October 12, 2004
The Southampton Players to Stage “Not About Nightingales”
Lost Tennessee Williams Play’s Subject Matter Ripped From 1930s Headlines;
Politically-Charged Piece Reflects Plight of Outcasts During The Great Depression
Amanda Olsen (Amanda.email@example.com)
Southampton, NY – In a radical departure from their usual musical comedy offerings, Southampton College’s Southampton Players will bring a lesser-known Tennessee Williams work to the Avram stage this fall. Performances of this powerful play will run Fridays through Sundays, November 6 and 7, 12-14 and 19-21 in the Avram Theater.
“Not About Nightingales” is based on a true incident which shocked the nation in 1938. Convicts in a Pennsylvania prison, many incarcerated for petty crimes and misdemeanors, staged a hunger strike as a strategy to improve their unbearable living conditions. They were subsequently locked in a boiler room and left to unimaginable fates.
“Gripping,grim, gritty and thought provoking, ‘Not About Nightingales’ is perhaps Williams’ truest period piece, and his finest writing for an ensemble of men. Preying upon their diminished and demeaning living situations, Williams establishes a band of characters that despite their desperation and deplorable conditions with which they are surrounded, they somehow hold true to their beliefs and hopes. Each character possesses a specific life story and a degree of humanity and resilience amidst incomprehensible obstacles.”
“The ensemble of ‘Nightingales’ is perhaps the strongest amalgam of community professional and student actors I have ever assembled upon the Avram stage,” said Director Michael Disher. The cast features Long Island’s Andrew Roth as Jim “Canary” Allison and Brooklyn’s Peter Connelly, along with East End performers, Joyce Pitkin, Felix Montas, Tom Cunningham, Rich Gardini and Edward Kassar as Butch O’Fallon. Southampton alumni Ken McGuire, Mark Strecker and Robert Florio, as the despicable Boss Whalen round out the community’s contributing talents. Current Southampton College students Allison-Rose DeTemple as Eva Crane, Joseph Brondo, Derek Barbanti, Bobby Shortle, Andy Lucien, Joseph Myers, Carly Kenkel and Greg Klug provide the student contribution to the cast.
“Not About Nightingales” is the first Williams play to carry the “Tennessee” moniker. As a University of Iowa drama student, Tom Williams wrote the piece as a class assignment and developed it into a full-length play in 1938. Williams later said, “I have never written anything since that could compete with its violence and horror.”
Rejected in 1938 by The Group Theatre and not produced during that period, possibly because of Williams’ sympathetic treatment of black and homosexual characters, the play’s graphic gore and its altogether inevitable ending startled and frightened theatrical producers, companies and actors. Lying dormant within Williams’ archives for 60 years, the play was brought to the attention of current audiences by stage and film actress Vanessa Redgrave when it made its world premiere at the Royal National Theater in London in 1998. That production subsequently moved to New York’s Circle in the Square.
Southampton Players will premiere this rare Williams offering to Long Island Audiences beginning Saturday, November 6th, at 8:00, Sunday November 7th at 5:00, and the two following weekends, Fridays and Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 5. “Not About Nightingales” is recommended for mature audiences only, due to its subject matter, nudity and violent content.
For further information, call Michael Disher, Avram Theater Director at (631) 287-8088. For information on Southampton Players, visit www.southamptonplayers.com
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