DOÑA ROSITA LUBBOCK, TX & PROVINCETOWN, MA

Lorca’s play about the cruel beauty of passing time, written in 1935.
Set in 1900 Granada, Spain.

Doña Rosita rehearsing in Lubbock, Texas. Left to right: Esperanza Gonzales, Fernando Ramirez, Malāna Wilson, Anna Ruth Aaron-DeSpain.

Below: Malana Wilson rehearsing (Rosita)

Below: Lorca and his sister Isabella in 1914, when Federico was 16.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From a letter written when Lorca was 18:

Ahead I see many problems. many eyes which will imprison me, many difficulties in the battle between heart and head, and my emotional flowering wants to take possession of its sunlit garden and I make an effort to enjoy playing with the paper dolls and toys of my childhood, and sometimes I lie on my back on the floor and play comadricas with my baby sister (I adore her) . . . but the phantom that lives within us and which hates us pushes me forward. And we have to carry on because it’s our lot to grow old and die, but I don’t want to listen but, never­theless, with each day that passes I have another doubt and another sadness.

[comadricas is a game of imitating the neighbors’ gossip]

The aesthetic is announced in Act II:

AUNT. What did you drop?
HOUSEKEEPER. A thermometer case. Louis Quinze style.
AUNT. May I see it?
HOUSEKEEPER. For Rosita’s Saint’s day.
AUNT. It’s a precious thing.
HOUSEKEEPER,  In the middle of the velvet there’s a fountain made out of real shells. Over the fountain there is a wire arbor with green roses. The water in the basin is a group of blue sequins and the stream of water is the thermometer itself. The puddles around are painted in oil and upon them a nightingale drinks, all embroidered in golden thread. I wanted it to have a spring and wind up and sing, but that could not be.
AUNT. That could not be

1994 notebook page  below,  preparation for a production in Samara, Russia. The theater caught on fire and the production was canceled.

Above, Señor X (Fernando Ramirez), the Housekeeper (Anna Ruth Despain)

Bertha in Paradise St. Louis 2017

Tennessee Williams was often asked  “After the onstage action of
“Streetcar Named Desire,” what would happen to Blanche?”  He had a
stock answer: she would start an affair with the asylum doctor, seduce
him into granting her an early release, and then set up a successful
hat shop in the French Quarter.

If you asked. “What  happens to the title character of Tennessee
Williams’ play “Hello fro Bertha” after she’s lying near death on her
sickbed?  Maybe Bertha doesn’t die, maybe she gets up from her pity
party, Feeling much better after all that crying,  she goes downstairs
to sing. Maybe the magic of the other isn’t the Paradise of Heaven,
but the Paradise she’s singing about: the Paradise of earthly
pleasure.

“Bertha in Paradise” is a saucy stew of bawdy songs that Anita Jackson (playing Bertha) greeted audiences with at “The Rooming-House Plays” for the 2016 TW Fest in St. Louis.  For the 2017 TW Fest in St. Louis, Anita returned as Bertha, crooning the blue-sy  “I Want a Little Sugar in my Bowl” slipping into the cult classic  “If It Don’t Fit Don’t Force It,” and sharing the sophisticated passion of ColePorter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” With Charles Creath on the keyboards Joel PE King as a handy stagehand, and Donna Weinsting reprising the role of Goldie singing “Would Anybody Here Want to Try My Cabbage?”

The St. Louis Rooming-House Plays (2016) St. Louis, Missouri 2016

Four short plays by Tennessee Williams performed with live music in a St. Louis mansion. Photos below by Ride Hamilton.

As refuge from the battle of life, in his plays Tennessee Williams offered men and women rented beds, often in the rooms of a  boarding-house.  Four short plays set by Williams in rented rooms in St. Louis,  performed in the rooms of the historic Stockton House in St. Louis, under the direction of David Kaplan with Brian Hohlfeld staging “The Pink Bedroom.” Continue readingThe St. Louis Rooming-House Plays (2016) St. Louis, Missouri 2016

The Day on Which a Man Dies (2016) Provincetown, MA and Port Elizabeth, South Africa 2016

Tennessee Williams’ late 1950s text about an artist coming to the end of his images.

South Africa’s 2016 National Arts Festival presents Marcel Meyer as The OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMan, Jennifer Steyn as The Woman, directed by David Kaplan in the Abrahamse-Meyer Production of THE DAY ON WHICH A MAN DIES  from Cape Town, South Africa. Photos taken in performance by Ride Hamilton at the 10th Annual Tennessee Williams Theater Festival in Provincetown.

