Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival Announces Lineup

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Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival Announces Lineup

The 14th Annual Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival is pleased to announce the details of its full 2019 program in September, titled Tennessee Williams and Yukio Mishima.

This year's festival will present the work of Williams alongside plays by Mishima, perhaps Japan's most provocative author. Born a world apart, Williams and Mishima became good friends in the late 1950s. Williams willingly fell under Japanese influence for over a decade, up until Mishima's death in 1970.

The 2019 lineup will be produced and performed by artists from South Africa, Japan, New York City, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Texas, Oregon, Cyprus, Chatham, and beyond. The festival will also feature parties, post-show mixers, workshops, educational classes, Williams 101 discussions, and exclusive donor events throughout the four-day celebration.

All tickets and Festival Passes are now available for sale online at twptown.org and by phone at 866-789-TENN.

"Williams and Mishima wrote plays in which glamorous illusions hang over realities the way Blanche hung a paper lantern over a bare light bulb in A Streetcar Named Desire," says Festival curator David Kaplan. "The lantern and the illusions might get ripped down, but in the meantime we get magic - and Williams and Mishima propose that ugliness, evil, and pain are also illusions we might rip down."

Patrick Falco, president of the Festival's board of directors, adds: "Our adventurous audience has followed us in past seasons through classics like Streetcar and Hamlet to daring experimental work by Williams and his peers. We look forward to sharing this new adventure with them."

This year's shows include two world premieres: The Lady from the Village of Falling Flowers by Williams (directed by Natsu Onoda Power in the kami-shibai style, with live-action drawing) and the short farce Busu by Mishima, directed and performed by choreographer Daniel Irizarry.

Abrahamse and Meyer Productions from Cape Town, South Africa will stage Tennessee Williams' The Night of the Iguana in a new production inspired by Japan's traditional Noh theater. Directed by Fred Abrahamse, the production will feature South African stage star Marcel Meyer and Everett Quinton, a longtime member of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company. The festival will also present the English-language premiere of Yukio Mishima's The Lighthouse, staged by director Benny Sato Ambush from a new English translation by Laurence Kominz.

The lineup also includes productions of And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens by Williams, The Lady Aoi by Mishima, and The Angel in the Alcove by Williams. The festival culminates in a special Sunday-only staged reading of The Black Lizard by Mishima, starring Yuhua Hamasaki, who appeared on last season's RuPaul's Drag Race. The reading will be directed by Texas Tech University's Jesse Jou.

The festival will also host a new morning workshop series sharing the craft of Japanese theater arts. Taught by Elizabeth Dowd, Mark Oshima, Natsu Onoda Power, and Laurence Kominz, the workshops will provide an introduction to the techniques of Japanese Noh (classical drama), kami-shibai (storytelling with drawings), kabuki (popular theater), and kyogen (traditional farce). The new Workshop Pass provides access to these classes, plus tickets to a curated set of performances.

Also new for 2019: patrons from New York can now travel directly to Provincetown for the festival on a round-trip charter bus. Festival passes, including the bus fare add-on, are now on sale at twptown.org.

The artwork for the 2019 festival draws from the psychedelic designs of Tadanori Yokoo, the legendary Japanese graphic designer and illustrator. Born in 1936, Yokoo is one of Japan's most successful artists of the past century. He has graciously given the festival permission to adapt his graphic work to represent each show.


The program includes:

Plays by Tennessee Williams:

THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA

Drama

directed by Fred Abrahamse

featuring Marcel Meyer and Everett Quinton

produced by Abrahamse and Meyer | Cape Town, South Africa

South African and American artists stage Williams' vision of madness, endurance, and grace in a new production inspired by Japan's traditional Noh theater.

The earthy widow Maxine Faulk runs a hotel at the edge of a Mexican cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. On a rainy and turbulent night, the hotel becomes a sanctuary for the defrocked Reverend Shannon, terrorized by his loss of faith.

