When I read John Guare’s preface to the modern edition of Tennessee Williams Camino Real, I realized he was a true soul brother.
Too bad I read it an hour we had parted company.
Guare is speaking Saturday afternoon, March 5, on late Williams plays, after the performance of Williams 1982, at Walker Space in Manhattan. 3PM Curtain.
My review of Williams 1982
Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company will host a post-show discussion centered on the later work of Tennessee Williams following the March 5, 3pm performance of Tennessee Williams 1982. The participants include Tony-winning playwright John Guare, scholar and writer David Savran, scholar and current Tennessee Williams‘ editor Thomas Keith, and professor and writer Annette J. Saddik.
Tennessee Williams 1982 is an evening of two, little known, one-act plays by Tennessee Williams, both completed in 1982, the year before the playwright’s death. Directed by Cosmin Chivu (2013 revival of Tennessee Williams‘ The Mutilated), Tennessee Williams 1982 features the world premiere of A Recluse and His Guest and New York Premiere of The Remarkable Rooming-House of Mme. Le Monde. These two chamber pieces epitomize the theatrical imagination the playwright employed throughout his long writing career combined with the freedom he found later in life. Crisply written black comedies, these fierce plays center on the demands of unlikely human relationships in exotic locales fraught with tension.
Critic David Clarke in OUT said. “Tennessee Williams 1982 is a far cry from an evening of light theater, but that’s what makes it spectacular. A side of Williams that has rarely been seen, one in which Williams abandons realism to forcefully hold a mirror up to viewers and make them see the abject horrors of humanity.”
“The vital truths Williams’ reveals in these two one-acts are still present in raw and essential ways,” says director Chivu. “In fact, more that 30 years later, the plays feel more potent than ever-the compassion, the poetic fire, and the heartbreaking vision of American’s greatest playwright speak loudly in these compact works.”
Kate Skinner (The Graduate) leads the ensemble cast and is join by Ford Austin, Declan Eells, Anne Wechsler and Jade Ziane. Completing the creative team is Justin West and Brooke Van Hensbergen (set design), Angela Wendt (costume design), and John Eckert (lighting design), who join Joseph W. Rodriguez (Producing Artistic Director, Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company), Thomas Keith (Creative Producer), Olivia D’Ambrosio (Managing Director, Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company), Dana Greenfield (Associate Director) and Scott Davis (Assistant Director).
In the world premiere of A Recluse and His Guest, we meet a tall person of indeterminate gender-who, we later discover, is a woman named Nevrika. She has walked all winter through the Midnight Forest to a fictional town in a mythical, cold, northern country. In this poignant fable, it is her destiny to always move forward, never back. Looking for someone in the town to care for, she finds a miserable little creature named, Ott. He is the Recluse and she is the Guest who transforms him into a more-human human being, at least for a while.
Making its New York premiere, The Remarkable Rooming-House of Mme. Le Monde is a black comedy steeped in the brutal and the fantastic. Using acutely direct, comic, and unflinching action, Williams gives us a theatrical preview of the world we live in now. His vision is filled with humility for those who suffer while highlighting the greed of those who withhold sustenance along with our growing fetish for money and violence, both emotional and physical. However, Williams does offer hope: to recognize ourselves in a world where the “have-nots” are unfairly blamed for the inequities of the world because they are “accident prone.”
Performances of Tennessee Williams 1982 will take place February 14-March 13 (see schedule above) at Walkerspace (46 Walker Street, Manhattan). Critics are welcome as of Thursday, February 18 for an official opening of Sunday, February 21 at 7pm. The running time is 90 minutes with one intermission. Tickets, priced at $40 for general admission and $50 for premium seats, can be purchased by visiting playhousecreatures.org or by calling 800.838.3006.
