Tag Archives: Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams Additions

by Jennifer Lee

        The RBML has received a very significant addition to its already major holdings of Tennessee Williams material.  This addition is particularly important because it relates to Williams’ later work, the strength of Columbia’s holdings.

          The new material includes heavily annotated typescripts of Williams’ later plays including Out Cry (1971), Red Devil Battery Sign (1975), Vieux Carré (1977) and A House Not Meant to Stand (1981).  Also in the archive are some 200 pages of typescript pages, mostly annotated, of Williams’ early draft of his raucous Memoir, the unpublished precursor to his Memoirs, published in 1975.  Correspondence written by Tennessee Williams includes unsent postcards written to his sister Rose; a letter to Craig Anderson regarding his play Creve Coeur and actress Olive Deering; and to his attorney discussing the production of Out Cry.


Tennessee Williams unposted postcard to his sister Rose

Tennessee Williams unposted postcard to his sister Rose



          Correspondence to Williams includes letters from a large number of people such as Laurence Olivier, Paul Bowles, Cheryl Crawford, Elia Kazan, Lillian Gish, Kate Medina, and various agents including Audrey Wood. Olivier, for example, in a 32 page letter on the subject of Streetcar Named Desire, writes: “You must know that I think ‘Streetcar’ is a really great play.” He continues: “Now about the cuts … I honestly think the play is a little long,” but regarding one of Vivien Leigh’s speeches, he wrote: “Vivien does it quite beautifully and if you cable me to cut it I’ll cut my bloody throat.”

          The new material will be added to the Tennessee Williams Papers already available in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Target Margin Theater

On Tuesday, February 16, Target Margin Theater presented readings and discussion of their new work-in-progress The Really Big Once here in Butler Library. This play explores the complex relationship between Tennessee Williams and Elia Kazan in the period between 1948 and the early 1950s as they worked on the first production of Camino Real, Williams’s “experimental” play that opened on Broadway in 1953 and quickly closed after receiving mostly scathing reviews.

The Really Big Once explores their shared sense of outsider status, for Williams a life-long journey, for Kazan the fallout from his 1952 testimony before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. It has been developed by Target Margin’s founder and Artistic Director David Herskovits and his creative team using letters, drafts of Camino Real, and other materials found in Williams and Kazan archives in various libraries around the country, including Columbia’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Shown here is one of the letters used in the play, found in the RBML Tennessee Williams Papers. Written by Elia Kazan (Gadg) to Tennessee Williams (Tenn), it is here shown for the first time with permission of the Kazan Estate.

The Really Big Once will run from April 13 to May 8, 2010 at The Ontological Theater, St. Mark’s Church, New York City.
Please see Target Margin Theater’s web site for more details: