The Eugene O’Neill Society is a nonprofit international association formed in 1978 to promote the study of the life and works of American’s greatest playwright Eugene O’Neill and the drama and theatre for which his work was in large part the instigator and the model for American Theatre in the 20th Century and beyond. Eugene O’Neill was awarded four Pulitzer Prizes and is the only American playwright to have received the Nobel Prize.
Because of the scope of O’Neill’s impact on the theatre and because of his stature and importance as an American intellectual and artist, the Society’s members unite in the exploration of O’Neill’s life and works by means of historical and critical writing; by the creation of artistic performances on stage, film, television, radio, and recordings; by the amassing of historical documentation; by advocating for the preservation of important historic sites associated with O’Neill’s life and work; and by promoting publications devoted to topics relating to O’Neill. The subjects of study include not only Eugene O’Neill and his works, but also all aspects of the American and world theatres. For these purposes members of the Society select times and appropriate occasions to hold international conferences (typically every three years), to meet at theatrical performances of his works, and to gather at historic sites related to the O’Neill legacy. The Society also fosters panels, discussions and literary works generated specifically to further understanding of O’Neill as an artist, innovator and world figure. Society members include theatre professionals (directors, actors, designers, producers, dramaturgs), academics (teachers, students, administrators), collection curators, and all those directly and tangentially concerned with preserving Eugene O’Neill’s legacy.
The Eugene O’Neill Society has sponsored several international conferences. These include: Eugene O’Neill “The Early Years,” 1984 (Suffolk University, Boston); Eugene O’Neill “The Later Years,” 1986 (Suffolk University, Boston); “O’Neill’s People,” 1995 (Suffolk University, Boston); Eugene O’Neill “The Bermuda Years,” 1999, Bermuda; 2003 in Tours, France; 2005 in Provincetown, MA; 2008 in San Ramon, CA and at Tao House; and 2011 in New York City. The most recent international O’Neill conference was held in New London, CT in 2014 (with anticipation of our next conference in 2017 in Ireland). Each conference draws leaders in their respective fields who share widely diverse perspectives on topics relating to O’Neill. Participation occurs in a commonly attended format. Since the range of O’Neill’s work is so all-encompassing, Society members are particularly unique in their willingness to entertain a wide range of interpretations of Eugene O’Neill’s life and work. Membership in the Society is not limited or restrained by a particular ideology or artistic vision.
In addition to the conferences already noted, The Eugene O’Neill Society has been associated with several other notable O’Neill-related conferences offered with the O’Neill Society’s support and participation. Three such conferences of particular importance occurred in Nanjing, China; Tokyo, Japan; and Han-sur-Lesse, Belgium in 1988 at the time of the Centenary of Eugene O’Neill’s birth. Other related O’Neill events sponsored by the Eugene O’Neill Society have included celebrations of the actor Jason Robards’ O’Neill performances; panels with guests that included O’Neill actresses Ingrid Bergman, Colleen Dewhurst, Ruby Dee and Geraldine Fitzgerald; and celebrations of other major O’Neillian’s work at O’Neill’s homes at Tao House in Danville, California; the Monte Cristo Cottage in New London Connecticut; Spithead in Bermuda; and Le Plessis in Tours, France.
Awarding of the Eugene O’Neill Medallion was instituted at the 1995 Boston International Conference of the Eugene O’Neill Society. Award recipients have included: actors Jason Robards, Geraldine Fitzgerald and Brian Dennehy; directors Jose Quintero, Arvin Brown, Theodore Mann and Robert Falls; author/scholar Travis Bogard; scholar Normand Berlin; scholar and curator Donald Gallup; scholar and Society "father" Jordan Miller; scholar and The Eugene O'Neill Review founding editor Fred Wilkins; O’Neill Biographers Arthur and Barbara Gel; producer Paul Libin; and scholar/authors Stephen A. Black, and Jackson R. Bryer. Also awarded have been past EONS Secretary Diane Schinerrer, curators of Monte Cristo Cottage Sally Pavetti and Lois McDonald, past EONS President Brenda Murphy, and Founder of the Eugene O'Neill Center George C. White. The Eugene O’Neill Medallion is given to distinguished O’Neillians who have dedicated significant portions of their careers to furthering knowledge and appreciation of O’Neill.
The Eugene O’Neill Newsletter was first published in 1978. Initially the newsletter served multiple purposes both as a voice to exchange information amongst Society members and as a publication devoted to scholarly writings on O’Neill topics. The Eugene O’Neill Newsletter’s first editor was Frederick C. Wilkins, Ph.D. (Professor Emeritus, Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts), a distinguished scholar who was also a primary founder of The Eugene O’Neill Society. After The Eugene O'Neill Review was begun over ten years later, the Newsletter was renamed The Eugene O’Neill Society Newsletter. Currently edited by Jo Morello, it is a bi-annual news magazine that informs the membership of items of interest that include Society business, major performances of O'Neill, new publications on O'Neill, conference information, activities of the Society Members and interesting articles about anything related to O'Neill. The Eugene O’Neill Society Newsletter is available on this site.
In 1989, Professor Wilkins spearheaded the founding of The Eugene O’Neill Review, which took on the larger role of publishing juried scholarship. The mission of the Eugene O'Neill Review is being a journal “devoted to the life, works, influence, and significance of the eponymous playwright.” Most recently edited by William Davies King and now published bi-annually by Pennsylvania State University Press, the Eugene O’Neill Review is a member of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. Back-issues are available at $15 each. Requests should be sent to Society Secretary/Treasurer Beth Wynstra (email@example.com). More information about the Review, including how to submit articles to it, is located on this site.
The Board of Directors of The Eugene O’Neill Society meets annually in conjunction with the national convention of the American Literature Association (ALA) or at the Comparative Drama Conference (CDC), or at the Society's Conference (every three years). A scholarly and/or performance-related panel sponsored by the O’Neill Society typically takes place yearly at the above locations as well as the Modern Language Association (MLA) conference. In addition, members of the Eugene O’Neill Society represent the organization when participating in the many yearly events and activities inspired by O’Neill’s abundant legacy.
Inquiries regarding The Eugene O’Neill Society can be made to Beth Wynstra, Secretary (firstname.lastname@example.org). Optional memberships are also offered for: The Eugene O’Neill Foundation, Tao House (a National Historic Landmark-National Park Service), and the Friends of Monte Cristo Cottage (a National Historic Landmark), and can be obtained on this site.