John Guare‘s plays include Lydie Breeze; Bosoms and Neglect; Chaucer in Rome; Four Baboons Adoring the Sun; A Free Man of Color; and The House of Blue Leaves, which won an Obie and NY Drama Critics Circle Award for the Best American Play of 1970- 71 and four Tonys in its 1986 Lincoln Center revival; Six Degrees of Separation, which received the NY Drama Critics Circle Award in 1991 for its Lincoln Center production and the Olivier Best Play Award in 1993. Grove Press publishes Landscape of the Body, A Few Stout Individuals, and A Free Man of Color. Guare wrote the lyrics and coauthored the book for the 1972 Tony-winning Best Musical, Two Gentlemen of Verona and was nominated for a Tony Award for the book of the musical The Sweet Smell of Success in 2002. His screenplay for Louis Malle‘s Atlantic City earned him an Oscar nomination. In 2003 he won the PEN/Laura Pels Master Dramatist Award; in 2004, the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; in 2005 the Obie for sustained excellence. He is a council member of the Dramatists Guild and co-editor of The Lincoln Center Theater Review.
Thomas Keith has edited Tennessee Williams for New Directions since 2002, over 16 titles including two full-length late plays and four volumes of previously unpublished or uncollected one-acts. He has written on Williams for American Theater Magazine, Tenn at One Hundred, The Later Plays of Tennessee Williams, The Tennessee Williams Encyclopedia, and Tennessee Williams and Europe among others and is the co-editor of The Selected Letters of Tennessee Williams and James Laughlin, forthcoming from W.W. Norton in 2017. He serves as Literary Director for the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival and is an advisor to the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival and The Tennessee Williams Theatre Company of New Orleans. Keith began his career as an actor starring in Sam Shepard‘s Geography of a Horse Dreamer, the plays of Peter Hedges, in many plays at Ellen Stewart‘s La MaMa E.T.C., as well as The Public, Milwaukee Rep., Great Lakes Theater Festival, INTAR, Champlain Shakespeare, P.S. 122, Dixon Place, and Naked Angels, with directors including Tom O’Horgan, Edward Cornell, Terry Gilliam, John Vaccaro, Jeff Weiss, Sharon Ott, and Clifford Williams. The Creative Producer for the Drama League-nominated Off-Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams‘ comedy The Mutilated directed by Cosmin Chivu, Keith has also served as a dramaturg for The Sundance Institute Theater Lab with the Mabou Mines, a judge for The Kennedy Center College Theater Festival, and reader for the Yale Drama Prize. He has taught theater and acting at Ohio University and Lee Strasberg Institute, currently at Pace University and the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School.
David Savran is a specialist in twentieth and twenty-first century U.S. theatre, musical theatre, popular culture, and social theory. He is the author of eight books, whose wide-ranging subjects include The Wooster Group, Tennessee Williams, Paula Vogel, Tony Kushner, white masculinity, music theatre, and middlebrow cultural production. His most recent book is Highbrow/Lowdown: Theater, Jazz, and the Making of the New Middle Class, the winner of the Joe A. Callaway Prize. He has, in addition, published two collections of interviews with playwrights and has served as a judge for the Obie Awards and the Lucille Lortel Awards and was a juror for the 2011 and 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Drama. He is the former editor of the Journal of American Drama and Theatre and is the Vera Mowry Roberts Distinguished Professor of Theatre at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
Annette J. Saddik is Professor of English and Theatre at the City University of New York, where she specializes in twentieth- and twenty-first century drama and performance, and focuses on the work of Tennessee Williams. Her most recent book, Tennessee Williams and the Theatre of Excess: The Strange, The Crazed, The Queer (Cambridge University Press, 2015) contextualizes Williams’ plays, particularly the late work, through what she terms a “theatre of excess,” which seeks liberation through exaggeration, chaos, and ambivalent laughter. Her other books include Contemporary American Drama (2007), a study of the postmodern performance of American identity on the stage since World War Two; The Politics of Reputation: The Critical Reception of Tennessee Williams‘ Later Plays (1999), which was the first exploration of Williams’ post-1961 reputation; and The Traveling Companion and Other Plays (2008), an edited collection of Williams’ previously unpublished late plays. Dr. Saddik has also published essays on contemporary playwrights in several journals and anthologies, and serves on the boards of The Tennessee Williams Annual Review and the Journal of Contemporary Drama in English. In 2015 she was the recipient of Eastern Michigan University’s McAndless Distinguished Professor Award.