Monday, March 26, 2007

Happy Birthday Tennessee

Happy Birthday to one of the greatest, (some might say the greatest) America Playwrights of the 20th century. Thomas Lanier (Tennessee) Williams was born on this day, (March 26) 1911 in Columbus Mississippi.

Do you have favorite Tennessee Williams play? I’ve always had a soft spot for The Glass Menagerie. It is not as raw or as visceral as say A Streetcar Named Desire, (which I love), but it has a sentimentality and even a sweetness about it. I’m sure it has to do with the fact that I’ve played Tom on stage. It probably wasn’t my greatest role ever, but I was pretty damn good, and paired with a woman I have played opposite about 15 times. It was an excellent run, and I can’t imagine ever doing it again, because the memories of that one are so wonderful.

You know, the play is about memories – Tom’s to be precise.

I traveled around a great deal. The cities swept about me like dead leaves
that were brightly colored but torn away from the branches. I would have
stopped, but I was pursued by something. It always came upon me unawares,
taking me altogether by surprise. Perhaps it was a familiar bit of
music. Perhaps it was only a piece of transparent glass – Perhaps I am
walking along a street at night, in some strange city, before I found
companions. I pass the lighted window of a shop where perfume is
sold. The window is filled with pieces of colored glass, tiny transparent
bottles in delicate colors, like bits of a shattered rainbow. Then all at
once my sister touches my shoulder. I turn around and look into her eyes …
Oh Laura, Laura I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I
intended to be! I reach for a cigarette, I cross the street, I run into
the movies or a bar, I buy a drink, I speak to the nearest stranger – anything
that can blow your candles out!

For nowadays the world is lit by
lightning! Blow out your candles, Laura – and so goodbye …..

Tennessee Williams - March 26, 1911 – February 25, 1983

1 comment:

Camera Obscura said...

For a long time I worried Glass Menagerie was Williams' hate-letter to my adopted hometown, but now I understand it's more an acknowledgment that our memories make us, and that I can no more repudiate my birthplace than Tom (either of them) could.