If you have never ever been to playwright Eugene O’Neill’s household in the west hills of Danville, it ought to be at the top rated of your record of matters to do just after the pandemic. In my humble viewpoint.
O’Neill and his spouse Carlotta Monterey designed Tao Dwelling with dollars he gained in 1936 for the Nobel Prize for Literature and they lived there from 1937-44. These many years proved really productive, ensuing in “Lengthy Day’s Journey into Night time” and four other significant functions.
The dwelling and its 14 remaining acres now comprise the Eugene O’Neill Nationwide Historic Web page, and in normal instances, guests are shuttled for excursions and performs from the Museum of the San Ramon Valley.
But for now, even though the internet site is closed, poke all over www.eugeneoneill.org, with its historic generate-ups, back links to performs, aged pictures and extra. Its most recent featuring is “The Ghosts of Tao House,” a online video collection currently being made by Eric Fraisher Hayes, inventive director for the Eugene O’Neill Basis.
“A ton of individuals like ghosts, or the plan of ghosts,” Hayes reported. “I was intrigued by the notion that a ghost could possibly lead a person down the route to the seriousness of what O’Neill states in his plays. I was hunting for methods to get individuals fascinated in him.”
Hayes’ premise is that O’Neill’s characters sprang from his imagination and lived with him at Tao Dwelling — those people from past plays as effectively as people from performs in development — and their spirits well might linger.
“Eugene O’Neill was a haunted guy, and perhaps Tao Property is a haunted residence,” Hayes stated.
He has been rehearsing and taking pictures the actors/ghosts onsite, one particular by one, at outside places that highlight every single particular storyline.
“I check out to choose their brains and determine out exactly where they’re going with the character and what would be a fantastic background,” Hayes stated.
I was tickled to study that Hayes grew up in Danville and went to San Ramon Valley High, but at that stage he was not familiar with O’Neill or Tao Property. However, he was on the cross-nation workforce, which took standard operates on the Las Trampas ridge.
“I realized there was a playwright’s dwelling up there with a dead pet dog that had a grave,” Hayes recalled.
Reported “lifeless pet dog” was the O’Neills’ beloved Blemie, a Dalmatian who has a tombstone on the website. In 2018, Hayes offered O’Neill’s shorter participate in, “Hughie,” in the Outdated Barn theater and, to fill out the program, dramatized “The Past Will and Testomony of an Particularly Distinguished Pet,” which O’Neill penned all through the Dalmatian’s last days.
Hayes gained an MFA in performing in Chicago, where by he stayed for one more 8 a long time right before shifting back again to Danville in 2004. He was creative director for Role Players Ensemble from 2010-19, and in 2008 joined the board of administrators of the Eugene O’Neill Foundation, Tao Home.
Right before becoming a member of the board, Hayes recalled, he read all 51 of O’Neill’s plays, in purchase. All through the pandemic he has re-browse them, this time having notes, and is at this time operating on a presentation identified as, “Eugene O’Neill: 51 Plays in 51 Minutes.”
“I want to address the whole canon from a director’s point of view but it would be light and playful, also,” Hayes stated. “I love the seriousness of his plays but I also personally feel he’s extremely ironic.”
Hayes drives to Tao Residence every day to his place of work in the Outdated Barn when the park rangers only appear periodically considering the fact that the dwelling is locked up and the website is shut to guests.
“It is been a godsend throughout the pandemic, possessing this attractive out of doors position to go,” Hayes said.
The views of Mount Diablo to the east and the Las Trampas hills to the west are not only inspiring in themselves but include to his link with the playwright, he noted, who appreciated the exact timeless panoramas.
The first in the series of “The Ghosts of Tao Residence” as well as an introductory movie by Hayes are on the site now, and more of the 5-moment ghost video clips will abide by.
And, when the Eugene O’Neill Nationwide Historic Web site reopens, be positive to go tour the dwelling, love the sights — and potentially take a look at with the ghosts in particular person.
Editor’s notice: Dolores Fox Ciardelli is Tri-Valley Lifestyle editor for the Pleasanton Weekly. Her column, “Valley Sights,” will appear in the paper on the next and fourth Fridays of the thirty day period.