Tennessee Williams: A Guide to Research and Performance

Tennessee Williams: A Guide to Research and Performance

Tennessee Williams: A Guide to Research and Performance

Tennessee Williams: A Guide to Research and Performance

Synopsis

The plays of Tennessee Williams are some of the greatest triumphs of the American theatre. If Williams is not the most important American playwright, he is surely one of two or three of the most celebrated, rivaled only by Eugene O'Neill and Arthur Miller. But in a career that spanned almost five decades, he also produced two collections of poetry, two novels, four collections of stories, and scores of essays. This reference book offers a thorough review of the vast body of research on his works, along with a history of performance. The volume contains chapters devoted to particular works or clusters of works, and each is written by an expert contributor. Each chapter includes a discussion of the biographical context of the work or group of works; a survey of the bibliographic history; a summary of major critical approaches, which looks at themes, characters, symbols, and plots; a consideration of the major critical problems posed by the work; a review of chief productions and film and televisionversions; a concluding overview; and a bibliography of secondary sources.

Excerpt

The plays of Tennessee Williams have led to some of the greatest triumphs in and of the American theatre. If Williams is not the most important American playwright, he certainly is one of the most celebrated, rivaled only by Eugene O'Neill and Arthur Miller. In a career that spanned almost five decades (from the 1930s to the 1980s), Williams created an extensive canon of over seventy plays, not to mention two collections of poetry, two novels, and four collections of stories, memoirs, and scores of essays. His contributions to the American theatre are revolutionary and inestimable. The Glass Menagerie (1945) introduced a new, energized dramatic technique--poetic realism--in the American theatre; A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), perhaps his most famous work, explored issues of sexuality and psychology that had never been privileged before in American culture; Camino Real (1953), which premiered the same year as Samuel Beckett Waiting for Godot, brought existential absurdity full force into the realism- accustomed New York theatre; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955) dared to challenge the political and sexual mores of the Eisenhower Era and captured the anxieties of the Cold War Era; Orpheus Descending (1957), perhaps the quintessential Williams work, layered myth upon myth to foreground the dilemma of all fugitive artists; and Williams's plays of the 1970s, once considered derivative or opaque, are among his most innovative works produced on the American stage.

The time is ripe for a reference work such as Tennessee Williams: A Guide to Research and Performance. The 1990s ushered in a renaissance of Tennessee Williams research. Lyle Leverich published his magisterial biography, an invaluable resource, sanctioned by Williams himself, for anyone researching the plays or the life of the playwright. In 1995, George Crandell A Descriptive Bibliography of Tennessee Williams . . .

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