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Tennessee Williams is universally regarded as one of the best American playwrights of the last century. His literary career and his work for the stage as well as his many popular film adaptations make him a well-known American figure. His great success and the demons he struggled with will give us insight into this powerful artist and his works.

Williams was born in Mississippi and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended the University of Missouri and Washington University, but he took his degree from the University of Iowa. From an early age, he aspired to be a writer, but it was many years before he found success as a playwright.

“The Glass Menagerie” and “A Streetcar Named Desire” established him as a major literary figure, and a string of plays, novels, essays, poetry and other works followed. Even when his early successes were not being replicated, he kept writing and working on succeeding literary projects.

“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ” is one of his more popular and frequently produced plays. Set in the South, it revolves around the dysfunc- tional family of “Big Daddy,” a cotton tycoon. A particular focus is his son Brick, frustrated and disillusioned, and his tempestuous relationship with his wife, Maggie the “Cat.”

The play is crammed with juicy parts for actors and electric tension as well as biting humor. A thrilling evening in the theatre is guaranteed. The play won the Pulitzer Prize the year it premiered as well as the New York Drama Critics’ Award for best play. Many are familiar with the Elizabeth Taylor-Paul Newman film. We’ll talk about the restrictions of the 1950s film code that hampered William’s vision. The play often shows up back on Broadway and in regional theatres, and television productions have also been numerous. Williams claimed it was his favorite play.

Most critics feel that Williams based his entire literary output on his own family and his life. It’s impossible to talk about his life without linking it closely to his work, and any discussion of his work leads inevitably to talk of his life.

Bill McKenny will lead our exploration of this accomplished playwright and his intriguing play.

Location: Advanced Sciences Bldg., Room L416/417, Entrance 11, Parking Lot 3
Fee: No charge / Max: 100
Lifelong Learning membership not required
Course #19/FY-CPDV-2798-02 


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