Whatever Williams may have worked out for himself in this 1981 exercise of adaptation, he didn’t do Chekhov any good, much as he admired the Russian playwright. Evidently it was important to Williams to write this play it but it’s of interest mainly to those with an active concern with theater history — in that these are two very great playwrights and it could be said anything they did is of interest.
Tag: Tennessee Williams
… as good as it gets …
Pook’s Hill, a new theatre group, is presenting three one-act plays by Tennessee Williams — 27 Wagons Full Of Cotton, Hello From Bertha, and This Property Is Condemned. It’s hard to imagine a better evening of theater — and you know it from the moment 27 Wagons Full Of Cotton begins …
… two great productions … (lucky playwright!)
In the Wooster Group’s visceral production of Williams’ Vieux Carre, a writer/narrator allows his memory to transport him to the past, and to a run-down boarding house in New Orleans’ French Quarter in the 1930’s. Why this place at this time? Because it’s the site of his coming of age recognition of his homosexual nature. But he’s not alone here: the place is crowded with other tenants who, in their different ways, take part in the drama of his self-recognition. His memory brings to life their passions and agonies as well as his own. There are two proud, old southern ladies who scavenge garbage pails to stay alive, the “rapacious”, tubercular old artist coughing into his handkerchief, the young woman from the north whose particular pain we learn of late in the play, her stud man, the landlady, the maid, and the young drifter who becomes the writer’s ticket to a free life.
… about a play …
This is a play about a play and requires some explanation.
In January 2009 Target Margin produced Ten Blocks on Camino Real, a powerful theater experience based on Tennessee Williams’ Camino Real, but as reworked by David Herskovitz, who focused on one of the several stories in Williams’ beautiful but sprawling play. The 2009 production was a remarkable and audacious job of editing a great writer without altering his vision.
The Day on Which a Man Dies is visually spectacular. The scene is set in Japan. A large, well built though fleshy man, a painter intended to suggest Jackson Pollock, virtually naked except for body paint, crashes around half a stage worth of space — his studio — drinking, smashing bottles, stepping on the glass, bleeding, painting with the blood, falling into the walls, rolling on the abstract expressionist painting in progress on the floor, his body picking up more paint mixed with his own blood and miscellaneous trash as he goes. He’s been highly successful as an artist but now his dealers are rejecting his new work because it’s totally non-objective (definitely nothing to do with Jackson Pollock on these last two counts). Where have the figures gone? he asks, downcast on the floor like a child who’s lost … well, let’s say his marbles.
Master of Seduction
No one writes seduction as well as Tennessee Williams. In his Ten Blocks on the Camino Real, earlier this season, sex is morally and physically deadly for Kilroy — i.e., he has every reason to resist. And it does take the Gypsy’s daughter awhile — a delicious, suspenseful while — but he succumbs. In Vieux Carre, another game played out on a small bed, an unattractive man, elderly and sickly, uses skill, experience and patience in a breathtaking seduction of a beautiful young man. You might think you wouldn’t want to see that — but you do.
… streetcar named memory …
The setting is a run-down boarding house in New Orleans’ French Quarter in the 1930’s and you know you’re in good hands from the first moment. The house is empty now, The Writer comments at the start, remembering when he lived there, but clearly it isn’t — Mrs. Wire, the landlady is on stage even before the play begins. With that brilliant contradiction, Williams conveys the paradox of memory.
The original Camino Real, first produced on Broadway under Elia Kazan’s direction in 1953, took up the stories of several individuals grouped around Camino Real, pronounced real as in reallyreal in Target Margin’s brilliant production. Following an early version of the play, David Herskovitz chooses to focus on one: Kilroy, a former light-weight boxing champion, now an itinerant American who lands in the plaza of a patently violent Mexican town at fiesta time. His pesos are stolen fast, nor do we have much hope that he’ll hang on to the mementos of the past before he was a has-been, a champion’s belt around his waist and the golden gloves looped over his shoulders.