Authored by William A. Slone
Tennessee Williams’ play, The Long Voyage Home, by Eugene O’Neill was performed by Washington Market Playhouse, Inc. at Morgan’s Old New York Grill, a tavern, which supplied the perfect atmosphere for a play about the sea and sailors (Harris, n.d.). The Long Voyage Home was most likely performed in 1976 on Saturday, January 10th and Sunday, January 11th (MMM, n.d.). William B. Harris was in attendance during those dates and wrote a review of the play. His review is archived in “The William Harris Papers,” a special collection housed in the Marymount Manhattan College Library. The playbill and Harris’ review provide two examples of the Vincentian concept.
William Harris described The Long Voyage Home as one of the “best hours imaginable” in a waterfront bar where he stated that, “The performers themselves become as natural a part of the bar as the drinking patrons” (Harris, n.d.). He described what one would expect to hear in a bar of sailors – tall tales and songs of adventure, alcohol, loves lost, and the ferociousness of the sea. Harris pointed out that, “most significantly the play contained the spirit of all voyagers: men without purpose who are outcasts except from the cheap dives they frequent while in port” (Harris, n.d.). Harris emphasized that “loneliness and monotony are temporary, and the freedom of choice is limited – a male predicament” (Harris, n.d.). With his description of the sailors in the play, Harris conveys a voice for them who are under-and/or misrepresented. The sailors had demanding jobs and they had to be strong to endure their harsh life.
Harris mentions that, “Alexander Sokoloff directed the play quite admirably” but mentioned, “there was some problem with the handling of foreign accents” (Harris, n.d.). His statement is quite interesting! Listed on the playbill under the heading “Characters” several of the actors have an asterisk beside their name. The asterisk identifies them as actors appearing through the courtesy of the Actors’ Equity Association. The Actors’ Equity Association established on July 18, 1919 negotiated rules concerning bonding, which required producers to post sufficient advance funds to guarantee salaries and benefits; minimum salaries; rehearsal pay; restriction on the employment of foreign actors and protections in dealings with theatrical agents (History of Actors’ Equity Association, n.d.). The foreign actors had the support of the Actors’ Equity Association in The Long Voyage Home. This is a second example of the “Vincentian Perspective.” They were provided a voice by the Actors’ Equity Association because they were under-and/or misrepresented among other actors.
William B. Harris was multitalented. Among many talents, he was a writer for SoHo Weekly News, an advocate for new dance artists and an informal adviser to dance producers (New York Times 2000). Morgan’s Old New York Grill, at 134 Reade Street in lower Manhattan was close to home (New York Times 1976). His review which praised The Long Voyage Home and the playbill each provides an important example of social justice.
Harris, William. n.d. “The Long Voyage Home.” William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College. Accessed March 9, 2019.
“History of Actors’ Equity Association.” n.d. Organization. Actors’ Equity Association 1913. https://www.actorsequity.org/aboutequity/history/.
MMC (Marymount Manhattan College). n.d. William Harris Papers: Archives, http://www.mmm.edu/offices/library/archives.php.
The New York Times. 2000. “William Harris Writer, 49,” July 29, 2000. 2000. https://www.nytimes.com/2000/07/29/arts/william-harris-writer-49.html.
The New York Times. 1976. “Going Out Guide,” May 13, 1976. 1976. https://www.nytimes.com/1976/05/13/archives/going-out-guide.html.