Not About Nightingales

Not About Nightingales

Tennessee Williams

Language: English

Pages: 198

ISBN: 0811213803

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This early full-length play put a young Tennessee Williams' passion for social justice in the spotlight. "Haunting, searing, unforgettable" ―London Herald

In early 1998, sixty years after it was written, one of Tennessee Williams' first full-length plays, Not About Nightingales, was premiered by Britain's Royal National Theatre and was immediately hailed as "one of the most remarkable theatrical discoveries of the last quarter century (London Evening Standard). Brought to the attention of the director Trevor Nunn by the actress Vanessa Redgrave (who has contributed a Foreword to this edition), "this early work...changed our perception of a major writer and still packs a hefty political punch" (London Independent). Written in 1938 and based on an actual newspaper story, the play follows the events of a prison atrocity which shocked the nation: convicts leading a hunger strike in a Pennsylvania prison were locked in a steam-heated cell and roasted to death. Williams later said: "I have never written anything since that could compete with it in violence and horror." Its sympathetic treatment of black and homosexual characters may have kept the play unproduced in its own time. But its flashes of lyricism and compelling dialogue presage the great plays Williams has yet to write. Not About Nightingales shows us the young playwright (for the first time using his signature "Tennessee") as a political writer, passionate about social injustice, and reflecting the plight of outcasts in Depression America. The stylistic influences of European Expressionism, radical American theatre of the 1930s, and popular film make it unique among the group of four early plays. Not About Nightingales has been edited by eminent Williams scholar Allean Hale, who has also provided an illuminating historical introduction.

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Not About Nightingales TABLE OF CONTENTS Foreword by Vanessa Redgrave Introduction by Allean Hale Cast Listing Editor’s Note The Première Performance Not About Nightingales FOREWORD Fear and evasion are the two little beasts that chase each other’s tails in the revolving cage of our nervous world. They distract us from feeling too much about things. . . . So successfully have we disguised from ourselves the intensity of our own feelings, the sensibility of our own hearts, that plays in

I’ll call the strong-arm squad! QUEEN: Mr. Schultz! SCHULTZ: Yeah? QUEEN: What does plus four mean? [Schultz laughs and moves off.] BUTCH: If I wasn’t scared of losin’ all my copper I’d reach through and grab that bastard. I’d rattle them pea-pod brains of his ’n roll ’em out on the floor like a pair of dice. The trouble is in here you gotta pick your man. If I rubbed out a screw I’d never git a chance at the boss. —What time is it? JOE: Ten-thirty. BUTCH: Mac comes on duty now. JOE: You

didn’t wanta be none a them. Why? Cause they’ve got a natural instinck for swinging a shelailee! They like to crack heads, make sausage out of human flesh! And so they get to be guards. That sounds like ‘gods’—which ain’t so much a coincidence either, because the only diff’rence between ‘guards’ an’ ‘gods’ is that ‘guards’ has an ‘r’ in it an’ the ‘r’ stands for ‘rat’! —That’s what a guard is accordin’ to my definition— ‘A rat who thinks that he’s GOD!’ —You better not forget that. Because,

danced like me, all night till they wrapped up the fiddles and covered the drums, that never got tired, that always wanted one more of whatever was offered, is something kind of special. You know that, Butch. You don’t buy us two for a quarter at the corner drug. BUTCH: Yeah, I know that, Goldie. I always had that special feeling about you, kid. Honey, I used to try to find words to tell yuh what you did to me nights when you opened your mouth against mine and give me your love. . . Room

her this— And tell her that I—kept it—all this time. JIM: Sure, Butch—I will if I make— BUTCH [going to the door]: So long. [Rapid gunfire and distant shouting heard outside. Jim unlocks the inner door.] JIM: Eva. [Eva comes out slowly— she falls sobbing on his shoulder.] JIM: Don’t cry! EVA: No. I won’t. There’d be no use in that. Jim, you were right about the pyrotechnical display! JIM: Stand back from the window! EVA [hysterically gay]: It’s lovely, isn’t it, Jim! JIM: Yes, lovely

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