to get into the dialogue that the Goodman started with its recent wonderful O'Neill festival and also to follow up Polarity's highly popular 2009 production of another great American classic, A Streetcar Named Desire."
The production was led by distinguished guest director Susan Padveen and featured Bryan Breau, Kevin Kenneally, Caroline Latta, Anne Sears and Eric Damon Smith. “This is a strong cast of veteran actors with a wonderfully sensitive director," Engling said, adding that the play could not be more timely. "We are living in a period of intense consequences. We look at our economy, our society, our two wars—and we want to unravel the sources of our fate. How did we get to this point? That's the deep beauty of a masterpiece like Long Day's Journey into Night. It leads us through an introspection about fate, choices and consequences in a way that only a genius like O'Neill can do. It's a deeply satisfying play for our time."
“When someone offers you one of the greatest American plays of the 20th century, you say, ‘Yes!’” chimed Ms. Padveen of her second collaboration with Polarity. Her first partnership was The White Airplane, a mind-bending original work by Chicago playwright Darren Callahan that had an exciting and controversial run in the 2008/2009 season. Never having directed O’Neill, Ms. Padveen, as a coordinator of the directing department of Columbia College of Chicago’s theatre program, wanted to be newly challenged by this classic play. “I was really excited to do a classic again—I've been doing new or devised pieces for a while now and relish the chance to do the opposite.”
Having seen so many productions, Polarity has been challenged with making this version unique while staying true to O’Neill’s vision. As part of Polarity’s mission, the company “breathes new life” into classics—such as in Polarity’s 2008 revival of Hamlet in which the Dane was immersed in a world of rock n’ roll—a production which prompted the Chicago Reader to dub Polarity “Best Emerging Theatre Company” of the year.
However: "Sometimes 'breathing new life' just means getting to the very heart of a work," Engling said. "Don't expect to see a high concept version of Long Day's Journey. We are going for its soul."
Performances took place at the Polarity Ensemble Theatre in the Josephinum Academy, 1500 N. Bell, Chicago, IL from October 26 through December 5, 2010.
Richard Engling, Artistic Director
Susan Padveen, Director
Nicole Smith, Stage Manager
Abigail Trabue, Assistant Director
Ashley Ann Woods, Set Designer
Karen Thompson, Lighting Designer
Angela Campos, Props Designer
Heath Hays, Sound Designer
Stefin Steberl, Costume Designer
Chuck Palia, Technical Director
Taree Chadwick, Dramaturg
Kim Boler, Violence Coordinator
Kick Start Marketing Chicago, Public Relations
Darren Callahan, Public Relations
Cathleen Ann, Graphics
Lee Strausberg, Production Manager
Ann Keen, Managing Director