Tennessee Williams in Hell? | Bleader

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tennessee Williams in Hell?

Posted By on 10.14.08 at 01:35 PM

Steppenwolf Theatre's artists' blog carried a curious comment from actress Nambi Kelley, who's playing Laura in the company's upcoming production of The Glass Menagerie: "If Tennessee Williams is in heaven (which I doubt knowing the troubled life he led), mayhap he’ll hear the gentle strumming of his words, from our lips to his ears. And if he is in the other place (which is more likely knowing the troubled life he led) mayhap the music will be so clear he won’t be able to escape it, even there."

The posting prompted several reader responses, with at least one person raising the question of whether "troubled life" was a coded reference to Williams's homosexuality. Kelley's response was what political analysts would call a "nondenial denial." She quoted the dramaturgical notes for the production, specifically referring to Williams's dysfunctional family (overbearing mother, abusive father, emotionally disturbed sister) and his childhood bout with diphtheria. But she neither addressed the issue of homosexuality nor retracted her suggestion that Williams's "troubled life"--whatever she means by that--should be the cause for his eternal damnation.

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