Lovers of Tennessee Williams are in for a treat as TBC Theatre presents two rarely performed one-act plays– The Pretty Trap and Interior: Panic. Considered the origin plays for Williams’ best known works – The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire – the plays promise a unique glimpse into the workings of both craft and mind.
For director Alister Smith the project is a labour of love – “I have always had an obsession with Tennessee Williams,” says Smith. “He has a theatricality that is so creatively inspiring. He manages to show the truth and complexities of humanity in all it’s beauty and ugliness. I have always wanted to investigate what drove him as a creator and look at his work in context to his life story.”
Williams is an icon in terms of 20th Century American drama. His plays are classics often examining the fragility of beauty, youth and love. Many are semi autobiographical works exploring his own painful youth and homosexuality
Williams’ themes have stood the test of time and, says, Smith this is the brilliance of Tennessee! “His work still thunders relevance to today’s audiences!! He was well ahead of his time with bravery. His main ideas show the complexities of existence; of the fragility of the human psyche; the danger of regret and living with guilt. He tackles sexuality and homosexuality and the sadness of repression. He shows that humans are imperfect beings and the dark side of human behavior.”
The Pretty Trap is described as a comedy in one Act and is derived from the final moments of The Glass Menagerie. Interior: Panic is a precursor to A Streetcar Named Desire and is a study of the mind written with specifically exaggerated design elements and semi-hallucinated dialogue. The protagonist is Blanche Shannon (later renamed DuBois). A Streetcar Named Desire has, of course, gone on to become Williams’ most recognized, performed and acclaimed work winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1948.
For director Smith, you certainly don’t have to be an obsessive to enjoy Williams’ this work. “His words echo within all of us, states Smith. “It is a fantastic first step into his world if you have never seen his work before. But for the Tennessee lovers this will be crack to you. We have busted open the creative vault with these very rarely performed raw masterpieces and delved into his imagination. His opening stage directions are enough for you to feed on for a year!! Through this project you will get an inside to what made this man tick.”
The Poppy Seed Festival is Melbourne’s newest, vibrant, boutique grass roots festival of theatre born out of the city’s thriving theatrical landscape. Style and content is open – they’re simply looking for the most outstanding, viable work. Four projects have been selected by a panel of leading industry professionals and programmed into this festival which runs over November/ December. A great programme for perspective creatives with the four projects chosen receiving a theatre for their performance season, as well as financial, logistical, artistic and marketing support.
The correlation between the festival and William’s short plays is clear: The festival is about new creative seeds and these short plays were Williams’ seeds. “He used the one act format to explore many of his concepts and characters,” explains Smith. “These are both plays that were the testing ground for a character study. Here we meet both the characters of Streetcar and Menagerie in their original raw form. Fleur (my creative producer) and I have been looking for an opportunity to tackle some of his genesis plays for a few years now. When Poppy Seed expressed an interest in our concepts we thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to begin the adventure.”
Smith is a Green Room Award nominated director as well as the founder and Artistic Director of Redroom Theatre Company. He is also the current and inaugural Festival Director of Short + Sweet Dance Melbourne. Smith makes his debut with TBC Theatre whose motto is to endeavour to attract an eclectic audience by producing bold, live experiences that challenge the traditional notion of theatre.
November 10 – 22