Here at TBC, we take our research very seriously. So we leapt at the chance to delve into our muse and author for Project: Hysteria - playwright, moustache enthusiast and all round Dapper-Dan Tennessee Williams.
Then we thought: what better way to saturate your screens with TBC than to present our extremely serious research in that most lauded and well-respected of journalistic modes: The Listicle.
So, may TBC proudly present:
Four Things We Didn’t Know About Tennessee Williams Before And Think That You Won’t Either (working title)
1. Tennesee Isn’t Tennessee’s Real Name.
What?! His parents didn’t name this -
- after this?
Apparently not! Unlike modern celebrities (I’m looking at you, Dakota Fanning), Williams had to change his name to ride on Nashville’s coat-tails. (After all, where would Fanning be without Mt. Rushmore? Orlando Bloom without Disney World? George Washington without…wait…)
The son of Cornelius and Edwina Williams, Tennessee was born Thomas Lanier Williams III in 1911. It wasn’t until 1939 that the name Tennessee Williams was first printed.
2. Tennessee Williams was Pals with Jackson Pollock.
The Abstract Expressionist bad boy, responsible for this -
- knew the crown prince of Southern gentility? How? Where?! When?!?
Before the runaway success of The Glass Menagerie in late 1944, Williams was doing what any artsy type of the time would do: hanging round Cape Cod.
Really – the 19 dune shacks of Cape Cod provided a haven for artists and bohemians as early as the 1920s. Pollock and Williams would be introduced by Lee Krasner, whom Pollock would marry in 1945.
Fleeting though the meeting may have been, it seems to have had an effect on Tennessee – the short play The Day on Which a Man Dies, which depicts an artist committing suicide, was written in the year following Pollock’s fatal car crash.
There is also much conjecture about the influence of Pollock on Streetcar’s Stanley Kowalski – some saying Stanley was modelled on Pollock, others suggesting different players from Tennessee’s life. Some even suggest that Pollock’s public persona, and in particular the iconic images of him, were influenced by Marlon Brando’s portrayal of Stanley. The short play that Streetcar would grow out of, Interior: Panic, names Blanche’s brother-in-law as Jack. Coincidence? I think not! (probably)
3. Tennessee’s Sister Rose was Lobotomised.
Sorry guys, no jokes on this one. In 1943, after 6 years of failed treatments for paranoid schizophrenia, Rose Williams was given a bilateral prefrontal lobotomy. Tennessee would only learn about it after the fact, having not seen her since 1939. She formed the basis of Laura, the owner of the titular Glass Menagerie, completed in 1944. Tennessee’s successes allowed him to assign a portion of the royalties of his plays to her care. His estate was left to the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, who were entrusted with her care. She would survive him by 17 years.
4. Tennessee Blamed Hysteria for His Family’s Maladies.
Hysteria, you say? I hear there is a wonderful performance at Poppy Seed with that title! Whatever could hysteria be? Well, doctors used to cure it with this:
To be more accurate, Tennessee blamed his mother’s mania and his sister’s schizophrenia on sexual repression: “They were both victims of excessive propriety.” He would wage war on that propriety, both with his own hedonism and with his writing – Blanche’s solicitations would eventually make her into some kind of Lady (sexual) Liberty.
And that’s all we learned. All of it! We know nothing else at all about him…
But if YOU want to know more about him, seeing Project: Hysteria from the 10th of November at the Trades Hall Ballroom would help a lot. Just sayin’… (BOOK NOW! BOOK HERE!)
(all images, facts, quotes, jokes, thoughts, words, breaths, heartbeats sourced by the google machine)