In a 1967 interview, when Tennessee Williams was asked if he ever wrote directly about the struggle for civil rights or about the American war in Viet Nam, he replied, “I am not a direct writer, I am always an oblique writer, if I can be; I want to be allusive, I don’t want to be one of those people who hits the nail on the head all the time.” The playwright’s answer reinforced a longstanding idea that Williams was not a political writer when, in fact, politics are woven into the fabric of everything he wrote—often quite directly! This panel will examine some of Williams’ politics both onstage and off, looking at the most overt examples of politics in plays such as Camino Real, Sweet Bird of Youth, Orpheus Descending, and The Red Devil Battery Sign, as well as the powerful ways in which politics surround and support narratives in his other plays. At times the indirect approach can be an even more potent way to reach an audience and is found in plays as divergent as The Glass Menagerie, Stairs to the Roof, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Green Eyes. The panelists will include Thomas Keith, Tom Mitchell, and Bess Rowen. Benjamin Gillespie will moderate. 



03/23/2024 10:00am-11:15am , Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres Street, $10 or LitPass or VIP Pass.


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