Commemoration of Tennessee Williams
Cathedral of St. John the Divine
coordinated by the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival
On Thursday, November 5, 2009, the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival co-hosted a starry gathering celebrating the induction of Tennessee Williams into the American Poet’s Corner at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City.
Curator David Kaplan, Festival Director Jef Hall-Flavin, and President Patrick Falco introduced a galaxy of personalities paying tribute to Williams, described in the Huffington Post as
“A Who's Who of American Theater.”
Anne Jackson, Eli Wallach, Sylvia Miles, Olympia Dukakis, John Guare,
Vanessa Redgrave, and John Patrick Shanley. [Photo: Jay Paul Skelton]
The Poets' Corner was created at St. John the Divine in 1984 to memorialize American writers, and is modeled after a similar alcove at Westminster Abbey in London. A board of electors, working with the Cathedral’s Poet-in-Residence, elects a literary giant – who died 25 or more years ago - annually. Elizabeth Bishop, Louise Bogan, Emily Dickinson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, Walt Whitman, Phyliss Wheatley, e. e. cummings, Emma Lazarus and William Carlos Williams are among those who have been inducted.
Tennessee Williams is the first playwright to be inducted in the American Poet's Corner.
Eli Wallach (left) performed Tennessee Williams' short play, Mister Paradise, with his daughter Katharine.
The Very Reverend James A. Kowalski, Dean, welcomed the audience, and the Reverend Thomas Miller, Canon for Liturgy and Art, (right) read Williams' poem, "Covenant."
Vanessa Redgrave (left) performed a selection from Not About Nightingales, a posthumously performed Williams play which she was instrumental in discovering.
Charles F. Martin, Poet in Residence for the Cathedral, read the concluding scene from The Glass Menagerie.
Former United States Poet Laureate, William Jay Smith (left), reminisced about his college friend, Thomas Lanier Williams, then read Williams' poem "Cried the Fox."
Actress Sherry Boone (right) gave a moving and provocative reading of "Gold Tooth Blues."
Marian Seldes (left) read an excerpt from Williams' letter to Elia Kazan, written April 19, 1947, about A Streetcar Named Desire.
Editor Thomas Keith read his favorite Williams poem, "Life Story."
Playwright John Guare (left) read the poem "As I stood in my room tonight."
Playwright John Patrick Shanley (right) gave an enthusiastic speech on Williams' influence on our lives.
Tandy Cronyn (left) reminisced about her father, Hume Cronyn - an early champion of Williams - and read a 1948 post card from Williams to her mother, Jessica Tandy.
Actor Ben Griessmeyer (right) performed an excerpt from the recently discovered play, The Parade - a role he created in 2006.
Olympia Dukakis performed a spellbinding selection from Williams' play, The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore. Click here to read about her 2008 Festival appearance.
Jeremy Lawrence gave moving renditions of Williams' poems, "Which is my little boy?" and "Little Horse."
Sylvia Miles (left) performed an excerpted scene from Vieux Carre, a play in which she appeared in London in 1978.
Festival Curator David Kaplan (right) read an anti-war speech originally given by Williams at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in 1971.
Poet Wyatt Prunty from the University of the South, (left) read "How Calmly Does the Orange Branch" from The Night of the Iguana.
Actor/Singer Leenya Rideout performed two Williams poems she set to music: "Heavenly Grass," and "Cabin."
The Celebration at Saint John the Divine in New York concludes the events the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival helped present throughout the country in 2009.