Ghosts of New Orleans: Plays by Rosary Hartel O'Neill Volume 2
Sex, money and decadence among the upper classes
in 19th century New Orleans and abroad.
6 Plays of historic New Orleans
368 Pages, illustrated.
Volume Two contains historical plays, mostly Victorian, with characters driven by stratified society and tradition. Knowledge of New Orleans history made me want to adapt Uncle Vanya. I loved the play but felt its details were too Russian. I took the bones of Vanya and put it on a plantation called Waverly, the last sugarcane plantation in Louisiana, and called my play Uncle Victor. That play won a number of awards and hooked me on historical drama. I also researched Edgar Degas' visit to New Orleans in 1872 and wrote a nine-cast show, so struck was I by all Degas' relatives who had lived with him in 1872. Degas had tried to save his Uncle's failing cotton business and create new roots in the city of his mother. He fell prey to scandal and decadence.
My plays are historically accurate. Obviously, you take a scenario and expand the story but the main facts: the births, deaths, relationships are all to the best of my knowledge correct.
I spent days visiting Kate Chopin's house in Cloutierville, La. and interviewed descendents of Chopin's lover Albert Sanpitie and town members about the scandals of her life. I researched in French and English all the books on Degas. I did similar research in New York and Paris for Beckett at Greystones Bay and John Singer Sargent and Madame X, which are loosely tied to New Orleans. A major theme in my work is the struggle of an artist, the sacrifices made to maintain sanity.
We are glad Degas did go back to Paris and paint and didn't succumb to the temptations of New Orleans. We are pleased Sargent refused to change his scorned portrait of Madame X and that Kate Chopin forged a way to raise her six children and still write.
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Reviews of "Ghosts of New Orleans"
WONDERFUL !!! - Julie on October 1, 2008
GHOST OF NEW ORLEANS is an amazing assortment of historical plays of New Orleans over the last 150 years. We meet famous characters and are thrown into illicit love scenes behind closed doors in old New Orleans. Where else but with O'Neill can you confront Edgar Degas, Sarah Bernhard, Madame X and John Singer Sargent. She takes us to New Orleans and thrusts us into the blissful and treacherous lives of New Orleanians who have gone before. Plays are full of intrigue and humor. Most are easy to stage--requiring nothing more than imagination and the talent of the actor. This is a masterful book of theatre whose crowning piece may be the strange and alluring BECKETT AT GREYSTONES BAY.5.0 out of 5 stars
Artists Under Siege: later plays by Rosary O'Neill - Brendan Mccall on October 7, 2008
This second volume of Rosary O'Neill's plays features a trilogy of works that center on the role of the artist and the larger culture--'Beckett at Greystones Bay,' 'Degas in New Orleans,' and 'John Singer Sargent and Madame X'. The shift in these plays perhaps mirror Dr. O'Neill's own shifting of identity--leaving New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and re-inventing herself as a writer in New York City. Much like James Joyce, who wrote passionately about Dublin since living in Continental Europe in the 20th century, Dr. O'Neill's plays on the artist center on the individual's efforts to find truth, authenticity, and integrity in a world frequently corrupt, self-serving, and dispassionate to the needs of the creative temperament. Given the near-collapse of the US financial system in recent news, and the government response to it, this (unfortunately) is no longer a condition that only artists of the past can experience. Dr. O'Neill's works continue in their originality here, but become more textured and dense as poetic dramas, mixing history with 'possible encounters' between real and imagined figures. A wonderful collection! Also, as a director of 3 of her plays (so far), I know that she is an incredibly prolific writer, and that there are at least two new plays that she has written since these works were published in the spring of 2008! A wonderful introduction to an exceptional dramatist!
Kansas, MO - A Kid's Review on October 17, 2008
An authentic voice of her native New Orleans, O'Neill has put together an extraordinary collection of mostly Victorian plays in her GHOSTS OF NEW ORLEANS. She follows in the path of legendary southern writers: Faulkner, McCullers, Hellman, and Williams. Her native Louisiana unfolds in20a complexity and diversity rarely seen or read about. Historical characters are marked with contemporary feeling and take life on stage. O'Neill has invigorated history with her passionate dialogue and spirited characters. A poetic quality and intensity of meaning reveals the experienced hand of the dramatist. THE AWAKENING OF KATE CHOPIN was so brilliantly styled and delightfully engaged that I long to see it stage. The fine heritage and passionate life of Louisiana natives like Uncle Victor give us insight into the soul and breeding of old style New Orleans.The city thrives again under O'Neill's brilliant staging.
Historic and Dramatic New Orleans - Reader from New Jersey on July 17, 2008
This second volume of plays collects work of much produced and honored Rosary Hartel O'Neill set in and about her home town of New Orleans, Louisiana. The Plays in GHOSTS are historical- about figures like Edgar Degas and John Singer Sargent's Madame X who all had New Orleans connections. The LOUISIANA GENTLEMAN plays are about people in New Orleans in the recent past- in the years just before Hurricane Katrina. The characters in all cases are vivid and naturally dramatic- there is a joie de vivre in language, in emotion, even in struggle. Everyone seems born to be on stage- that is, the characters see themselves as having dramatic, expressive, and meaningful lives- and readers are pulled in and believe it too. The characters and the city seem equally essential here; one feels enriched and enlivened for having encountered them.
Definite page turner! - Kelly S. Williams on October 4, 2008
GHOSTS OF NEW ORLEANS is a lurid collection of tales mostly historical about famous characters who have ties to New Orleans. Written in a bright contemporary style, the plays whisk you to the Degas House (which still
exists in New Orleans) and to the home of legendary author Kate Chopin among others. O'Neill meets her stride in tales of the Victorian era and post-civil war New Orleans. Danger and surprise ignite the plays with a fire that makes the stories pop off the page. A wondrous collection of plays on old New Orleans with remarkable new flair.