Not About Nightingales

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9780811213806: Not About Nightingales

This early full-length play put a young Tennessee Williams' passion for social justice in the spotlight. "Haunting, searing, unforgettable" ―London Herald

In early 1998, sixty years after it was written, one of Tennessee Williams' first full-length plays, Not About Nightingales, was premiered by Britain's Royal National Theatre and was immediately hailed as "one of the most remarkable theatrical discoveries of the last quarter century (London Evening Standard). Brought to the attention of the director Trevor Nunn by the actress Vanessa Redgrave (who has contributed a Foreword to this edition), "this early work...changed our perception of a major writer and still packs a hefty political punch" (London Independent). Written in 1938 and based on an actual newspaper story, the play follows the events of a prison atrocity which shocked the nation: convicts leading a hunger strike in a Pennsylvania prison were locked in a steam-heated cell and roasted to death. Williams later said: "I have never written anything since that could compete with it in violence and horror." Its sympathetic treatment of black and homosexual characters may have kept the play unproduced in its own time. But its flashes of lyricism and compelling dialogue presage the great plays Williams has yet to write. Not About Nightingales shows us the young playwright (for the first time using his signature "Tennessee") as a political writer, passionate about social injustice, and reflecting the plight of outcasts in Depression America. The stylistic influences of European Expressionism, radical American theatre of the 1930s, and popular film make it unique among the group of four early plays. Not About Nightingales has been edited by eminent Williams scholar Allean Hale, who has also provided an illuminating historical introduction.

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About the Author:

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) is the acclaimed author of many books of letters, short stories, poems, essays, and a large collection of plays, including The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Camino Real, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Orpheus Descending, The Night of the Iguana, and The Rose Tattoo.

From Booklist:

Written in 1938 when Williams was 27, still living at home and a good six years away from Broadway, Not about Nightingales is as much writing exercise as fully realized drama. It lacks the originality and depth of The Glass Menagerie, written only a few years later, and his later masterworks. Nevertheless, it is of considerable interest, not least because it was inspired by a real occurrence in which several unruly prisoners were cooked alive as punishment. And after all, it is Williams' first full-length play and first play written under the pen name Tennessee, and it sufficiently impressed Elia Kazan of the Group Theater, to which Williams sent it in response to a playwriting contest, that he introduced Williams to the New York agent Audrey Wood, who would make his career. Reading the play, most of which is in the thuddingly obvious politically conscious style of Depression-era theater, one notices in brief, brilliant passages and in the intensity of his characters the Williams to come. And that makes it worthwhile. Jack Helbig

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Book Description New Directions Publishing Corporation, United States, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. Not About Nightingales is remarkable both as the work of an unknown twenty-seven-year-old and as a first play to carry the signature Tennessee Williams. The subject matter is a prison scandal which shocked the nation in the mid-thirties when convicts leading a hunger strike in prison were locked in a steam-heated cell and roasted to death. I have never written anything since that could compete with it in violence and horror ,Williams said later about the full-length play he developed in 1938. It shows us the young Williams as a political writer in Depression America; its flashes of lyricism and compelling dialogue presage the great plays Williams was later to write. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780811213806

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Book Description New Directions Publishing Corporation, United States, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Not About Nightingales is remarkable both as the work of an unknown twenty-seven-year-old and as a first play to carry the signature Tennessee Williams. The subject matter is a prison scandal which shocked the nation in the mid-thirties when convicts leading a hunger strike in prison were locked in a steam-heated cell and roasted to death. I have never written anything since that could compete with it in violence and horror ,Williams said later about the full-length play he developed in 1938. It shows us the young Williams as a political writer in Depression America; its flashes of lyricism and compelling dialogue presage the great plays Williams was later to write. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780811213806

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