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Tennessee Williams Theatre Company to Present 'WEIRD TALES', 4/1

Tennessee Williams Theatre Company of New Orleans will conclude its Inaugural Season with Tennessee Williams: Weird Tales, a collection of three unique Tennessee Williams one-act plays. The night will feature the rarely produced Steps Must Be Gentle as well as two World Premiere Williams plays: Ivan's Widow and The Strange Play. Opening weekend will coincide with the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival.

Ivan's Widow (circa 1982) centers around a young woman only known as "She", who recently lost her brilliant husband to cancer. She tortures herself over whether to move on with her life or to remain in perpetual mourning, and hopes to find some solace in a handsome psychotherapist. Therapy takes a dark turn, however, when it becomes clear that neither doctor nor patient have been entirely forthcoming with their intentions. Ivan's Widow stars Alexandra Kennon and John Giardina.

The Strange Play (circa 1939) earns its title, since it's a fantastical pageant in which Isabel Holly experiences her entire life from adolescence to old age in a matter of moments, and transforms from child to elder before our eyes while seated on a bench in a Vieux Carre courtyard. She is aided in her journey by French Quarter creatures-three weird hags reminiscent of the Greek Fates. She experiences love, grief, motherhood, and wonder in so short a span that the viewer is reminded of the short, precious space of time that is life. Emily Russell stars as Isabel, and The Strange Play features Christopher Grim, John Giardina, Maggie Eldred, Alexandra Kennon, David Williams, and Andrew King.

"With no production history we have limitless possibilities-but also the challenges of having very little frame of reference outside the plays' texts" says TWTC Co-Artistic Director Augustin J Correro, "We have been looking to Tennessee's life and other writings to give clues about these two World Premieres. What's most fascinating to me is that we are essentially staging the bookends of Williams' career: one play from before The Glass Menagerie and one from the year prior to his death. So much time passed between the writing of these two works, yet we are exposing both sides of this playwright-the young and the senior-to exhibit a visionary sensitivity and depth which endured and grew from his outset as a dramatist. We are exceedingly grateful to the Williams estate for allowing us the opportunity to present these pieces."

Steps Must Be Gentle (circa 1980) rounds out the evening. Starring Big Easy Award Winner, Maggie Eldred and also featuring David Williams (Kingdom of Earth/TWTC), this touching dramedy takes place on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico fifteen years after the death of American poet Hart Crane. In Steps, Crane's specter has remained at the bottom of the sea resting for those fifteen years when his silence is broken by the ghost of his mother Grace. She has tracked him down to spar with him one last heal old wounds-or to open fresh ones?

"The night is connected through the lens of one young boy's imagination," says Co-Artistic Director Nick Shackleford, "Played by Andrew King, 'The Boy' reads stories from a horror/science fiction magazine reminiscent of the publication Weird Tales, which featured Tennessee Williams' first published short story. As The Boy reads, his imagination envelops the audience and the stage, setting the scenes for the plays which unfold before the viewers."

Tennessee Williams: Weird Tales is the first collaboration of TWTC with the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival-an institution in the New Orleans community and internationally, celebrating its 30th year. The Festival draws thousands of visitors who love literature and Tennessee Williams from across the globe to New Orleans yearly. TWTC is excited to perform this group of plays which showcases Tennessee Williams' breadth of style and which also includes a play set French Quarter, as well as one set in the Gulf.

Performances will take place Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 8:00p.m. The Tennessee Williams Theatre Company of New Orleans will be presenting Tennessee Williams: Weird Tales at The Metropolitan Community Church at 6200 St. Charles Avenue Avenue in New Orleans (At Henry Clay Avenue).

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