×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Williams’ ‘Storm’ brewing controversy

Director, publisher at odds over nude scene

Even in death, Tennessee Williams continues to provoke controversy.

His recently discovered play “Spring Storm,” written in 1939, received its world premiere Wednesday in Austin, Texas, and the director of that production, Michael Bloom, accused the playwright’s estate and publisher, New Directions, of censoring one of two endings Williams wrote for the work.

“New Directions and the (Williams) estate don’t want to see anyone naked in a Tennessee Williams play,” Bloom said. “It is sheer prudery. This is pure censorship.”

Bloom, a three-time Obie winner and professor at the University of Texas at Austin, directed the first-ever staging of Williams’ “Spring Storm,” at the Actors Repertory of Texas, a new not-for-profit theater company. Bloom said he found the play at the university’s Harry Ransom Center “at about the time Vanessa Redgrave was poking around the library” to find “Not About Nightingales.”

Unlike the prison drama “Not About Nightingales,” “Spring Storm” explores Williams’ oft-repeated theme of sexual repression. “It is about the unconscious savage cruelty of the sexual struggle in youth,” the playwright wrote of the latter work.

As for Bloom’s charge that New Directions is being as repressive as the small-town people in “Spring Storm,” the publishing company’s managing director, Peggy Fox, disagreed.

Two endings

“That’s a crock,” said Fox, who is also adviser to the Williams estate, the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. “It is the wrong ending for the play,” she explained of the first version, in which a character named Heavenly disrobes in order to seduce Arthur, a rich man. “Heavenly has just learned that (a third character) Hertha has thrown herself under a train after being rebuffed by Arthur. That makes Heavenly manipulative and a real slut.”

Fox insisted that the nude ending was written for a Williams play of the same period called “April Is the Cruelest Month.”

Bloom said the ending belongs to “Spring Storm” and was rewritten by Williams only after the young playwright’s professor at the University of Iowa expressed his strong disapproval. According to Bloom, Williams then wrote a less controversial ending, wherein the Heavenly character remains on the front porch waiting for Arthur or another character, Dick, to return.

‘Powerful scene’

“He wrote the new ending under duress,” Bloom said. “The first ending is the most powerful scene in the play. It is very similar to the ending in ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.’ It’s a shame it will never see the light.”

“We can’t tack on an ending from this other play,” Fox said. “Heavenly has always feared being a front-porch girl. It is much more complex to have her end up (on the porch). It’s more sophisticated than just dropping your drawers.”

Bloom believes that New Dimensions should publish both endings. “Since there is no final draft of the play, all editing is an act of reconstruction. It makes perfect sense that the estate needs to allow productions to choose which ending they want to do.”

Fox said that won’t happen, and has no intention of publishing “April Is the Cruelest Month.” “I don’t think it coheres as an independent play. It is so unfinished. It is the same material (as “Spring Storm”) but in a lesser kind of form.”

“Spring Storm” receives its second production, at the Martin Theater Co. in Mill Valley, Calif., opening Nov. 16. The play will be published by New Dimensions next week.

More Legit

  • The Jungle review

    Off Broadway Review: 'The Jungle'

    With the rumbling of semis careening by and the sound of Middle Eastern music in the distance, “The Jungle” aims to vividly immerse audiences into the world of the real-life migrant and refugee camp of the same name. By telling the story of the Jungle’s creation in Calais, France, in 2015, and its eventual destruction [...]

  • Hillary Clinton'Network' play opening night, New

    Hillary Clinton Attends Opening of Broadway's 'Network'

    A 1976 film might not be expected to translate seamlessly to Broadway in 2018, but for the cast and creative team behind “Network,” which premiered Thursday night with Hillary Clinton in the audience, the story still feels uncomfortably close to home. “It was a satire then, and now it’s documentary realism,” said Lee Hall, who [...]

  • 'Network' Review: Bryan Cranston Stars on

    Broadway Review: 'Network' With Bryan Cranston

    The 1976 film “Network” won four Academy Awards, including best original screenplay for writer Paddy Chayefsky, for its blistering portrayal of an American society fueled by greed and bloated on corruption. A haggard Peter Finch took the best actor trophy for his harrowing performance as Howard Beale, a TV newsman who is so disgusted by [...]

  • Faye DunawayVanity Fair Oscar Party, Arrivals,

    Faye Dunaway to Play Katharine Hepburn on Broadway

    Faye Dunaway will return to Broadway to play another acting diva. The Oscar-winner is set to portray Katharine Hepburn in “Tea at Five,” a one-woman play that charts the movie legend’s career over the course of a winding monologue. Dunaway last appeared on Broadway in 1982’s “The Curse of the Aching Heart.” In the 1990s, [...]

  • Philip Bosco'The Savages' film after party,

    Tony Award Winner Philip Bosco Dies at 88

    Veteran character actor Philip Bosco, who won a Tony Award in 1989 for “Lend Me a Tenor” as an opera impresario and was nominated five other times, died Monday, according to his grandson, Luke Bosco. He was 88. Bosco received his first Tony nomination for “Rape of the Belt” in 1960. His other nominations were [...]

  • Hugh Jackman

    Hugh Jackman Says 'Greatest Showman' Success Made Him Revive Stage Show

    Hugh Jackman could have spent his hiatus between movies soaking up rays in Saint-Tropez. Instead of lounging poolside, the movie star will return to the stage for a grueling series of arena performances that will take him across Europe, Australia, and the U.S. The upcoming musical extravaganza, “The Man. The Music. The Show.,” kicks off [...]

  • Bob Mackie, Costume Designer and Cher'The

    Watch Cher's Surprise Performance at the Opening of Broadway's 'Cher' Musical

    Kanye West may have caused some unwanted drama at the opening of Broadway’s “The Cher Show” on Monday in New York, but thankfully his alleged bad behavior didn’t come close to spoiling the evening. Cher herself caused fantastic frenzy as she glided down the aisle of the jam-packed Neil Simon Theatre toward her seat. All [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content