Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil
The Chattanooga Theatre Centre opens Tennessee William’s rarely produced, revised version of, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Here’s more from CTC about this production:
April 1 – 17, 2011 on the Mainstage at CTC
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Drama Critics Award for Best Play. The sensuality and excitement of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF first heated up Broadway in 1955 with its gothic American story of two brothers (and their wives) vying for the inheritance of their dying father, Big Daddy, amid a whirlwind of sexuality untethered (in the person of Maggie the Cat), and the burden of love repressed (in the person of her husband, Brick Pollitt). Williams, as he so often did with his plays, rewrote CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF for many years – this version was prepared by Williams for the American Shakespeare Festival production in 1974, with all the changes that satisfied the playwright’s desire for a definitive text.
The “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” film starring Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor premiered in 1955. Director, Bob Willie says that the script for the film was edited quite a bit from William’s original version which prompted the playwright to go back years later and revise it again to include more of his original ideas. The 1974 script by Williams includes the, “pure love” between the son, Brick and his friend, Skipper that would have been taboo for a film made in the 1950’s. And the character of Big Daddy is more accepting than one would think coming from a wealthy planter in the South at that time.
Tom Vitale wrote an article for NPR in honor of Tennessee William’s 100th birthday titled, “Tennessee at 100, the Poet of the Outcast.” Vitale quotes Kenneth Holditch, the editor of “The Collected Plays of Tennessee Williams,” as saying:
“He is the poet of — and the dramatist of — the outcast,” Holditch says. “He’s fascinated by and champions those people who have been pushed outside the mainstream of society for some reason or other,” Holditch says.
Williams’ empathy for the downtrodden grew out of his own experience. His father drank heavily and argued bitterly with his mother. When the young boy began writing poetry, his father belittled him as a sissy, and his classmates bullied him.
In a 1973 interview, Williams told filmmaker Harry Rasky that his sister Rose became his closest friend.
Listen to the story: