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The play of surface: theater and The Turn of the Screw.

"He's like nobody.... He has red hair, very red, close-curling, and a pale face, long in shape, with straight good features and little rather queer whiskers that are as red as his hair. His eyebrows are somehow darker; they look particularly arched and as if they might move a good deal. His eyes are sharp, strange--awfully; but I only know clearly that they're rather small and very fixed. His mouth's wide, and his lips are thin, except for his little whiskers he's quite clean-shaven. He gives me a sort of sense of looking like an actor."

"An actor!" ...

"I've never seen one, but so I suppose them." (1)

Thus the governess in Henry James's The Turn of the Screw (1898) describes a man she has seen, later identified as Peter Quint. Why should he call to mind an actor? The strongly marked features and bold eyes suggest it, perhaps, as might the somehow showy contrast of fiery hair and whitish skin. There are his clothes, which appear to her a costume: certainly, though indefinably, not his own. Yet it is also more than this. The sighting of Quint on the tower lasts only one "unspeakable minute"; nonetheless, his image fairly leaps out at her, sharply defined as "a picture in a frame" (16). An actor out of context, he has somehow too much presence, is too intense, too able to fix her with his eye. But for all this force he lacks substance, since he is "like nobody" Nobody she has ever met, for sure--but the words hint that "nobody" is what he is like. He is surface without center, impact without a weight behind it. He fascinates yet repels, commands the gaze but alienates; like an actor, he deceives.

In the first part of this essay, I examine the theatricality of The Turn of the Screw, considering the presence of performance as metaphor within the tale, and the ways in which James's fascination with the contemporary stage pervades the text. In this period of his career, James wrote several works that made self-conscious attempts to embody "dramatic" or "scenic" principles. What Maisie Knew (1897) and The Awkward Age (1899) are perhaps his most fully realized examples of the "play-as-novel," to use Peter Brooks's phrase (2): each case, a central situation is explored through a series of presented episodes "with no going behind, no telling about the figures save by their own appearance and action." (3) The Turn of the Screw belongs to this period, but my concern is less to examine its dramatic structure--an ambition that has been realized already by other critics (4)--than to draw attention to more elusive qualities of theatricality: to ideas of acting and role-play that produce, for reader as well as protagonist, a conflicted sense of what is "real"; to qualities of shadow and stillness that heighten anticipation and create a focus for action and speech that is shockingly compelling; to the way in which the theater auditorium itself--a space marked literally and figuratively with the traces of past performance--becomes a powerful and unsettling metaphor through which we can read the haunted scene of Bly.

This story achieves its effect as much by suggestion and the deliberate withholding of information as by direct revelation. Famously, James claimed his intention was to make the reader "think the evil, make him think it for himself." (5) The second part of my discussion considers how reception is altered when the tale comes ready equipped with "visuals": here, in the form of theatrical adaptation. I examine William Archibald's 1950 stage play The Innocents, a dramatization of The Turn of the Screw that later became the basis for Jack Clayton's better-known film. I argue that The Innocents is more than the "fairly straightforward dramatic reconstruction" Val Wilson terms it; (6) rather, Archibald's play undermines its own apparatus of realism, drawing on uniquely theatrical qualities to provoke a sense of profound disquiet in its spectators. My second example is more recent. Jeffrey Hatcher's The Turn of the Screw (first produced in 1996) aims to stay "true to the essence" of James's story and themes, yet rejects virtually all the resources conventionally used to make the stage world resemble a fictional one. (7) Thus, his adaptation looks elsewhere to forge connections with the original and to achieve its own dramatic power: into spaces and silences, in play of light and shade, and to the infinitely arresting, problematized presence of the actor himself, and herself. The distinctive characteristics of theatrical performance--its taut balance of spontaneity and repetition, presence and absence, its complex layerings of person, place, time, and narrative--hint at its special potency as art of the uncanny: Hatcher's text draws directly upon these, to achieve a peculiarly contemporary rearticulation of James's tale. (8)


To be read 200 years after your death is something, but to be acted is better. (9)

--Henry James

James's lifelong fascination with drama and the theater is well known. A persistent playgoer in America and later in Paris and London, he published a quantity of reviews and extended articles on the subject, and wrote several plays (only a few of which achieved professional production). Deeply attracted to the potential of the dramatic, he recoiled, at times, from the harsh realities of the commercial stage. The disastrous opening night of his play Guy Domville--an event that provides the starting point for Colm Toibin's recent novel The Master (10)--has been frequently cited as evidence of James's disenchantment with both the theatergoing public and the values of theater as an institution. (11) However, to reduce James's engagement with the art in this way is, as Christopher Greenwood explains, fundamentally "to misrepresent the complexity of his thinking." (12)

In an 1879 essay, James remarks upon an appetite for theater among the English that "almost reaches the proportions of a mania": "it pervades society--it breaks down barriers.... Plays and actors are perpetually talked about, private theatricals are incessant, and members of the dramatic profession are 'received' without restriction. They appear in society, and the people of society appear on the stage; it is as if the great gate which formerly divided the theatre from the world had been lifted off its hinges." (13) James did not condemn this phenomenon of mutual interfusion. On the contrary, he saw it as a kind of "democrat[ization]" likely to prove "better for the world"; his fear was that it might not be better for the arts. (14) In an earlier essay, he compared English spectators unfavorably with the French, viewing the former as "intellectually much less appreciative," less discriminating, than their Parisian counterparts. (15) James found London audiences frustratingly motivated by social rather than artistic necessity; the occasion of going seemingly mattered more to most than the drama itself. As for the latter, the more "continuity and simplicity" provided, the more favorably it appeared the play would be received. (16) James was equally impatient with the actor-managers, actors, and designers he considered too willing to submit to the laws of the marketplace. New plays struggled to achieve production on a late-nineteenth-century stage dominated by second-rate imports. The classics of English drama still found an audience, but here too he complained that emphasis on crowd-pleasing spectacle obscured any deeper meaning. Thus, Henry Irving's Romeo and Juliet at the Lyceum (1882) fell prey to "the danger of smothering a piece in its accessories." (17) Faust (1887), also produced by Irving, denied its audience a considered interpretation of the text, offering only mechanical artifice in its stead: "That blue vapours should attend on the steps of Mephistopheles is a very poor substitute for his giving us a moral shudder." (18)

But there was one playwright, James considered, who had begun to breathe new life into this stale theatrical climate. In 1891, he attended a London production of Ibsen's A Doll's House, having previously read other work by him in translation. Initially finding them dreary and mediocre, he gradually became convinced that the plays of the "northern Henry" brought a harsh beauty and power of ideas that exposed and cut through the superficial values that marred the English stage. (19) Ibsen's drama provoked precisely the "moral shudders" James found lacking in Faust, perhaps most directly with Ghosts--a work with intriguing parallels to The Turn of the Screw, as Michael Egan has discussed--but also with later plays such as Hedda Gabler, The Wild Duck, and The Master Builder. (20) James watched Elizabeth Robins's and Marion Lea's production of Hedda Gabler at the Independent Theatre three times before publishing a lengthy article that established him as one of Ibsen's staunchest advocates. What James found to admire above all was Ibsen's "talent for producing an intensity of interest by means incorruptibly quiet." (21) This drama pointed the way to a revitalized realism, stripped of merely "life-like" detail, pared down to its very essence and touched by the symbolic: no wholehearted embrace of fin-de-siecle Symbolism, with that movement's love of the fantastic and excess, but an expression of "soul" voiced through the apparently mundane. It was a quality "difficult to catch as its presence is impossible to overlook," wrote James, and "the whole thing throbs and flushes with it." (22)

If James appreciated Ibsen's ability to create impact by means both "deep and delicate," (23) the same skills were noted by contemporary critics in The Turn of the Screw. In 1907, William Lyon Phelps remarked how "with none of the conventional machinery of the melodrama, with no background of horrible or threatening scenery, with no hysterical language, this story made my blood chill, my spine curl, and every individual hair to stand on end." (24) Phelps's words attach the idea of theater to the tale while simultaneously discarding its conventional paraphernalia. Denied machinery, scenery, or elevated language, James's readers are given instead a dramatic essence. What precisely "chills the blood" has, of course, been a matter of unending debate The plot is well-known: a naive governess gradually becomes convinced that her young charges are diabolically influenced by the spirits of two former servants. While James's contemporaries largely accepted the "reality" of both the two ghosts and the motives ascribed to them by the governess, subsequent readings turned attention to the governess herself. Driven by a fraught (and Freudian) blend of repressed desires, they suggest, the crisis is one she herself initiates, the phantoms a product of her neurosis. (25) I will not revisit this controversy here, nor elaborate on subsequent interpretations that have sought to synthesize both approaches or offer alternative perspectives. (26) It is evident both that the ghosts--however produced--achieve sufficient "reality" within the fiction to provoke fatal consequences and that, as readers, our access to events is mediated through necessarily partial witnesses. (27)

James's tale opens with a prologue that frames the governess's narrative as an account of a real incident, here offered by Douglas as entertainment for a country house party. Sharing the tale becomes an event in itself, one delayed--by unspoken mutual agreement among the guests--until "such an hour of the evening in fact as might best accord with the kind of emotion on which our hopes were fixed" (3). Seemingly, both drama and the ghost story are most vividly conjured out of darkness, and from an expectant hush; bracketing out the day's sights and sounds eases the imaginative transition from one world to another. But with The Turn of the Screw, we never return to that first world of the listening audience; there is no epilogue. This structural choice might be explained pragmatically, by the fact of the novellas original appearance in serialized form; James's readers could be forgiven for forgetting, after twelve installments, how the narrative had originally been introduced. Yet the impression remains that those listeners have somehow vanished into the tale. There is no risk here of hostile challenges to the author at the end; like the cultured audience James desired for his own dramas, all are ready "to be interested; to be absorbed, beguiled and to lose [them]selves, to give [them]selves up, in short, to a charm." (28)

The "beguilement" begins as Douglas starts to speak. The governess's account of her experiences at Bly reveals a world characterized by acting and the self-conscious construction of fictions. Miles and Flora are revealed as dazzling, compulsive performers, their endlessly imaginative game-playing casting a spell over the governess to which she can only submit. She inhabits a place "of their invention" (28), they "telling her stories, acting her charades, pouncing out at her, in disguises, as animals and historical characters, and above all astonishing her by the 'pieces' they had secretly got by heart and could interminably recite" (37). Their play turns ordinary existence inside out, invokes a new set of rules that she struggles to decipher. Richard Schechner has described "play" as "a creative destabilizing action ... an attitude, a force. It erupts or one falls into it." (29) James's governess feels herself falling, cannot maintain her ground. Their playfulness impresses her, initially, as one of their greatest charms. Days slip by in "a cloud of music and affection and success and private theatricals" (38); only later does the cloud become a fog. To the governess, gripped by the certainty that Miles and Flora know when the spirits are present yet keep this knowledge secret, their capacity for performance seems to evidence their duplicity. Their act appears cynical, their "diversions" literal. Her attempts to know them are repeatedly frustrated by "the perceptible increase of movement, the greater intensity of play" (34); the children reinvent themselves constantly, ever departing simply "in order to 'come in' as something new" (38).

It is with a creeping sense of horror that the governess learns she is surrounded by performers. In her appalled reaction, we might detect the attitude that Jonas Barish has termed the "antitheatrical prejudice." As Barish explains, such prejudice will take distinct forms at certain cultural moments. During the nineteenth century, the theater had become increasingly socially acceptable; as James noted, the barriers between "actors" and "society" had been dismantled to the extent that it was not always easy to tell which was which. Yet this blurring of demarcation lines did not mean that Puritan objections to the art had entirely disappeared. Thus, as late as 1873, the writer and parson Charles Kingsley could publicly condemn the theater for encouraging the impersonation of "vice" and insist that "to make a boy a stage-player was pretty certainly to send him to the Devil." (30) However, Barish makes clear that hostility toward the theater is fundamentally a transhistorical phenomenon, a response that "wells up from deep sources." (31) The governess instinctively recoils from the performer in Quint, recognizing the idea of "actor" although she has "never seen" one in the flesh. The "small smothered life" (14) she is accustomed to has led her to distrust that which is associated with indulgent pleasure; but more profoundly, I suggest, she fears that which the theater stands for, above all: the license to dream, to imagine the world otherwise, and, crucially, to embody those imaginings. For Barish, by this "element of freedom implicitly claimed," the theater "threatens at any moment to depart from the fabric of received belief." (32) In this light, the governess's resistance to Quint signifies an ingrained adherence to the orthodox. Confronting him would be crisis enough; but a still more serious shock is the subsequent, more gradual conviction that Miles and Flora are dissemblers, too. They may entrance where he repels, but all are actors: Quint horrifies, not least because he reflects--albeit through a crudely distorting mirror--qualities the children themselves possess. It is not only that each is unusually charismatic, nor that all three manifest a flickering instability of appearance that disturbs and confounds. Crucially, it is that actors require the collusion of an audience. The ghosts want to appear "to them," she realizes: to the children (25). Such illicit performances demand their guardian be distracted, and thus Miles and Flora, in their turn, seek out her eye. He stands in the garden at night so she might witness it. Flora may perform the role of spectator, but it is the governess for whom that role has been "arranged."

