The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymoreby Tennessee Williams
A sold-out highlight of 2013, Milk Train is a tour-de-force for Jennifer Steyn as the unforgettable Flora Goforth. Using Williams' original Kabuki stagehands, this surprising, witty, and elegiac play is not to be missed.
directed by Fred Abrahamse
Abrahamse & Meyer ProductionsCape Town, South Africa
a co-production with the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival
Choose your show:
Choose A Map:
Box Office Hours
Phone Sales Daily (OvationTix):
9 am to 9 pm Monday - Friday
10 am to 6 pm Saturday & Sunday
866-789-TENN (8366) ext. 1
Walk-up sales during Festival Only:
September 20 - 24, 2017
Wed - Sat, 10am - 8pm
Sunday 10am - 5pm
Box Office Location:
Sage Inn and Lounge
336 Commercial St
Provincetown, MA 02657
“...this production of the text makes for an engrossing night at the theatre,
all the more so because of a magnificent performance by Jennifer Steyn,
who plays the central role of Flora 'Sissy' Goforth, a character that - taken on its own terms -
ranks right up there with Blanche du Bois and Maggie the Cat.”
- Broadway World
About the Play
Y’KNOW WHAT I NEED TO SHAKE OFF THIS, THIS – DEPRESSION ? … I NEED ME A LOVER.
--THE MILK TRAIN DOESN’T STOP HERE ANYMORE
If wit, personal charm, sexual prowess, physical beauty, and chunky diamonds could ward off death The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore would end happily, as most comedies do. Two agile stagehands, though, and a handsome poet, are on hand to ease the legendary Flora Goforth on her passage through, as critic Michael Paller calls it, “The Day on Which a Woman Dies.”
The much married Flora ‘Sissy’ Goforth, a legendary diva (and former Ziegfeld showgirl) is dictating her memoirs atop the mountain of her Italian Riviera estate above Italy’s Divina Costiera. The Angel of Death drops in to seduce her, the approach countered not so much with love, but undignified lust. Even if this is the summer she might pass, unlike Sebastian in Suddenly, Last Summer , Flora’s no martyr, she’s hungry for life.
Williams wrote the text in the early 1960s, while his estranged lover was dying of lung cancer, and Freedom Riders were being shot dead in Mississippi, the state where he was born. The play was ignored in 1963 when it premiered on Broadway during a newspaper strike. Revived on Broadway in 1964, and reviled, the play closed after five performances.
Boom! is the final word of the play. The annihilation that great souls in Williams’s plays long for - and achieve - in this play resounds at the edge of the sea in the sound of the waves, like a Hindu’s mantra, or a Zen master’s koan: Boom!
About the Production
"Steyn gives the performance of a lifetime in this role.
Her work is rangy, deeply engaged with the inner life of this complex woman,
and her transformation into the character is complete."
- Broadway World
Abrahamse Meyer Productions from Cape Town, South Africa thrilled Festival audiences with Kingdom of Earth in 2012 and Milk Train in 2013. In South Africa, Jennifer Steyn won the prestigious Fleur du Cap Best Actress award for her luminous portrayal of Flora “Sissy” Goforth.
The revelatory award-winning South African production seen in Provincetown in 2013 returns under the elegant direction of Fred Abrahamse and the tour de force performance by Jennifer Steyn as Flora. The Kabuki stagehands once thought superfluous exotica turn out to be the key to the play’s meaning.
Williams and Milk Train
"People have said and said and said that my work is too personal:
and I have persistently countered this charge with my assertion that
all true work of an artist must be personal, whether directly or obliquely,
it must and it does reflect the emotional climates of its creator."
- Tennessee Williams, Memoirs
While Williams was working on Milk Train, his lover and partner of fourteen years, Frank Merlo was dying of lung cancer.
One of Williams’ biographers, Donald Spoto, claimed that for Williams Milk Train became ''a conversation between himself and death…a work so intimate that it was virtually impossible for it to reach an anonymous public.''
Death and dying pre-occupy every principal character in the play: Sissy Goforth valiantly attempts to keep death at bay; her young, secretary Blackie’s stoically mourns her departed husband Charles; Chris Flanders has “found his vocation” by helping old, dying men and women “get through it…in a way that’s more dignified than most of us know how to do it”; and the Witch of Capri, in an attempt to avoid thinking about her own mortality, gloats over the demise of her friends.
Most of Sissy’s memoirs are extended arias about the deaths of her husbands. At the start of the play she recalls the death of her fourth husband, the young Russian poet, Alex, “the one I married for love” who “died that night in my arms in a clinic at Nice: and my heart died with him! Forever.”
This sentiment is movingly echoed in Williams’ own Memoirs where he recalls the loss he experienced after Frank’s death: “As long as Frank was well, I was happy. He had a gift for creating a life and, when he ceased to be alive, I couldn’t create a life for myself…I had lost what had sustained my life.”
Williams’ play reminds us of the fate that sooner or later awaits us all. But Williams, like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, re-assures us that “the readiness is all” and with some spiritual enlightenment we can find “acceptance of not knowing anything but the moment of still existing until we stop existing, and acceptance of that moment, too.”