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Slapstick Tragedy: The Mutilated, also being performed at this year’s festival, is an example of Williams’ plays likely to evoke laughter. Produced on Broadway in 1966, The Mutilated was the first of a double bill. Cosmin Chivu, who directs this production, considers it one of the funniest of Williams’ later plays. Presented by Beth Bartley Productions the show stars Mink Stole, the cult favorite of John Waters’ films, and Penny Arcade, the avant-garde performance artist of Andy Warhol’s Factory.

Another work included in the 2013 Provincetown festival is Kingdom of Earth—first showcased on Broadway in 1968—which has had few productions since its creation. The Abrahamse & Meyer production from Cape Town, South Africa, which was part of last year’s festival, returns to Provincetown this year. The play is set in a dilapidated farmhouse during a Mississippi storm; the torrent inside is as dramatic as the weather outside as two half-brothers and a bride deal with conflicts related to gender and race.

Veiled Power

Abrahamse & Meyer will also present The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore, a show about a wealthy woman long past her beautiful days, writing her memoirs in a villa on the Italian coast. When she meets a handsome young man, she begins to believe—although it is only an illusion—that he loves her.

A Neo-Benshi performance by poet Roxi Power will accompany the screening of sections of the 1951 film version of A Streetcar Named Desire. A performance art implemented by San Francisco poets in 2003, “Neo-Benshi” relates to a tradition that developed when silent movies  first came to Japan; the benshi, a Japanese storyteller, stood by the screen, acting out roles. In the festival production, Power will lip-synch the dialogue while giving a humorous alternative interpretation of the narrative.

In addition to the works by Tennessee Williams, Jane Bowles’ In the Summer House—a play focusing on a woman trying to break free from a possessive mother—will also be featured. Following this workshop production, a discussion led by Kaplan will explore the play’s connections to Williams’ work.

Singling out three Williams plays that will provide special understanding of his oeuvre, Kaplan especially recommends the early—The Chorus Girl Plays, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof—and the late—The Mutilated. Seeing these plays, he says, “would be like following a waltz from a late Strauss to [one by] Shostakovich.”

“Tennessee Williams and Women: 50% Illusion.”

Presented by: Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

When: September 26–29

Where: Various locations in Provincetown

Information and tickets: 866-789-TENN (8366); online:twptown.org

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