The governess begins to fear the children's charm is "studied" that they are not so transparent as she had originally supposed (37). Yet despite her seeming abhorrence for such pretense, she too succumbs to the lure of self-dramatization. The new authority that Bly accords stirs in her the courage to dream of a still greater role. It is no longer sufficient that she act with "discretion? ... quiet good sense and general high propriety" (15): unobserved, modesty is a stifling part that cannot long satisfy. The sighting of Quint--and being seen by him in her turn--catalyzes her alteration. His unexplained presence recasts Bly as a Thornfield Hall: she will rise to the occasion as events run their course, or are made to do so, swiftly gaining momentum until the hour when, in her words, "the curtain rose on the last act of my dreadful drama" (53). Thus, distaste for the actor goes hand in hand with a desire to act. A Freudian reading would find no contradiction in this; she recognizes in the former the self-aggrandizement, transgressive class-crossing, and sensual plenitude she craves for herself. The governess's involuntary revulsion might then reflect, to cite Barish, "a form of self-disgust brought on by [a] conflicted longing to occupy the center of the stage." (33) But now, scarcely realizing it, she too turns player. This is most striking in the moment of Quint's reappearance at the window. There is a dart of recognition, as if she "had known him always"--and running outside, she puts herself precisely in his place. Mrs. Grose is witness to a re-enactment, "the full image of a repetition of what had already occurred" (20). The governess becomes him, becomes actor: white-faced, vivid, extraordinary. In her own mind steadfast, resolutely heroic even from this point on, to her captive audience she is virtuosic in the multiplicity of faces and positions she is able to display: "Lord," says Mrs. Grose, "you do change!" (46).

As the crisis intensifies, Bly's little world darkens steadily; summer is over and the autumn that descends, the governess notes, has "blown out half our lights" (50). Action is visible now only by the flicker of candle flames, or by the unearthly brightness that seemingly emits from the children themselves, in the whites of Miles's "beautiful eyes" and shining teeth (45) or in a question from Flora that, bland on the surface, to the governess flashes in the air "like the glitter of a drawn blade" (68). It is as if protective shades have been stripped away: every word, glance, and gesture radiates, leaving its impression in the gloom. James evokes just this kind of strikingly theatrical effect in his novel The Wings of the Dove (1902), where he presents his characters, barely visible in the twilight, "in the likeness of some dim scene in a Maeterlinck play; we have positively the image, in the delicate dusk, of the figures so associated yet so opposed, so mutually watchful." (34) In The Turn of the Screw, the shape of the danger emerges the more vividly for the darkness that surrounds it, and as this phenomenon occurs, so too the characters--who both perceive and produce catastrophe--are brought more sharply into focus. Their greater intensity and glowing outlines touch them with a mingled reality and symbolism that recalls James's appreciation of Ibsen: their "souls" shine fiercely like a "flame practically exposed," the burning accompanied by "a positive odour of spiritual paraffin." (35)

Suggestively, the metaphor used to depict the desolation of house and gardens once darkness sets in is that of the stage itself. With "its bared spaces and scattered dead leaves," Bly is like "a theatre after the performance--all strewn with crumpled playbills" (50). What sense might we make of this intimation that the closing scenes of the "dreadful drama" are to be mounted in a deserted playhouse? James is not alone in feeling the particular resonance of such a space, emptied of presentation yet not devoid of presence. The theater, as Marvin Carlson has observed, is an art devoted to the preservation and stimulation of memory, a site where "the histories and legends of the culture [are] uncannily restored to a mysterious half-life"; it is unsurprising, then, that theater buildings are themselves typically thought of as a domain of ghosts. (36) Bly is presented first as castle of romance, later as Gothic house of horrors; but at the last even this backdrop falls away, leaving only a bleak auditorium heavy with its own "hovering prowling blighting presences." (37) For, as James acknowledges, Quint and Jessel are "not 'ghosts' at all" in the popular sense. (38) They stand rather for the still audible echo, the just visible after-image of past actions. Bly's atmosphere is laden with the "taste of poison" (85)--and here, as elsewhere in James's fiction, the vulnerability of children within a corrupted environment becomes a central focus. Like actors, they take impressions from the culture and reflect these vividly. Nanda, the young heroine of James's The Awkward Age (1899), comments dispassionately on her own "exposure" and its results: "Doesn't one become a sort of little drain-pipe with everything flowing through?" (39) Miles and Flora terrify because they are somehow "not themselves," or not the selves we imagine our children to be: they are stand-ins, or ciphers, channels stained and swollen by refluence of desires radically excluded, but never banished altogether. Manipulation by James's adult players does seem, after all, to send their young apprentices "straight to the Devil."


Many a playwright has taken out James's little horror classic The Turn of the Screw, and has wondered whether ... and then shuddered and put it back upon the shelf without even trying. (40)

--Gilbert Gabriel

A contemporary reviewer of James's tale remarked on its extraordinary dramatic impact, but insisted that this was of a special kind: "instead of watching the drama, one becomes part of it." (41) I have described The Turn of the Screw as a narrative effectively possessed by performance. In its construction, and by metaphors employed, the idea of enactment practically radiates from its pages. But that reviewer's claim must give pause for thought: how might its meanings change if only some "act" and others "watch"? Gabriel's more recent comment suggests that the story's implicit invitation toward adaptation is one few playwrights can meet: they turn away, confounded by the apparently unbridgeable gap between the subtleties of the tale and the clumsy materiality of the stage. Should we infer, then, that the drama James creates is inherent in the encounter between reader and text and thus not translatable to the theater itself? Certainly, the playwright faces at least one immediate dilemma: how best to approach the characters of Quint and Jessel. Direct representation might seem to endorse the "apparationist" reading of the story; not showing them could privilege the "delusional" view. Either way, the aura of uncertainty risks compromise. This fundamental distinction between the "portable theatre" (42) of fictional prose narrative and live drama bears directly upon the articulation of uncanny effect, since uncertainty, it is argued, lies at the very heart of this. (43) By channeling events through an unreliable narrator, James carefully prolongs doubts about the substantiality of the ghosts. Drama struggles to remain similarly allusive: given physicalized action, the evidence of our eyes--and the actors' corporeality--tends to carry more weight than attempts to undermine its authority.

However, the adapter faces an additional and more subtle problem. James's writing is not just dramatic--in the sense of making speech and action perform its psychological work--but melodramatic, as Jacques Barzun has convincingly argued. Barzun highlights James's adherence to elemental ideas of good and evil, and his desire to "administer a moral shock"; but what he finds particularly striking is that while James conceives with exaggeration, he then elects "to submerge the felt enormity under a flood of details ... above all lifelike in their haphazard discovery and disconnected sequence." (44) As a result, even the relatively mundane feels overheated, permeated by an air of excess. The novella might be distinguished from other work by James in its overt invocation of the supernatural, but Barzun's observations still hold good: not merely the theme but also the tone disturbs the reader. Melodrama is characterized by the recognition of moral absolutes and importantly, the gesticulation toward these--even though, as with James, that gesturing is partly held in check. Eric Bentley considers the melodramatic impulse the quintessence of drama: it embodies the compulsion to act out, a desire "human but ... not mature," "imaginative but ... not intelligent." (45) Adapting James's writing for the stage risks killing this drive toward expression by transforming it into literal enactment.

