Hikers in Las Trampas Regional Wilderness are welcome to enjoy the outskirts of the Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site, but otherwise the Tao House is available only online as visits are canceled due to Contra Costa County's shelter-in-place order.
To provide fans with a touch of the playwright and his peaceful home in the Danville hills, where he lived from 1937-44, the Eugene O'Neill Foundation, Tao House has been filming videos dubbed "Virtual Gene" and posting them at www.eugeneoneill.org.
In one short video, artistic director Eric Fraisher Hayes talks about the series. He is in the Old Barn theater, standing before remains of a set of the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Long Day's Journey into Night," written at Tao House.
"Using various social media platforms we intend to highlight the beauty and the history of Tao House, the power and the poetry of Eugene O'Neill's words as well as the often overlooked ironic wit of America's first great playwright," Hayes says.
"In the coming months look for virtual contributions from artists, scholars, the national park service as well as general enthusiasts."
In another video, he announces upcoming online productions of O'Neill plays.
"With live performances canceled for the foreseeable future, we've been forced to think of new ways to bring you the plays of Eugene O'Neill," Hayes says. "Earlier this year we were scheduled to present some of his one-act plays, also known as 'The Lost Plays.' As we go virtual, we've decided to stick with 'The Lost Plays' as it seems appropriate to do 'lost plays' in this 'lost year' of theater."
The one-act plays include "The Web," "Abortion" and "Recklessness." Hayes will work with actors in the Old Barn, which will become an open air studio, he explains. After editing, the performances will be presented virtually in a series of rolling premieres starting in late September or early October.
Some performances may be filmed in the Tao House courtyard if the sound system permits, Hayes adds.
"As Tao House has been closed to the public for months, and visitors have been deprived or dispossessed of the opportunity to enjoy its beauty and feel its power, we wanted to share a little bit of it with you," he says.
Another video features Dan McGovern, president of the Eugene O'Neill Foundation Board of Directors, standing in O'Neill's study inside the Tao House.
"We want to stay in touch with you and that's why we're making these 'Virtual Gene' videos," McGovern says. "And we want to continue to bring great theater to you."
Other short films are "A Short Hiking Tour of Tao House" by board member John Barry, and "10 Essential Tips on Visiting Tao House" by Teresa and Dan Morley.
"Like everyone we are facing new challenges, but I like to think of it as an opportunity," Hayes says.