Plan Your Visit
Kirche Küche Kinder (An Outrage for the Stage)by Tennessee Williams
SATIRE WITH SONGS
Catch a rare chance to see this irreverent, outrageous, rule-bending comedy that hasn't been produced since 1979.
Warning: Contains adult situations not suitable for those under 16.
directed by Robertson Dean
featuring Rachel Hirshorn as The Wife
Texas Tech UniversityLubbock, TX
Choose your show:
An Irish hustler, married to a Lutheran preacher's daughter, brings up his nubile children to sell in the priciest neighborhoods of Manhattan.
The title is Williams' twist on the German admonition -- known in a Victorian-era rulebook as K3 -- that women devote themselves to children (kinder), kitchen (küche), and church (kirche). The Festival offers the first production of this raucous song-filled comedy since 1979, the year Williams wrote it.
"Despite its outrageous antics ... Kirche documents Williams’s lifelong struggle between the spirit (the lyrical) and the flesh (slapstick and the bawdy) ... Kirche contains some of his most lyrical later passages."
- Philip C. Kolin, The Tennessee Williams Annual Review
About the Play
Kirche, Küche, Kinder, (or "K3"), written in 1979, is subtitled "an outrage for the stage." The hustler hero, called simply MAN, “a self proclaimed descendant of the old Kings of Ireland” (a tip of the hat to Eugene O’Neill?) sings sentimental Irish songs, as the playwright presciently mocks the greed and amorality of the oncoming Reagan era. A sweet woman named Rose, dressed in lavender, haunts the proceedings. A pregnant 99 year old, Fräulein Haussmitzenschlogger, a.k.a. “Hotsy,” was played by a Harris Berlinksy.
In 1980, Williams attended K3 rehearsals downtown at the Bouwerie Lane Theater, where Eve Adamson was directing the Cocteau Rep ensemble. The playwright, who was 69, split his days taking taxis uptown to help with Broadway preparations for Clothes for a Summer Hotel, his fantasia on the lives of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald.
The duality of success and failure in Williams' career at this time is striking. Clothes starred Geraldine Page as Zelda, directed by Jose Quintero, who had salvaged the reputation of Williams' Summer and Smoke in 1953, and resurrected Eugene O'Neill's reputation with Long Day's Journey Into Night in 1956. Geraldine Page was acclaimed for playing roles by Williams, on stage and in two 1961 films, Summer and Smoke and Bird of Youth. By 1979 she was unintentionally comic as the sylphlike Zelda practicing ballet.
In the context of K3's intentional camp, she would have been a delight. Clothes closed after 15 performances. Quintero’s next Williams was a Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Kirstie Alley played Maggie. Eve Adamson, the original director of K3, who had impressed Williams with her success in reviving In the Bar of Tokyo Hotel and Suddenly Last Summer, went on to stage Williams’ autobiographical Something Cloudy, Something Clear.
In part to avoid newspaper criticism, K3 was announced as a work in progress. Intended rewrites never happened, due to the demands of Clothes for a Summer Hotel. Annette Saddik included K3 for publication in the 2008 Traveling Companion anthology she edited.
This full production of K3 is the first since 1979. Directed by Robertson Dean, it was workshopped for the festival by Texas Tech University of Lubbock, TX.