On Thursday, Oct. 27, weirdness, grotesquerie, pathos and humor in Tennessee Williams’ “Dragon Country” took over the Bartlett Theatre stage for a three-night run. Directed by Professor of Theatre Robert Gross, the play commemorates the centenary year of one of America’s greatest playwrights, Tennessee Williams, the author of “The Glass Menagerie,” “A Streetcar Named Desire,” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”
Sponsored by the HWS Theatre Program, “Dragon Country” will run on Friday and Saturday in Bartlett Theatre at 7 p.m. The show features three one-acts by Williams – “Auto-da-Fè,” “Gnädiges Fräulein,” and “I Can’t Imagine Tomorrow.” The cast is comprised of Kate DePietro ’15, Ava Pavao ’14, Eric Hambury ’13, Jake Dietrich ’14, Mary Manchester ’13, Tyler Hatton-Bullock ’14, Ricky Nix ’13 and Bevin O’Connor ’12.
The evening gives a perspective of Williams as a queer visionary, an experimentalist who defied the conventionalities of American life and found value in the rejected, the desperate, and the eccentric. Williams described “Dragon Country” as an uninhabitable country that was amazingly, inhabited, and it was there that he set some of his most amazing and moving work.
In the first one-act play, “Auto-da-Fè,” Eloi, a young New Orleans postal worker, returns home after a bad day at work, only to be confronted by his mother, Madame Duvenet, who insinuates that he is hiding something from her. Providing a brief but intense glimpse into the strained relationship between a sexually repressed, fanatical young man and his domineering mother, the play is a dark, tragic tale of hypocrisy, guilt and self-loathing.
In the second one-act play, “Gnädiges Fräulein,” Fräulein, the one-time European singing sensation, has fallen on hard times after being attacked by a jealous member of her performing trio. Drifting around the world after the incident, the Fräulein lands at a rooming house, where she is forced to earn her keep by competing with the Cocaloony Bird for the fish rejected by the fishing boats.
In the most famous of these three one-act plays, “I Can’t Imagine Tomorrow” tells the story of One and Two, who are, respectively, a man and a woman approaching middle age. While each is only the friend of the other, they struggle to change their relationship by inventing new forms of communication and connection for themselves.
Admission is free for HWS students, $5 for the general public.