Cover image for Plays
Title:
Plays
Author:
Williams, Tennessee, 1911-1983.
Uniform Title:
Plays. Selections
Publication Information:
New York : Library of America : Distributed to the trade in the U.S. by Penguin Putnam, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
2 volumes ; 21 cm.
General Note:
Selection and notes by Mel Gussow and Kenneth Holdich.
Language:
English
Contents:
[v. 1] 1937-1955: Spring storm. Not about nightingales. Battle of angels. I rise in flame, cried the phoenix. From 27 wagons full of cotton (1945) .... The glass menagerie. A streetcar named Desire. Summer and smoke. The rose tattoo. Camino Real. From 27 Wagons full of cotton (1953) .... Cat on a hot tin roof -- [v. 2] 1957-1980: Orpheus descending. Suddenly last summer. Sweet bird of youth. Period of adjustment. The night of the iguana. The eccentricities of a nightingale. The milk train doesn't stop here anymore. The mutilated. Kingdom of earth (The seven descents of Myrtle). Small craft warnings. Out cry. Vieux Carré. A lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur.
ISBN:
9781883011864

9781883011871
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Tennessee Williams's explosive, often violent, plays shattered conventional proprieties and transformed the American stage. They inspired some of the most famous productions and performances in theatrical and film history, and they continue to grip audiences all over the world. Now, in an authoritative two-volume edition, The Library of America collects the plays that define Williams's extraordinary range and achievement. This first volume begins with the stunning rediscovered plays of Williams's early career: Spring Storm , a tragedy of provincial longing that prefigures the mood and language of his later work, and Not About Nightingales , a stark prison drama, produced in 1998 to international acclaim, that resounds with the playwright's outraged idealism. With the autobiographical The Glass Menagerie in 1944, Williams attained what he later called "the catastrophe of success," a success made all the greater by A Streetcar Named Desire , his most famous play and one of the most influential works of modern American literature.

Forging an idiom that uniquely blended lyricism and brutality, a tragic sense of life and a genius for comic observation, he continued to revolutionize the American theater with a series of masterpieces: the poignant and melancholy Summer and Smoke , the light-hearted erotic comedy The Rose Tattoo , the sprawling and surrealistic Camino Real, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof , the Pulitzer Prize--winning portrayal of a ruthless family struggle. This volume also contains Battle of Angels (an early version of Orpheus Descending ), and a selection of Williams's one-act plays, including 27 Wagons Full of Cotton , The Property Is Condemned , and I Rise in Flame, Cried the Phoenix , a meditation on the life and work of D. H. Lawrence.

This edition includes a newly researched chronology of Tennessee Williams's life, explanatory notes (including cast lists of many of the original productions), and an essay on the texts.


Author Notes

After O'Neill, Williams is perhaps the best dramatist the United States has yet produced. Born in his grandfather's rectory in Columbus, Mississippi, Williams and his family later moved to St. Louis. There Williams endured many bad years caused by the abuse of his father and his own anguish over his introverted sister, who was later permanently institutionalized. Williams attended the University of Missouri, and, after time out to clerk for a shoe company and for his own mental breakdown, also attended Washington University of St. Louis and the University of Iowa, from which he graduated in 1938. Williams began to write plays in 1935. During 1943 he spent six months as a contract screenwriter for MGM but produced only one script, The Gentleman Caller. When MGM rejected it, Williams turned it into his first major success, The Glass Menagerie (1945). In this intensely autobiographical play, Williams dramatizes the story of Amanda, who dreams of restoring her lost past by finding a gentleman caller for her crippled daughter, and of Amanda's son Tom, who longs to escape from the responsibility of supporting his mother and sister.

After The Glass Menagerie,Williams wrote his masterpiece, A Streetcar Named Desire, (1947), along with a steady stream of other plays, among them such major works as Summer and Smoke(1948), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1954), and Suddenly Last Summer (1958). His plays celebrate the "fugitive kind," the sensitive outcasts whose outsider status allows them to perceive the horror of the world and who often give additional witness to that horror by becoming its victims. Stephen S. Stanton has summed up Williams's "virtues and strengths" as "a genius for portraiture, particularly of women, a sensitive ear for dialogue and the rhythms of natural speech, a comic talent often manifesting itself in "black comedy,' and a genuine theatrical flair exhibited in telling stage effects attained through lighting, costume, music, and movements." After The Night of the Iguana (1961), Williams continued to write profusely---and constantly to revise his work---but it became more difficult to get productions of his plays and, if they were produced, to win critical or popular acclaim for them.

Williams won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for these two and for The Glass Menagerie and The Night of the Iguana.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

These two volumes present the essential works of Tennessee Williams, from his early career through his best-known plays to his experimental later works. The texts printed here are from the versions Williams published immediately following each play's composition. This is notable because Williams revised his plays regularly, and most exist in multiple versions. (In a 1944 essay, Williams noted that, "I have never written a play that I thought was completed and I don't think I ever will.") These volumes include some exciting additions, such as Williams's own essays on writing, the plays, and theater in general as well as author's notes, production notes, and cast lists from some of the original productions. Editors Gussow (drama critic, New York Times) and Holditch (founder/editor, the Tennessee Williams Journal) have added detailed notes on the texts and a newly researched chronology of Williams's life. Highly recommended for public and academic American drama collections.DLaura A. Ewald, Murray State Univ., KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.