By Iride Aparicio

Kurt Gravenhorst in the role of Eugene O'Neill/ Photo Credit: Gravenhorst

SAN JOSE, CA -- Playwright/Actor  KURT GRAVENHORST, is a recently retired professor of humanities, literature and composition at Foothill College, a community college in Los Altos, California, who taught while continuing his career as an actor. His acting career began 45 years ago with the Nevada Repertory Company, while he was attending graduate school at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) for his first MA in English.

Continuing his teaching and academic studies, Playwright/Actor GRAVENHORST earned a second  MA degree in Humanities, and continued expanding his theatrical knowledge by taking additional acting courses at Stanford University and at the American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) in San Francisco and acting in numerous Bay Area Productions.

He will be returning to TABARD THEATRE in San José,where he has been a recurring actor for years, on June 8 and 9, to give his audience the unique opportunity to get acquainted with his acting, this time as a solo performer, and with his work as a playwright in  "Into the Wake of the Moon," one of his plays, based on the life of playwright Eugene O'Neill ( October 16, l888-November 27, l953),  that he wrote a few years ago for the Eugene O'Neill  Foundation.

Theatre at the O'Neill Foundation, 205 Railroad Ave in Danville, CA.

In an exclusive interview, CULTURAL WORLD BILINGUAL invites Mr. GRAVENHORST to tell our readership something about his play.

K.G: "My play is entitled "Into the Wake of the Moon."  I first got the idea for writing this play when I attended a seminar on Eugene O'Neill  at Tao House where the O'Neill's lived from about 1937 to l943, and where Eugene O'Neill wrote some of  his best plays. "The Iceman Cometh (l939),  A Moon for the Misbegot (l941).and A Touch of the Poet (l942) and where he moved after winning the Novel Prize in Literature in l940. He received forty thousand dollars with that award and with that money he moved to Tao House with his then wife, CARLOTTA MONTEREY(real name Hazel Neilson Taasinge, an American stage and film actress born in San Francisco, CA.) because he needed to be secluded and free from all the attention he was getting after winning the Novel Prize.

C.W.B. Where is Tao House?

K.G: "Tao House, which is about one hundred and sixty acres, is in a very secluded spot in Danville, California. He (may have) selected the place because it is about 45 minutes from San Francisco, and he could get to San Francisco to go to the hospital.

C.W.B.  Why did you go to an O'Neill Seminar?

K.G. "The reason I went there, in l987, was because I was teaching literature and humanities at the time and I wanted to learn more about Eugene O'Neill. When I attended a seminar, there was a professor from the University of California, Berkeley, who began a seminar by giving a very detailed telling of Eugene O'Neill's life, and when I listened to the story of his life I was so taken by how tragic and how trying his life was, that I thought that the story of his own life was as compelling and as powerful and as tragic as his own tragic plays. When I left the seminar that day, I had the idea that the telling of the story of his life would be a very powerful piece of theatre, but I did not write the story until later."

"What  I did was learn more about Eugene O'Neill. He  had said, and I quote: "The stuff of tragedy comes out of your life, not of your head."  and that quote made me realize that those great tragedies, that he wrote, were closely connected to his own experiences in life. I was interested that, as a writer, O'Neill could take the tragedies of his own life and somehow distill that into theatre. In other words, (in the way) O'Neill's tragedies led him to the forcefulness of his own art. That is the story I want to tell in my play."

"Thinking about it, I thought that this very powerful story could only be told by Eugene O'Neillhimself telling it. So, I got the idea that I actually wanted to portray the character in a kind of retrospective way looking back at his own life, so that the audience could see how his life (suffering) had formed his tragedies."

"What I really wanted, is get across the idea of how Eugene O'Neill was able to transcend the tragedies of his own life and how he used his own life, and the experiences of his own life, to really fundamentally change theater in America and to bring what he called The language of the soul to the American Theatre."

"At the time when Eugene O'Neill was writing, and I am going back to his most successful play, Beyond the Horizon, in the nineteen twenties, our theatre  was dominated by melodrama.  In Europe, authors had transformed theatre. Bringing in realism and naturalism to the stage, But it has not happened yet in America. O'NEILL was influenced by STRINGBERG and IBSEN and he wanted to bring the same kind of realism to the American Stage. That is why he is famous for, because he revolutionized the theatre in America. The story I want to tell is to demonstrate how O'NEILL's own tragic life made him able to create his wonderful plays".

To order tickets for KURT GRAVENHORTS drama "In the Wake of the moon" which will be presented for two days only  (June 8 and June 9)  at TABARD THEATRE in San Jose, located at 29 N San Pedro Street,  go to or call (408) 679-2330.