Shannon has rerouted and held hostage a tour group from a West Texas women's college. They're joined on the jungle cliff by a family of grotesque Nazi vacationers, an iguana tied by its throat under the veranda, and a self-described New England spinster whose 97-year-old grandfather is "the world's oldest living and practicing poet."

Considered among the finest of plays written by Williams, The Night of the Iguana is staged by director Fred Abrahamse featuring South African stage star Marcel Meyer and the iconic Everett Quinton, a longtime member of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company.

Gail Phaneuf will replace the previously announced Alison Fraser in the role of Maxine. Festival audiences will remember Phaneuf as Leona in the Festival's 2016 production of Williams' Small Craft Warnings - a performance which New York Times critic Charles Isherwood described as "supremely funny... a whirlwind of comic energy tinged with pathos: a bit Blanche DuBois [and] a dash of the blowzy Maxine from The Night of the Iguana."

Abrahamse and Meyer Productions previously produced Hamlet and Sweet Bird of Youth at the Festival in 2017, as well as Desire Under the Elms in 2016, The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore and The Day on Which a Man Dies in 2015, The Lady Aoi in 2014, and Kingdom of Earth in 2013.


THE LADY FROM THE VILLAGE OF FALLING FLOWERS

World Premiere

directed by Natsu Onoda Power

produced by Spooky Action Theatre | Washington, DC

The power of poetry seals two strangers' fates in this charming one-act romance set by Williams in ancient Japan.

The Festival is proud to present The Lady from the Village of Falling Flowers, our 13th world premiere of a Tennessee Williams play. Subtitled "A Japanese fantasy," The Lady from the Village of Falling Flowers has its head in the stars and both feet on the ground. It's a punchy send-up of love, the perils of first impressions, and our earthly attempts to touch something eternal.

A thousand years ago in Japan, as the moon rises over the imperial garden, the smell of orange trees in bloom sets a young emperor's restless heart beating. So begins a quest to locate the beauty of the world in one unknown person - and an unexpected transformation of arrogance to humility.

Written, it seems, in the spring of 1935, when Williams was a student at the University of Missouri, there is no record of The Lady from the Village of Falling Flowers being submitted for class. It was never published, never performed until now. The manuscript cover page states "The title is suggested by the name of a character in Lady Murasaki's 'Tale of Genji.'" The source material, written around 1020 in archaic Japanese and popularized in the 1930s by Arthur Waley's English version, prompted Williams' imagination to soar: the story of the Lady is Williams' own, graced with quick-witted humor and a true flirt's love for dramatic reversal.

Our pop-up production of The Lady from the Village of Falling Flowers, directed by Natsu Onoda Power, will play all around town in Japanese kami-shibai storytelling style, with performers sketching live-action drawings as Williams' romantic fantasy unfolds.

Natsu Onoda Power is America's kami-shibai virtuoso adapter/director/designer. Her kami-shibai productions include the critically acclaimed Astro Boy and the God of Comics in Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, and in Boston where she won the 2015 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director in Small Theatre. She co-founded Chicago's Live Action Cartoonists.


AND TELL SAD STORIES OF THE DEATH OF QUEENS...

Tragic Comedy

directed by Lane Savadove

produced by EgoPo Classic Theater | Philadelphia, PA

A New Orleans queen brings a rough sailor into her garden.

Baby-faced Candy Delaney is a resourceful queen who owns property in the French Quarter and runs her own interior decorating business. She's turned 35, though, and her longtime lover has found a new younger partner. Rarely one to despond, Candy restarts her love life by bringing home a beefy sailor.

Candy's upstairs neighbors, a pair of younger queens from Alabama, disapprove, but Candy has always made her own way, just as she's made over her patio into a fantastic Japanese garden.


As in A Streetcar Named Desire, when Blanche put a paper lantern over a bare light bulb, Candy tries to make magic. Can she remake reality? Though the sailor agrees to wear the kimono Candy offers him, he has his own ideas of romance.


Williams called And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens ... (the title trailing off into ellipses) a tragic comedy. He began writing it on a trip to Cuba in 1957 and worked on it into the early '70s. The play was first produced in the United States in 2004, more than a decade after Williams' death. Our site-specific production is directed by Lane Savadove, artistic director of EgoPo Classic Theater in Philadelphia, whose previous festival shows include last year's sensory staging of Samuel Beckett's Company.


