Suppressed gay play comes to London

Tony Grew January 16, 2007
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He is regarded as one of the greatest American dramatists of the 20th century.

From A Streetcar Named Desire to Sweet Bird of Youth, Tennessee Williams brought alive a Southern, decadent and decaying world, dripping with homosexual subtext and tragic female characters.

Now a play that Williams would not have performed in his own lifetime is to come to the UK this March, The Independent reports.

And Tell The Sad Stories of the Death of Queens is being directed by 30-year-old Anna Ledwich.

The play deals overtly with homosexual life, which may be why Williams refused to allow it to be performed while he was alive.

The playwright died 1983, and thirteen of his plays were published for the first time last year.

And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens is set in New Orleans’ French Quarter, where Williams lived as a young man.

When he moved there in 1939, the area’s cheap rents and air of age and decay attracted an artistic community and alongside them gays, transvestites and other people on the margins of society.

The play concerns a gay transvestite who tries to mend a broken heart by taking up with a short-tempered younger sailor.

Williams wrote the one-act work in the 1930s before his breakthrough piece.

A Streetcar Named Desire made him a household name in 1947, the year he also began a relationship with his secretary, Frank Merlo, that continued until Merlo’s death in 1963.

The playwright’s own death ten years later is still a source of controversy.

Williams choked on a bottle cap in a New York hotel room.

His brother and others maintain he was murdered, while police reports reported a large amount of prescription drugs at the scene.

What is not in doubt is the place of Williams as one of the greatest gay writers of modern times.

And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens will be performed with two other short plays by Tennessee Williams under the title “Lovely and Misfit” at Trafalgar Studio 2 in London from the 6th to the 31st of March.

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