The best-known, and for many the most effective, performance of The Turn of the Screw is that offered by Benjamin Britten's opera of 1954. (46) Much has been published on this work, and there is not the space to rehearse those discussions here. (47) Nonetheless, it is worth asking why opera might provide a more promising vehicle for the tale than "straight" theater. For W. H. Auden, devotee of opera and himself a librettist, the urge toward song arises at those moments in life when utterance is imperative and speech alone is inadequate. Singing is always already augmented, a gesture that reveals the urge to express as well as a semantic meaning: "singing is a form of public outcry: it is on the voluntary level what an ouch of pain or the howl of a hungry baby is on the involuntary.... Singing, like classical ballet dancing, is a virtuoso art. A virtuoso art can be tragic or comic, but it has only one style, the high style; a low or humble style and virtuosity are incompatible," (48) Opera actively seeks out melodrama and needs a plot that provokes its participants toward song; the element of music "can make things credible or at least acceptable, which in a spoken play would cause laughter." (49) The eloquent impulse of opera serves as mirror, then, for the melodramatic, gesticulative qualities of James's prose. For while the choices made for a libretto might threaten to fix meaning, in performance this element will always be subordinate to the dynamic, nonliteral impact of the music itself.

Britten's librettist, Myfanwy Piper, was evidently familiar with one existing dramatization of the story not rooted in music. She hoped to avoid what she considered failings in William Archibald's The Innocents: chiefly, that the story appeared "shaped and tidied into a semblance of what the three unities demand;' with its ambivalence destroyed as a result. (50) Little has been written about this play, now dropped into obscurity, although there have been detailed analyses of Jack Clayton's film of 1960 for which Archibald provided the script. (51) The critical and popular success of The Innocents on celluloid has largely obscured the screenplay's theatrical origins. I want to revisit this earlier incarnation to explore the capabilities of nonoperatic drama to meet the particular challenges posed by James's tale.

Peter Glenville's production of The Innocents opened at the Playhouse Theatre in New York in 1950, with Beatrice Straight as Miss Giddens (the name given to James's anonymous governess). Mrs. Grose, Miles, and Flora were the only other characters named, but two further actors featured in the cast: Ella Playwin and Andrew Duggan, whose unspeaking, intermittent, and half-hidden appearances suggested the presence of the former servants. (52) The dramatic action was situated wholly at Bly and temporally condensed into just four days. The set, designed by Jo Mielziner, was a large living room, with French windows leading to an offstage garden whose existence was signaled simply by the cool, greenish light it reflected back into the room. At stage right, a staircase rose to a landing with two doors into unseen bedchambers. (53) The furniture was unremarkable: a desk and chair; a spinet and stool, an ottoman. Yet the room both did and did not appear ordinary: it was deliberately made difficult for the eye to take in its contours, as the walls were undecorated and all one color, with the same color extended to the carpet and to the doors (which were thus not apparent until opened). Moreover, staircase and French window were oversized, the latter so tall that its top was hidden by the shadows of the ceiling. A contemporary reviewer comments that the "simple enormity" of the design effectively dwarfed the people within it. (54)

This set remained in place throughout, but this is not to say that it did not change. Echoing the direction taken by James's story, the light flickers and fades as the play progresses in a move increasingly away from realism, toward symbolism. This darkened image reflects the darkened mood; in one daytime sequence, the stage directions indicate, little "but [the actors'] faces can be seen--so feeble is the light from the garden--so strange at morning--so much more, this dimness, than that loss of light that comes from a cloud passing over the sun." (55) At other moments, the shift from visibility to obscurity is less subtly atmospheric than unnervingly abrupt. As Miss Giddens presses Flora to acknowledge the familiarity that existed--that, perhaps, still exists--between Miles and Quint, the child "stares at her--the light seeps away. Everything in the room seems to lose its solidity and to undulate as though under water." (56) Thus the real is distorted and made dreamlike, mirroring the governess's own "excursion into [a] chaos" (57) that seems horrifyingly to overturn previously held certainties, to invert values: children are corrupt and "knowing"; adult guardians abuse their charges, or are manipulated and kept in ignorance by them; the dead move among the living. This hallucinatory overturning of the normal, reinforced through the representation of an English country house strangely receding, turns in on itself, becomes transparent, and seeps away.

As the crisis deepens, darkness itself becomes a source of energy and inspiration for the actors: "MISS GIDDENS remains in the strained, staring position she has taken. Her shadow curves and flickers in the candlelight--then, as though her body imitates the quivering of her shadow, she begins to tremble. Her mouth opens--no sound comes from her. She remains thus, caught within a palpitation of terror. Then, as though awakening from a nightmare, she screams." (58) The scream shatters the taut silence, a boldly marked moment within a complex tapestry of sound. Frequently, effects that initially imply a realistic score turn expressionistic, as when heavy rain stops dripping in an instant "as though the earth itself has stopped turning." (59) Elsewhere the production creates tension through source ambiguity. Strains of music filter through the air reaching some ears but not others; the audience hears the "nerve-wracking sound [of] the high, thin scratching of slate-pencils" moments before the lighting cue that reveals a schoolroom scene. (60) The script suggests another, still more striking effect: the use of barely audible vibrations, which both "conjured" the ghosts and teasingly implied their connection to the children. At the mention of Miles's name, prior to his arrival, immediately "a thin vibration comes from far away--more of trembling of all inanimate things than of sound itself--and with this vibration, the SHADOW ... appears at the window, filling the window, blocking out the moonlight. (61) Here, technical effects were intended to impact upon the audience at subliminal rather than conscious levels, more felt than heard; the vibrations strike queasily, heightening an elusive yet compelling sense of wrongness. (62)

In Archibald's adaptation, Miss Giddens, Mrs. Grose, children, and audience all see the ghosts, unmistakably, albeit the appearances of Quint and Jessel are veiled by shadow; there is no suggestion that they might be solely a product of neurosis. Archibald's program notes reinforce this, as they sharply criticize the school of interpretive thought led by Edmund Wilson. While allowing that one might choose to read the story as a tale of madness, Archibald resists the closing down of meaning he considers a Freudian analysis to have encouraged: "If I seem to bear down on Mr. Wilson, it is because he has influenced a great number of usually sensible people into thinking of The Turn of the Screw as a story interpreted by him and not as a masterpiece written by Henry James." (63) Archibald aimed to re-present the masterpiece to an audience without interference on his part. Of course, such an ambition cannot be met absolutely--however closely a playwright adheres to the narrative line--given qualities intrinsic to performance: it is multisensual; it makes the indirect direct; it turns past into immediate present; its dramatic momentum permits no spontaneous re-readings or reflective pauses. Elaine Scarry has explored the means by which writers of the purely verbal arts strive to create impressions of vivacity and solidity within the occluded, ghostlike realm of the reader's imagination. (64) The playwright adapting for the theater faces this challenge in mirror image: how to prevent an excess of noise, detail, color, and corporeality intruding too painfully upon the more fragile mental picture that haunts the spectator while she watches the play.

