Abstract

Productions of Hughie have traditionally regarded O'Neill's late one-act as an actor's play, carried by dialogue and requiring minimal directorial intervention. But the dialogue tells only part of the story; my year working on Hughie at the Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site and at the Eugene O'Neill International Festival of Theatre in New Ross, Ireland, persuaded me that incorporating the stage directions into the play illuminated Hughie's rich inner life. The key choice in bringing this interpretation to life was the construction of a third character out of the stage directions. This character—Hughie's ghost—unlocks dramatic possibilities that justify and give voice to much of the play's richest text and facilitates fresh insights into the two named characters. With the inclusion of previously unspoken text, the play becomes about the struggles of two men and their relationship in a moment of existential crisis.

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