Escapeby Tennessee Williams
choreography by Paula Frasz
directed by Katherine Mendeloff
and PJ Paparelli
DanszLoop ChicagoChicago, Illinois
Two plays, two different escapes: The sounds of a jailbreak interrupt a chain-gang’s nightly card game, and a teenage boy swims to his death rather than return to the life his domineering mother has planned for him. The plays will be shown with related original dance inspired by the two plays.
Two short plays by Williams were, for a time, both given the title Escape. Written in the 1930s, they reveal Williams's early mastery of listening as spine-tingling dramatic action. In the first play, a poker-playing chain gang overhears the sounds of an attempted jailbreak. In the second play, ultimately titled Summer at the Lake a teen-aged boy escapes from his mother’s plans for the rest of his life by swimming, as she chatters on, to the point of no return.
What the characters listen to – the desperate breathing of a hunted man, the determined splashing of the swimming boy – have inspired two new dances by Chicago-based choreographer Paula Frasz, performed by her DanszLoop Chicago ensemble. In 2008, Frasz turned a Williams short story --“Happy August the Tenth” -- into the raucous dance-drama: Lorita!
The plays, though short, are receiving the attentions of extraordinary directors. Summer at the Lake will be staged by Ann Arbor’s Katherine Mendeloff, who, in 2007, brought her adaptation of Williams' The Notebooks of Trigorin to the Chekhov Festival in Moscow and the Tennessee Williams Festival in Provincetown. Escape will be staged by Chicago's PJ Paparelli, a Lucille Lortel and Helen Hayes nominee who is the artistic director of American Theatre Company.