About the Play
A Moon for the Misbegotten is the sequel to Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night. Set in a dilapidated Connecticut house in early September 1923, Moon tells the story of Josie Hogan, a stoic woman with a ruined reputation; her weather-beaten father, tenant farmer Phil Hogan; and their self-indulgent landlord James Tyrone, Jr., a washed-up actor.
Mike Hogan, the last of Hogan’s three sons, flees the farm, following in the footsteps of his older brothers. Hogan teases Josie, who has long harbored romantic feelings for Tyrone. In a drunken bout, Tyrone threatens to evict Hogan and sell his land to his hated neighbor, T. Stedman Harder. Hogan concocts a plan for Josie to get Tyrone drunk, seduce him, and blackmail him. Josie and Tyrone court in the moonlight, and Tyrone tells Josie how he overcame his grief following his mother’s death.
Hogan’s scheme is complicated when Josie and Tyrone discover that they share a deep and damaged love.
About the Author
O’Neill was born in New York City and was the third of three sons to Mary Ellen Quinlan and Irish immigrant actor James O’Neill. O’Neill attended a Catholic boarding school, St. Aloysius Academy for Boys, where he found an early solace in books. During the 1910s, O’Neill became involved in the Greenwhich Village literary scene and the Provincetown Players. His first published play, Beyond the Horizon, opened on Broadway in 1920. O’Neill wrote A Moon for the Misbegotten from 1941-1943, and it initially failed. Only decades later did it come to be considered among his best works.
O’Neill married three times and had three children: one with his first wife and two with his second. O’Neill died in Boston in 1953, at the age of 65.
by Russell Copley
A Moon for the Misbegotten is a study of loss. An Irish family has immigrated to America only to find a barren landscape of broken dreams. Their security is threatened by a bigoted neighbor and a duplicitous landlord, whose frequent visitations vacillate between patronizing empathy and alcoholic co-dependence. He carries the burden of his own loss, albeit similar in context to his tenants’ - a broken family.
I see the situation facing the Hogan family as an historic prototype of the unwelcome immigrant. In our current political climate we see honest hard working people disrespected and disenfranchised. The dignity of labor is callously diminished by corporate greed, and the plight of the worker is constantly at odds with the vanishing potential of property ownership.
But is ownership a ruse? What do we lose in our human potential as we seek ownership at any cost? The cycle of death and rebirth, hope and despair, are reflected in the tension between the land and the cosmos. The polarity of innocence and experience is epitomized by the attraction between a virgin and a philanderer, where both characters are the hunter and the hunted, the buyer and the seller.
We approach this play with tenderness as well as abandon. Under the canopy of the planets and the stars, we witness the miseducation of religion, capitalism and agricultural sustenance. Josie may just find her way out of this neo-colonial misogynistic trap as she looks up at the moon and the stars, inviting her to release her inherited shroud of subservience, and to navigate her much delayed coming of age and promise of suffrage.