Also Today in Theatre History: O’NEILL’S FIRST PLAY OPENS–July 28, 1916

O'Neill, on the ladder, preparing the set for the New York production of Bound East for Cardiff, in the fall of 1916.

O’Neill, astounding the cast with his extraordinary skill at hanging set draperies whilst standing precariously on the third rung of a wooden ladder.  In preparation for the New York premiere of Bound East for Cardiff in the fall of 1916.

On this day in theatre history (July 28, 1916) Eugene O’Neill’s Bound East for Cardiff was staged on Lewis Wharf in Provincetown, Massachusetts.  It was the first performance ever of a play by O’Neill.  The seafaring one-act was so well received, Susan Glaspell commented, “it is not merely figurative language to say the old wharf shook with applause.”  The moment the curtain came down on opening night, Glaspell claimed the Provincetown Players instantly “knew what we were for.”  And indeed it was one of the greatest pivotal moments in American theatre.  Less than four years later, O’Neill would win the first of his quartet of Pulitzer Prizes for his three-act drama, Beyond the Horizon.  And, of course, he’d eventually win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1936.  And it all started on this very day in 1916 in a rickety, makeshift theatre on an old wharf in Provincetown.

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