New Tennessee Williams One-Act a Chronicle of Coming Out

Tennessee Williams, whom many assumed to be a self-loathing, conflicted homosexual in the early years of his life (because of writings that contained characters “cloaked in heterosexual disguise”) was actually more in touch and open with his sexuality than people think, according to a NYT report by Randy Gener on the new one act to be presented this weekend in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Cjw_1The Parade, or Approaching the End of a Summer, mirrors an ill-fated relationship Williams had one summer in Ptown with a 22-year-old named Kip Kiernan as they roomed together on the rickety bohemian outcropping known as Captain Jack’s Wharf. When the relationship ended, Williams put aside the one-act for two decades. The 1940 draft, Williams wrote, “is a document of what he later called that ‘pivotal summer when I took sort of a crash course in growing up,’ a chronicle of how he ‘had finally come thoroughly out of the closet.'”

TwThe rescued final version adds a frame to the beginning and end of Williams’ 1940 draft, according to theater director David Kaplan: “He strengthened the Chekhovian nature of the script and the classical unities.” This new play should interest any lover of Williams, anyone who has ever spent a summer in Provincetown, or anyone who has ever experienced the unrequited love that is one of Williams’ recurring themes.

According to the article, Williams’ alter ego in the play, Don, laments that love is like a circus parade that has never come: “My neck’s getting stiff from straining forward. I’m beginning to think the parade isn’t going to stop by. It must have been halted somewhere. The elephants turned hugely, impassively aside at the wrong intersection.”

In other theater news, the NYT writes up the Broadway revival of A Chorus Line.