Tennessee’s letter to columnist Max Lerner during, and about, the
creation of SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH (1959),  around the same time as DAY ON WHICH:

 

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his fingers, his thumbs, and even, finally, a spray gun of primary colours. Act Two is written with that heavy brush, scalpel and spray-gun. Delicacy, allusiveness are thrown to the winds in writing, staging and performance.”

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The Hotel Plays (2014 /2015) New Orleans 2014, 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATennessee Williams set many of his plays in hotel rooms and boarding-houses: way stations between life and death, dream and reality.

As part of the 29th annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival March 25th  through 29th the rooms of the historic Hermann-Grima House Museum at 820 St. Louis Street  echoed with performances of plays by Tennessee Williams written and set in the French Quarter.

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Live music accompanied the 2015 New Orleans edition.

Kathryn Talbot at the Gallier House © Ride HamiltonA related installation, “Tennessee Williams Neighborhood – A French Quarter Perspective” at the Gallier House, 1132 Royal Street, provides background to the playwright’s life in the Quarter.

Photos by Ride Hamilton:  Desiree Ledet as Mrs. Wire in The Lady of Larkspur Lotion. Joel Derby as Bob Harper, George Sanchez as Mr. Charlie in The Last of My Solid Gold Watches.  Kathryn Talbot on the floor of the Gallier House. 

For more photographs

June Recital New York City 1979 to Jackson, Mississippi 2015

The words of Eudora Welty, the music of Beethoven
PO at the Flea

June Recital, Mr. Kaplan’s tribute to Mississippi author Eudora Welty was written with and has been performed by Brenda Currin since 1979. Critically acclaimed performances throughout the United States include extended runs in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. A compact disc recording was released in 2002 with live concert performances in 2003 throughout the state of Mississippi and at the International Eudora Welty Colloquium in Rennes, France.  The work adapts Welty’s short story “Why I Live at the P.O.” along with the novel “Losing Battles” and five other stories and names from Welty’s collected works set to Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto, played live.

May 14. 2015, a once in a lifetime performance with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra  was performed by Brenda Currin and pianist Phillip Fortenberry in the Art Garden of the Mississippi Museum of Art.

A Fire Was in My Head is another Kaplan adaptation of Welty’s fiction for Brenda Currin and piano virtuoso Phil Fortenberry.

Tennessee Williams: Words and Music New Orleans, Provincetown, Columbus MS 2012, 2013

A compact disc recording of Alison Fraser’s sizzling performance.

In a play written by Tennessee Williams, music is the sound of paradise drifting in from around the corner, across the alley, from the room next door, the promise of love and happiness just out of reach, leading us on to believe in the  possibility of love and harmony somewhere, if not where we are, listening in circumstances far removed from love or happiness.

Alison Fraser begins her extraordinary voyage to paradise through Tennessee Williams: Words and Music led on by  extraordinary New Orleans musicians, the Gentlemen Callers, under the baton — alongside the hot piano chords — of orchestrator Allison Leyton-Brown (photograph below by Ride Hamilton)

 

“If I Didn’t Care” and the dozen tunes that follow were chosen by Tennessee Williams to be sung in his plays — Streetcar among others — as counterpoint to his dialogue. 2012 & 2013 live performances in New Orleans, Provincetown, and Columbus MS where Tennessee Williams was born.

Something lovely and mysterious, haunting one’s spirit just as Williams’ characters clutch at the solace that, like his distant melodies, so often eludes them.
New Orleans Times Picayune

Characters wanting to believe in a pretty world and their own reinvented pasts or projected futures dovetails nicely with songs that paint idealized portraits of romantic devotion and smooth-paved roads of life. Sweet, simple songs feel ironic or sadly empty, in danger of imploding along with dreams. The blues seem a deeper blue, although they’re sung lightly (there’s that irony again—and good ol’ subtext). With context and the uniquely heartbreaking Fraser voice, and these special atmosphere-drenched arrangements by pianist Allison Leyton-Brown for a great little band, this is a fascinating ride.
Talkin Broadway.com

http://www.talkinbroadway.com/sound/april1014.html

For further information and press:

http://www.twwordsandmusic.com/

 

 

The Maids Ulan Baator, Mongolia 1995

Audiences laughed at the maids’ attempts to murder their mistress.

In the photograph above the maids wait for their over-friendly mistress to drink a poisoned cup of tea. “It’s such a pleasure making people happy,” Madame croons.  The cruel humor of the play appealed to Mongolians. Proud infamy is something the descendants of Chinggis Khan understand. Women played all three roles. Continue readingThe Maids Ulan Baator, Mongolia 1995