Text and production of The Innocents found means at least partially to counteract the dangers of overexposure, and concomitant loss of subtlety, that adaptation to a predominantly visual medium necessarily presents. But aside from the undeniable impact on reception of formal transfiguration--a process whose effects must always stray beyond the merely formal--one might justifiably conclude (as did Piper) that in promoting the "reality" of the ghosts Archibald imposed problematic constraints upon, and thus fundamentally altered, James's complex articulation of evil. Perhaps The Innocents is better understood as posing a subtly different problem. We may not doubt the "existence" of the ghosts, but we are persuaded of Miss Giddens's doubt. In Archibald's script, there is no question but that, as Mrs. Grose admits, "the house is filled with evil, yes, I believe that--But that the children are--? I cannot believe it! I cannot believe it!" (65) This is the dilemma the play demands we confront. Her appeal is broken, linguistically and emotionally. Could the children possibly--? Miss Giddens finally comes down on the side of certainty: yes, they could be--they are. Yet she makes that judgment in the midst of the nightmare, when by her own admission she can no longer reason with any clarity; by urging events to a conclusion, she may be guilty of forcing stark catastrophe from an uncertain threat. The predicament anticipates the line given to the governess at the end of Britten's opera: "What have we done between US?" (66)

The playscript and accompanying notes for The Innocents, together with stills from the original mounting and London premiere, (67) effect a powerful staging in the imagination. The actors' faces and bodies convey tremendous intensity of focus; the set design suggests a paring away of all that is extraneous. Examination of these documents indicates a series of delicate measures taken to destabilize structures of place and person that the production itself must necessarily erect. In reviews of the play, in American and British contexts, these impressions are both endorsed and confounded. Gabriel, quoted above, concludes that while many would-be adapters have balked at the challenge of James's tale, Archibald faced this and "in a large part succeeded;' principally because his play was not "solid and entire, doubt-proof, hard-shelled;' but retained the original's evasive tone. (68) Kenneth Tynan offers similar praise, acknowledging that initially he "would have sworn that [the tale's] bestial melancholy could not be captured in the safety of a theatre." (69) His trepidation reflects a wider anxiety: that the liveness, sensuousity, and immediacy of theatrical performance--qualities that might potentially seem to stimulate tension and dis-ease--could rather dispel terror, since inevitably they heighten awareness of presentness for an audience that, paradoxically, widens the gap between spectator "reality" and stage "fiction." Yet Tynan's doubts were overcome. While he and others comment on the "miraculous" (70) lighting amid pools of darkness, on a stage design that "fairly breathes out menace," (71) it is above all the child actors who amaze and unnerve. Repeatedly, critics note the "uncanny" effect of seeing children perform such roles. Maurice Wiltshire is shocked by Carol Wolveridge's Flora, glimpsing in her performance hints of "a familiarity with all that is vile [that] is almost discomforting in the way it argues an understanding of her part"; Elizabeth Frank agrees she "seems to live" the role, while Jeremy Spenser as Miles "acts like one possessed"; Stephen Williams records "stupefaction" at their unnatural poise and assurance. (72) Even critics who believe the interpretation abandons fidelity by allowing Miles and Flora to appear so overtly frightening acknowledge that their performance "simply staggers belief." (73) Thus, The Innocents restaged the tale's central dilemma in the very act of presentation: what knowledges have these children absorbed, that they can be capable of this?

On balance, admiration outweighed objection at both U.S. and U.K. premiers of The Innocents. The same cannot be said of reactions to the 1976 revival at the Morosco Theatre on Broadway, directed by Harold Pinter, which ran for just twelve performances. (74) Clive Barnes's review in the New York Times is typical in criticizing the prominence of Quint and Jessel, now listed as named characters within the dramatis personae. This change from the original may be telling. Whereas in the 1950s stagings the ghosts were "only implicit" twenty years later they have become all too visible, "obtuse and clubfooted, trampling through the play's atmosphere with a needless realism" For Barnes, this is a clumsy mounting of a pedestrian text, the whole an enterprise devoid of artistic merit: "The mind recalls the subtlety of the novel and recoils." (75) We might choose to resist such an assessment, suspecting in his complaint at least a hint of that prejudice that tends to value word above image, that will automatically approach adaptations with anticipation of lack. Nevertheless, a gulf can separate a play's aspiration from its achievement; script and photographs may record "what should have happened rather than what did happen." (76) Perhaps, despite all Pinter's credentials as shaper of the ambiguous, his production did cast a starker light on Archibald's fragile drama than it could bear.


We work in the dark--we do what we can--we give what we have. (77)

--Henry James

A more recent adaptation that, like Archibald's, attempts to maintain fidelity to the spirit of the original is Jeffrey Hatcher's The Turn of the Screw, first produced by the Portland Stage Company in 1996. Hatcher's version is strikingly economical: it requires just two actors (and no voice-overs), has no costume changes, props, or sound effects, and avoids all literal scenic depiction of the various locations suggested by the action. Mielziner's design for The Innocents eschewed realistic detail, concentrating on creating an environment that would support the play's emotional effect; Hatcher's adaptation goes further still, played out on a bare stage that is simply "a dark void that the words, movement, and acting fill." (78) Downplaying dramas visual and aural resources so severely might seem to limit its expressive potential; however, such restraint implicitly endorses James's own sense of the theatrical. To create a narrative that would prove compelling onstage, he argued, one must throw "overboard the cargo to save the ship": "The scientific name of this ferocious salvage is selection--selection made perfect, so that the effect ... shall become intense ... with that sole intensity which the theatre can produce.... There is no room in a play for the play itself until everything ... has been completely eliminated." (79)

Hatcher's process has been ferocious indeed, pulling out just bare bones: a skeleton, a ghost text that remembers rather than re-enacts James's tale. Since so little remains, the play's impact in production becomes more than usually dependent on the abilities of its performers; James's claim that in theater, "the acting is everything or it's nothing" becomes especially pertinent here. (80) The cast list has two characters, "the Man" and "the Woman" originally played by Joey Golden and Susan Appel. From this starting point, the Man takes on multiple roles: the Uncle (a character only mentioned in Archibald's adaptation), Mrs. Grose, Miles. The Woman plays only the governess. The ghosts of Quint and Jessel are not represented; paradoxically, this decision neither denies their "reality" nor confirms it, but rather succeeds in making uncertainty palpable. We cannot see the ghosts, but we can see the governess seeing the ghosts--or rather, we see the actress, as the Woman, as governess, seeing them. The introduction of an obviously subjective point of view forcibly distances spectators from the presentness of the action. The play as a whole is strategically framed to impress on us that we are witnessing her recollection of events, not the events themselves; it is almost as if we have crept back into that theater after the performance evoked by the story.

