The Playgoer: Happy 100th, Tennessee

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Happy 100th, Tennessee

While I've been away I did some writing for American Theatre's special feature marking the Tennessee Williams centennial. You'll have to buy the print mag to read my overview of some recent Williams-related publications, but online you can learn a lot about the lesser-known  oeuvre from Lonnie Firestone, Eileen Blumenthal, and Thomas Keith.

Money quote from Keith:

It can be jaw-dropping to fully grasp how low Williams's reputation had fallen by the time of his death in 1983. The slide began in 1963, when the Broadway production of The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore altered the view that a Williams play was necessarily a commercial property....Although Arthur Miller and Edward Albee experienced similar periods of rejection, neither encountered the contempt that Williams did. Each of them lived long enough to become elder statesmen of the American theatre. Williams died at the nadir of his career, and the critical chill continued post-mortem. His plays from the 1960s and 1970s were mostly forgotten or avoided, and the unproduced material seemed to be solely the concern of scholars.
So here's to you, Thomas Lanier Williams.

Have another round on us...

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