SEPTEMBER 24 - 27, 2020

The Hotel Plays 2017 at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

The Hotel Plays

by Tennessee Williams and William Shakespeare

Worlds of hilarity and heartbreak await behind every door as you move from room to room enjoying works from both Williams and Shakespeare at the historic Gifford House Inn.
directed by Clay Martin and Erin Cawley


In association with Trinity Rep

Providence, Rhode Island


This show was presented Sept 21-24, 2017
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The Hotel Plays from Spectrum Theatre Ensemble at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

This year’s Hotel Plays combine Shakespeare and Williams under one roof: Provincetown’s historic Gifford House. Audiences will travel through the building’s many portals, encountering two of Williams’ most lyric texts: Mr. Paradise and Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen... Waiting down the hall will be scenes set in inns from Shakespeare's Cymbeline and The Comedy of Errors

The 2017 Hotel Plays come from Providence, Rhode Island, staged by Trinity Rep’s Artistic Leadership and Inclusion Fellow Clay B. Martin, co-director Erin Cawley, and the Spectrum Theatre Ensemble, made up of theater artists along the autism spectrum. The Hotel Plays has a cast of 14 and will feature actors Leslie Fray, Jim O’Brien, and Jason M. Shipman.

About the Production

Design sketch for The Hotel Plays by Travis Clark

“Environmental theater has become a signature of what our Festival can bring to the world of Williams,” says Festival Executive Director Jef Hall-Flavin. “Since 2009, when we first began producing short plays by Tennessee Williams in hotel rooms, the beauty and power of site-specific stagings has caught on. In recent years, theatergoers have discovered the joy of seeing Williams plays performed in hotel rooms around the globe, from Boston to London to South Africa.”

 In a Festival year that presents full productions of plays by Williams and Shakespeare side by side, co-directors Martin and Cawley see The Hotel Plays as a chance to more deeply connect our understanding of both playwrights.

“One thing we found, and really love, is the fluidity of both writers’ styles,” says Martin, “and how they can so easily navigate between comedy and tragedy, within almost the same breath. Mister Paradise can easily be done as a tragedy, but we’re finding such wry humor in it. And even though The Comedy of Errors is a comedy, it’s full of dark subject matter.”

Martin and Cawley both studied in the School of Theatre and Dance at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, and they are alumni of the annual Tennessee Williams Institute (TWI), an immersive University-level symposium offered during the Festival. Martin attended TWI in Provincetown in 2013; Cawley attended in 2015. In addition, both selected Williams as the focus of their thesis projects at Texas Tech.

Cawley is trained in Shakespeare, and she assistant directed the Williams play Kirche, Küche, Kinder (An Outrage for the Stage) at last year’s Festival. During her thesis work on Williams, she says, “I was fascinated to see how many times he set his work in way stations, like boarding houses and hotel rooms. For me, this is an opportunity to explore this sense of being somewhere in the middle – and to put it on its feet in a practical setting.”

About the Company

While he was studying in Texas Tech’s fine arts graduate program, Martin’s desire to work alongside students with autism led him to co-found The BurkTech Players – a collaboration between the School of Theatre and Dance and the Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research – in 2014. The company produces shows and leads performing arts classes for elementary, middle, and high school students with autism.

Soon after, Martin began to learn more about the country’s largest theater program designed for people with autism: Trinity Rep’s Active Imagination Network (TRAIN), run by Trinity Repertory Company at Brown University. During a visit to Providence, Martin met with TRAIN founder Jordan Butterfield.

The meeting grew into an application, co-written by Martin and Butterfield, for a grant from Theatre Communications Group’s (TCG) Leadership U. Last summer, soon after earning his Master’s degree from Texas Tech, Martin received the grant for $75,000. This allowed Martin to join Trinity Rep as the Artistic Leadership and Inclusion Fellow, and to collaborate with Butterfield on the creation of STE – a sibling company to The BurkTech Players in Lubbock – through early 2018.

“For the last seven years, TRAIN has been reaching children and adults on the autism spectrum through theater, playwriting and improvisation,” says Butterfield. “These art forms are inherently social and require empathy and understanding, but also allow you to be introspective, creative, and in tune with your own body." 

Many of the young artists who are now part of STE, she adds, are TRAIN alumni. “This group will not only make powerful productions, but also help to create a more sensory friendly season at Trinity Rep, and teach theater workshops out in the community,” she says. “It expands the TRAIN network while adding access for many people who would not otherwise see or partake in theater.”

 “STE is diverse,” agrees Martin. “The group includes adults on the autism spectrum, as well as professional actors who are neurotypical, some of whom have been performing at Trinity Rep for years.” The group, he adds, will live on past the end of his grant in early 2018.

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