SEPTEMBER 24 - 27, 2020

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS & Censorship

September 24-27, 2020

Under the motto “If we can, we will,” the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival announces its 15th Season: Tennessee Williams & Censorship.

Rising to the challenge of presenting live theater this year, the companies invited to perform in Provincetown have agreed to stay home and perform in place.  These productions will be shown live and outdoors around the country during the four days of the festival, each working with state and local guidelines to shape the possibilities of holding live events safely and responsibly September 24 through 27, 2020.

The 2020 Festival locations are New York, New York; Champaign-Urbana, Illinois; The Jersey Shore; and special outdoor performances in Provincetown, Massachusetts itself.

“If we can, we will” is the Festival’s motto for 2020, a season of plays related to censorship written by Williams and other writers. The theme is prompted by the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival in Provincetown, or rather it’s departure five weeks later, “leaving  Cape Cod’s curling sandspit to spiral into the Devil’s playground,” as Festival Curator David Kaplan says, “and begin the 400-year-old tradition of  independent thinking, what the Puritans called ‘flaunting,’ that continues today.”

The Festival’s censorship theme has been in the works for five years, following the invitation by Lisa Giuffre at Provincetown 400 to be part of the town’s commemoration of the Mayflower’s arrival in November of 1620. “In thinking it over, the Mayflower leaving was what defined P’town, and the attempts to find continuity with the puritans was a fantasy. Using the same facts it is possible, and desirable, to create another fantasy that predicts not the Constitution, but the writing of Tennessee Williams and America’s other wayward writers, including the provocations of Mae West, Penny Arcade, and any other future ‘flaunting’ we might imagine.”

 


 

The Municipal Abattoir at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

The Municipal Abattoir

A THRILLER performed outdoors in Provincetown.

From Nazi Germany to a factory in St. Louis to the Vietnam War, Williams considered the ways in which someone would agree to be destroyed for the good of the state.

Starring Ben Berry, David Drake, Ian Leahy, and Darlene Van Alstyne.

Directed by David Kaplan More about
Longing Lasts Longer at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

Longing Lasts Longer

A ROCK 'N' ROLL MANIFESTO performed in PROVINCETOWN, MA

Since her stint at the Sacred Heart Academy for Wayward Girls, Penny Arcade has been unapologetically honest throughout her six-decade career of incisive avant-garde performance.

Her willingness to speak truth to power at the expense of career concerns has made her an international icon of artistic resistance.

Performed by Penny Arcade with her long-time collaborator Steve Zehentner. More about
Cut Blanche at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

Cut Blanche

A FILM & COMMENTARY performed in PROVINCETOWN, MA

Hollywood censors demanded more and more cuts to the film of 'A Streetcar Named Desire,' until Williams and the film’s director wouldn’t agree to any more edits. What the censors insisted on removing?: Stella’s open desire for Stanley.

Festival favorite and Williams scholar Jeremy Lawrence passes on author Sam Staggs’ revelatory 'When Blanche Met Brando' in this lecture/demo with film. More about
Tennessee Talks: Revolution at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

Tennessee Talks: Revolution

AN ARTIST STATEMENT performed in PROVINCETOWN, MA

Jeremy Lawrence channels Tennessee Williams in “Tennessee Talks: Revolution.”

"An interviewer once asked me, 'Which of your plays are revolutionary?' My answer: All of them?" - Tennessee Williams More about
“Why Did Desdemona Love the Moor?” at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

“Why Did Desdemona Love the Moor?”

A LOVE STORY presented in CHAMPAIGN-URBANA, ILLINOIS

A black screenwriter has a secret affair with a white movie goddess (alternate title: “The Bitch”). Williams abandoned the project after 75 manuscript pages.

Adapted by Thomas Owen Mitchell, a staged reading of an unfinished short story from the 1940s (published March 2020) dramatizes Williams’ process as he considered drafts of a short story, a play, and a possible film.

Directed by Thomas Owen Mitchell
Performed in association with University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Theatre More about
Battle of Angels at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

Battle of Angels

A MORALITY PLAY presented in CENTRAL PARK, NYC

Three women fight over a handsome stranger newly arrived in their Mississippi Delta small town. Written by Williams in 1940, 'Battle of Angels' was closed by order of the Boston League of Decency.
'A play about cheap, white trash….Indecent and improper….Lascivious and immoral…' -Boston Police Commissioner Timilty, 1940

An abbreviated presentation
Directed by Jessica Burr
Produced by Blessed Unrest More about
The Demolition Downtown at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

The Demolition Downtown

A SUBURBAN DRAMA presented on the JERSEY SHORE

A suburban family shuts themselves up as explosions rock the city. Can the revolution be ignored?

Directed by Brenna Geffers
More about
The Witch at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

The Witch

A JACOBEAN OUTRAGE performed in the TRURO WOODS

Written by Thomas Middleton in 1616 but not published until 1728. Why? English Puritans likely played a part, as some puritans believed plays were “Suckt from the Devilles teate.”
The 2020 spectacle adds to the play’s laundry list of indiscretions with an all-female cast made up of Mayflower women. Puritan women! dressing as men! performing plays! in the woods! — it’s unheard of!

A scene spectacle
Directed by Megan Nussle More about
Songs My Grandmother Wouldn’t Want Me to Sing at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

Songs My Grandmother Wouldn’t Want Me to Sing

A MUSICAL LAGNIAPPE performed at the Payomet Performing Arts Center

Naughty Jacobean ballads, Mae West’s “blue” lyrics, Kurt Weill’s provocative tunes — Minnesota piano virtuoso and jazz composer George Maurer hosts this collection.
Kathleen Turner dropped in unexpectedly to sing at Maurer’s “Songs I Learned from My Grandmother” during the 2019 Festival… Who might be there this year? More about
Songs My Grandmother Wouldn’t Want Me to Sing at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

"Mother Yaws" A Cautionary Tale by Tennessee Williams

Brenda Currin (In Cold Blood, The World According to Garp) tells Williams' short story of “Mother Yaws." More about
Sex at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

Sex

A TITILLATING COMEDY

Mae West’s first play was shut down for obscenity and got her thrown into jail for ten days. Until then 'Sex' was the best-selling play of the 1926 Broadway season, running ten months. Most of the police waiting to escort Mae to the clinker had already seen the show.

The laws enacted to censor her in New York and Hollywood were used years later to censor Tennessee Williams.

More about
The Mahagonny Songspiel at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

The Mahagonny Songspiel

by Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill, and Elisabeth Hauptmann
MUSICAL AGIT-PROP

Hitler’s thugs blew whistles at the 1927 premiere of this chamber opera. Communists in the audience blew whistles of their own. Kurt Weill wrote the music, Bertolt Brecht wrote the libretto, and Elisabeth Hauptman collected the material from natural disasters and the cycle of capitalism.

More about

 

The 2020 Tennessee Williams Festival Catalog

 

Gift Cards

 

2019 Festival Magazine

Click here for our 2019 Festival magazine, featuring essays and show descriptions.

 

 

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