two short plays by Eugene O’Neill, presented by InOktober Productions (Berlin)

Before Breakfast (1916), one of Eugene O’Neill’s earliest plays, contains little action, though it is charged with conflict. A wife onstage berates her offstage husband for twenty minutes. The man remains unseen and unheard, and yet we are made to understand through her words how he has contributed to their bitter and estranged relationship. ImageThe story’s resolution, as O’Neill wrote it, is horrifying and bloody, showing little in the way of hope for the couple. Without changing a single word of the text, this inventive staging aims to present a more robust version of O’Neill’s vision. Jovanka von Willsdorf composed songs especially for this production, using O’Neill’s text as lyrics. The strange sonic miniatures are like breakthroughs, to reveal the beauty and pain hidden just beneath the surface of the bitter words.

In the Zone (1917). The crew on board the Glencairn, a freighter ship carrying ammunition during wartime, live in constant fear of bombs and U-boat attacks. In an atmosphere charged with terror of imminent death, any small deviation from the norm becomes suspect. So it is that Smitty, a young boy on the ship who tends to keep mostly to himself, comes under suspicion of being a German spy. This staging achieves its emotional impact with broad, Imagesimple gestures: what’s striking about the story, written almost one hundred years ago, is it familiarity, its relevance to our modern experience of wartime terror and paranoia. Though the performers move through their roles with dreamlike calm, a deep disquiet is at work throughout.

Bloodwater’s strength lies in its intimacy and sense of confrontation. The stage was conceived to resonate underfoot like a giant musical instrument. The audience sits at eye level with the performers, almost within reach. These are stories presented close to the skin, with humor and humanity.

InOktober Productions is a New York/Berlin ensemble of theater artists. Current InOktober productions tend to ruminate on one of two broad subjects: love in its extremes, and what it means to be American. To keep up with their ongoing work, including the development of the final part of their Eugene O’Neill trilogy, please visit

  • Tues, October 7, 2008 | 8pmStudio

with nine additional performances until December 6, 2008

with Jovanaka von Willsdorf, Sean Breen, Kenny Stanger, Keith Boehm, Stewart Tryster

Directed by Katalina Mustatea

presented by InOktober Productions

Music: Jovanaka von Willsdorf (songs, sonic treatments & shipscapes), Kenny Stanger (electric guitar & sonic loops)

Stage and light: Sebastian Schnorr

Media: Andreas Hadel