THE ANGEL IN THE ALCOVE

Drama

directed by Anthoullis Demosthenous

produced by Poreia Theatre | Cyprus

A former boarding-house tenant recalls his strange company in this gritty elegy adapted from a Williams short story.

This theatrical take on a 1943 Williams short story is set in a rooming house on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. In the hallways, a young artist collides with eccentric tenants, a heroic widow, and a paranoid landlady. In his room, his sole friend is an angelic gray figure who appears in the alcove, but only when the light is just right.

This wistful, beautifully observed short story comes to life onstage thanks to the imagination of a director and author obsessed with Williams: Anthoullis Demosthenous, from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.

In his book Saint Tennessee Williams on Stage, Demosthenous reflects on Williams' works as religious drama. His vision of the The Angel in the Alcove cloisters a narrator into a small, spare room questioning what keeps us trapped and what - or who - allows us to break free.

In his first visit to Provincetown, Demosthenous will present his richly-textured take on Williams by remounting his 2014 Cyprus production in English.


Plays by Yukio Mishima:

THE LADY AOI

Drama - Ghost Story

directed by Fred Abrahamse

featuring Marcel Meyer and Joel DeCandio

produced by Abrahamse and Meyer | Cape Town, South Africa

An apparition haunts a hospital bed in this modern version of an ancient Japanese Noh play. The highly acclaimed production from South Africa is performed with puppets, masks, and live actors.

In Mishima's modern take on a 15th-century Noh play, an apparition haunts a woman in a hospital room while a mysterious nurse looks on. As body and spirit mix, violent thoughts turn erotic, and a deeper window opens onto a time of fierce beauty and lost love.

Five years after The Lady Aoi became a sleeper hit at the Festival, Abrahamse and Meyer are remounting their iconic production. "The major theme of The Lady Aoi is unrequited love," says performer Marcel Meyer. "At some stage, almost everyone has been deeply in love with a person who isn't in love with them. All the pain and suffering that brings - Mishima has beautifully distilled that essence in his sparse and poetic little play."

Abrahamse and Meyer Productions previously produced Hamlet and Sweet Bird of Youth at the Festival in 2017, as well as Desire Under the Elms in 2016, The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore and The Day on Which a Man Dies in 2015, The Lady Aoi in 2014, and Kingdom of Earth in 2013.


BUSU

Farce - World Premiere

directed by Daniel Irizarry and Laurence Kominz

translated by Donald Keene and Laurence Kominz

produced by One Eighth Theater and Portland State University Kyogen
New York, New York | Portland, Oregon

Temptation gets the better of two panicked shop assistants in Mishima's madcap physical comedy, performed on a double bill with a traditional Japanese version of the same story.

Busu means delicious poison, and it's the title of a 400-year-old madcap Japanese farce. Mishima wrote his own version in 1957, set in an antique shop in Greenwich Village. As a double dose of delicious poison, we will present both Mishima's concoction and the traditional recipe, each performed by a different ensemble.


The story unfolds the same way in Manhattan as in medieval Japan: two hapless flunkies are spellbound by the reputation of the busu. Their boss has just left, with a warning never to touch this mysterious object. It's such a deadly poison, he says, that if a breeze blowing over it should reach their nostrils they would die. Greed leads to disaster and disaster to a stroke of genius. Bursting with physical gags, our double dose of Busu pulls a roomful of laughs from one magic little package.

Busu is the only play that Mishima wrote to be performed in English. Donald Keene's witty translation will be directed and performed by New York's Daniel Irizarry, whose most recent performance off-Broadway earned him praise in The New Yorker for his "acrobatic abandon." Mishima's Busu in Provincetown will be its first-ever professional production.

Busu, in a traditional kyogen staging, will be presented in English by the acclaimed translator and kyogen performer Laurence Kominz, who has been an ambassador for kyogen performances in America for decades.


