From September 25–September 29, 2019, Provincetown will hold the annual Tennessee Williams Theater Festival. In addition to Williams, this year’s festival will also honor Yukio Mishima, a well-known Japanese playwright and author.
Tennessee comes alive in Provincetown
Tennessee Williams is honored annually in Provincetown. Although he’s not from the area, he’s known to have spent a great deal of time in the lively Massachusetts town—most notably in the artist shacks. Provincetown is a hub for artists like Williams, as the shacks provide solitude and a beautiful landscape to spark creativity on the Cape. A collection of 19 “huts” on the dunes in Cape Cod were an escape for well-known names in America, like Jackson Pollock and E.E. Cummings. Stephen Borowski of the Provincetown Art Commission describes the time as “a crucible of American modernism. Everyone had license. … No telling what one might encounter—Norman Mailer arm-wrestling Robert Motherwell?”
With plays like A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Williams constructed an impressive oeuvre. Among his many achievements, Williams won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948 for “best represent[ing] in marked fashion the educational value and power of the stage, preferably dealing with American life.” Provincetown was a crucial part of Williams’ creative process, so it’s only natural for him to be honored annually by the town.
The Tennessee Williams Theater Festival opens the stage to young artists inspired by the playwright.
This year, the festival will celebrate his contemporary, Yukio Mishima. To quote from the festival’s mission statement, it will “honor Tennessee Williams by presenting classic and undiscovered plays, the work of his peers and new work inspired by Williams’ creative vision worldwide.” This aspect of the festival is a wonderful ode to Williams; it honors him by allowing his works to continue a legacy of inspiration, showcasing young artists while his original creations still get the recognition they deserve.
If you’re in Provincetown while this festival is taking place, do yourself a favor and check it out. From traditional plays and performances by drag superstars to acting master classes with Kathleen Turner and hands-on workshops, this quirky festival celebrates Tennessee Williams in a way only Provincetown can.
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