Kennedy Center to Mount Massive Tennessee Williams Festival, “Tennessee Williams Explored”: Summer 2004

News   Kennedy Center to Mount Massive Tennessee Williams Festival, “Tennessee Williams Explored”: Summer 2004 Last summer the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts presented a landmark festival honoring award-winning composer Stephen Sondheim. Appropriately titled the “Sondheim Celebration,” the Sondheimfest featured six of the composer's classic musicals: Company, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park with George, Passion, Sweeney Todd and A Little Night Music.

Now, after much speculation, it has been confirmed that the summer of 2004 will bring another marathon tribute at the Kennedy Center, one celebrating the works of American playwright Tennessee Williams. From April to July 2004, the famed Center will offer “Tennessee Williams Explored,” which will boast full stagings of three Williams classics at the Eisenhower Theatre: A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The Glass Menagerie. No casting has been announced for these productions. The ten-week exploration will also feature five one-act plays at the Center’s more intimate, 500-seat Terrace Theatre. Michael Kahn, artistic director of the Shakespeare Theatre, will helm the one-acts, which include three premieres. Entitled Five By Tenn, the one-acts comprise “I Can’t Imagine,” “Adam and Eve on a Ferry,” “And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens. . .,” “Escape” and one other play yet to be chosen.

Other highlights of the Williams festival will include Richard Thomas’ solo performance in Letters from Tennessee: A Distant Country Called Youth June 11-13 at the Terrace Theatre, and Andre Previn and Philip Littell’s East Coast premiere of the opera version of A Streetcar Named Desire. Brad Dalton will direct the latter with designs by Michael Yeargan.

Born Thomas Lanier Williams on March 26, 1911, Tennessee Williams became one of the most respected playwrights in American theatre history. His first bona fide Broadway success was the 1945 premiere of The Glass Menagerie. Two years later his production of A Streetcar Named Desire earned the young playwright both the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award. Among his many other works are The Rose Tattoo, Camino Real, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Sweet Bird of Youth, Night of the Iguana, Orpheus Descending, Not About Nightingales and Suddenly, Last Summer. Williams died August 13, 1983.