Suddenly Last Summer

Samara, Russia

1993

The Russian language premiere of Tennessee Williams’ play about the suppression of truth.

Samara, 550 miles southeast of Moscow, with a population of three million, was chosen by translator Vitaly Vulf because of its great leading lady, Vera Alexandrovna Yeshova. She is famous for portraits of evil queens. Vulf‘s advice: “Yeshova will play the domineering mother very sexually. You must begin every rehearsal telling her how beautiful she is that day.”

It was easy to do. Yeshova was beautiful every day. The photograph right captures her bemusement when asked “But if I disagreed with you?”

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The first question at the first press conference:

“Do you think a Russian public will understand the controversial, nature of the text?”

“Do you mean the controversial nature of homosexuality?”

“Yes,” said the reporter all too eagerly. “Do you think our audience will understand that?”

The reply: “Well, in this play Tennessee Williams uses homosexuality as a metaphor for a truth everybody knows, but no one will admit to knowing. I think a Soviet audience will understand that.”

The set was designed as an exotic garden with shifting shadows of rotting leaves and blasted flowers. Crushed stones on the floor crackled when the actors walked across. The production was well-received. Critics came from Moscow. TASS shot a documentary. 


An understanding of the themes and how to stage Tennessee Williams we have never seen on our stage before … like the eruption of Vesuvius
Samara Kultura