Department of English Publications


At Play in the Haunted House: Long Day's Journey in Context

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When we go to the theatre, often our anticipation of the pleasure the show will bring us is bound up with genre - that is, with the kind of play we are about to see. Some of my students get gleeful at the prospect of seeing a musical; others find thrills in attending a performance of Shakespeare (tragical, comical, historical, or pastoral, as Polonius helpfully notes). Still others love the prospect of something "post-dramatic": an immersive performance on location in a disused warehouse; an audio walk through the secret warrens of a well-known city; a performance lecture that engages with topical social or political ideas. When we go to see something that academics would call "realism," however, it's rare that we identify excitement with that genre of theatre itself. This is because "realism," as a dramatic framework, is so standard, so commonplace today, that it's hard for us to see it as a "genre" at all.


Contribution is a Program Note for Long Day's Journey Into Night, Stratford Festival of Canada directed by Miles Potter. Can be accessed online at