Tennessee Williams: Williams on Williams

Table of Contents

“Why did I write? Because I found life unsatisfactory.”

On Marlon Brando: “He loves the light! See how the light shines through him? … I shouldn’t be partial, but he is my favorite one.”

“My interest in social problems is as great as my interest in the theater and traveling. I try to write all my plays so that they carry some social message along with the story.”

“The only satisfactory thing we are left with in life is the relations if they’re sincere-between people.”

“I’m not a Catholic myself but I love the Catholic mass.”
(Although he allegedly joined the Catholic church in 1969 and was then kicked out later in life.)

“But poetry doesn’t have to be words, you see. In the theatre it can be situations, it can be silences. Colloquial, completely unheightened language can be more poetic, I think. My great bete noire as a writer has been a tendency to what people call..to poeticize, you know, and that’s why I suppose I’ve written so many Southern heroines. They have the tendency to gild the lily, and they speak in a rather florid style which seems to suit me because I write out of emotion, and I get carried away by the emotion. Sometimes what Kazan refers to as the arias, sometimes they come off very well, and other times they stop the play.” (1962)

“I’m a compulsive writer-because what I am doing is creating imaginary worlds into which I can retreat from the real world because I’m…I’ve never made any kind of adjustment to the real world.” (1962)

“The strongest influences in my life and my work are always whomever I love. Whomever I love and am with most of the time, or whomever I remember most vividly. I think that’s true of everyone, don’t you?” (1965)

“I’m glad we’re finally in a new decade. I have an entirely different outlook. The sixties were dreadful for me. Bobby, that decade was a catastrophy. It almost killed me. I wish I’d slept through the whole thing. Maybe I did and didn’t know it. I told Gore that, and he assured me I hadn’t missed anything.” (1970)

“For me the production of a play is only an incident in the life of a play. I mean there’s not only the continued work on the play but there are other productions of the play. Sometimes it’s a failure on Broadway and it’s a success off-Broadway….consequently I feel that a play is dynamic and living far beyond the time of its Broadway opening and the press the following morning. And I don’t think I’m going to be too much concerned this time with the critical reception of the play because I know this play, as long as I am living, will live in me and I will keep it alive within myself and all I can do is complete it.” (1961-Interview with Studs Turkel)

“I’ve changed to the full length play form of three acts now,” Williams said, “but when I first started I did only one-act plays because I was even more social minded then and found it easier to get across a message and with more impact if I made it brief. All of my one-act plays are about such social groups I ran across in my wanderings.”

“I think it’s very necessary to discover those things in life one can believe in. I think life is meaningless unless we find something to which we can be faithful, believe in, consider valuable, hold to in ourselves. In that sense, I think I am mostly optimistic. I believe very strongly in the existence of good. I believe that honesty, understanding, sympathy and even sexual passion are good. So I don’t think I’m a pessimist altogether. I find life a mysterious and terrifying experience. I don’t think I’m as gloomy as a lot of people who write. I’m sure I’ve never written anything as gloomy as Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”

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