Recalling the memoirs of Tennessee Williams

Preview by Paul Nelson

TAGUS Theatre's latest production, The Kindness of Strangers, explores the fascinating world of American playwright Tennessee Williams.

Based in part on his memoirs, the play connects the writer's life with the plays and the marvelous creations that people them. The background is the sultry atmosphere of 1940s New Orleans.

"The remarkable aspect of Tennessee Williams", said the playwright Robert Anderson, "is how he transmuted his anguished life into great plays." Drugs, alcohol, mental instability and a need for casual sexual encounters all played a part in this anguish. The Kindness of Strangers is about the links between the man and his creations; about how autobiography becomes transformed into art.

The stage is peopled with characters real and fictional, well known and unknown. - " My little company of the faded and frightened, the difficult, the odd and the lonely" as Tennessee Williams called them. They are presented against the background of a writer trying to make sense of his own existence.

Despite feelings of loneliness and terror only just this side of despair, Tennessee Williams still managed to call his life 'remarkably fortunate'. This is the clue to both the writer and his dramatic creations - they are survivors against the odds who manage to retain an essential humanity as well as a kind of hectic courage.

The Kindness of Strangers, compiled by Jonathan Weightman, based on the life and work of Tennessee Williams, including This Property Is Condemned, The Lady of Larkspur Lotion and A Perfect Analysis Given by a Parrot WITH Amanda Booth, Jonathan Weightman and Celia Williams, directed by Keith Esher Davis at Greenwich Playhouse, Greenwich Station Forecourt, 189 Greenwich High Road, London SE10. Tickets 020 8858 9256. From 30 July to 18 August, Tuesday to Saturday, at 7.45, Sunday at 4.

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