Mister Paradise and Other One-Act Plays
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Thirteen previously unpublished short plays now available for the first time.
Tennessee Williams had a distinct talent for writing short plays and, not surprisingly, this remarkable new collection of never-before-published one-acts includes some of his most poignant and hilarious characters: the indefatigable, witty and tough drag queens of And Tell Sad Stories of the Deaths of Queens...; the strange little man behind the nom de plume Mister Paradise; and the extravagant mistress who cheats on her married man in The Pink Bedroom. Most were written in the 1930s and early 1940s when Williams was already flexing his theatrical imagination. Chosen from over seventy unpublished one-acts, these are some of Williams's finest; several have premiered recently at The Hartford Stage Co., The Kennedy Center, the Manhattan Theatre Club and the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival. Included in this volume:
- These Are the Stairs You Got to Watch
- Mister Paradise
- The Palooka
- Why Do You Smoke So Much, Lily?
- Summer At the Lake
- The Big Game
- The Pink Bedroom
- The Fat Man's Wife
- Thank You, Kind Spirit
- The Municipal Abattoir
- Adam and Eve on a Ferry
- And Tell Sad Stories of the Deaths of Queens...
Long associated with Williams, acclaimed stage and film actors Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson provide a fresh and challenging foreword for actors, directors, and readers.
the ancient carpet for the daylight outside is fiercely blazing. As the curtain rises a new young usher, a schoolboy of sixteen taking summer employment, is being shown the ropes by a veteran employee of the establishment, a man of thirty named Carl. The new boy wears a dirty white mess-jacket and close-fitting sky-blue pants and he is perspiring more with nervousness than with the stifling heat of the August afternoon. CARL [lazily flashing his light on the roped-off staircase]: These are the
my dear. I shall depend on you. GIRL: I promise you I won’t fail you. Your future is safe in my hands—And now, Mr. Paradise—won’t you kiss me goodbye? MR. PARADISE: —No. GIRL: Why not? MR. PARADISE: No. —For the same reason that I wouldn’t touch a clean white table cloth with—mud all over my fingers. GIRL: —Oh. [Gravely extends her hand.] —Goodbye, Mr. Paradise. CURTAIN The Palooka The Palooka was first performed on October 2, 2003 by the Hartford Stage Company in Hartford, Connecticut.
what he is. MRS. FENWAY: Yes, a dreamer. One of those impractical persons like his father and I had so hoped he’d turn out different. ANNA: They say that still water runs deep. MRS. FENWAY: Yes, deep under the ground where nobody can see it! [Pause.] I don’t like that, Anna. I want him to be a normal young man. ANNA: He’s a strange one. MRS. FENWAY: Worse than his father ever was and that’s saying a lot. ANNA: Maybe he needs to be put in a good private school, Mrs. Fenway. MRS. FENWAY: On
and an open sea and stars to steer your ship by! VERA: That’s too poetic to be very practical. DENNIS: No, I’m not offering you a sixteenth-story apartment with Persian carpets and modernistic murals and a cellaret! I’m not offering you things like that. I’m offering you your chance to be really alive for a change. Won’t you take it? VERA [after a long pause]: Thank you, Dennis. It really is a splendid offer. DENNIS: You will take it! VERA: I can’t. DENNIS: You’ve got to. VERA: Don’t you
was most likely inspired by Williams’s journey through Lawrence’s letters on the trip to California mentioned above. Therefore, he may well have written the one-act in late 1939 or early 1940, though a slightly later date is also plausible. In May, 1942, after completing a draft of You Touched Me!, Williams typed a page of prefatory notes to this full-length comedy. His comments stressed “the message of Lawrence: his praise of life and abhorrence of the negative … his insistence on the hot,