The Late Plays of Tennessee Williams

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Scarecrow Press, 2009 - Drama - 285 pages
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Praised as one of the finest American playwrights of the 20th century, Tennessee Williams left a legacy of theater classics, including The Glass Menagerie, Sweet Bird of Youth, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and A Streetcar Named Desire. Though a winner of two Pulitzer prizes for drama, Williams fell out of favor in the early 1960s and after The Night of the Iguana, his subsequent works suffered both critical and commercial failure. Even worse, several of his plays failed to get produced in his lifetime. William Prosser directed six productions of Williams's plays, five of which the playwright saw, criticized, and quite often praised. In The Late Plays of Tennessee Williams, Prosser reassesses the playwright's later works. Determined to liberate them from the literary purgatory to which they had been condemned by the critics, Prosser examines the works Williams produced from the early 1960s until the playwright's death in 1983. In several thoughtful essays, Prosser discusses such works as The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, Slapstick Tragedy, Kingdom of Earth, The Red Devil Battery Sign, and Clothes For a Summer Hotel, a portrait of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Besides offering reevaluations of these works, each chapter may be seen as research and analysis for potential productions. Throughout the book, Prosser contends that Williams' talent was not destroyed, but rather went on in different directions to produce extraordinary, if misunderstood, works.

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25 years after Williams's death, he is inducted to St John the Divine's Poet's Corner. For that we can be truly grateful. That this book arrives at the approximate time as the returning of the poet's wreath to his first home is prescient; perhaps the renaissance of the entire body of work begins. Experts say Williams' structure was always ahead of his time, and it only makes sense that structurally his later works had evolved beyond his earlier works -- which still required serious correspondence between himself and Elia Kazan just to get "Streetcar" off the page.
Lets hope this book invites the same scholarly and public appreciation for his later works as his earlier works have enjoyed. Prosser passed away before he could see publication of this book, but its contribution ought not be underestimated. Buy one, now, and be part of the vanguard that is willing to explore Williams' later works despite the cultural defference to his earlier works.

Selected pages


Tennessee Williams and the Critics
Milk Train to Byzantium
Down and Out in New Orleans and Cocaloony Key
Mississippi and Tokyo
In an Unknown State
The Longest Distance
Night Flight from Dallas
An Incredible Visit to Asheville and Beyond
Through the Dark Door
In the Old Country
On the Beach
Forgotten Things Remembered
About the Author

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About the author (2009)

\William Prosser (1942-1991) was a professor of theatre at Brooklyn College of City University of New York. He ran the Tennessee Williams Fine Arts Center in Key West, where he directed the world premiere of an early Williams play, Will Mr. Merriwether Return From Memphis? in 1980.

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