From the renowned American playwright Tennessee Williams, a glimpse of college life on the eve of graduation.
It's the last day of the academic year, and the students of a small, mid-western university are preparing for a bacchanalian celebration called Crazy Night. Our chaperone for the evening is Phil, a freshman on the verge of flunking out, who roves the fraternities in search of beer, women, and the meaning of life. It's just after the Great Crash, with Prohibition in sobering effect-a bleak time for college graduates and drop-outs, who have one more night to do everything, before they enter a world that offers them nothing. "Crazy Night" by Tennessee Williams is one of 20 short stories within Mulholland Books's Strand Originals series, featuring thrilling stories by the most legendary authors in the Strand Magazine archives. View the full series list at mulhollandbooks.com and read them all!
It is a warm June morning in the West End of St. Louis in the mid-thirties––a lovely Sunday for a picnic at Creve Coeur Lake. But Dorothea, one of Tennessee Williams’s most engaging "marginally youthful," forever hopeful Southern belles, is home waiting for a phone call from the principal of the high school where she teaches civics––the man she expects to fulfill her deferred dreams of romance and matrimony. Williams’s unerring dialogue reveals each of the four characters of A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur with precision and clarity: Dorothea, who does even her "setting-up exercises" with poignant flutters; Bodey, her German roommate, who wants to pair Dotty with her beer-drinking twin, Buddy, thereby assuring nieces, nephews, and a family for both herself and Dotty; Helena, a fellow teacher, with the "eyes of a predatory bird," who would like to "rescue" Dotty from her vulgar, common surroundings and substitute an elegant but sterile spinster life; and Miss Gluck, a newly orphaned and distraught neighbor, whom Bodey comforts with coffee and crullers while Helena mocks them both. Focusing on one morning and one encounter of four women, Williams once again skillfully explores, with comic irony and great tenderness, the meaning of loneliness, the need for human connection, as well as the inevitable compromises one must make to get through "the long run of life."
At a shabby hotel in Mexico, c 1940, various American tourists, including a defrocked minister and a moody spinster, are unsettled, body and soul, by the bawdy broad who's running the joint. Sensual and poetic by the great Tennessee Williams.
The drama takes it form from the shifting scenes of memory, and Williams's surrogate self invites us to focus, in turn, on the various inhabitants or his dilapidated rooming house in the Vieux Carré: the comically desperate landlady, Mrs. Wire; Jane, a properly brought-up young woman from New York making at last grab at pleasure with Tye, the vulgar but appealing strip-joint barker; two decayed gentlewomen politely starving in the garret; and the dying painter Nightingale, who tries to teach the young writer something about love--both of the body and of the heart. This is a play about the education of the artist, and education in loneliness and despair, in giving and not giving, but most of all in seeing, hearing, feeling, and learning that "writers are shameless spies," who pay dearly for their knowledge and who cannot forget. Building on two decades of Williams scholarship since Vieux Carré was originally published, Robert Bray, editor of The Tennessee Williams Annual Review, has provided a new introduction for this edition, giving the most authoritative account yet of its background and genesis.
NOTE: The version of the play contained in this acting edition is one which was specifically revised by the author for release to the nonprofessional theatre. As George Oppenheimer describes "We first encounter Mrs. Goforth in one of her three villas on the southern coast of Italy frantically endeavoring to complete her memoirs before her death. However, there is still life in the old girl as she bullies her attractive female secretary, spits venom at a visitor whom she dubs "the witch of Capri," makes propositions to a handsome young itinerant poet over half her age, and dictates night and day, either to the secretary or to any number of tape recorders scattered about the premises, her vapid and ridiculous memories which she believes will form an important social commentary. To the triple homes of Mrs. Goforth comes Chris Flanders, the young poet, who because of his past presence in the company of so many elderly women at the time of their deaths has won the mocking nickname of "the angel of death." At first we take him to be, as does Mrs. Goforth, a hustler who is willing to sell his poems, his mobiles, or his body to susceptible and lonely ancients. To Mrs. Goforth, who has lived a full and promiscuous life and is in mortal fear of relinquishing it, Chris comes as an answer to a carnal prayer, a last fling before she is forced to face ultimate loneliness. Then she discovers that he is unwilling to give in to her seductions at any price, that his is a spiritual nature which seeks only to allay her fears and soothe her pain. Until almost the very end she refuses to believe in his virtue. Her life has been so hedged in viciousness that she cannot accept readily anything but venality."
They are full of the perception of life as it is, and the passion for life as it ought to be, which have made The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire classics of the American theater.
Only one of these plays (The Purification) is written in verse, but in all of them the approach to character is by way of poetic revelation. Whether Williams is writing of derelict roomers in a New Orleans boarding house (The Lady of Larkspur Lotion) or the memories of a venerable traveling salesman (The Last of My Solid Gold Watches) or of delinquent children (This Property is Condemned), his insight into human nature is that of the poet. He can compress the basic meaning of life—its pathos or its tragedy, its bravery or the quality of its love—into one small scene or a few moments of dialogue.
Mr. Williams's views on the role of the little theater in American culture are contained in a stimulating essay, "Something wild...," which serves as an introduction to this collection.
