Adjusting to a Period of lighter Tennessee Williams

Dec 06

Adjusting to a <i>Period</i> of lighter Tennessee Williams

As a fading Southern belle in a Tennessee Williams play might say, "Well I do declare! What's a theatergoer to do with so many scrumptious Williams play from which to choose?"

The answer is: see all of them. As we come to the end of Williams' centenary year, it seems only appropriate to be reveling in the writer's work. Marin Theatre Company recently opened a lovely production of The Glass Menagerie (read my review here), and in January, Theatre Rhinoceros presents The Two-Character Play, which Williams claimed was his "most beautiful play since Streetcar."

There's no mistaking Williams' A Period of Adjustment, now at SF Playhouse, for one of his most beautiful plays. Nor is it even one of his most interesting. But it is fascinating for a number of reasons. Written in 1960, between Sweet Bird of Youth and The Night of the Iguana, Adjustment is Williams working in sitcom mode as if to prove that he's capable of something lighter.

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Marin reveals crystaline Glass Menagerie

Nov 30

Marin reveals crystaline <i>Glass Menagerie</i>

Tennessee Williams' first brilliant move was to let everyone off the hook – himself included. By alerting the audience that The Glass Menagerie is a memory play, he removes it from reality (or not) and lets the creative team and the audience make their own accommodations as to what is memory, what is fact and what is flight of artistic fancy. In other words, you can try to get away with just about anything because it's all a memory, right?

Marin Theatre Company's production of Menagerie doesn't stray too far from tradition, but director Jasson Minadakis definitely puts his own spin on the 1944 classic and gets some marvelous performances from his cast.

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Of pleasures and Eccentricities

Apr 20

Of pleasures and <i>Eccentricities</i>

Oh, Alma Winemiller. If you had been able to shuck off the burden of having an insane mother and a stern Episcopalian priest for a father, you might have become the woman you were meant to be: Lady Gaga.

OK, that's an exaggeration, but poor Alma is just a heap of talent and emotion and expression aching for release in Tennessee Williams' Eccentricities of a Nightingale, a play with a convoluted history in the Tennessee Williams canon. The Aurora Theatre Company production of the play, directed with finesse and warmth by Artistic Director Tom Ross, makes a case for the play being if not alongside siblings like A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, then at least in an honorable spot somewhere just below.

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And the Party rages on!

Mar 22

And the <i>Party</i> rages on!

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I loved it before and I love it even more now.

About a year ago, Word for Word and Theatre Rhinoceros joined forces for an evening of three shorts stories by gay writers adapted for the stage (in true Word for Word fashion, not a letter of the original text is changed). That production was a tremendous example of the Word for Word art – taking what's great on the page and making it even greater on the stage. (Read my original review.)

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Theater review: `Three on a Party’

May 25

EXTENDED THROUGH JUNE 21! JoAnne Winter is Cora and Ryan Tasker is Billy in Two on a Party, a theatrical adaptation of a Tennessee Williams short story and a co-production of Word for Word and Theatre Rhinoceros. The story is one of a trilogy, alongside work by Gertrude Stein and Armistead Maupin, and part of an evening dubbed Three on a Party. Photos by Kent...

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Word for Word, Rhino throw a `Party’

May 13

I wrote a story for today’s San Francisco Chronicle about the first collaboration between Word for Word and Theatre Rhinoceros. The two venerable companies are producing Three on a Party, an evening of short stories by Gertrude Stein, Tennessee Williams and Armistead Maupin. Read the story here. For information about Three on a Party visit www.therhino.org or...

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