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TENNESSEE WILLIAMS: PLAYWRIGHT, POET, · PDF file3 Tennessee Williams: Playwright, Poet, Dreamer By Neena Arndt In the foreword to his phantasmagoric 1953 allegory, Camino Real, playwright

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  • March May 2012

    TENNESSEE WILLIAMS: PLAYWRIGHT, POET, DREAMER

    A JOURNEY INTO BIEITOLAND:INTRODUCING THE UNCONVENTIONAL WORLD OF DIRECTOR CALIXTO BIEITO

    A Conversation with Fish Men Playwright Cndido Tirado

  • Co-Editors | Lesley Gibson, Lori Kleinerman, Tanya PalmerGraphic Designer | Tyler Engman Production Manager | Lesley Gibson

    Contributing Writers/Editors | Neena Arndt, Jeff Ciaramita, Jeffrey Fauver, Lisa Feingold, Katie Frient, Lesley Gibson, Lori Kleinerman, Caitlin Kunkel, Dorlisa Martin, Julie Massey, Tanya Palmer, Teresa Rende, Victoria Rodriguez, Denise Schneider, Steve Scott, Jenny Seidelman, Willa J. Taylor, Kate Welham.

    OnStage is published in conjunction with Goodman Theatre productions. It is designed to serve as an information source for Goodman Theatre Subscribers. For ticket and subscription information call 312.443.3810. Cover: Image design and direction by Kelly Rickert.

    Goodman productions are made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts; the Illinois Arts Council, a state agen-cy; and a CityArts grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events; and the Leading National Theatres Program, a joint initiative of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

    Written comments and inquiries should be sent to:The Editor, OnStage Goodman Theatre 170 North Dearborn Street Chicago, IL 60601or email us at: [email protected]

    March May 2012

    CONTENTSIn the Albert 1 Why Camino Real? 2 Tennessee Williams: Playwright, Poet, Dreamer 7 Tennessee in Chicago 8 A Journey into Bieitoland: Introducing the Unconventional World

    of Director Calixto Bieito

    In the Owen 12 A Conversation with Cndido Tirado 15 For Love or Money: The World of Chess Hustling

    At the Goodman 16 Insider Access Series

    In the Wings 17 Imparting Culture and Communication: A Conversation with Ira Abrams

    Scene at the Goodman 19 Race Opening Night Celebrating Race and Diversity

    Off Stage 20 A Legacy of Great Theater

    For Subscribers 21 Calendar

    VOLUME 27 #3

  • 1

    FROM THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

    Why Camino Real?During my tenure as artistic director I have had the privilege of bringing some of the most notable directors now work-ing on the world stage to the Goodman, including Peter Sellars, JoAnne Akalaitis, Ivo van Hove, Elizabeth LeCompte, Flora Lauten (from the esteemed Cuban company Teatro Buenda) and our own Mary Zimmerman. Although vastly different in style and approach, these directors share a passion for exploring new ways of theatrical storytelling, an uncompromising singularity of vision and a radical (and often controversial) way of reimagining classical texts. To this group I am extremely proud to add Calixto Bieito, a Barcelona-based director whose soaring, radical interpretations of everything from classic operas to Shakespeare have astonished, inflamed and challenged audiences throughout Europe and South America.

    My first experience with Calixtos work came in 2004, with his sexually charged interpretation of Mozarts The Abduction from the Seraglio in Berlin. I found that production to be both fascinating and disturbing; Calixtos inves-tigation of the dark subtext that lay beneath the classical exterior of the piece displayed a courage and sophistica-tion that was, to me, profound and unsettling. Soon after the performance I met with him, and was immediately impressed by his warmth, intelligence and infectious passion for his work. When we began to discuss possible projects that might be of interest to him, he revealed his love for the works of one of my favorite writers, Tennessee Williams. Though our conversation began with a discussion of Williams better-known works, in talking to Calixto it occurred to me that his bold artistry might be better used to explore one of Williams less often performed plays, Camino Real. First produced in 1953, Camino remains one of the authors most poetic works, and one of his most ambitious: it is an impressionistic musing on the nature of love, loss, humanity and the encroachment of time, peopled largely by iconic figures of romance who are coming to terms with their own mortality. Because of its non-realistic milieu and aching lyricism, I felt that this seldom-produced work, long considered one of Williams most personal, would inspire Calixto to do what he does best: to create a world in which the playwrights images and ideas could take flight and soar. After reading the play, Calixto agreed, and the result is a full-bodied, extraordinarily theatri-cal piece which fuses Williams poetry, music and evocative imagery to create, in Williams words, the continually dissolving and transforming images of a dream.

