This entertaining 75-minute lesson on Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill will brief you on the playwrights, with handy insights about our lineup of performances.
hosted by Jef Hall-Flavin
featuring guest artists from Festival productions
TW FestivalProvincetown, Massachusetts
Choose your show:
Hosted by Festival executive director Jef Hall-Flavin, Williams 101 is the perfect opportunity to brush up on your Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill. This year's seminar features an O'Neill specialist with scholarly insights.
With brief, informative backgrounds on each playwright, the discussion will prime your pump for a weekend of theater. Peppered with Festival artists, audience members will enjoy practical insights on the thematic through-lines in the Festival lineup.
About the 2016 theme
What Tennessee Williams wrote in the tumult of the 1960s and 70s resonates while reading, or better yet, watching, what Eugene O’Neill wrote in the roar of the 1920s. Both playwrights, at the height of their success—O’Neill (while winning three Pulitzer Prizes) and Williams (after smash hits on Broadway with The Glass Menagerie and Streetcar) — abandoned crowd-pleasing realism for theatrical experiments and critiques of America that compromised their reputations and popularity.
O’Neill died in 1953. Three years later, his reputation was redefined by the publication and staging of Long Day’s Journey into Night. Since 1956, claims for O’Neill as a “great” American playwright typically emphasize his early sea plays and his late masterful psychological portraits. This focus ignores O’Neill’s unrelenting, often satirical, attacks in the 1920s on conventional realism and conventional American ideas of success, morality and “good” theater.
Tennessee Williams’ reputation has also undergone a posthumous change among audiences and critics, especially those with opportunities to see his willfully disruptive late work performed.
September 22nd through 25th, 2016, the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival’s 11th season will align Williams and O’Neill with those who define American identity as freedom, rather than the accumulation of wealth, and a self-satisfied morality maintained by indifference to those who “don’t fit” as Yank says in The Hairy Ape.
Diff’rent, not coincidentally, is the title of the one play by O’Neill we know Williams watched in Provincetown.
What we celebrate in the writings of Tennessee Williams is what we’ll celebrate in the work of Eugene O’Neill— from the unique vantage point of Provincetown, with its enduring four hundred year history of radical alternatives: artistic, political, and sexual.