The degree of alienation thus introduced for the audience is compounded by the play's fleeting and necessarily partial realization of character. The Man might signal a transition from "Mrs. Grose" to "Miles" using a single movement as index for the whole, as in Theatre Quorum's 1999 staging where "clasped hands for a worrywart British domestic become a ten-year-old's sticky paws impatiently picking at his waistcoat. (81) The character of Flora--a less assertive presence in James's tale than her brother--is still more delicately sketched in, her first appearance a nonappearance. On Mrs. Grose's entrance, we do not immediately notice the "hand held at the side as if clutching a small child"; it is only when the governess bends down to an empty space and gaily greets "this small treasure" that the hallucinatory quality of Hatcher's strategy makes itself felt. (82) Where Archibald made more of Flora, expanding her "dialogue from six to eight lines [in the novella] to thirty or forty full pages"--creating for her an almost ceaseless babble that initially charms but later grates--Hatcher has made less: a speaking silence, a missing piece in the narrative fabric. (83) Such gaps contribute to the performance's dreamlike feel: "Through the garden Flora leads me to the lake where we find an old rowboat banked amid the reeds, and there at the edge of our small sea we sit on the soft grey wood of our tiny vessel, holding hands ... I am in love with the child." (84) The play presents less, so its audience can imagine more. The characters of the drama become co-creations, brought into recognizable being only by the shared act of belief of performers and audience. Which comes first, the character or the desire to see the character? The novella's governess first "sees" Quint when she is wandering through the gardens, thinking "that it would be as charming as a charming story suddenly to meet some one. Some one would appear there at the turn of a path and would stand before me and smile and approve.... What arrested me on the spot--and with a shock much greater than any vision had allowed for--was the sense that my imagination had, in a flash, turned real. He did stand there!" (15). James leaves us room to suppose that a sighting at this juncture might be less coincidence than unconscious projection of desire. But in Hatcher's adaptation, the nature and process of embodiment represent all characters as neither fully real nor projected fantasy, but as shadowy or refracted selves manifest only when the energies in the auditorium productively collide. In a sense, his conception mirrors the gesticulative qualities of James's prose: both writers acknowledge and exploit what Brooks (discussing James) calls "the irrecoverable gap between the plane of representation and the plane of signification [whereby] the former cannot necessarily be made perfectly to embody the latter." (85) The poverty of the means to signify the ends becomes hyperapparent, and powerfully charged.

Hatcher's decision to dispense with so many second-order signifiers--scenery, costumes, properties, illusionistic lighting--keeps audience attention hinged on theater's primary communicative resource: the actors' bodily presence. Yet our engagement with this presence is both disturbed and disturbing. Certainly, any naturalistic convention of connection through "identification" is negated by a dramaturgical strategy that in performance holds characters always at bay, or grants so brief a glimpse that we cannot confidently say what we have seen. This problem is increased when at times one character seems, disconcertingly, to bleed into the next. Actor Kent Williams--again, in Theatre Quorums production--transformed himself from charming employer to insolent boy, but allowed the latter to retain an edge of sexual menace, a hint toward the "grossness" by which Miles might already be corrupted. (86) If, as spectators, we are uncertain of the evidence of our eyes, the only guide to help assess this is the governess herself, the one constant characterization we have been permitted. But in another sense she is the least consistent of the characters, subject to a subtle but steady metamorphosis; initially guileless, her features "gradually contort into something more disturbingly malign." (87)

Readers of James's tale typically examine it for signs of possession: of the children by evil spirits, or of the governess herself by unacknowledged impulses and, in Wilson's words, "the relentless English 'authority' which enables her to put over on inferiors even purposes which are totally mistaken and not at all to the other people's best interests." (88) In Hatcher's The Turn of the Screw, a contested possession is woven into the very fabric of performance. What we see is not necessarily what we get, perhaps illustrated most starkly when an adult man plays an elderly female housekeeper or a small boy--or more accurately, when he plays with these figures, since the illusion is never total. The strategy self-consciously exposes an inherent characteristic of theater: that while the actor strives for signification, inevitably "corporeality ... intervenes," (89) carrying its own messages and effects. The attempt to communicate is thus fraught with contradictions, yet I suggest that this friction, rather than inhibiting articulation of meaning, is used by Hatcher to reinforce the thematic preoccupations and very tone of James's tale.

Modern perceptions have come to locate horror as readily in the potentialities of the ordinary human mind and body as in encounters with any more overtly monstrous "other." This is where I think theater might have a unique part to play, one to which it is eminently suited above all because of the doubleness, or duplicity, inherent in the actor's role. Psychological approaches to performance usually regard the actor's "self" as the locus for the realization of credible stage characters. Philip Auslander reminds us of Stanislavski's metaphor of a house through which the actor searches for a tiny bead of emotional memory that can then be retrieved to feed the role. (90) This theory represents acting almost as possession; it takes consummate skill not simply to find the "others" within oneself, but to hold them in check so the performance remains art rather than uncontrolled outburst. However, as I have suggested, Hatcher's The Turn of the Screw does not ultimately seek to access "psychological depths," but instead achieves impact through evident artifice, glaring omissions, deliberate play of surface: this surface, like the texture of James's prose, becomes charged by the kind of "felt enormity" which Barzun remarked upon. If these performers explore the dark recesses of Stanislavski's metaphorical house, it is less to retrieve something than to plant something. In a performance thus conceived, actors and audience do not uncover truths so much as share in an act of fabrication. But is such a strategy necessarily "disturbing" in its effects? After all, much of today's theater depends upon stylization and improvisatory playfulness, as opposed to the assumed roundedness of naturalism; the fragility of appearance can be in itself a source of pleasure. In the end, beneath a dazzling, sometimes bewildering surface display, are there not simply two technically accomplished performers with whom we can reliably engage?

While The Innocents has not, to my knowledge, been revived since Pinter's 1970s version, Hatcher's The Turn of the Screw has been produced numerous times over the last decade by different directors, with new casts, in diverse spaces, to multiple audiences. (91) This recognition necessarily complicates attempts to assert how this play makes meaning in performance; like Britten's opera, it has a life as score: as reference point for past stagings and invitation to future ones. Nevertheless, it is apparent that Hatcher's adaptation draws on qualities of fakery and self-construction equally embedded in James's story and integral to its effects, channeling these into a contemporary performance aesthetic that is both familiar and--through its evasions, omissions, and blurred edges--uncannily transformed. Moreover, the fierce minimalism of this aesthetic, constraining so many players within the bodies of two, engenders a "mode of excess" to match James's own. (92) Patricia Howard remarks that Britten's adaptation succeeds by employing the "richness of means only possible in opera" (93); by contrast, Hatcher's succeeds by exploiting the poverty of means that lies at the heart of the theatrical process.