    Although Camino Real is notably based less in realism than its authors more familiar works, it shares with those plays a highly charged blend of disparate elements: beauty and brutality; moments of romance punctuated by shock-ing dissolution. As interpreted by one of todays most courageous and uncompromising directors, I guarantee that its vivid images and haunting, sometimes squalid beauty will live with you for a long, long time.

    Robert FallsArtistic Director

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    Tennessee Williams: Playwright, Poet, DreamerBy Neena Arndt

    In the foreword to his phantasmagoric 1953 allegory, Camino Real, playwright Tennessee Williams, who by then had made a name for himself with psychologi-cal dramas like A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie, wrote, More than any other work I have done, this play has seemed to me like a construc-tion of another world, a separate exis-tence. Casual Williams fans may remain unfamiliar with the dreamlike Camino Real, which differs stylistically from his better-known works. In fact, those who know only Williams greatest hits might be hard-pressed to believe that Camino Realbroad in scope and sweepingly ambitiousflowed from the same pen as the classics they cherish. But Camino Real springs from the deepest recesses of Williams heart and psyche, and offers a glimpse into the staggering imagination of this multifaceted writer.

    In 1951, two years before Camino Real premiered, Tennessee Williams became a household name when 27-year-old Marlon Brando swaggered and shouted his way to immortality as Stanley Kowalski in the film A Streetcar Named Desire. Under the direction of Elia Kazan, Brando portrayed Williams most iconic male character as lustful and sen-suous, giving a grandiose performance that nonetheless was grounded in the realistic acting style of which Brando was a master. An early method actor, Brando was steeped in the theories of visionary Russian director Konstantin Stanislavsky, which permeated American

    theater and film in the mid-twentieth century. This style supplanted melodra-ma, which saw its heyday in the nine-teenth century and took its last fluttery breaths in the middle of the twentieth, when writers like Tennessee Williams, Eugene ONeill and Arthur Miller trans-formed the American stage with such masterworks as Streetcar, Long Days Journey into Night and Death of a Salesman. Directly imitating real life had never been among melodramas goals, but now, both on stage and on screen, many artists aimed to hold up a mirror to the world around them.

    Today, Tennessee Williams is most often remembered as one of the writers who pioneered this style in America. Indeed, the works for which he is best known use largely realistic plots and characters to achieve Williams goal of rooting around the human psyche. Their stories concern

    SYNOPSIS Tennessee Williams hauntingly poetic allegory takes us to a surreal, dead-end town occupied by a colorful col-lection of lost souls anxious to escape but terrified of the unknown wasteland lurking beyond the citys walls. When Kilroy, an American traveler and for-mer boxer, inadvertently lands in this netherworld, he sets off on a fantasti-cal adventure through illusion and temptation in an attempt to flee its confinesand defy his grim destiny.

    Tennessee Williams,

    circa 1955. Photo by

    FPG/Archive Photos/

    Getty Images.

  • events that could occur in the real world, and their characters confront their prob-lems in psychologically realistic ways. Yet, even in these works, Williams language is languidly poetic, and his stage direc-tions often indicate that he envisioned his works being performed with an undercur-rent of visual and auditory metaphors. In A Streetcar Named Desire, for example, Williams indicates that Blanches descent into madness is underscored by echoing voices and jungle noises. If, in the text of Streetcar, Williams is holding a mirror up to life, it is a warped mirror, each dis-tortion meticulously sculpted. The poetic elements in these works afford readers a glimpse of his wide-ranging sensibilities. But in order to fully appreciate the vast-ness of Williams dramatic imagination, one has to experience his more overtly surrealistic works like Camino Real, The Gndiges Frulein or Stairs to the Roof . In The Gndiges Frulein, a pair of south-

    ern ladies chatter and preen in rocking chairs while being entertained by a retired vaudeville performer who has had her eyes pecked out by an oversized bird. In Stairs to the Roof, the characters go on a whirlwind surreal journey before ascend-ing symbolic stairs to the roof of an office. Here, the mirror Williams uses is straight out of a fun houseand like those twist-ed images that confront us at carnivals, they provide a different, but equally valid, way of perceiving and making sense of the world.

    The phrase camino real translates from Spanish as royal road, but in Williams play

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