Tennessee Williams tells a story about Truman Capote

From Dotson Rader's great, great Tennessee: Cry of the Heart, 1985 Rader writes: Tennessee went on to talk about the one time Truman came to Key West.  "It was two years ago. he had flown to Key West from Mexico, where he was to stay with Mrs. [Lee] Radiwill but left in a hurry becauseContinue reading “Tennessee Williams tells a story about Truman Capote”

How to talk to a man planning suicide: Tennessee Williams

In l940, while living on $50 a month, Tennessee Williams had a long talk with his suicidal friend Clark Mills. I think in the self-reporting of this conversation you can see why 20 years of lack of success at writing could not kill Tennessee Williams' belief in his work, nor his desire to live… [ClarkContinue reading “How to talk to a man planning suicide: Tennessee Williams”

The usefulness of forgetting: Tennessee Williams

  "A bad memory is a great convenience."    Tennessee Williams, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, 1950   The quote is from the nouvella. Here's the poster from the first movie made of this story.    [My god, what a cast! Lotte Lenya?!? Who was nominated for Best Supporting for the role? I haveContinue reading “The usefulness of forgetting: Tennessee Williams”

The Holy Family: Tennessee Williams on Van Gogh

As mentioned in an earlier post, while at the University of Iowa's dramatic writing program, Tennessee Williams, then a complete unknown, set out to write a play about Vincent Van Gogh. He didn't get past a few scenes, but the idea still fascinates.  In a letter to a friend William Holland, dated 11/18/1937, he wrote:Continue reading “The Holy Family: Tennessee Williams on Van Gogh”

The Tennessee Williams play about Van Gogh

True story: Early in his career, after a first try at The Fugitive Kind, Tennessee Williams set out to write a play about Vincent Van Gogh. He didn't get far: He had a writing assignment at a theater lab, and his assignments kept him so busy, he said, he hardly had time for "independent work." Continue reading “The Tennessee Williams play about Van Gogh”

Nakedness and freedom, by a playwright and a poet

Before he became a famous writer, while living at home and working a menial job under the thumb of his cruel father, Tennessee Williams dreamed of freedom. He wrote:  Now I’m back “home”. Which isn’t quite true. The world is my home. That is what I’ve just found out… but just the same I’ve gotContinue reading “Nakedness and freedom, by a playwright and a poet”

Tennessee Williams: Sex positive activist

Although considered politically naive by some, Tennessee Williams did know how to make a scene. Especially when it came to love.  If you want the unbuttoned Tennessee Williams, you have to read Dotson Rader's entertaining Cry of the Heart. It's a wonderfully breezy and entertaining book about the mature Tennessee Williams, but even better, it's a sortContinue reading “Tennessee Williams: Sex positive activist”

Jack Warner meets Tennessee Williams (or thinks he does)

From Dotson Rader's spectacularly colorful memoir of Tennessee Williams, Cry of the Heart, about his much older friend and lover, here's a note about Williams and Los Angeles:  "Los Angeles [was] a city Tennessee hated more than any other in the world.  "I always feel like a whore there," [he said]. "I don't appreciate worksContinue reading “Jack Warner meets Tennessee Williams (or thinks he does)”

Tennessee Williams: The literary factory

In l937, when Tennessee Williams was twenty-six and just beginning to write plays as well as poems and stories, he and a friend named Clark Mills, who grew up to be a professor of French and poetry, set up what they called a "literary factory" in the basement of Mills' parents' home in St Louis.Continue reading “Tennessee Williams: The literary factory”

First draft advice from Tennessee Williams

I believe that the way to write a good play is to convince yourself that it is easy to do — then go ahead and do it. Don't maul, don't suffer, don't groan — till the first draft is finished. Then Calvary — but not till then. Doubt — and be lost — until the first draft isContinue reading “First draft advice from Tennessee Williams”