Watching Hatcher's The Turn of the Screw, we cannot take our eyes away. Like James's governess, we find our gaze held by extraordinary figures who hide nothing and seem capable of anything. Like her, we think "with extraordinary quickness" of each person they might be, but are not (16). They are unfamiliar to us, and yet we recognize them; we know them to be actors--and that is unnerving enough.

Leeds University


(1) Henry James, The Turn of the Screw: Authoritative Text, Contexts, Criticism, ed. Deborah Esch and Jonathan Warren (New York: Norton, 1999), 23. All citations from the tale are from this edition and are given in parentheses.

(2) Peter Brooks, The Melodramatic Imagination: Balzac, Henry James, Melodrama, and the Mode of Excess (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976), 164.

(3) James, quoted in Leon Edel, ed., Guy Domville (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1961), 116.

(4) Studies that focus upon dramatic structures in James's work include E.A. Sheppard, Henry James and "The Turn of the Screw" (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974); Michael Egan, Henry James: The Ibsen Years (London: Vision Press, 1972); and Joseph Wiesenfarth, Henry James and the Dramatic Analogy (New York: Fordham University Press, 1963). More recently, Alan Ackerman's The Portable Theater: American Literature and the Nineteenth-Century Stage (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), 181-220, includes a chapter that provocatively explores James's changing understanding of theatricality and the dramatic from early writings to later novels and plays.

(5) James, preface to The Turn of the Screw, 128.

(6) Val Wilson, "Black and White and Shades of Grey: Ambiguity in The Innocents," in Henry James on Stage and Screen, ed. John Bradley (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2000), 106. This essay discusses Clayton's film.

(7) Jeffrey Hatcher, The Turn of the Screw (New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1997), 6.

(8) Freud argued that an uncanny atmosphere is marked by several qualities: among these, a sense of strangeness arising at the heart of the familiar; a compulsion to repeat or re-present actions; the threatened revelation of that which would normally be concealed; and the blurring of boundaries between reality and fantasy. My discussion of theatricality in James's tale and its adaptations draws on these ideas. See Sigmund Freud, "The Uncanny" (1919), in Art and Literature: "Jensen's "Gradiva'," "Leonardo da Vinci" and Other Works, trans, James Strachey, The Penguin Freud Library, vol. 14, ed. Albert Dickson (London: Penguin, 1990), 335-76.

(9) James, quoted in The Complete Plays of Henry James, ed. Leon Edel (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1949), 40.

(10) Colm Toibin, The Master (London: Picador, 2004).

(11) Guy Domville was produced by actor-manager George Alexander, and opened at the St. James's Theatre on 5 January 1895. Despite its largely hostile public reception, the play attracted some critical praise, from William Archer, Clement Scott, and George Bernard Shaw, among others. Christopher Greenwood, Adapting to the Stage: Theatre and the Work of Henry James (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000), 95, suggests the chief problem was a mismatch between James's complex and somewhat unconventional conception and the prior expectations of his audience.

(12) Ibid., 1.

(13) James, "The London Theatres" (1879), in The Scenic Art: Notes on Acting and the Drama, 1872-1901, ed. Allan Wade (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1949), 119-20.

(14) Ibid., 120.

(15) James, "The London Theatres" (1877), in The Scenic Art, 101.

(16) Ibid.

(17) James, "London Plays" (1882), in The Scenic Art, 164.

(18) James, "The Acting in Mr. Irving's Faust" (1887), in The Scenic Art, 222.

(19) Leon Edel, Henry James: A Life (London: Flamingo, 1996), 404.

(20) Egan, Henry James, 89-113.

(21) James, "On the Occasion of Hedda Gabler" (1891), in The Scenic Art, 249.

(22) James, "On the Occasion of The Master Builder" (1893), in The Scenic Art, 259.

(23) James, "On the Occasion of Hedda Gabler," 254.

(24) William Lyon Phelps, "The 'Iron Scot' Stenographer" (1916), in James, The Turn of the Screw, 157.

(25) See especially Edmund Wilson's seminal essay "The Ambiguity of Henry James" (1934), in James, The Turn of the Screw, 170-73.

(26) Among the proliferation of readings available, Shoshana Felman's "Henry James: Madness and the Risks of Practice (Turning the Screw of Interpretation)" (1977),in James, The Turn of the Screw, 196-228, has been particularly influential. Felman's argument--that all interpretations of the tale are, in a sense, already embedded within it--implies that Wilson's attempts to expose its underlying meaning simply ensnare him further within James's trap.

(27) By "witnesses" I refer here both to the governess, through whose eyes events are seen, and to the unnamed narrator of the novellas prologue who establishes the context within which her story is told.

(28) James, "After the Play" (1889), in The Scenic Art, 228.

(29) Richard Schechner, "Playing," Play and Culture 1 (1988): 16.

(30) Quoted in Jonas Barish, The Antitheatrical Prejudice (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), 318, 320.

(31) Ibid., 117.

(32) Ibid., 79.

(33) Ibid., 476. Following Freud, we might argue that the governess's desire to act--to be protagonist of the drama and not passive spectator--is repressed because it is "associated with the release of feelings which," for a modest country parson's daughter, "ought not to occur"; thus, the forcible intrusion of Quint is "uncanny" in bringing to light that which "ought to have remained hidden." See Freud, "Delusions and Dreams in Jensen's Gradiva" (1906), in Art and Literature. 73, and "The Uncanny," 364.

(34) James, The Wings of the Dove (London: Penguin, 2003), 339.

(35) James, "John Gabriel Borkman" (1897), in The Scenic Art, 293.

(36) Marvin Carlson, The Haunted Stage: The Theatre as Memory Machine (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2003), 142.

(37) James, Preface, The Turn of the Screw, 127.

(38) Ibid.

(39) James, The Awkward Age (London: Macmillan, 1922), 317.

(40) Gilbert Gabriel, review of The Innocents, Playhouse Theatre, 11 February 1950, in Selected Theatre Criticism, vol. 3, ed. Anthony Slide (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1986), 119.

(41) New York Tribune Illustrated Supplement, 23 October 1898, in James, The Turn of the Screw, 150.

(42) The "portable theatre" is a phrase coined by critic William Dean Howells, here writing in 1895, to describe the freedoms of the novelist's art. See Ackerman, The Portable Theater, 10.

(43) Freud builds upon Ernst Jentsch's argument that the essential factor in the production of a feeling of uncanniness may be ascribed to intellectual uncertainty, "so that the uncanny would always, as it were, be something one does not know one's way about in. The better orientated in his environment a person is, the less readily will he get the impression of something uncanny in regard to the objects and events in it"; see "The Uncanny," 341.