THE LIGHTHOUSE

English-Language Premiere

directed by Benny Sato Ambush

produced by Marissa Carpio | New York, New York

Unspoken desire breaks the surface of a post-war family's placid life in Mishima's passionate drama from 1949, in a new English-language translation.

Fresh out of the Japanese navy in American-occupied Japan, 25-year-old Noboru was startled when he first met Isako, the attractive 30-year-old woman who married his widowed father.

Since then, Noboru and Isako's silent attraction to each other has simmered beneath the surface. A close-quarters vacation to Oshima Island south of Tokyo ruptures their pact, casting the whole family into dangerous waters. Noboru's teenage sister Masako bears witness and is forced to find her way from innocence into the world of adults.

The Festival presents The Lighthouse in a new English translation by Mishima scholar Laurence Kominz, in collaboration with acclaimed director Benny Sato Ambush. This will be the English translation's first production.

Adapted from Jean Racine's 17th-century tragedy Phèdre - itself a retelling of the story of Phaedra from Greek mythology - The Lighthouse is one of Mishima's most frequently performed one-act plays in Japan. The 1949 play is written as a shingeki, a Japanese theater form based on modern realism.

"There is a strong subterranean undercurrent of repressed sexuality bursting at the seams throughout the play," says Ambush. "It is heavy in the spring air, all that yearning and wanting and desire... Williams and Chekhov would be proud."


With Lya Yanne as Isako, Haley Sakamoto as Masako, and Natsuko Hirano as Junko.


THE BLACK LIZARD

Psychedelic Mystery

directed by Jesse Jou

featuring Yuhua Hamasaki

produced by the Provincetown TW Festival, in association with Texas Tech University
Provincetown, MA | Lubbock, TX

Mishima's outrageous camp classic about a glamorous jewel thief and the handsome detective she enthralls.

Yuhua Hamasaki, who made a splash on television last year on RuPaul's Drag Race, steps into the heels of Black Lizard - a most fabulous master of criminal illusions.

The 2019 season culminates in Town Hall on Festival Sunday with a one-time-only staged reading of The Black Lizard, Mishima's over-the-top criminal caper. We track a battle of wits between a private detective and the glamorous crime boss who has snatched a rich jeweler's daughter in hopes the jeweler will exchange her for his prized Star of Egypt diamond.

Set in giddy, groovy 1960's Japan, the action spins from a ritzy hotel room to a millionaire's kitchen, up to the observation platform of Tokyo Tower, and down onto Black Lizard's private yacht and the dungeons of her secret island. Black Lizard, as strong-willed as she is well-dressed, decides she'd like to keep, for her own pleasure, the ransomed diamond and the body of the kidnapped heiress.

Black Lizard's worthy opponent, Kogoro Akechi, the Sherlock Holmes of Japan, first appeared in 1925 in a short story by Edogawa Ranpo, Japan's premier mystery writer. Akechi is still a fixture in Japanese popular culture, appearing in films, television shows, video games, anime and manga. Mishima's outrageous stage version of Black Lizard and Akechi's love/hate relationship made a sensation on the Japanese equivalent of Broadway in 1962. For the 1968 film version of the play, starring cross-dressing male actor Akihiro Miwa as the lovesick lady crime boss, Mishima played one of Black Lizard's sex slaves.

Translated with wit and panache by Mark Oshima, the staged reading will feature an ensemble of artists from the 2019 Festival directed by Jesse Jou.


Plus:

WILLIAMS 101

Discussion

With Patricia Navarra

This entertaining 90-minute lesson on Tennessee Williams and this year's plays will brief audiences on the playwrights, with handy insights about our lineup of performances.

Hosted by Patricia Navarra of Hofstra University, Williams 101 is the perfect opportunity to brush up on your Tennessee Williams and discover how his works have shaped this year's themes.

With brief, informative backgrounds on this year's playwrights, the discussion will prime your pump for a weekend of theater. Peppered with Festival artists, Williams 101 provides audience members with practical insights into the thematic through-lines of the Festival lineup.



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