This anthology contains four of the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright's most brilliant works: Summer and Smoke, Orpheus Descending, Suddenly Last Summer and Period of Adjustment. "The innocent and the damned, the lonely and the frustrated, the hopeful and the hopeless . . . (Williams) brings them all into focus with an earthy, irreverently comic passion."--Newsweek.
Christmas 1982: Cornelius and Bella McCorkle of Pascagoula, Mississippi, return home one midnight in a thunderstorm from the Memphis funeral of their older son to a house and a life literally falling apart--daughter Joanie is in an insane asylum and their younger son Charlie is upstairs having sex with his pregnant, holy-roller girlfriend as the McCorkles enter. Cornelius, who has political ambitions and a litany of health problems, is trying to find a large amount of moonshine money his gentle wife Bella has hidden somewhere in their collapsing house, but his noisy efforts are disrupted by a stream of remarkable characters, both living and dead.
While Williams often used drama to convey hope and desperation in human hearts, it was through this dark, expressionistic comedy, which he called a "Southern gothic spook sonata," that he was best able to chronicle his vision of the fragile state of our world.
Here are portraits of American life during the Great Depression and after, populated by a hopelessly hopeful chorus girl, a munitions manufacturer ensnared in a love triangle, a rural family that deals “justice” on its children, an overconfident mob dandy, a poor couple who quarrel to vanquish despair, a young “spinster” enthralled by the impulse of rebellion, and, in “The Magic Tower,” a passionate artist and his wife whose youth and optimism are not enough to protect their “dream marriage.” This new volume gathers some of Williams’s most exuberant early work and includes one-acts that he would later expand to powerful full-length dramas: “The Pretty Trap,” a cheerful take on The Glass Menagerie, and “Interior: Panic,” a stunning precursor to A Streetcar Named Desire.
The plays include:*
• At Liberty
• The Magic Tower
• Me, Vashya
• Curtains for the Gentleman
• In Our Profession
• Every Twenty Minutes
• Honor the Living
• The Case of the Crushed Petunias
• Moony’s Kid Don’t Cry
• The Dark Room
• The Pretty Trap
• Interior: Panic
• Kingdom of Earth
• I Never Get Dressed Till After Dark on Sundays
• Some Problems for The Moose Lodge*
Tennessee Williams’ Collected Stories combines the four short-story volumes published during Williams’ lifetime with previously unpublished or uncollected stories. Arranged chronologically, the forty-nine stories, when taken together with the memoir of his father that serves as a preface, not only establish Williams as a major American fiction writer of the twentieth century, but also, in Gore Vidal’s view, constitute the real autobiography of Williams’ "art and inner life."
An erotic, sensual, and comic novel that was a generation ahead of its time, Moise and the World of Reason has at its center the need of three people for each other: Lance, the beautiful black figure skater full of love and lust for young men as well as a craving for drugs; the nameless gay young narrator, a runaway writer from Alabama who lives near the piers of New York City’s West Village, c. 1975, frantically filling notebooks with his observations; and Moise, a young woman who speaks in riddles and can never finish her paintings or consummate her affairs.
The long unavailable Moise and the World of Reason represents a kind of uncensored Williams, radically frank, fully articulated, and deeply tender: a true gem.
In 1956, Time magazine called Tennessee Williams’ Baby Doll "just possibly the dirtiest American-made motion picture that has ever been legally exhibited." The taut, vivid drama of a voluptuous child-bridge, who refuses to consummate her marriage to an older, down-on-his-luck cotton-gin owner in Tiger Tail County, Mississippi until she is "ready," has gained in humor and pathos over the years as society has caught up with the author’s savagely honest view of bigotry and lust in the rural South. But Tennessee Williams was first and foremost a writer for the stage, and this reissue of his original screenplay for the Elia Kazan movie of Baby Doll is now accompanied by the script of the full-length stage play, Tiger Tail, developed from that screenplay during the ’70s. The text, which incorporates the author’s final revisions, records the play as it was produced at the Hippodrome Theatre Workshop in Gainesville, Florida, in 1979.
When Memoirs was first published in 1975, it created quite a bit of turbulence in the mediathough long self-identified as a gay man, Williams' candor about his love life, sexual encounters, and drug use was found shocking in and of itself, and such revelations by America's greatest living playwright were called "a raw display of private life" by The New York Times Book Review. As it turns out, thirty years later, Williams' look back at his life is not quite so scandalous as it once seemed; he recalls his childhood in Mississippi and St. Louis, his prolonged struggle as a "starving artist," the "overnight" success of The Glass Menagerie in 1945, the death of his long-time companion Frank Merlo in 1962, and his confinement to a psychiatric ward in 1969 and subsequent recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, all with the same directness, compassion, and insight that epitomize his plays.
And, of course, Memoirs is filled with Williams' amazing friends from the worlds of stage, screen, and literature as heoften hilariously, sometimes fondly, sometimes notremembers them: Laurette Taylor, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, Elia Kazan, Marlon Brando, Vivian Leigh, Carson McCullers, Anna Magnani, Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor, and Tallulah Bankhead to name a few. And now film director John Waters, well acquainted with shocking the American public, has written an introduction that gives some perspective on the various reactions to Tennessee's Memoirs, while also paying tribute to a fellow artist who inspired many with his integrity and endurance.