(44) Jacques Barzun, "Henry James, Melodramatist," 1943, in The Question of Henry James, ed. F.W. Dupee (New York: Octagon, 1973), 254-68. A subsequent, more extended consideration of James as "melodramatist" is offered by Peter Brooks in The Melodramatic Imagination.

(45) Eric Bentley, The Life of the Drama (London: Methuen, 1969), 217.

(46) There have been numerous productions of the opera since the 1954 premier (conducted by Britten) at the Teatro la Fenice in Venice. Deborah Warner's 2002 Royal Opera House production at London's Covent Garden (a revival of her 1997 staging) was one recent critical success that prompted Rodney Milnes of the Times, 8 January 2002, to comment on changing interpretations: where early productions emphasized the influence of the ghosts, and later stagings stressed the hysteria of the governess, Warner's version suggested that all the adults were "being corrupted by two all-too-knowing children."

(47) One detailed and authoritative source is Patricia Howard, ed., Benjamin Britten: "The Turn of the Screw" (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985).

(48) W. H. Auden, Secondary Worlds: The T. S. Eliot Memorial Lectures Delivered at Eliot College in the University of Kent at Canterbury, October 1967 (London: Faber & Faber, 1968), 88-89. Auden also provided the libretto for Britten's 1941 opera Paul Bunyan.

(49) Ibid., 96.

(50) Myfanwy Piper, quoted in Patricia Howard, "Myfanwy Piper's 'The Turn of the Screw': Libretto and Synopsis," in Howard, ed., Benjamin Britten, 28.

(51) See, for example, Anthony Mazzella, "'The Story ... Held Us': The Turn of the Screw from Henry James to Jack Clayton" in Henry James Goes to the Movies, ed. Susan Griffin (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2002), 11-33; Lawrence Raw, "Hollywoodizing Henry James: Jack Clayton's The Innocents (1961)," The Henry James Review 25 (2004): 97-109; and Edward Recchia, "An Eye for an I: Adapting Henry James's The Turn of the Screw to the Screen," Literature Film Quarterly 15 (1987): 28-35.

(52) The original New York production of Archibald's play was followed by a coast-to-coast tour in 1951, with a largely new cast including Sylvia Sidney as Miss Giddens.

(53) Mielziner's set won the 1950 Tony Award for Best Scenic Design.

(54) A contemporary reviewer, quoted anonymously in Gerald Martin Bordman and Thomas S. Hischak, ed., American Theatre: A Chronicle of Comedy and Drama, 1930-1969 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 288.

(55) William Archibald, The Innocents: A New Play (New York: Samuel French, 1951), 41.

(56) Ibid., 64.

(57) James, preface to The Turn of the Screw, 125.

(58) Archibald, The Innocents, 56.

(59) Ibid., 40.

(60) Ibid., 36.

(61) Ibid., 20-21.

(62) Britten was insistent his ghosts should sing, with "no nice anonymous, supernatural humming or groaning" (Piper, quoted in Howard, "Myfanwy Piper's 'The Turn of the Screw'," 46). I think Archibald's effects are less conventional than this suggests and might rather invoke Antonin Artaud's employment of pure sound within the "journey through the senses" he desired theater to provoke. See Artaud, The Theatre and Its Double (London: John Calder, 1977), 89.

(63) William Archibald, "The Controversy over The Turn of the Screw" Program note for The Innocents in its 1951 tour, pages unnumbered.

(64) Elaine Scarry, Dreaming By the Book (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999).

(65) Archibald, The Innocents, 69.

(66) Quoted in Howard, "Myfanwy Piper's 'The Turn of the Screw'," 23.

(67) The Innocents opened at Her Majesty's Theatre on 3 July 1952. Although the cast was new, Glenville remained as director with Mielziner's original design in place.

(68) Gabriel, review of The Innocents, 119.

(69) Kenneth Tynan, review of The Innocents at Her Majesty's Theatre, Evening Standard, 4 July 1952. My notes 69-75 refer to a number of reviews, supplied by the Theatre Museum in London, which take the form of unreferenced cuttings. The author or place of publication is missing in some cases; for each note I have given all the bibliographic information available.

(70) Ibid.

(71) Maurice Wiltshire, review of The Innocents at Her Majesty's Theatre, Daily Mail, 4 July 1952.

(72) Ibid.; Elizabeth Frank and Stephen Williams, reviews of The Innocents at Her Majesty's Theatre.

(73) Review of The Innocents at Her Majesty's Theatre, Sunday Times, 6 July 1952.

(74) By contrast, the 1950 U.S. production ran for 141 performances.

(75) Clive Barnes, review of The Innocents at the Morosco Theatre, The New York Times, 22 October 1976.

(76) Nick Kaye, "Documenting Performance Art" Performance Magazine 53 (April/May 1988): 31.

(77) James, "The Middle Years" (1893), in The Author of "Beltraffio"; "The Middle Years"; "Greville Fane," and Other Tales (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1909), 105.

(78) Hatcher, The Turn of the Screw, 8.

(79) James, Theatricals: Second Series: "The Album" "The Reprobate" (London: Osgood, Mcllvaine, 1895), xiv.

(80) James, "After the Play" 231.

(81) Jimmy Fowler, "That or Black-box Magic," Dallas Observer (online), 29 July 1999 (accessed 11 October 2005). Available at

(82) Hatcher, The Turn of the Screw, 15.

(83) Archibald, "Controversy."

(84) Hatcher, The Turn of the Screw, 16.

(85) Brooks, Melodramatic Imagination, 199.

(86) Fowler, "That Ol' Black-box Magic."

(87) Alfred Hickling discusses Alexandra Milman's performance in Oldham Coliseum's 2005 production in the Guardian, 12 March 2005.

(88) Edmund Wilson, "Ambiguity," 172.

(89) Jon Erickson, The Fate of the Object: From Modern Object to Postmodern Sign in Performance, Art, and Poetry (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995), 67.

(90) Philip Auslander, From Acting to Performance: Essays in Modernism and Postmodernism (London: Routledge, 1997), 31.

(91) The many subsequent productions of Hatcher's adaptation include versions by Main Street Theatre, Oak Creek Theatre Company, Circle Theatre, Theatre Quorum, Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, Round House, Chameleon Theater Company, Pleiades Theatre, Pitt Rep, and The Acting Company. The New York premiere was in 1999, at Primary Stages. The U.K. premiere was at the Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch (1997), and of a number of U.K. versions staged since, the most recent was at the Coliseum, Oldham (2005).

(92) Brooks, Melodramatic Imagination, 199.

(93) Howard, "Myfanwy Piper's 'The Turn of the Screw'," 26.
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Author:Babbage, Frances
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Date:Jun 22, 2005
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