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Provincetown Tennessee Williams Institute Introduces Programming For Undergraduate Students


TWI Undergrad Days offers discounted passes, until September 7, for currently enrolled undergraduate students at $50, discounted from the usual price of $105.

The 16th Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival has announcedthe addition of a new annual component to the Tennessee Williams Institute (TWI) focused on introducing the Institute to undergraduate students.

TWI Undergrad Days are organized around a specific theme, bundling three coordinated events each day including performances, workshops, lectures and discussions. Programming is scheduled to allow participants to take the ferry to Provincetown in the morning and return to Boston that same evening.

TWI Undergrad Days offers discounted passes, until September 7, for currently enrolled undergraduate students at $50, discounted from the usual price of $105.

Saturday, September 25 - Penny Arcade DAY

An examination of censorship, if it is ever appropriate and how to respond to it.

Penny Arcade, born Susana Ventura in 1950, has been a voice in the wilderness since running away from home at 13. After a stint in the Sacred Heart Academy for Wayward Girls, a reform school, she was released at 16 and spent the summer homeless in Provincetown. At 18, she made her way to New York City, where she joined Andy Warhol's Factory, the Theater of the Ridiculous and began seven decades of speaking her mind in avant garde spectacles performed throughout the world.

What she performs has been a target for self-righteous censorship from the time she began - and the attacks continue. Justifications may have changed, the aim remains the same: to silence her. [There were bomb threats from Catholic zealots and for many years respectable newspapers and magazines would or could not print the title of her signature work about censorship, Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore! which she began working on in 1990.]

Penny Arcade Introduction by Thomas Keith

12 - 1pm

Fishermen Hall

Tennessee Williams Festival Literary Manager, Thomas Keith, has seen Penny's work in rehearsal and performance since the late 1980s. He'll put her newest work in line with her history from the Theatre of the Ridiculous to raucous crowds of over 40,000 in London.

Who Can Say What To Whom? - Fear, Silencing and the Threat to Free Thinking

2 - 3:30pm

Fishermen Hall

Along with her longtime creative partner Steve Zehentner, their newest work is developed with input from a live audience. As calls for silencing expression grow, Penny has been focusing her thoughts about censorship as self-righteousness. Participants become a part of the creative process as the project moves from page to stage.

In Penny's own words:
"We are living through a period of bourgeoning mind and language control unlike any that has been seen since the Pilgrims imported their austere guidelines of social order onto these shores. Those who think and speak outside the strictures of approved language are attacked, marginalized, silenced, sometimes forced out of their careers. What is lost when a person's race, sexual preference, or gender is used to discredit their ideas rather than the merit of the thought? What is lost when the individual voice is silenced?"

Battle of Angels by Tennessee Williams

4 - 6pm

Town Hall

Three women fight over a handsome stranger newly arrived in their Mississippi Delta small town. Written in 1940, Battle of Angels was closed by order of the Boston League of Decency. The Festival's free-wheeling production, directed by Jessica Burr, reveals the play itself struggles to express women's complex desires. Burr's company, Blessed Unrest is a subversive physical theater ensemble that has been creating award-winning original theatre in NYC and touring internationally for twenty years.

Ferry to Provincetown
Bay State Cruises - 8:30am (arrive 10:05am)
Boston Harbor Cruises - 9am (arrive 10:35am)

Ferry to Boston
Bay State Cruises - 7:30pm (arrive 9:05pm)
Boston Harbor Cruises - 8pm (arrive 9:35pm)

Sunday, September 26 - DESDEMONA DAY

A comprehensive look at configurations of race, gender and sexuality

"Why Did Desdemona Love the Moor?" is the title of an unfinished short story by Williams in which a Black screenwriter in 1940s Hollywood has a secret affair with his film's White leading lady. Over the next few years Williams typed more than seventy-five manuscript pages for Desdemona. He created dialogue for a play and described camera setups for a possible movie. Neither film nor play could ever have been produced at that time: the Motion Picture Code forbid "sex relationships between the white and black races."

"Why Did Desdemona Love the Moor?" by Tennessee Williams

11am - 12:30pm

Staged reading at the Bas Relief

The Festival's staged reading of "Why Did Desdemona Love the Moor?", adapted by Thomas Owen Mitchell and produced by The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Theatre, dramatizes Williams' changing ideas, as he considered drafts of a short story, a play, and a possible film.

Desdemona Town Hall Conversation

2 - 3:30pm

Pilgrim House

A conversation with the cast and audience of Desdemona, Town Hall style, about the issues raised by Tennessee Williams' abandoned text. Williams' free use of racial and homophobic slurs, and his misogynistic alternate title - The Bitch - might still not find an accepting audience. Kristin Leahey, Assistant Professor of Dramatic Literature & Dramaturgy at Boston University, will moderate the discussions.

The Witch by Thomas Middleton

5 - 6:30pm

Performed in the Woods
Driven by lust and greed men and women seek help from Hecate, also known as Goody Hag. The Festival's 2021 retelling of Thomas Middleton's 1616 play, imagines The Witch performed in 1620 by the women of the Mayflower on their first day ashore. Performance of a play was forbidden by the Puritans, women taking on the roles of men was blasphemy. Directed by Megan Nussle. Nussle's company Campfire Quorum strives towards a mutually symbiotic relationship of art and nature by using environmental sites and minimal resources to sustainably and evocatively make fantasies come alive.

Ferry to Provincetown - Bay State Cruises - 8:30am (arrive 10:05am)

Ferry to Boston - Bay State Cruises - 7:30pm (arrive 9:05pm)

The Tennessee Williams Institute offers a new and expansive approach to the plays of Tennessee Williams for all those who will shape his reputation in the future: up-and-coming directors, teachers, critics, scholars, designers, dramaturgs, producers, playwrights, and performers. Emphasis is placed on the overtly theatrical elements found consistently in Williams' plays from the 1930s to the 1980s. Seminars relate directly to live performance. Participants analyze and discuss plays and then experience them in Festival productions, discovering where meaning unfolds in moments of action and stagecraft. The graduate level immersion seminars began in 2012. Special programming for current undergraduate students was added in 2021.

The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival was founded in 2006 in Provincetown-the birthplace of modern American theater-where Williams worked on many of his major plays during the 1940s. The Festival is the nation's largest performing arts festival dedicated to celebrating and expanding an understanding of the full breadth of the work of America's great playwright. Theater artists and patrons from around the United States and from dozens of countries have come together to produce and enjoy classic and innovative shows that celebrate Williams' enduring influence in the 21st century, hosted by venues throughout the seaside village.

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