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A collection of BBC Radio full-cast dramatisations of plays by Tennessee Williams, plus bonus material.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tennessee Williams is one of the three most important American dramatists of the 20th Century, alongside Arthur Miller and Eugene O’Neill. Acclaimed for their lyrical language, dark themes and vivid portrayal of the American South, his works have spawned several Oscar-winning films and been translated and performed worldwide.
Collected here are some of the best, beginning with the play that launched Williams’ career: The Glass Menagerie. Telling the story of a family in crisis in 1930s St Louis, it is one of his most autobiographical works, and a timeless evocation of lost love and loneliness. It is introduced by Williams’ biographer, John Lahr, and stars Anastasia Hille, George MacKay, Patsy Ferran and Sope Dirisu.
Next up is his masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire. With an introduction by author Sarah Churchwell, it stars Olivier Award-winning actress Anne-Marie Duff as damaged Southern belle Blanche Dubois, pushed to the brink of sanity by her explosive brother-in-law Stanley Kowalski (Matthew Needham). It is followed by one of Williams’ earliest plays, Spring Storm, about Heavenly Critchfield, a young woman forced to decide between a respectable suitor and a handsome, wild, lover. Liz White stars as Heavenly, with Matthew Malarkey and Michael Thomson.
First broadcast on Radio 4 in 2006, Tennessee’s Women comprises five one-act plays: This Property is Condemned, Something Unspoken, The Long Goodbye, Portrait of a Madonna and 27 Wagons Full of Cotton. Among the casts are Maria Watton-Graham, Barbara Jefford, Elizabeth McGovern, Nick Sayce, Eleanor Bron and Gerard Murphy.
Also included is the world premiere of one of Williams’ last screenplays, Secret Places of the Heart, starring Sheila Gish and Ian Hogg. In addition, three bonus programmes take an in-depth look at the iconic playwright. John Lahr’s evocative biography, Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, draws on Williams’s poems, journals and correspondence to create a compelling portrait of his life and career; Frost Over America: Tennessee Williams features David Frost in conversation with the author; and in Cat on A Hot Tin Roof, Kwame Kwei-Armah investigates the creative influence of Williams’ childhood home on his writing.
- 01 – The Glass Menagerie
- 02 – A Streetcar Named Desire
- 03 – Spring Storm
- 04 – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
- 05 – The Rose Tattoo