Tufts University  |  School of Arts and Sciences  |  Find People  |  Give  | 

Performances & Events

Desire Under the Elms poster

Desire Under the Elms set design

Desire Under the Elms set design

Theatre and Performance Studies Productions: Past Productions

Desire Under the Elms

By Eugene O'Neill
Directed by Heather S. Nathans

April 6-8, April 13, April 15, 2017 at 8:00 pm

Spring 2017 brought Eugene O'Neill's classic tale of forbidden passion and murder, Desire Under the Elms to Tufts Balch Arena Theater. Originally banned in Boston in the 1920s for its provocative themes, O'Neill's drama focuses on the triangle between Eben, Abbie, and Ephraim, who find themselves locked in an intense battle for survival. The play plunges the characters into extremes of love and hate, driving each to terrible acts of vengeance. While some reviewers found it "hideous" or "twisted" on its debut, others claimed that its poetry seared the soul. Almost a century after it opened, Desire Under the Elms remains a play that challenges audiences to question conventional ideas of morality and love.

Director Heather Nathans on Desire Under the Elms: "I encountered Desire Under the Elms during my first semester of college in 1986. It captured my imagination even then – the brutality of the characters, the extreme actions they choose, and the play's raw quality appealed to me in a way that some of O'Neill's more well-known dramas, such as The Iceman Cometh or Long Day's Journey Into Night did not. In the thirty-one years since I initially read the tale of Abbie, Eben, and Ephraim's twisted triangle of hatred and passion, I have looked forward to directing it, though what I bring to the play has – I hope – changed a great deal in the intervening three decades, just as the landscape of American theatre has transformed as well."

Related information for Desire Under the Elms: