The Writer vs. the Artist

One of Tennessee Williams' most accomplished (and least appreciated) plays is the last one he wrote, Vieux Carre. It's worth reading just to experience Williams characterize himself as a young man, living in New Orleans, encountering the human wrecks he would glorify in his immortal Streetcar.

A month or so ago Hilton Als of The New Yorker gave a Manhattan production a spectacularly insightful review. Unfortunately, The New Yorker site has taken an anti-blogger attitude that routinely excludes those of us — even subscribers — who would admire and link to these sort of pieces. Here's the one passage from their on-line "abstract" of the review that survived an incredibly brutal editing:

Here [the Williams character, as an old man] is called the Nightingale,
and he is an openly gay quick-sketch artist, rueful and warm. He quiets
the Writer’s hysterics and tries to inspire in him what Blanche Dubois
called “the opposite” of death.

Intriguing, no? Wish I could quote more. Als himself quotes at length from the gorgeous play, focusing on the back-and-forth between the ruthless Nightingale and the idealistic Writer. Fascinating stuff.

And here's the playbill image from the Pearl Theater, which put it on…had I been within a hundred miles, I would have gone myself, but 3000 is a bit too far…

Vieux carre

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