The Day On Which A Man Diesby Tennessee Williams
This powerful fantasia on the death of Jackson Pollock wowed audiences in 2009, and is newly reinvented by a South African dream team cast, in repertory with Milk Train..
directed by David Kaplan
starring Jennifer Steyn & Marcel Meyer
Abrahamse-Meyer ProductionsCape Town, South Africa
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"The work is profound, intense and very intimate with a stunning revelation."
About the Play
“I NEVER VALUED MYSELF … MY WORK WAS ALL I VALUED.”
--THE DAY ON WHICH A MAN DIES
Written at the same time as Suddenly, Last Summer, filed, then forgotten in a Los Angeles library, The Day On Which a Man Dies heats up Japan’s Gutai performance art and some of Tennessee Williams’ most beautiful lyric writing.
Williams subtitled the text An Occidental Noh Play. Noh plays are Japanese 14th century ghost plays, and the ghost evoked is a paint-splashing stand-in for Jackson Pollock, a friend of Williams in 1940s Provincetown. Pollock’s pursuit of new forms beyond the safety of convention offered Williams a stage-worthy model (the role is called Man) of a romantic artist – writer or painter – pursuing his visions beyond public acceptance.
In life, Pollock’s wife, Lee Krasner, championed her husband’s work fiercely. In Day on Which, the artist’s companion is his mistress, jealous of the painter’s dedication to his art.
Williams dedicated the play to Yukio Mishima, the Japanese author of voluptuous excess and verbal precision. Mishima’s “modern Noh plays” lent the playwright a dramatic form with which to embody willful self-destruction. A wry Mishima stand-in, a role called The Oriental, reflects on sex as power while explaining how Japanese and Western suicides differ. Mishima, born in 1925, committed hari-kari in 1970.
Set in adjoining hotel rooms in 1959 Tokyo, the play is essentially a lover’s quarrel between The Man, an acclaimed painter now mocked for his new technique of applying paint with spray-guns, and the Woman, his sharp-tongued companion of eleven years. She has lost faith in him and his work. They argue violently, make up, make love, and betray each other.
"It is not every day that a dead playwright gets a world premiere.
...the play owes its life in great part to director/designer David Kaplan."
- Chicago Reader Critics’ Choice, Feb. 2008
About the Production
“The production's stylized edginess brings…
psychic traumas out in garish and explosive moments of excess
that lap at the feet of the audience."
- The Chicago Tribune
This version of the text, edited by Annette Saddik, premiered in 2008 in Chicago, produced by SummerNITE.
It is performed by the dream team of South African actors from The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore, under the direction of festival curator David Kaplan who directed the world premiere and brought the acclaimed Chicago production to the Provincetown Art Association and Museum for the 2009 TW Festival. David Kaplan’s scenic design from the 2009 National Pastime Theater revival toured Europe and America as part of the 11th Prague Quadrennial.