The Tennessee Williams plays you need in your life

           My university is home to some notable alumni - we've got Sheryl Crow, Brad Pitt and obviously yours truly. But, to think I've walked the ground that Tennessee Williams once did is beyond a privilege. I fell in love with Tennessee two summers ago and since then have become a connoisseur of the Mississippi-born playwright. So, I've got my top picks for what I believe to be his greatest works. Prepare yourself for total emotional breakdown, naked nostalgia and a sweet slice of the South.

                                                           The Glass Menagerie 

My rating: *****

A classic, a heartbreaker and an absolute must read. The Glass Menagerie was the play that got me into plays and my catalyst into the brilliant world of Tennessee Williams. This play focuses on a desperate young man's memories of growing up working in a warehouse living with his disabled sister and overbearing mother in St. Louis. It touches on completely naked emotion - mental, physical and financial vulnerabilities. A deeply sad but hopeful work at the same time that has sparked in me a magnificent understanding of fragile humanity. 

                                                                 A Streetcar Named Desire 

My rating: *****

Streetcar is one of the most beautiful plays of the 20th century. Williams grasps the struggle of the sensitive with grace and realism. The characters are wonderfully eccentric and memorable. A beautiful tale of the soft-hearted vs. the praised aggression in society, the distortion between love and sex, and very insightful on the image of women in social norms. A quick and lovely read, and who can forget the wonderful Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh in the film production.

         Suddenly Last Summer

My rating: ****

A beautiful one-act play of madness, creation, and destruction. It centers around a young woman questioned to be lobotomized after witnessing the death of her cousin, a sensitive poet, the previous summer.  The characters are wonderfully vivid, and Williams's usage of mysticism was so creatively descriptive. It is a very dark read, but with a lot of depth and understanding. 

                                                                       Summer and Smoke 

My rating: ****

Summer and Smoke is a complicated story of love, spirituality and repression. The story revolves around a spinster who falls for the wild, young doctor next door. Williams' recurring themes of the sensitive defeated by the aggressive is present as well as a greater sense of loneliness, societal conduct and sexual restraint. 

                                                                    Orpheus Descending 

My rating: ****

Set in a local store in a small Southern town, Orpheus Rising is a modern day retelling of the Ancient Greek legend of Orpheus, a musician, poet and prophet. The protagonist of the play revolves around a handsome young man latched to his guitar. He gets a job in the small town store owned by an older woman with a dying husband with whom he forms a bond with. The recognition of small town isolation, boredom and the hopelessness of escape runs deep in this story. You resonate with the characters in such a way only felt in extraordinary literature. 

                                                                  Happy reading! x


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