Academic journal article The Mississippi Quarterly

James Whitehead on Tennessee Williams: An Interview

Academic journal article The Mississippi Quarterly

James Whitehead on Tennessee Williams: An Interview

Article excerpt

I have known Jim Whitehead for many years and have never heard him speak more enthusiastically about a literary artist than he does of Tennessee Williams. Conducting this interview was a great pleasure because of the tremendous admiration I could tell that this writer felt for his fellow Mississippi writer.

GRIERSON: What is your opinion of Tennessee Williams's work?

WHITEHEAD: He is a great playwright. He's among the best two or three we've had in American literature.

GRIERSON: What do you think are his best plays? What are your favorites?

WHITEHEAD: Lord. Camino Real, The Rose Tattoo, Streetcar.

GRIERSON: What do you think of Tennessee as a native Mississippian? Do you think the state had an influence on him?

WHITEHEAD: Hell, yes. He was a native Mississippian, born in Columbus, though, of course, he lived in St. Louis and other places for a while.

GRIERSON: Did you ever meet him?

WHITEHEAD: I've met most of the great ones who have been alive in my time, but I missed Tennessee Williams.

GRIERSON: Generally, Jim, what do you think of Williams as a dramatist?

WHITEHEAD: His plots are wonderful. They have a sense of menace from beginning to end. The dialogue refracts and changes characters, line by line. Every line of dialogue moves the plot forward. …

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