Here it is:. March 9, , New York City : After the final curtain had fallen on the premiere of The Hairy Ape at the Provincetown Playhouse, a cramped theater space in the heart of Greenwich Village, the audience leapt to its feet. Broadway plays had nearly always been written and produced with moneymaking stars in mind, and their authors were principally viewed as hired guns rather than artists. Each takes place over eight scenes, during which the protagonists are incrementally stripped of their grandiose delusions. I could always be sure to pay the rent then…. Shoving a lot of human beings on a stage and letting them say the identical things in a theatre they would say in a drawing room or a saloon does not necessarily make for naturalness.
Both German and Soviet theater of that period were especially creative in this mode, and other playwrights and directors quickly picked up the style. He would later win two more, plus the Nobel Prize for Literature in The protagonist Yank is the most class-conscious of his peers, fellow coal shovelers in the boiler room of a fancy ocean liner steaming toward Southampton, England. Yank is driven insane with a frightening class rage that he cannot control. One cannot help thinking that here is something which has to do with racial consciousness and the oppression of the 8430egro.
The Hairy Ape tells the story of the fall of Yank, a proud and powerful stoker working aboard a steamship. Though respected by his fellow workers, a chance encounter with a millionaire's daughter who disdains him as an "ape" leads to a vain quest for vengeance and the breakdown of his personality, leading eventually to a confrontation with a real gorilla who kills him. O'Neill based the play in part on a real man, an Irish sailor named Driscoll, whom he roomed with in New York.
Hinz wrangled a cast of 19, massive for a play by today's standards, keeping the engines of the production stoked and running hot for more than four hours. The ensemble is smaller too, though still a meaty dozen. It's headed up an excellent Joseph Milan as Yank, a powerful Popeye of a man who makes his living -- and derives every ounce of his self-worth -- as a "fireman" aboard a trans-Atlantic liner, shoveling coal into the fiery mouth of the ship's engines.