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Théâtre (1920)


Musique:
Paroles:
Livret: Eugene O'Neill

The Emperor Jones was O'Neill's first big box-office hit. It established him as a successful playwright, after he won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his first play, the much less well-known Beyond the Horizon (1920).

The Emperor Jones is about an American Negro, a Pullman porter who escapes to an island in the West Indies. In two years, Jones makes himself "Emperor" of the place. A native tried to shoot Jones, but the gun misfired; thereupon Jones announced that he was protected by a charm and that only gold bullets could harm him. When the play begins, he has been Emperor long enough to amass a fortune by imposing heavy taxes on the islanders and carrying on all sorts of large-scale graft. Rebellion is brewing. The islanders are whipping up their courage to the fighting point by calling on the local gods and demons of the forest. From the deep of the jungle, the steady beat of a big drum sounded by them is heard, increasing its tempo towards the end of the play and showing the rebels' presence dreaded by the Emperor. It is the equivalent of the heart-beat which assumes a higher and higher pitch; while coming closer it denotes the premonition of approaching punishment and the climactic recoil of internal guilt of the black hero; he wanders and falters in the jungle, present throughout the play with its primeval terror and blackness.

The play is virtually a monologue for its leading character, Jones, in a Shakespearean range from regal power to the depths of terror and insanity, comparable to Lear or Macbeth. Scenes 2 to 7 are from the point of view of Jones, and no other character speaks. The first and last scenes are essentially a framing device with a character named Smithers, a white trader who appears to be part of illegal activities. In the first scene, Smithers is told about the rebellion by an old woman, and then has a lengthy conversation with Jones. In the last scene, Smithers converses with Lem, the leader of the rebellion. Smithers has mixed feelings about Jones, though he generally has more respect for Jones than for the rebels. During the final scene, Jones is killed by a silver bullet, which was the only way that the rebels believed Jones could be killed, and the way in which Jones planned to kill himself if he was captured.

1920 premiere
The Emperor Jones was first staged on November 1, 1920, by the Provincetown Players at the Provincetown Playhouse in New York City. Charles Sidney Gilpin, a respected leading man from the all-black Lafayette Players of Harlem, was the first actor to play the role of Brutus Jones on stage. They did have some conflict over Gilpin's tendency to change O'Neill's use of the word "nigger" to Negro and colored in the course of the play. This production was O'Neill's first real smash hit. The Players' small theater was too small to cope with audience demand for tickets, and the play was transferred to another theater. It ran for 204 performances and was hugely popular, touring in the States with this cast for the next two years.

1925 revival
Although Gilpin continued to perform the role of Brutus Jones in the US tour that followed the Broadway closing of the play, he eventually had a falling out with O'Neill. Gilpin wanted O'Neill to remove the word "nigger," which occurred frequently in the play, but the playwright felt its use was consistent with his dramatic intentions and the use of language was, in fact, based on a friend, an African-American tavern-keeper on the New London waterfront that was O'Neill's favorite drinking spot in his home town.[6] When they could not come to a reconciliation, O'Neill replaced Gilpin with the young and then unknown Paul Robeson, who previously had only performed on the concert stage. Robeson starred in the title role in the 1925 New York revival (28 performances) and later in the London production.
Robeson starred in the summer production in 1941 at the Ivoryton Playhouse, Ivoryton, Ct.

1926 revival
The show was again revived in 1926 at the Mayfair Theatre in Manhattan, with Gilpin again starring as Jones and also directing the show. The production, which ran for 61 performances, is noted for the acting debut of a young Moss Hart as Smithers.





Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant Emperor Jones (The)





Version 1

Emperor Jones (The) (1920-11-Broadway Off)

Type de série: Original
Théâtre: Princess Theatre (Broadway (Off) - Etats-Unis)
Durée : 5 mois
Nombre : 204 représentations
Première Preview : lundi 01 novembre 1920
Première : lundi 01 novembre 1920
Dernière : vendredi 01 avril 1921
Mise en scène :
Chorégraphie :
Avec : Jasper Deeter (Harry Smithers), Christine Ell (An Old Native Woman), Charles Ellis (Lem), Charles S. Gilpin (Brutus Jones)
Commentaires :
Provincetown Playhouse (1 Nov 1920 - Dec 1920)
Selwyn Theatre (Dec 1920 - 25 Jan 25 1921)
Princess Theatre (29 Jan 1921 - Apr 1921)

The Emperor Jones was first staged on November 1, 1920, by the Provincetown Players at the Provincetown Playhouse in New York City. Charles Sidney Gilpin, a respected leading man from the all-black Lafayette Players of Harlem, was the first actor to play the role of Brutus Jones on stage. They did have some conflict over Gilpin's tendency to change O'Neill's use of the word "nigger" to Negro and colored in the course of the play. This production was O'Neill's first real smash hit. The Players' small theater was too small to cope with audience demand for tickets, and the play was transferred to another theater. It ran for 204 performances and was hugely popular, touring in the States with this cast for the next two years.
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 2

Emperor Jones (The) (1925-02-52nd Street Theatre-Broadway Off)

Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: 52nd Street Theatre (Broadway (Off) - Etats-Unis)
Durée : 2 semaines
Nombre : 28 previews -
Première Preview : mercredi 11 février 1925
Première : mercredi 11 février 1925
Dernière : samedi 28 février 1925
Mise en scène :
Chorégraphie :
Avec : Paul Robeson
Commentaires :
Although Gilpin continued to perform the role of Brutus Jones in the US tour that followed the 1920 Broadway closing of the play, he eventually had a falling out with O'Neill. Gilpin wanted O'Neill to remove the word "nigger," which occurred frequently in the play, but the playwright felt its use was consistent with his dramatic intentions and the use of language was, in fact, based on a friend, an African-American tavern-keeper on the New London waterfront that was O'Neill's favorite drinking spot in his home town. When they could not come to a reconciliation, O'Neill replaced Gilpin with the young and then unknown Paul Robeson, who previously had only performed on the concert stage. Robeson starred in the title role in the 1925 New York revival (28 performances) and later in the London production.

Robeson starred in the summer production in 1941 at the Ivoryton Playhouse, Ivoryton, Ct.
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 3

Emperor Jones (The) (1926-02-Provincetown Playhouse-Broadway Off)

Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: Provincetown Playhouse (Broadway (Off) - Etats-Unis)
Durée :
Nombre : 35 représentations
Première Preview : mardi 16 février 1926
Première : Inconnu
Dernière : Inconnu
Mise en scène : James Light
Chorégraphie :
Avec : Gilpin (Jones)
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 4

Emperor Jones (The) (1926-11-Mayfair Theatre-Broadway Off)

Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: Mayfair Theatre (Broadway (Off) - Etats-Unis)
Durée : 1 mois 3 semaines
Nombre : 61 représentations
Première Preview : mercredi 10 novembre 1926
Première : mercredi 10 novembre 1926
Dernière : samedi 01 janvier 1927
Mise en scène : Charles S. Gilpin
Chorégraphie :
Avec :
Commentaires :
The show was again revived in 1926 at the Mayfair Theatre in Manhattan, with Gilpin again starring as Jones and also directing the show. The production, which ran for 61 performances, is noted for the acting debut of a young Moss Hart as Smithers.
En savoir plus sur cette version





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