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December 04 , 2007

Ghosts of New Orleans

Plays by Rosary Hartel O'Neill Volume 2


Both anthologies are about New Orleans: the past and the present.

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Haunted England

Watch out for a ghostly ship and its spectral crew off the coast of CornwallListen for the unearthly tread and rustling silk dress of Darlington's Lady JarrattShiver at the malevolent apparition of 50 Berkeley Square that no-one survives seeing Beware the black dog of Shap Fell:…

This author has grown up in this city, and there is a certain timelessness about it - the past definitely influences the present. All the plays are permeated with the sensuousness, decadence and bewilderment of brave and driven people living in chaos, confusion, extreme pleasure and delight. I hope you get a taste of this rich jambalaya of life as you experience these plays.

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.

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.

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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