Performances to honor Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright
The Department of Theatre and Dance will begin the Tennessee Williams Festival tonight in honor of one of America’s most revered Southern playwrights.
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Williams’ birthday, the festival, which runs until Oct. 8, will include some of the writer’s tried and true productions as well as some more recently discovered pieces.
The department will perform “A Streetcar Named Desire,” directed by Chris Clavelli, tonight at 8 p.m. in Drayton Hall Theatre. The Pulitzer Prize-winning drama centers around Southern belle Blanche Dubois, played by first-year theatre graduate student Yvonne Senat, who has moved into the home of her sister Stella and Stella’s husband Stanley Kowalksi, played by theatre graduate student Jessita Noel and theatre graduate student Joe Mallon, respectively.
“[Blanche Dubois] is a survivor. She takes a lot of hard blows,” said Senat, who said the role can be difficult to live up to. “[Williams] spoke through his tragedy, and I think that’s what most people relate to.”
Theatre marketing director Kevin Bush remarked on Williams’ genious in depicting very human demensions.
“Williams represents a shift in how we deal with emotions and morality in public,” Bush said. “[‘Streetcar’ is] a lot of fun — it’s romance and tragedy; it’s funny, sexy, scary and rich with great characters. I hope it inspires people to check out his great work and enjoy a great night out at the theater.”
The second component of the festival, “An Evening of One-Acts,” will begin showing on Oct. 5, featuring the third-ever performance of Williams’ recently discovered one-act play “The Pretty Trap.” An early version of “The Glass Menagerie,” the plot of “The Pretty Trap” brings a new light to a popular Williams production.
“This Property Is Condemned” will also be included in the string of one-acts, with a plot that revolves around one of Williams’ typical female characters, an orphaned teenager named Willie played by first-year psychology student Catherine Davenport.
In a Tuesday night rehearsal at Longstreet Theatre, Davenport struggled to nail the complexity of her character.
“Sometimes it’s kind of scary to fully invest in a character like this,” Davenport said. “You really want to get down to the depth of why they are the way they are, and that can be really daunting.”
The evening will also feature Williams’ “The Lady of Larkspur Lotion” and “27 Wagons Full of Cotton.”
Tickets for both “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “An Evening of One-Acts” are $16 for the public, $14 for USC faculty, staff, seniors and military and $10 for students. An 11 p.m. performance on Oct. 8 will be half price. For more information on showtimes and ticketing, call 803-777-2551 or visit www.cas.sc.edu/thea.